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Night Ocean

Chapter Text

The first time Erik moves to embrace Charles of his own accord, he almost manages to stop himself. The impulse is genuinely his-- that chill, wrought-iron texture so different from Charles' coercion-- and, in between heartbeats, he is able to realize that. Never the less, his arm reaches out to draw Charles in before he can censor himself. The smaller, indomitable body is tucked against Erik's chest, his fingers automatically tangling in his lover's short, dark hair. And oh, the sigh Charles releases then is drenched in ecstasy, never mind that the telepath just spent the last two hours wringing orgasms from them both.


"Erik," he says, taking hold of the other hand. "Oh, Erik." Somehow, he is able to make the name sound both divine and profane-- he has taken even that, even a name, and made it his own. The hand, he treats with equally easy ownership. He may touch where ever he pleases, now-- even the soft, desecrated skin of the inner arm. Erik cannot

(will not? damn him for not knowing anymore, himself)

stop him. Thankfully, Charles best loves Erik's hands, loves to move them over himself in long, lingering strokes. Loves to fuck himself on those elegant, deadly fingers. Moreover, Charles knows

(everything charles knows everything)

how Erik feels about his own, ridiculously red mouth. The things the Oxford boy can do with his lips and tongue are obscene. He kisses Erik's hand with almost chivalrous fervor, as if Erik is graciously allowing the other into his bed. Perhaps that's how it would look should anyone

(should Charles _allow_ anyone)

to observe them. Xavier is astonishingly indulgent with his love, anyone would be fooled. Erik doesn't have the luxury of fooling himself-- and, in leu of denial, he holds white-knuckled to resentment-- mostly because there's no fooling Charles. Now, the younger man's happiness laps against Erik's soul. It's more exquisite than any drug. Neither one of them is equipped to do anything more than shiver with pleasure at the moment, and even that is torture. Finely wrought, lined with affection, which is how

(too sweet, too milky, the way he takes his tea)

Charles prefers his torture.


"Really," his captor says, playfully. "I don't think that's quite fair." Charles kisses the center of Erik's palm, laying his head on the other man's chest so he can listen to the heartbeat he owns.


Fair means and foul. Fair, as in Love and War and all things are. Erik knows weapons-- Erik _is_ a weapon-- and he most assuredly knows pain. He knows you never have to have limitless endurance, just more than what your adversary has. For the first time in his life, he can feel himself losing the battle. Not to superior forces, but because he is quite simply losing the will to fight at all.


It's unclear how much time has passed since the beach. He remembers grappling against Charles, fighting to keep Shaw's helmet.

(oh, if only he'd known then what he was fighting for!)

He remembers McTaggart shooting. Remembers laughing because he didn't even have to raise a hand to deflect the first two bullets, they were that easy to deflect. There was a third, however, and Charles moved so suddenly. The fear had been like cold sweat on the palms; he couldn't quite grip that final piece of lead. The metal sang as it pierced his flesh-- hello, hello!-- clear, low note to contrast with Moira's sudden screams. The white sand knocked the breath from him, the helmet tumbled like a poorly-made crown. Then Charles was holding him, putting frantic pressure on the wound and even more panicked kisses against Erik's face, uncaring of who might see. Some_thing_ flexed Erik's power, like pulling on a marionette's string.

(he would learn, he would learn to recognize that deft, masterful hand)


The missiles had fallen, utterly useless, some of them exploding as they impacted with the picture-post-card sea. Then there had been only the crashing of the waves and the high vibrato of that blasted woman, screaming.

(charles didn't seem so fond of his pet human now, erik remembers thinking with distant humor.)


There had been a lot of blood, but Erik doesn't think the injury was ever really life-threatening. It hardly mattered-- what mattered was that it scared Charles. Dear Charles, his professor of fine ideals and that damnable naiveté. That well-bred little boy, so lonely he'd taken in a strange blue girl. His privilege-- and his power-- had been such that he had still been shielded from ever losing anything dear to him.

(until _then_)

Long ago and far away, Erik knew of another little boy who'd lost something precious. The rage at having his treasure threatened came a split second too late. He drew blood and blood and made them pay, but it couldn't ransom her back.

(why did you say it would be alright?)


And really, it was a good thing that the men he'd spent decades hunting, picking off in his quest for Shaw, didn't have loved ones. Gold was all well and good, but Erik understood true worth, and would Charles still want him so with that kind of blood on his hands?


It was a bit of a paradox, because he certainly wouldn't be here now.


"Hush," Charles says, abandoning Erik's hand in favor of making love to his mouth. He sucks Erik's tongue, slow and sensual, until the other man thinks 'please' without direction. 'Please more', or 'please stop'? It's hard to tell. Sometimes Charles ignores physical limitations entirely, instead stroking the pleasure centers of Erik's mind. Delicate, skillful little plucks. Right now, he seems much more interested in short term memory, in that moment when Erik reached out and couldn't stop himself. The telepath takes that bit of free will, cradling it close. Caressing, fondling, filling Erik to overflowing with his approval and his pleasure and his pride. Erik would point out that smug is not a good look on him, but they both know that's not true. Best to save one's efforts for things that might actually be constructive. And, though the mental sensations Charles projects are often very overwhelming, Erik is aware that his mouth is still otherwise occupied.


Time stretches, time has acquired some strange, new slow weight. He had felt Charles' fear. It was difficult to keep his eyes open, but he looked into that blue gaze and a new understanding passed between them.

(see? i told you so. would i fight so hard if i had nothing to protect?)

The others had said stop-- Charles, you'll kill her, stop. Hank had begun to step forward, and the red one asked if was insane, he'll kill you too, he'll kill all of us if we're not careful. The demon silhouette knelt a safe distance away from Charles, and then MacTaggart's body fell in the sand, or maybe that happened first. Darkness bled around the edges of Erik's vision, but it was a blank cocoon of white that finally took him.

Charles said, "Shhh. Sleep."


When he woke, he had a new scar on his shoulder-- but one that had healed far better than any of his others. It had been stitched up expertly, and cared for. The edges of it were blurred like the barest flashes of dreams, the things he could almost remember. It had been like drowning, like Charles holding him in that night-ocean, save that it had felt so wholly good.

(hush. i love you. rest now. be good.)


There are no windows here, though there is a door to the small bathroom, and another from which Charles comes and goes. There's a wooden monstrosity of a bed, and Erik sometimes amuses himself by wondering who Charles made to bring it down here, and whether he let them remember it afterwards.
Charles will tell him waspishly not to be vulgar, and he takes pride in the fact he can still be irritating.

(i love your feet of clay)


He slept, he woke. Charles fed him lingeringly, by hand, and praised him endlessly for dropping the missiles, though they both knew that wasn't what happened at all. When Charles was needed elsewhere, Erik had options. He could drink the juice he was given, which was most certainly drugged, or Charles could puppet hands and throat and jaw so that he drank it anyway. Charles loved touching him, loved helping him

(really, darling, its no hardship at all)

whether he was willing to accept it or not.


And Charles, damn him, has never once raised his hand against Erik.
(oh, i wish you would)

During the first few… days? weeks?… the older man very deliberately entertained some very brutal fantasies of retribution. The concepts of Charles and sex

(or love)

could hardly be uncoupled before Cuba; he imagined pounding into the smaller man, taking him dry, forcing him on his knees so that he was helpless and breathless, Erik's fingers tugging harshly at his hair like a puppet's strings. He'd gotten such a sweet smile in return, just before Charles used Erik's hand to strike himself across the face.


He'd listened to his own voice, spewing all the horrible things Charles had blocked him from saying

(my god i didn't i meant it but please)

his tongue unwillingly bending to lick away Charles' blood. It was dizzying, sickening, almost a rape-pantomime, until Erik felt a wetness on his cheeks he knew

(shamefully, disgustingly)

belonged to him alone.

(oh, why stop now, darling? we've barely tapped your well of inspiration, to say nothing of what you remember from shaw)

"Please," he'd said, and that was his, too. His own whisper, instead of the abusive bark he'd been parroting. "Please, I can't even think of some of those things, let alone do them…"

(especially to you)

If Erik had been watching from on high-- and it almost felt as though he was, it became that surreal-- it would have been quite confusing, the attacker pleading for mercy.


And suddenly it was all velvet, no touch of mental iron in sight. Sinking to his knees, Erik had curled in on himself, and Charles knelt beside him. The final touch of lunacy, his mouth still bleeding as he kissed away Erik's tears.

"Come now, it's all right," he'd whispered, rocking them together in a way that had nothing to do with sex. For a moment, Erik caught a brief impression

(the little boy sits in the rocking chair alone alone but the rhythm is nice, the rhythm is soothing. back and forth in the moonlight, the runners on the wood floor, and maybe its alright there's no one else there)

from Charles, completely unguarded. It was gone in the next moment, like quicksilver, like the bright flare of metal in the forge.

"I wouldn't let you _really_ hurt me," the telepath said aloud. "It's all right, I promise." And, with enough honest affection to blunt the acid, "I was only trying to give you what you want."


He'd held Erik for a long time, petting and soothing, murmuring nonsense and talking about particle physics until the other man was almost asleep. Erik had expected Charles to slip in beside him until the heavy duvet, though he had not reached out at all.

(i am not thinking of not thinking of reaching for you, thank you very much)

There was only that beautiful voice saying, "Oh, my dear", and a kiss on his brow. For a long moment, he held that gaze and they were level, as they had once been pitting white pawn against black.

"I'm sure you need a little space, now," Charles mustered a wan little smile.

"You sleep. I'll just be over here, on the couch."


Oh, Erik remembered thinking, looking up at that blasted canopy and the play of light from the fire. Oh.

He tried, valiantly, to speculate where under the mansion his little prison was locked. Internally, he mocked Charles' stepfather for paying what must have been ridiculous amounts of money for such luxury in a thrice-damned _bomb-shelter_, and Charles' mother for having had that money in the first place. He wondered what Charles did when he was away. If he taught and lectured, surrounded by studious little faces and all that elegant wooden paneling.


Erik pondered and considered and did not sleep, until at last Charles came to stroke his face and send him into that warm, tidal darkness.

Chapter Text

Once, Erik's life had been easy to delineate. There was simply Before, and there was After, and the frozen ash-choked hell in-between. It rose like a monolith, all dark


stone. It was mute, unmarked

(there just aren't _words_)

and everything lived in its terrible shadow. He learned how not to cry-- Shaw beat it out of him-- but even if he could rend his clothes, scream his grief to the heavens, he knew he would never be able to make other people understand.


(He did cry, just the one time. Three months in with his first English family, the Barrows. He was big and smelled of pipe and laughed too much; she was pale and blond and wore her rouge high on her cheeks. When spring came, Hahnenfuß bloomed in their little dooryard, and the smell brought it back, what he had forgotten. He had forgotten that he had once been a real boy, with a set of blocks and some colored pencils. There were tin soldiers-- his father brought them. Just a handful of stiff little men with more than a few dents but, because they came from Vater, he had loved them with an uncritical passion. This boy, who seemed almost alien to Erik now, had a Mother who taught him to write, tracing in left over flour. There had been a time when she didn't hold him too tight. He could lay his head on the crook of her shoulder, and she smelled of Hahnenfuß-- which he never learned the English word for.

The flowers looked the same no matter what you called them, though. Flame yellow, deep red, and a violent orange that looked like the coil of a stove burner holding in heat. He saw them, and he cried. When Mrs. Barrows asked him about it, he bit his knuckles and wouldn't-- couldn't-- say.)


There is simply too much to so cleanly segment his life, now. There is the cold, abrasive drive he had possessed before he finally cornered Shaw, and the expansive, numbing relief that came afterwards. There was before he knew there were others like him,and this present unknown landscape, After Cuba.
Oh. Before and After Charles-- mustn't forget that.

('You'll drown,' he'd said, not commanding. Reasoning, coaxing, a fountain of his much-vaunted serenity. 'You have to let go.')

Erik knows he 'hears' Charles' voice in his mind because its the only way his limited senses can interpret it. Longer exposure has proven that Charles also has a flavor, a texture when he reaches out, even if he isn't actively projecting anything. Soft, warm, almost fastidious in its delicacy-- and absolutely unyielding. When they burst to the surface, Erik had looked at Charles, all wet and beautiful angles. His first thought had been, 'He's little more than a boy!'

('You were in my head.' Breathless, but still an accusation.
'You have your tricks.' Charles had smiled widely around his attempts to gulp in more air. 'I have mine.'

Oh, if only he'd known!)


Charles lifts his head as the older man's involuntary chuckle rumbles through his chest. Erik finds the alarm and concern in those blue-oceanid eyes _almost_ as bleakly humorous as the irony he was contemplating. It occurs to him that, while there is nothing about him Charles doesn't _know_, it does not always follow that the younger man _comprehends_. Erik himself doesn't quite understand it, the enormity of new edge he'd found in his mind. It's like groping around in the dark-- you could step over and have no footing, notice too late. His tender-hearted professor may well succeed where all others-- even Shaw-- have failed.

"No!" The denial comes as both speech and thought, hot and hard as the sudden kiss that follows. "Look at me," Charles says, stroking the other man's cheeks, his hair. Erik knows this look, or a variant of it. Has seen it countless times over the chess board, across ridiculously cumbersome conference tables in CIA offices. Charles arguing with him

(it will be alright, erik, oh can't you see)

trying to coax, to persuade.

(someone else promised me that, a long time ago)

It's the look of a crusader trying to describe Jerusalem.

(oh if only I could make you see)


"No one could break you," Charles says, voice oddly rough. "I'm certain of it."

(that makes one of us)

"Erik, Erik… I don't want you to. Just… bend."


His captor leaves the bed briefly. When he returns, he presents Erik with the ever popular glass of juice. It's apple-- as if Erik is still a growing boy. That thought is almost enough to set him off again, but it is also getting oddly hard to draw air into his lungs. The chuckles feel like liquid mercury, bubbling up inside.

"Drink," Xavier says, not bothering to see if the command will be followed. The ease with which he manipulates another's body would be alarming, if Erik had room for anything aside from this syrupy hysteria. Charles sets the empty glass on the nightstand. The bed is so ridiculously archaic that he almost has to clamber up it. It probably came with a stool. Huffing another little laugh, Erik lays back against the pillows. There are no overhead lights here, but Charles has brought a few lamps and the fire is healthy enough. The glow is plenty to see by, but also low and soothing. Intimate, one might say. The professor moves up towards the headboard, curling around to stroke his lover's hair. Erik can already feel his breath and heartbeat slowing, that shadowy lassitude winding through his veins. He wonders if Hank knows what he's mixing this little concoction _for_; there's no way Charles is getting something this strong pre-made.


The telepath sighs, though he has enough grace to look caught.
"Would be funny if…" Erik draws in a very deep breath. Artificial calm saturates him, but he is still-- vaguely-- aware that the words he's choosing are ill-advised. "If you gave me too much. Just never wake up again." Musingly, "You might have to watch me aspirate on my own vomit, though."

'ERIK.' The hand in his hair stills, withdrawals completely. A long moment of silence spins out, before a very young voice whispers, "I would never let that happen."

(He knows better than to cry when Mummy hits him. Kurt expects tears; will use his heavy fists until there's enough saline to satisfy. Sharon Xavier prides herself on her lady-like hands, all elegant and bejeweled. She strikes with palm open, too-- which stings-- or backhands, rings cutting. The teachers at Charles' elite elementary school thin he has a particularly ill-tempered cat.

"I thought." SMACK. "I taught." She raises her hand higher. "To take better care of your things." The last three words are punctuated with their own individual slaps. He doesn't even remember what it was he broke-- but he definitely remembers the consequences.)


Erik's eyes fly open. He tilts his head up (though it is a bit dizzying) to catch the younger man's gaze. This is one of the strongest things he's ever caught from Charles, and right now the telepath is as white as bone china. Definitely not something he intended to share.

"C'mere." Erik's arm feels heavy, slow and cool, but he manages to tug on Charles' arm. "I said come here," he takes care to enunciate this time, and the other finally allows himself to be drawn down. With some effort, Erik rolls on his side, tucking Charles' head under his chin, cradling the smaller body against his chest. Little breaths come in warm puffs against his collar bone.

'Damn you,' Erik thinks, too distant to bother with real speech. He knows Charles can hear him. Humming low and tuneless, he strokes along that lovely spine. 'Damn you to hell.'

'I'll always take care of you.' When he's agitated, even Charles' mental accent becomes more clipped. At least, that's how its perceived. 'I love you.'

"Mmm-hmm." He can feel the telepath's warm, diffuse presence searching for the truth. Not that Erik is in any way capable of keeping it from him, but he doesn't even put up a fight. Why bother to lie, when the truth already hurts so much?

'Liebling.' At least he's not the only one skirting the edges of sanity around here. 'Neshama.' Charles doesn't know that last one; Erik can feel him hunting for the translation. Oh well-- he's the one that forced the juice down, he can damn well wait.

Erik goes back to sleep.

Chapter Text

When he woke again after Charles' little bought of violence, Erik hadn't been quite sure what to expect. He came to the way he had for so much of his life; awake between one moment and the next. Hyper-vigilance, Charles had called it. The telepath quickly learned to call out first, instead of touching. Being securely pinned by a half-sleeping killer had a tendency to do that.

('You can't possibly reach truly deep sleep," Charles says, as they slide into a booth at the dingy all-night truck stop. "Not like that." The waitress brings them atrocious coffee, to which the professor adds copious amounts of cream.
Erik shrugs, "Who needs to? I'll sleep when I'm dead." They aren't sharing a bed yet-- both still caught up in their own uncertainty and cautious shame. They will be soon, though. Erik is watching Charles test the coffee with his pink, agile tongue.

"No rest for the wicked?" his young friend teases, biting said tongue.

"Indeed," says Erik, who is trying to remember that its important to breathe.)


"You got me so hard the first time you pinned me," Charles remarked, voice carrying in fire-warmed silence. "You were so quick, and strong." The infamous tongue made another appearance, licking over red lips. "I was so terrified you'd notice."

Erik glared, sitting up on his elbows, "Just make yourself at home, why don't you?"

Charles gave him a look. It required absolutely no telepathy to communicate, 'who do you think you're kidding?'. The older man let himself fall back against the pillows with a sigh.

"Oh, don't be difficult, darling," the professor cajoled. "I brought you something."


Acutely aware of the state in which they'd left things, Erik never the less got out of the bed before Charles felt the need to do it for him. Charles himself was sitting on the sofa by the fire, hands primly in his lap, looking very pleased with the new additions to the room. One was the sturdy leather chair Erik had once favored, and the other a chess set. Not the one from the study, though-- his captor had been remarkably stingy with the amount of metal in the room. It must have taken some doing, but then Charles had never been one to let cost or effort be prohibitive. Never the deliberate display of the nouveau riche, this young man used his money with do consideration, but also with a thoughtlessness. The sort of reflexive motion of someone who has never had to worry that one day it won't be there.


For a moment, Erik diverted his gaze, only half hoping that there might be a few articles of clothing laying about. He stood completely naked in the room's ambient warmth, as casually as he would have held himself in the dark slacks and turtlenecks he favored. If he'd ever possessed any self-consciousness or modesty, he could scarcely recall. And there was Charles, in ubiquitous tan slacks and cardigan, making no secret of his regard. A snide remark flitted over the older man's tongue, but he let it go-- not that the telepath wouldn't be aware of it. Still, it wouldn't do to give even one centimeter more than he had to.


"You're very beautiful." Those eyes were the blue of a flame closest to the wick, and their gaze felt just as hot. In spite of himself, Erik felt a pool of warmth at the base of his spine, a straightening in his shoulders. How many times had he felt the weight of it, that gaze, the propriety attention like a hand on the back of his neck? He could be anywhere-- putting Sean and Alex through their paces on the grounds, helping Hank with something in the lab, lifting weights with Raven. He didn't need to be a telepath to know when Charles was in the room.

Erik made a show of rolling his eyes. "I don't need to be wooed."

"It's true." It was painful sometimes, that Charles could still be so earnest. Erik distracted himself by crossing the room, tracing along the end of the small table. The chess board itself was a glazed mirror, with glass pieces. The black pieces were of dark stone, gleaming in the firelight. Not magnetic enough to be hematite. Obsidian, then.


"Shall we?" his opponent asked, sounding eager.

"Why bother?" A very pointed tap to his own temple.

"That would be rather a one handed exercise, don't you think?"

Erik's smile was very sharp, "I seem to recall you did just fine with four, last night."

"Oh, my dear." Such a heavy sigh to fetch, for one who held the reigns.

"Shall we continue playing," the older man asked dryly, "or shall we use the board?"

That brought an honest smile to Charles' face, which may or may not have been Erik's intention. The telepath was hardly capable of knowing something about Erik he himself did not. Or so he hoped.

"By all means."


They took their customary seats. Even now, there was no argument over what color would be used. They played in silence-- not terribly unusual, but also not typical of the evening's first game. At first, the muted pop of the firewood and click of the pieces on the mirrored board seemed oppressive. Gradually, it changed, becoming the companionable silence of old, an unspoken conversation as they studied each other's body language. Erik won the first round, playing with his usual ruthless efficiency. He worked for it, however, and Charles' frown of concentration was enough to convince him that the mind-reader had indeed withdrawn.

Or had withdrawn _enough_, Erik was forced to amend when he attempted to stand after his victory. In less than a heartbeat, he felt a cord, once gently looped, tighten firmly. It was warm, as pleasurable as silk on bare flesh, but also inflexible. He shot the telepath a dirty look, even as he bit back a moan. Psychic intimacy had never factored into their relationship before Cuba. Even as Erik asked for Charles' restraint, he had thought he understood the depths of the younger man's power.

More the fool he.


"It's not intimacy without the mental connection," Charles said quietly. "At least, not to me." It felt as though the cord wound around Erik's neck, his wrists and ankles-- bonds filled with enough pleasure to melt muscle and bone. "Your body _is_ beautiful, but your mind…" A pause, and-- over the sound of his own gasps and heartbeat--Erik became aware that the other man was also breathing heavily, attention rapt. "Your mind is _exquisite_."

He spilled no seed but, in all other ways, it was an orgasm. It felt as though Erik's entire being-- not just body and intelligence, but whatever passed for his soul-- was engulfed in reverent avarice. Charles had him, and was glorying in it, reflecting back the sight he devoured. His captive did not have the option of looking away. At last, when Erik was certain he could take no more, the telepath allowed the wave to crest, releasing him gently. He fell back against the leather upholstery, gasping. For a while, there was nothing but the pink behind his eyelids and his dry, dry throat.


Charles pressed a glass of water into his hand, leaning over the arm of the chair to brush kisses against his temple. Erik downed every drop, and damned his own hands for shaking.


"All those mansion trysts, all those anonymous hotel rooms? This is what I wanted." The whisper was sibilant, satisfied and longing at the same time. 'While you touched me, imagined draping me in delicate chains so you could have me in a way that felt complete to your powers. While you were fucking me, filling me up, I was empty, empty.'


For a moment, their foreheads rested together, before Charles mentally and physically withdrew. Busying himself with reseting the board, the telepath shot his partner a coy look.

"Best two out of three?" At Erik's slow nod, he added, "Then I'll show you what else I brought."


If Charles was hoping for curiosity, he was sorely disappointed. Curiosity killed the cat, or so common wisdom suggested. The older man knew better-- the cat often lived, to regret it.

"Clever," the professor chuckled, as if Erik had shared the thought aloud.


They began again. Erik played with a reckless aggression that lost him the second game. The winning match itself was close, but ultimately went to Erik. There was no obvious self-sabotage on Charles' part, but the metal-bender never the less wondered if his opponent wasn't playing a longer game.


"Come on, then," Charles said, tipping his king. He stood, motioning towards the wood-bolted bathroom door. He apparently did not feel the need to tighten the cord, allowing Erik to enter ahead on his own. Briefly, the other mutant stood in the threshold, feeling the hum of the pipes and the fixtures. He did not reach out for them; it was difficult to find the rage necessary when Charles was so busy flooding him with a warm, dreamy sense of well-being.

Then Erik's gaze found the small red bag, hose, and nozzle arranged neatly by the bathtub. It was only the telepath's mental grip that kept him from bolting. The image of a stallion rearing would have been insulting, if it weren't so apt.

"Shhh…" Charles came to stand flush against his back, pausing to kiss Erik's shoulder blades.

(please i can't-- before, we never-- without-- don't have to)

Their relationship had not been unequal, previously. Certainly, Erik had bottomed for his younger lover-- though it was not quite so common-- and enjoyed it. This, however…

"You don't have to…" Erik began. "I'll…" He abandoned words all together, instead focusing on an image of himself, back arched, arse raised wantonly for Charles' pleasure.

"Mmmm…" A hand stroked down his hip, then over the arse in question. "You paint quite the picture, my love. But you're not getting out of this."


Alright, okay. The telepath manipulated his companion's body onto all fours inside the tub, and Erik didn't fight the rhythm of deep breaths he was given. It took considerable effort to retreat from one's body but, once you learned the trick, you never forgot. Before, he had gone inside to escape pain, the worst parts of an experiment or a beating. The sound of the faucet, the professor moving behind him-- it faded.


(not no body not no one lights are on but nobody's home. all is quiet all is still alas silent halls, not even mice just dust on the eaves and cobwebs in the attic…)


"Hey." Suddenly, Charles was crouching in front of him. Which was confusing, considering the fact he was sure he could still hear the younger man moving behind him. "Erik," Xavier said, cupping the other's chin firmly. "I _will_ come in there after you." At the same time, familiar slight fingers began circling his hole, opening him, applying lube.

"Son of a bitch." Erik glared at the Charles in front of him, which only got him soundly kissed. "You should know better than to use tricks you picked up in Frost's mind," he finished mentally. "G-d only knows where its been."

Both versions of Charles laughed, sounding delighted. The one in front began kissing him again, skillfully taking his mouth. It certainly _felt_ real, though Erik was certain he looked even more ridiculous than before.


"I wouldn't ask you for anything you're not capable of." Again with the lets-be-reasonable. The illusion of Charles reached under, began gently tormenting his nipples. Honestly, the only way Erik knew which was real was the fact the one behind him was handling… _paraphernalia_. The nozzle was metal-- his senses told him that much. He was kissed again, lingeringly, and then the other Charles was gone. At that very moment, Erik felt the the nozzle gently press in.

"There," said Charles, briefly kissing down the taller man's spine. He lifted the bag, and the water was warm. Filling. The professor was still fully clothed, and here was Erik Lensherr; nude, and accommodating so _much_. If Charles' little parlor trick had left him half hard, this finished the job. He was aroused and ashamed, and further aroused-- dragons eating each other's tails.


"Do you remember the first time you took me?" his lover asked, clearly not expecting an answer. "You were my first-- all boarding school groping aside-- and you knew it. You prepped me, so carefully." A dreamy quality crept over the tone. "And when you pushed in, I could hear you thinking--"

(mine, he's mine, i'm his first, his only if i have anything to say about it, that's charles clenching around me, mine.)

"I thought," Erik ground out. Hoarsely, but it was a miracle he could speak at all, with the twinned sensations. The metal, penetrating; being penetrated. "Thought you promised not to read my mind."

"I didn't need to," Charles murmured, not offended in the least. "I could no more have missed what you were projecting than I could have ignored the sun going nova. Not that the fucking wasn't brilliant, but…" He leaned forward, carefully, whispering against Erik's ear, "It was your thoughts that made me come."


Erik grit his teeth, narrowing his focus down to _not_ coming at this specific moment in time. Charles, of course, chose just then to remove the nozzle.
A soft command, "You'll hold it for me." Clenching, Erik squeezed his eyes shut, cheeks burning with shame. When he felt the telepath's hold withdraw, his only thought was getting to the toilet before he embarrassed himself.

It was a relief, but he also felt empty, and exhausted. He leaned back against the chill porcelain, unable to decide if his body felt too expansive or too claustrophobic. Charles came to stand before him, drawing him into an uneven embrace, stroking his hair. Erik sobbed, just the once, against his captor's cardigan.

"That's my boy," the beloved voice whispered. "My good boy." Any other time, Erik would have balked at the choice of words; now, he clung to the smaller frame, shivering a the fine layer of sweat cooled against his skin. "Oh, love, you did so well."


Charles moved away, and Erik tried to go with him, ending up on his knees on the faint blue tile. He couldn't seem to let go, sliding down the other's torso until his cheek was flush with the flat stomach.

The petting continued. "That felt good, didn't it?"

Erik nodded, still holding tight. It was slow and minute, but it _was_ a nod.

"I want to make you feel so very good, because I love you so much."


As before-- oh, many times, long before the beach!-- the words came to Erik's lips, but they did not pass. The thought didn't even fully form; inside, there was still a superstitious boy, try to protect, to misdirect against a world of evil gods and men. But this was the closest he had ever come, and Charles knew that.

Chapter Text

"Up," the professor said, and Erik rose willingly enough. "Come on." He tugged on their joined hands, as if they were both children. Back out into the main room, where the fire was smoldering. The lamps provided enough light to see by, though, and Charles seemed in no mood to be bothered with the hearth, despite the slight chill.

"Undress me," he ordered softly. Erik made that small, slow nod again, raising careful hands. He felt numb, a bit out of body, and not in any way that had to do with retreat. It was as though some shift had occurred, allowing him to see colors he'd previously never been aware of. Charles was there, and he was free to look as he had never allowed himself. He brushed wondering fingertips to the dark hair, the smattering of freckles, the tilt of pale chin. Then he bent his head and followed the command.

"Slowly," Xavier instructed, though it was hardly necessary. Erik's fingers didn't feel capable of anything else. He helped the younger man disrobe, with a reverence he would never dared express in the Time Before. Always, his hands had been insistent, tugging at the offending layers, at any barrier between himself and Charles. He would exploit their height difference, lifting his lover ever so slightly so the telepath was forced to cling to maintain balance. Never too rough, always considerate, Erik had never the less walked a razor's edge of of dual impulses. A part of him-- the part that with the CIA, that basked in Charles' smile-- would have him touch his schatz, his yakir, with all the care given to spun glass. The other-- which had wanted to leave in the first place, to grapple as adversaries and _win_-- longed to crush the professor close, leave bruises. As the inevitable confrontation with Shaw began looming closer, he had for the first time experienced the fraught sense that he had something to lose. He had wanted to leave an indelible mark; get so far up inside his lover that, even if Charles should abandon him, send him away, the telepath would never be shed of him completely.


Now Erik's touch was hesitant, almost shy. Cardigan buttons, then collared shirt. Khakis, and the frustrating plastic belt buckle. If the older man was expecting anything, it was to go down on his knees and take Xavier in his mouth. That was familiar-- in fact, something he had enjoyed. Sometimes, he would engulf Charles even after he'd milked the man dry, enjoying the weight, the thrum of the vein. In anticipation of this, he drew fine trousers down towards bare ankles, and leaned forward to kiss Charles through his Y-fronts.

"None of that, then." A firm hand pushed him away, even as he attempted to give a friendly nuzzle. Questioning, he looked up into those cyan eyes, began to sway forward again. "on the bed," Charles ordered, giving his ear a little pinch. He search the other man's face, genuinely confused, but only got a raised eyebrow and slight clarification: "On your back."


Erik did as he was bade, never taking his eyes off his lover. Slowly, the instinctual distrust came back

(what does he want what can he gain how many moves variables avenues of attack must I consider…)

jamming along his nerve endings, as familiar as the lines in his own palm. Seemingly of their own accord, the metal-bender felt his arms raise above his head, crossing at the wrists. The cord

(never really gone just coiled lovely familiar darling little snake)

came back, sliding over him in one long caress, making him gasp and buck helplessly against empty air. Charles joined him on the ridiculously luxurious mattress. The dim light made a halo around his dark hair as he cocked his head, as if he were an artist admiring a particularly sought after subject. Somewhere, far away

(way down below in the underneath)

some creature was crying. The unkempt, underfed boy boy who survived Shaw's experiments-- and oh, thank G-d that's all it was-- was screaming. The sound itself was almost nothing with the distance, but it shook the steel-and-iron tessellation that composed Erik's mind.


('Shhh…' the man tells the boy. 'Be quiet, so I can protect you from him… and him from you.'
He's a vicious little thing, this nuclear-age Prometheus; he's had to be. He knows he is a freak, and not quite strong enough, and alone alone alone)


When Charles touched the inside of his thigh, Erik very nearly jumped out of his skin. A flash of terror roiled under the submissive calm. Like red molten lava in the dark night ocean, and it cooled just as fast.

(please don't have heard, don't have seen, bad freak stitched-together monster, ugly so ugly don't ever want to be seen)

Clearly, the professor knew something was was amiss, but apparently not what.

(too far down in the underneath)


He crouched over the older man, giving him a lingering, close-mouthed kiss. He held it just on the edge of something more, breathing against the angle of jaw, until Erik finally kissed him back. Reassurance flooded through the older man and, on the heels of that, the cord grew. A brand of lust and need,

(my own my darling my best beloved)

it wrapped around his neck, a crown upon his forehead, thick gauntlets around his ankles. The onslaught continued until Erik was very nearly screaming with pleasure, unable to remember his last thoughts if his next breath depended on it.

"With me again?" his captor asked.

A frantic nod.

"Words, dear."


A dry chuckle, "Very well, then."


Erik attempted to even his breathing, relax his muscles. The last time Charles had taken him had been a few days before Cuba

(and oh the night before, he's mine he's mine, up against the wall, astride my lap)

and that was… Ago. He needed to un-tense, though the memory of the enema

(shame, arousal; arousal, shame)

wasn't helping. Nor was the fact that the psychic bonds had left him erect, but had given no relief. He closed his eyes, breathing through his nose.


"I had wished," Charles told him confidingly. "That I could have been your first… something." A depreciating little smile, at odds with the ripple of amusement that came through the sound of the younger man's voice, through the bonds. "Mind you, it's a good thing one of us knew what they were doing." An expert finger traced down his balls, caressing the difference, the cut.

Erik had no idea what he was talking about. Enraptured by the telepath's voice, by the feel of the bonds, he stared into Charles' eyes the way an occultist would observe the heavens. So, he saw the smile, saw the other guide long legs and knobby knees up against his chest.

The touch of Charles' tongue against his now clean hole came as a complete surprise.


(His infatuation with that tongue, those red lips, begins the very first night. Moira brings Charles tea, clearly trying to curry favor and just as clearly trying to be casual about it. The young professor doesn't seem to notice. Instead, Charles sits next to him, their shoulder's touching, eyes never leaving Erik's face. Other than his victims, this is the first person who has been-- who has dared to be-- this close to self-appointed assassin in a long, long time. The Englishman goes on and on about evolution and genetics, mutations and the possible accelerant of nuclear radiation, until Raven finally comes to scold him for boring people they've only just met. When Charles turns away, engaging in clearly familiar banter with his sister, Erik thinks, 'No, please look back at me.'

He had watched that tongue lap at coffee and tea, watched it flirt from behind white teeth and do obscene things to a lollipop. He had felt it lay flush with his cock when Charles sucked him off. He had even applied his own tongue to Xavier's pert arse. Just the one time, hulking, hand splayed across those slim hips to keep him still and Charles-don't-be-such-a-prude.


Erik himself had never been rimmed before, and it turned out to be a devastating sexual weakness. Charles ate him out with gusto, and that tongue wrung noises from Erik he didn't even know he was capable of. The invisible bonds seemed to pulse in time with the telepath's heartbeat, the thrusts of his tongue. Then, that blissful wetness retreated, and the older man let out a sob.

"This is a nice first, don't you think?" Xavier asked musingly. He replaced his tongue with his fingers, as considerate with the vulnerable flesh as he was with his precious books. Unerringly, he found Erik's prostate, stroked it lovingly, eyes never leaving the other man's face.


How long that went on for, Erik did not know. The professor alternated tongue and fingers, always maddeningly tender. Occasionally, he would pause to lick a drop of sweat from Erik's chest, his thighs. Sometimes, the younger man shivered as if from some pleasurable caress but-- as far as his captive could see-- he had yet to touch himself at all.

"Your pleasure, Erik," the telepath murmured, switching back to manual stimulation. "It's delicious, so different from how I experience it. Smooth and cool, like copper wire." In response to Charles' words, every nerve in the metal-bender's body seemed to thrum, as if conducting a sudden stroke of lightning.


Charles removed his fingers again but, this time, no touch of tongue followed. Erik realized he'd had his eyes closed for quite some time, as even the cloying lamplight felt too intense.

"What do you want?" Charles asked, performing the not inconsiderable feat of crouching over the prone man without actually touching him at all. "Sweetheart, what can I give you?"

Erik stared up into that beautiful face-- the sort of inhuman perfection found on the boy-gods of Rome-- and felt his jaw go slack. He was aware that the words were English and that he should understand them. His lover was waiting, required a response, but the bonds caressing Erik were like molten desire, and he was so empty empty.

Ah. "Your cock," he rasped, hardly recognizing his own voice. "Fuck me. Use me."

Unfathomably, the professor continued to gaze at him fondly, not reaching out.

Frantically, the older man struggled against the psychic restraints, though that only fed the frenzy. Something was blocking him, some thin but impossibly strong wall of glass between himself and relief. The telepath was keeping him there, holding his mind the way he'd held his body. Erik's struggle was sincere, but useless; if he could just get loose, he'd tackle the younger man, climb atop and just fuck himself on Charles. Uncaring if the younger man saw him rutting, moaning like a whore.

"Again, a lovely image," Charles said gently. "But not what I was looking for."


"Please." When it came to him, it felt like a bolt of divine inspiration. And, because it worked, because Xavier applied a seemingly unnecessary amount of slick and began to push in, Erik said it again. "Please please pleasepleaseplease." Until it ran together and became nonsense.

"Shhh…" his lover crooned, pulling Erik's legs up over those pale, slim shoulders. "Yes, of course, darling. You had only to ask nicely." He quickly set a consistent rhythm; not punishing, but very firm. After the innumerable light touches, it was exactly what Erik needed. He still couldn't move his arms from where they were bound, couldn't grip himself like he wanted but, at this point, he hardly needed to. It was so very close…

"You'll wait," Charles whispered sweetly, never the less brooking no refusal. "You'll wait, and come after me."
Erik keened.


With new determination, the older man angled his hips, pushing into every oncoming thrust. At the same time, he clenched around the warm, hard weight of his captor, as if he could wrest Charles' orgasm from the mind-reader's body and into his own.

"Oh, yes, love." The warm praise was matched by a brilliant smile. "That's it. That's good. My good boy." Biting his lip, Erik fought against the spike of arousal from Charles' words. More thrusts, and he held off against that beautiful knifes edge without really remembering why. Charles had asked him to, though, and Charles would never ask for something he wasn't capable of.


It felt like each beat of his heart had become an eon. The taste of copper bloomed on his tongue. Finally, finally he sensed the warm flood and pulse that signaled Charles' release. He looked up, beseeching grey eyes wide and almost panicked.

"_Very_ good boy." It felt as though those words became a part of the bonds, burning into his skin. "You may." Erik felt his own climax like an earthquake under sea; it lifted everything, with almost no warning at all.

His vision dissolved, becoming that arresting azure blue, then a white that was all colors, and finally no colors at all.

Chapter Text

Erik woke utterly famished. For a moment, he blinked hard, trying to bring the world back into focus. His mind felt strange, the way sudden calm in the eye of a storm feels unnatural. Eerie, and too good to last.

Charles had clearly been busy; the fire had been built back up, and the professor was dressed again. Currently, the younger man was curled up close to the headboard. He lay with his head propped up on one hand, while the other carded through Erik's hair. The duvet lay chastely between them, which seemed oddly humorous; the older man naked under it, the telepath sprawled on top.

"Nice nap?" his companion asked, smug smile made bearable by the child-like joy that animated his face. Charles leaned over, bestowing several close-mouthed kisses that became more leisurely, coaxing.

"Please," Erik begged, even as he felt that invisible cord winding around him again. It payed particularly loving caresses to his neck and pulse. "Please, Charles… I can't. Not again." In any other circumstances, the way his stomach growled would have been embarrassing. Now, it prompted only a relieved sigh.

"Of course," his captor made a show of appearing sheepish, dropping a quick kiss on the cheek. He smiled, "Besides, supper will get cold."


Charles had _definitely_ been busy, Erik thought, wondering how long he'd been out. Well aware that Charles was perfectly capable of pushing someone deeper into sleep, Erik also knew that it didn't always work perfectly. Otherwise, the professor would have little need for his little 'juice cocktail'. He secretly suspected it had something to do with the amount of concentration Charles needed to put forth for other tasks. If he was using some version of Cerebro-- and there had been more than a couple of nights when he'd had that pale, breakable look-- that would certainly explain a great deal.

With a wry smile. the telepath reached over and brushed a finger to his lover's temple. Instantly, Erik felt that warm, drowsy sense of well-being and delight creep through him. His body flinched in protest even as the pleasure centers in his mind registered a different opinion.
"Then stop worrying so much," the professor admonished. He tugged the other out of bed, linking their hands again. "Honestly, love," he continued, "we worked so hard to get you down there, you may as well enjoy it."


'Down where?' Erik wondered, but it didn't matter. He felt the cords change, become a thick, warm mantle wrapped about his shoulders. It was Charles' affection, heavy and riddled with bright red desire, but determined to soothe. Like a sleepwalker, he followed his friend to curved divan near the fire, and the low table of food arranged in front of it. The younger man seated himself and Erik stood before him, staring blankly. There really wasn't enough room for both of them.


Charles gestured to a thick, dark blue cushion on the floor. The older man balked internally, even as he mechanically knelt at his captor's feet.

(what card what coin what pawn what game does he think he's playing? where is the enemy on the horizon-- entrenched, or free to move about in the dark?)

The watchful part of Erik, that wrathful boy-child, was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That runt lived on fight or flight, and Lord of Israel help the fool who made him feel threatened.

"Erik?" Charles asked, looking every inch the idealistic young man who'd told him he wasn't alone. The firelight turned his hair ebony, red lips curved into a sad smile. "Have you ever truly felt that I wanted to hurt you?"

(trap snare ploy oh, clever means make devious ends)

"No," he said slowly, but with complete honesty.

"Good." The smile widened, became the lovely one of belief and discovery. The mantle somehow became somehow more luxurious-- pleasurable in a way that heightens warmth when the world outside is cold. Erik tried to remember the last time he'd felt that way, and couldn't. It scarcely seemed important. Besides, there was food-- something every aspect of Erik could get behind.


Xavier had fed him mostly by hand while he was convalescing, something Erik had usually lacked the energy to protest. Then, Charles began bringing a book or paperwork to busy himself with while Erik ate. It was mostly pretense; the other man was well aware that he took his meals under his captor's indulgent, watchful gaze. Whatever Charles did in his other life-- the life with people, the life outside these four walls-- he had yet to readily share. The books were in keeping with his usual taste, and the papers all painstaking carbons with Beast's messy, enthusiastic red scrawl in the margins.


There was only one plate on the low table now, and the professor was helping himself to it. Erik flinched inwardly when Charles used the

(ceramic, damn him)

utensils to precisely cut the salmon, then held out out a small piece. After a pause, he craned his neck to accept it, careful of the well-groomed fingers. The fish was really very excellent, cooked in a sauce that was faintly sour. When Xavier offered another piece, the metal-bender made sure to lick away any seasoning that remained. He was positive he looked ridiculous

(again. so have no shame so they cannot shame you.)

but couldn't quite find it in himself to care. It was difficult to believe he'd started the evening intent on stomping off after his initial chess victory.

(he does take your hand like you're boys, here see I know the way. off the path and into the woods, until its dark and everything looks the same forward as it does going back.)


He had far more experience with sharp barbs and painful snares, but Erik knew enough of the world to understand that some traps were honeyed.

(A piece of a story, some bedtime tale he's forgotten. For she once sat beside him and spoke softly; he was once a small boy with nothing to fear but imaginary monsters and the dark.

'Beware the danger as you cross the great forest. Beware handsome strangers new to your sight.'
Surely all mothers told such fables, so their sons and daughters wouldn't tarry, wouldn't stray from the dooryard.)


"Not all of them," the professor said quietly, He held out a bit of bread, so fresh and good as the older man took it into his mouth.

(the trees are tall and dark, the halls are tall and dark, here are the boy and girl holding hands with no breadcrumbs to scatter and no one to miss them when they don't come home. alone together. he reads to her, Bulfinch's Mythology and The Brother's Grimm, in all their vibrance and violent glory. she wants to eat her heart, his wings are made of wax, quick Charles tell me how it ends.
or their heads-- one dark, one blond-- bent over a collection of Michelangelo's paintings, so big it falls across both their laps. he is a comely if somewhat sickly boy, she is all peach and yellow, like a girl from a children's illustration.
Do you see, Raven? All his faces are so different. Could you do this angel, this one?
shh. keep it down. we don't want to be caught.)


"What do you _want_?" Erik asked suddenly. He stared down at his hands in his lap, at his own nakedness and the velvet edge of the cushion. "What are you trying to prove?"

"What I've always wanted," Charles answered easily, which was no answer at all. It occurred to Erik that, though the telepath was quick to assure him he wasn't alone, he might not have believed it himself. There was a goblet of Tokay to go with dinner; far too sweet for the older man's taste, but the professor had a weakness for it. Charles helped himself, then held it out, stem dangling between his fingers. Erik stared at the amber liquid, finally bent his head to lap at it.

(oh, my love, my poker face is just as good as yours)

"The salmon is excellent, isn't it?" Xavier asked, apropos of nothing. "Sean makes a fairly decent stew, and Raven can do a nice Shepherd's Pie, but it gets old after a while. Our Banshee was starting to use things that simply weren't meant to be stewed with potatoes." He held out another piece, which Erik accepted quickly, if not eagerly. "Betsy*, however, has a true gift."


"I shall be glad to have a real cook for the school," Charles continued, as if he hadn't spoken. "Once we get things up and running, we'll have a lot of mouths to feed, and we can hardly allow students live on beef-jerky and cola. Though Alex is giving it a fair go."


"You want a school," the older man repeated, turning the concept over in his mind. When he'd imagined Charles' life outside the threshold, this world where he owned Erik so completely, he'd only been facetiously picturing the professor primly lecturing a class. The others were here, then. They would hardly know to look for him though, Erik though, even if one disregarded incident on the beach.

"No, they won't," the telepath said, reclining so he could stroke Erik's hair with his free hand. In spite of himself, the older man leaned into the touch, and was offered more Tokay. It added a light, diffuse halo to the already dreamy sense of well-being seeping into his bones. "But they're not cross with you, if that's what you're worried about. They'll welcome you home with open arms." There was something faintly absurd about that statement, but Erik couldn't find it in himself to comment. The mind-reader had a deft hand, like some mad god at the loom. Pulling threads here, realigning memories there. Such skill that you couldn't even tell where a change had been made in the weave.


"I know we can't have an entirely mutant staff," Charles mused aloud. "As much as I'd like to. But we can certainly ensure that the humans here have a stake in the school's success."

Even biting his lip couldn't stop the question. "Like Moira?"

"Moira is dead, love," Xavier said, not pausing as he stroked the other man's hair. Then, brightly, the way he often had after one of Raven's ill-timed witty comments; "Betsy's husband is human, you know. He was very supportive of her coming here, though. She's a low-level pre-cog, but a very skilled telekenetic-- coming along swimmingly. We were able to find a job for Tom in town." The professor was definitely expecting some commentary on that-- he tilted Erik's chin up with a single, light finger.

"And you don't think that he'll eventually hate her, for being so much more than he is? That it won't eat away at him, knowing evolution has left his kind in the dust?" Erik sighed heavily, shaking his head. "You could be nursing a viper at your breast, to say nothing of the damnable CIA."


Tenderly, Charles caressed his friend's cheek with the back of his hand. "Do you think I would risk you now?" There was something dark in those jewel-tone eyes, some reasoning that rested on a logic that wasn't logic at all. The older man wondered if the mind was at all like room. If you came home to find your things moved, even by inches, would you notice?


"Do you think I'd let anyone come here who had even the potential to harbor ill-intent? And the CIA isn't going to be a problem," the professor said, sounding satisfied. "As far as they're concerned, they wasted months on a half-baked project for weaponizing LSD. Aside from the funds lost, there were some dreadfully tragic reactions. Seems as though much of the staff was accidentally exposed." The metal-bender's mouth was hanging open a little. Charles took the opportunity to plop in the last bit of fish, helping himself to more wine. He looked like a pre-Raphaelite painting, just then; leaning back against the curve of the low sofa, almost-smile gracing that bow of a mouth. He looked like a boy-emperor, someone who could do anything.

(charles can do anything. always _could_ do anything. it is said that no-one can know the mind of G-d but, if you are almost invincible, almost omniscient, isn't that enough?)


The only other telepath Erik knew of personally was that Frost woman, and her powers paled in comparison with Charles'. The difference between something that was just glittery, and real diamonds. If there were others with psychic abilities, the professor would find them. Find them, teach them, and sleep peacefully knowing none was as strong as he. And Shaw's helmet was… where…?

"At the bottom of the Marianas Trench." Charles did not raise his voice, but the tone changed completely. Firm, and much less forgiving. There was no denying that Erik had always enjoyed how slight the other man was, compared to himself. All smooth lines and rounded edges. There was nothing of that in him now; even his physical form seemed somehow _more_. It made the metal-bender think of a wave swelling, or the damp taste of the air before a thunderstorm. "Don't think I'm joking, because I'm not."

"No," he whispered roughly. "No, I believe you." He tried to look down again, but his captor would have none of it. Looming close, Charles' blue gaze

(that special blue, blue like the clear ocean like the waters that now conceal your last and only defense)

held him, as if the telepath were searching the dark of Erik's pupils for something only he could read.

"You were gone, Erik." Wiping his hands on a cloth napkin, Charles pushed the low table away, making more room for the older man. He did not use the cords (though implicit in every breath was the fact that he _could_), but guided Erik's head to rest against his own trouser-clad knee. "Even before you were shot, you had become a null. A horrible void."


(a dark space between the stars, a lonely place, didn't know how lonely until just then. you said stay out, you said no tricks, but even the feel of you next to me every day was enough. the hum of emotions through your hands, your skin. how you loved me, how you wanted me, and that edge of hate that I made you feel so. theft is what it was, stealing, shaw is dead and I'll be damned if I'll let him keep you from me.)


"You didn't want me to kill him," Erik pointed out. He relaxed against the weight of Xavier's thigh, felt those delicate fingers come back to stroke and pet at the back of his neck.

"Not at the time, no." A long, almost wailing silence spun out then, until Charles finally said, "And we shan't be needing his little toys, anyway. For one, telepathy is only one of hundreds of mutations-- abilities you won't even dream of!-- that Hank and I have been able to find. I'm expanding my range, and Azazel has been very useful in giving us access to other continents. We're trying to prioritize, help those in immediate danger or exposure. The little girl he brought us, Ororo, is very sweet."


"So you'll have your school," the older man said, staring into the fire. His lover knew his body well, knew the taunt muscles and sensitive spots that could make him melt. The diffuse pleasure washed over him again, building gently; he felt aroused, but didn't have the energy or concern to address it. He was warm by the fire, he'd had an excellent meal, Charles was stroking him like a cosseted pet. Distantly, he heard the professor begin to speak again, going on about the new children, that Alex was looking for his brother, that Angel was healing up nicely. Everything, everything around him was bathed in the firelight, a sort of burnished copper, whispering to relax, let go.


(trap, says the boy, way down in the underneath. marshall your forces, reform the lines, give only the ground you must. there can be no quarter, and also no retreat.)


All very true, Erik considered, without really being aware of his own thoughts. He would still have to fight. He pulled his cushion closer to Charles, laid his head in the younger man's lap. The delightful touches expanded to his shoulders, the line of his back.

(my darling boy, my pet)



Chapter Text

Erik is not terribly familiar with anxiety. Another early lesson; you controlled what you could

('ah,' says the memory of some female relative, some cousin or maiden aunt. gone now, in name and image, but alive in that tone of commiseration. 'there is so little in this life we have the power to change.')

and did not worry about the rest. Bad things came whether they were invited or not, considered or not. Mazel Ra', the opposite of Mazel Tov-- bad luck dripping down from the stars. Let the rest of the world take a flying fuck at you. Erik had only his life left to lose. For so many years, he'd had only his vendetta. Lovers came and went, and informants-- there was little to differentiate, save those he killed. If Shaw hadn't beaten the fear of uncertainty from him, he'd removed it via needle.

(he always grinned-- that awful shamyir grin-- and, laughing, said, "this won't hurt." which was how you knew, you knew that it would.)


Even in the Blackbird, looking down at the warships Shaw had amassed against each other, his strongest emotion had been anticipation. Elevated heartbeat, increased sensory perception-- his body getting ready, spoiling for a fight. He'd wanted his quarry, to finally exact that oldest of currencies. Blood.

("I don't want justice," Erik had considered telling Charles over one of their numerous philosophical chess games. "I want revenge."
But Charles, who could have been a young boy learning at the feet of that blind goddess, would not have understood.
At least, not then.)


With the wind in their ears and that too-blue sea below them, Charles had asked if he was ready. Erik had indeed been eager to find out. If he felt any trepidation at all, it was for children being pulled into the battle, for Charles.

(I long to fight with you, fight beside you, but I would also wage war in your name alone, if you let me. The naiveté I disdain is at the same time something I long to preserve. I would kill for you, and you would never have to-- I would never let you-- see the blood on my hands.)


Preserve, destroy; destroy, preserve. One came to Erik naturally, the other with all the deadly skill of the man who walks over hot coals. It was Charles who believed-- in things, in people, in ideals. His dear friend who, even now, as a shadowy mirror of his former self, wanted to create a school. A place for their kind. And Erik Lehnsherr, was he not as he was fashioned, sharpened to be? Destroying what he touched. It was hard to imagine the professor being more shattered if Erik had't taken the bullet.

(And what do you think would have happened, had you died? I held two armadas at bay, I held a man immobile that you might work your wrath on him. I erased our existence from the CIA by barely stepping through the door. If you feel the world has never cared for you, my love, know this; I would have made them care, had I lost you.)


Nor could the older man imagine taking it back, even after all of this. The thought that Xavier had killed for him

(oh, my poor liebling, oh your feet of clay)

incited both sorrow and lust. Sorrow, for that patina of innocence that was now gone. Lust, for-- though he would never reach Erik's level-- Charles had _lowered himself_, done so in Lehnsherr's name.
Two more dragons, eating each other's tails.


The anxiety Erik feels now isn't based on the future, or any outside agency. It is the catacombs of his own mind, where he had so suddenly lost his footing. That subconscious night-world, where nothing is familiar yet you know all of it is yours.

He's coming awake gradually, always a strange experience for him. He did not dream yet, before sleep leaves him completely, he is aware Charles is with him, in his mind. Not moving, not acting upon, just _there_. It's a difficult sensation to describe and, when Erik opens his eyes, he finds he doesn't need to. Charles is still in his embrace, head tucked under the older man's chin. They're both under the comforter, smelling of body heat and sleep and ever-so-slightly of sex. The professor has curled close as possible, seeking shelter, comfort. And, in his sleep, Erik has given it to him. As freely as he had earlier in the evening, tugging Charles down to rest in his arms even as the drug drew a veil over his consciousness. Even now, awake, he continues the tender strokes, the soft breath of kisses he'd begun. This whole room is a twisted mirror-- first, the pantomime attacker begs his victim for mercy, now the prisoner comforts his captor. Erik very carefully refrains from chuckling at this. He never believed it before, but apparently the body is perfectly capable of transmuting screams into laughter. If he does either now, he might never stop.

"Don't think like that," Charles says, less a vocalization than a movement of lips against his lover's shoulder. "It's fine. I promise, everything is fine." Even in the midst of his worry-- and Charles _is_ worried, which says something about the edge Erik felt in his own mind-- the professor is arching into each touch. Every caress, every kiss freely given makes the glow of his contentment pulse. He has wanted Erik's hands on him, and he has had it, but not without coercing or initiating. Since the first meal the metal-bender took at his feet, Charles has felt frustrated. Compliance is not the same as submission. His captive hasn't fought him, but neither has any further progress been made.


The older man catches that last thought-- probably, he was supposed to-- and makes a 'tsk'ing sound in the back of his throat.
"All you have to do is walk into the room, and I'm hard," he says softly, nuzzling behind Charles' ear. "You've had me on my knees--"


("That's it, my sweet boy." Even as Erik works to take in the whole of him, Charles' hands are gentle where they cup the back of his head. The telepath lifts his legs a little from where he's sitting on the divan, locks his ankles over Erik's shoulders. The position makes things a little more difficult on his end, but the older man is aroused by the fact he is trapped so completely, that he can feel Charles' small heels against his shoulder blades. The professor, his protective captor, this young man who is ever-so-slowly and pleasurably dissecting Erik, is well aware of this. There's the familiar sensation of cool breezes moving through his thoughts, and then--

"My slut." Erik moans, and then his lover does as well, as the vibrations move from throat to cock. "My lovely whore.")


"--sucking your cock for what felt like hours--"


(In order to keep his balance, the metal-bender has been bracing his elbows on either side of Charles, against the couch's frame. Now, the temptation is too much-- he moves one hand down to touch himself, just a little relief.

"No," the professor says, enjoying the hum of disappointment in that warm mouth. He shows Erik just what he looks like, how handsome and debauched. How the other man is salivating around his cock, jaw just now beginning to get a bit sore. "You can come whenever you want, but only if you don't touch yourself." This seems relatively impossible-- but then, so did the idea Charles could last so long, a master of self denial.)


"--all you had to do was speak--"


("My cockslut, my pet," Charles is whispering now, using an almost reverent tone one would more associate with the confessional. "I could use you like this forever. Your mouth, and your hole. Until you're filthy, my come in your stomach, leaking from your arse. Then I'd lick that lovely pucker of yours clean-- oh, the sounds you made when I was rimming you! I'd let you fuck yourself on me this time, like you wanted to. My good boy--Only mine, my own."
The bonds lay still and quiet as they have been this whole time, and Charles doesn't need to give him a little mental push. Erik comes hard, hands still firmly fisted in the cushions.)


"-- and you have this." He kisses that wet, tempting mouth. Of his own volition and, to prove that this is so, as he would have in the time before. It is a kiss, but it is also a siege; he strokes Charles' jaw, encouraging the younger man to open up, let him suck on that bottom lip until Charles rocks against him absently, aroused but with no clear goal. It is not something Erik would have done days-- even hours!-- earlier, nor would it have been something he imagined his captor would allow. There seems little use in dissembling, now-- he's already shown his hand.


The professor must agree with him, for the ever-present psychic bonds lay still against his skin-- always there, always whispering-- indicating their potential to restrain without acting on it. Charles is more concerned with caressing through the older man's thoughts. Looking for duplicity, yes, but also marveling over the feel of touch that's genuine. And, because Erik has never known how to leave well enough alone, he breaks the kiss and rests their foreheads together.

Dangerous, dangerous words; "What more could you want, Charles?"


He plays long odds not because he has any faith he'll win, but because he enjoys that brilliant edge of risk. What more could he possibly have to gamble, if not his sanity, and the wrath of what is in all likelihood the most powerful telepath on the planet. Even now, Erik relishes the expressions that flicker across that porcelain face. There's no doubt he loves getting under Charles' skin. Provoking a _real_ reaction, not the stuffy professor or the dedicated pub flirt. From the beginning, half their philosophical arguments were based on this. They genuinely disagreed, of course, but Lehnsherr has never been the sort of man who wastes breath trying to sway others. Yet, it was _Charles_ he wanted to convince, to coax, replace that complicated pallet of grays with his own black and white. Sex had only added another facet to the already endless hall of mirrors.

(I want you; want to silence those ideals with my own lips, ensure that only gasps and moans follow. I want your legs around my waist, my length in your warm, clenching arse. I want to look in your eyes and know that-- in defiance of logic-- you want me, me, me.)


"And you ask what I want," the professor marvels, framing the older man's face with his hands. The barest hint of a smile tugs at the corner of his lips-- not so much an expression of happiness as a sign that Erik has just been out-foxed. It occurs to the captive that he had asked this questions before, and received a similar non-answer. The telepath bestows a close-mouthed but emphatic kiss, much like the kind Erik himself had once been so fond of snatching. Those eyes are so very, endlessly blue.

"Maybe you should ask instead; what will I give _you_ in return for what I want?"

"I think I've quite sampled those charms." The older man's smile is sharp, but they both know it's a front.

"Do you?" Tracing along Erik's biceps, reverent and lustful. "Do you, I wonder." The mind-reader leaned up, craning his neck so that his words caressed the shell of his lover's ear. "I don't think you understand, my love."


(You see, I know. Not just the fantasies you admit to yourself, the images you summoned when you wanted me but had only your hand for relief. Not just the desires that made you clutch me close, deliver that last wonderful stroke. I know _everything_. Our love-making was such a shadow, before. Like seeing the warm lights of a village and knowing that, no matter how many miles you walk, you'll never _quite_ get there. Your desires hummed under your skin, I could feel them when you touched me. Every filthy, worshipful thing you wanted to do to me, all the beautiful depraved things you wanted me to do to you.)

"And I can give them to you, Erik," Charles whispered aloud, knowing so much of the older man's pleasure stemmed from listening to such coarse language coming from that prim and proper mouth.

"Oh my love, my beautiful slut. Things you didn't even dare admit to yourself."

Chapter Text

(The images come quickly, like breaths of lightning, but so vivid. Like stained glass in their vibrant color. Charles, pierced with silver that hums constantly in the back of Erik's mind, two great loves intertwined. The metal-bender-- bound, gaged, and blindfolded-- so divorced from the world around him that Charles' touch is the only thing that feels real. The younger man's rosy nipples, just a shade lighter than his mouth, which fascinated Erik to the point he had always very studiously ignored them. Faster, faster, until he cannot sort them out, cannot identify where conscious wish melts into subconscious demand. Beautiful in its eroticism, in the _love_ that practically bleeds from every scene. Terrifying, because no two people could ever touch each other like that without perfect trust.)


"My pretty blue-eyed serpent," Erik murmurs, tender underneath the mocking tone. The bravado is there to shore up against his fear, the overwhelming sensation that he has lost more ground than he had ever hoped to gain, and in the blink of an eye.

('I am as G-d made me', people say. Well, I am as I was made, not by G-d, but by the mad doctor. I fight not only because I want to, but because I also do not know how to stop.)

And oh, his resentful child-self is screaming, way down in the catacombs where Erik himself dares not trespass. There's no way Charles _doesn't_ hear him, this time; that boy can be astonishingly loud. The telepath shifts, draws his lover down to listen to the ocean rhythm of that innocent, tarnished heart.


"Shhh…" Charles says, kissing the older man's hair. It's a bit unclear who he's speaking to. That hated memory, that restless ghost had finally tasted Schmidt's blood, and he was more volatile than he had been for many, many years. "Hush, dear one," the professor half-croons. Behind the sugary calm is some of Charles' own panic.

(Oh, Lord-- what if I do break him? His mind, his wonderful mind-- could I fix-- I'm not sure-- just this evening, maybe, remove that…)

Erik's grip becomes punishing, and the telepath instinctively sends forth waves of reassurance and bliss, tinged with penance.
"You know I wouldn't do that," the younger man goes on, seemingly unaware he's the only one participating in the conversation.


(I was only worried. It was only a thought.

Ah, Neshama, I think you lost that defense the moment you began helping yourself to mine.)


He's picking up two textures of horror-- Erik's fear of being changed, _operated_ upon without his consent, and his unrelenting dread of anyone seeing, knowing what he has already survived. Its far too late for that; Charles has known since that night in Miami, for what else could Erik mine for the rage to even attempt lifting that submarine? Sometimes the professor doesn't quite grasp the enormity of it, how its gangrenous rot touched _everything_. But he has also never flinched, never turned away in disgust.


(and, below that honest distress is something else, a repugnance that is also the seed of an idea.
"misstep," says the metal-bender's monstrous undermind, even as it shrinks away from charles' serene light. "mistake."
the idea is so abhorrent that it has no hope of rising to erik's conscious mind.


"Someday," the telepath says, brushing gentle, awed kisses against the other man's suddenly damp cheeks. "You'll understand how precious you are to me. How much I love you." 'And I will teach you to accept it, even if you think you don't deserve it, even if you feel it can't be borne.' Almost to himself, he adds, "I'm a very patient person."

How well Erik knows this-- Charles' patience is like that of the ocean against the coastal shelf. Soothing, mesmerizing, as unstoppable as the tide.


The professor kisses away the last of Erik's tears. Nimbly climbing out of bed, he he holds out his hand. The other man has a moment to marvel at the way Xavier holds himself, even whilst nude. It is not like Erik's careless, desensitized carriage at all, but the bearing of someone who feels himself to be watched, and very much desired.

"Come on, then." They're far past the 'lets-be-reasonable' tone, and a good way into 'you'd-best-play-nicely'. Not quite as familiar, but definitely something Alex and Hank would recognize. "I think we'll have a bath."


Erik lets the small hand over over his own, feels the ever-present bonds morph into that affectionate mantel, almost drugging in its comfort and respite. Charles keeps up the steady stream of warm emotions as he leads his captive into the bathroom, bids him kneel and wait.

(love you, want you, only mine, keep you safe give you pleasure, beautiful, beautiful, no one else will ever get to see you like this, mine)

As the professor begins drawing the bath, those tender projections slide closer and closer to covetous adoration, a growing ember of lust. It's like being in a dream where the senses were so heightened that even the most mundane of tasks made the vein in your cock pulse. The water doesn't run for very long-- with both of them in the tub, they'll hardly need much. As the professor motions for Erik to join him, the older man can't help but feel pleasantly disoriented. He has never been one for an excess of drink or chemical recreation-- the closest parallel he can find is the very first time he took himself in hand. Acting on instinct and rumor, groping for something he didn't quite understand.


It takes some doing, but the telepath arranges himself between his lover's legs so that they face each other. Those regal hands clasp themselves behind the other's neck, confidently possessive. The overwhelming sense of fright-- and whatever ideas came with it-- now seem like something a sailor might glimpse on distant shore. Maybe it's there, maybe it isn't. Oh, well.


"Touch me," Charles commands softly, and Erik does. Lingeringly, with far more deference than he ever has before. Gentle, gentle-- smoothing back the younger man's hair, ghosting over the freckles on his shoulders, the curve of his arse under the water.
"Not like that." The professor's smile is indulgent as he takes Erik's hand, guiding it so that the palm lays flat against one of those rosy nipples. The nub responds immediately, hardening even as the older man sucks in a long breath.

His own nipples are not very erogenous at all, though he knows the opposite his true for his younger lover. No matter how much Charles enjoys it, Erik has never been able to bring himself to pay more than cursory attention to those little buds. He's had his fair share of sexual partners-- of both genders-- and admired more than a few women's curves. None of them held quite the fascination that Charles' lithe chest does. Maybe its the contrast-- fleshy pink against pale English skin, reminiscent of that gorgeous mouth. Perhaps it is because the telepath is so smooth and hairless, making them seem more vulnerable. Its just a secondary sex characteristic, certainly no where near as notable as other points of interest. Regardless, the way they command his attention has always made Erik feel somewhat perverse. He does have standards, often quite alien to those around him, but standards never the less.


He can feel Charles hovering in his mind, waiting to see if he will indulge himself, or must be made to. Finally, the telepath licks his finger, taking it upon himself to pleasure the other nipple.

"Oh," Erik says, gently batting the professor's hand away so he can feel this one harden as well. Pinching them softly, he marvels at the texture.

"Mmmm…" Charles murmurs, head tilting back in unconscious enjoyment. "Just that way, yes." Distantly, the older man feels a prickle of shame, but it hardly seems important. Charles has asked him to do this, is pleased that he is doing this, projecting the little shocks of delight so they can both enjoy it. He flicks one cautiously, and they both breathe in sharply. When the professor kneels up, bringing his nipples almost perfectly level with the other's mouth, Erik barely hesitates. He nuzzles against each one, very precisely dividing his attention between them, always apologetically stroking the one he isn't focused on. With a broad swipe of his tongue, he licks each on, and then again when he hears the telepath's soft murmur of approval. Briefly, he pulls away, thinking he will see Charles face tilted up in ecstasy, eyes closed. Instead, that blue gaze doesn't waver, measuring him affectionately, waiting for him to go on. When he bends to start licking again, Xavier brings his hands up to cup the older man's skull, holding him in place.


That one word goes straight to Erik's cock, which is really the only thing that draws his attention to the fact he himself is aroused. He spares a brief thought for that-- it seems relatively unimportant-- before gently fastening his mouth against the left nipple.

"There's a good boy," the other's voice is quiet but utterly arresting. Like the feel of real gold against Erik's extended senses; a decadent, honeyed slide. "That's it, sweetheart." At some point, the metal-bender is going to look back on this and be mortified-- right now, he slides his hands up to stroke against Charles' shoulder blades, holding him in place.


"You are a slut, aren't you?" the professor asks, clearly not expecting a response. Which is good because, while Erik might be able to manage a monosyllabic answer, he's not sure what language it would be in, or if it would even be intelligible. Besides, there's the right twin to attend to.

"Thought you could hide." The telepath is clearly struggling to vocalize as well. Giving up, he strokes deft tendrils through the pleasure centers of Erik's brain. 'You thought I wouldn't see, wouldn't know what kind of boy I had in my bed.' That sharpens the edge of the older man's arousal. He's aware that he's leaking pre-come in the cooling water. "Such a mess you're making," the professor scolds breathlessly, at the same time sounding immeasurably pleased. "Up, up-- before you dirty the water further."


Erik kisses each bud regretfully, allows the other man to brace against him as they both step out of the bath. They're facing each other, dripping on the mat, flushed from the warm water and their own exertions. Blindly, Charles grabs a needlessly soft washcloth from the stack nearby. He holds it under the fresh tap for a moment and, when he cups both of their erections through the fabric, it is just on the right side of too hot. They both release little moans of pleasure as Xavier sets up a methodical pace. The texture is delicious, to say nothing of the firm grip. There's a warm rush as the professor finds his release, though that deft hand keeps stroking. The older man is aware he's waiting for something, holding on tooth and nail. A small part of him wonders what it is he's waiting for.

"Good boy," Charles says, tones drenched in approval and ownership. "You may."


It's another one of those orgasms that involve a whole spectra of color behind his eyes. Erik clutches the professor against him; half for balance, and half to feel those hard little nipples against his own ribcage. He's breathing hard as Charles discards the soiled washrag. Some of their seed has spilled over into his hand-- when the telepath holds it up for Erik to lick clean, the other doesn't miss a beat. Charles appropriates two more clean, wet cloths and begins wiping them both down. The older man returns the favor, though he has to go a bit more slowly, and he gets briefly distracted by the drop of water still clinging to the notch of Xavier's collar bone. The faint tinge of sweat smells like some exotic spice, or the darkness of earth around fresh roots.

"See? I told you. It may be hard work, but once we get you down there…" That grin would be boyish if it weren't so wicked. All the same, Erik has absolutely no idea what his lover is talking about. The only 'down there' he knows is that narrow, unpleasant kingdom that started this whole mess. Thinking perhaps its something of an order, Erik starts to kneel.

"No, darling." There's an indulgent chuckle. The telepath wraps a towel around himself, handing one to his companion. Then Xavier is back in Erik's space again, making himself comfortable against the taller man's chest. "You really don't know, do you?"

Even as his arms come up to cradle and hold, the older man projects a lazy sense of question and confusion.

"You feel very good right now-- warm and safe, right?"

Pause. A nod.

"You like just listening to my voice, don't you? It feels good when you do as I say, and you can feel how proud I am of you."

The nod comes more quickly this time. Erik rubs his cheek against Charles' damp hair.

"That's the 'down there' I'm talking about. How pleasurable it is to just let go, so the only thing you have to worry about is obeying me," the professor's tone is confiding, as if they are both privy to some secret. "You know I'll take care of you."


Ah. That would be utterly terrifying, if Erik weren't quite so relaxed. He's barely keeping himself upright. His mind hums with vague arousal, though his body is in no way prepared to respond. So very tired, he hopes Charles will lay down with him, stay until he falls asleep. That breeze moves again in his mind, looking for the sort of panic and fear he had experienced earlier that evening. There's really nothing to find. The older man is thinking about holding his lover, spooning up behind him, so that the encircling arm rests against those lovely sore nipples.

"Yes, of course," Xavier whispers. An impish look crosses his face as he stares up at Erik. "Carry me to bed?" Which is something Charles used to fuss at him for, being so eager to take advantage of their different builds, his own strength. Apparently, the rules have changed.

(rules change, lines shift, maps are rewritten, kingdoms rise and are lost again, men stumble behind enemy lines)

Lifting the younger man gently, Erik cradles him against his chest, holding his burden ever-so-carefully. He deposits Charles on the bed and climbs in after, huddling them both under the duvet. It's much darker in the room, now that the fire has died down, but still warm enough. The professor tilts his head back, and Erik gets a good-night kiss.


Later, as he drifts on the dark tides Charles has guided him to, he will dream. He will be alone, but tucked in carefully, while the telepath lives his other life. It is not a nightmare, this vision, but it is laced with a vague trepidation.


(It is the most powerful kind of dream, one that stems from memory, becomes refracted. Erik dreams he is twenty-something again, staying a squalid little apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris as he follows up on a lead. As is the way with the subconscious, some of the details are off. The room is right, utilitarian and given character only by the belongings of the man he reluctantly shares it with. But the walls are the wrong color, a yellow that makes him nervous. The man-- Lucas, Luca? something pretentious like that-- is an aspiring artist, the sort of hand-to-mouth type that occasionally condescends to illustrate for the pulps. He and Erik view each other with a sort of cordial contempt, made bearable only by the fact they know the arrangement is extremely temporary. The younger Erik watches Lucas pace back and forth, fuming. He is breaking his brushes over his knee, throwing them away like he thinks they could possibly land in the Seine from their drafty dormer window.

"That bitch!" Lucas is fairly shrieking, which amuses his roommate about as much as it annoys him. "That she should vomit up her own heart, and choke on it!" His model-- also his lover-- has left him for another artist, and said two-bit hack's girlfriend. There's a canvas of the lady in question propped up against easel. If Erik ever knew or cared what her name was, he doesn't remember. Pale little thing, long dark hair. Lucas stabs the painting with his pallet knife, over and over.

"This is the problem, Monsieur Lehnsherr." Even if he weren't drinking bourbon straight from the bottle, he would most certainly still butcher Erik's name. Over in the corner, there's the fair-haired young man who will become the next lover/model, though he isn't supposed to be there. In linear time, he begins showing up just a handful of days before Erik quits Paris all together. He has those blond good looks that grate on the metal-bender's nerves, and right now he looks spectacularly bored by the whole scene. An obtuse and disinterested Ganymede.

"Hate," Lucas continues, jabbing the air to make a point. "Hate has only one edge. Love has two."

The smell of chocolate begins to fill the room, another strange detail. It gets very strong, as if its somehow rotting, making Erik physically ill. Having completely destroyed the canvas, Lucas pulls the next closest one up in its place. It's acrylic, some tacky thing he did for one of the war-adventure pulps. Garish Japanese soldiers are throwing themselves off a cliff, onto the sharp sea-rocks below. It's atrocious, but Erik can't take his eyes off it. Couldn't, even when this was really happening.

Lucas rolls his eyes, says something the dreamer does not remember ever hearing before. "Ah, I should have known you'd like that one. Monsieur Dragon is quite the sort to take everyone down with him."


"There," a young boy's voice hisses. Ghost or no ghost, he means to have his way. "Give me that. It's sharp, it's metal. It's mine.")

Chapter Text

If there are any factors in Erik's favor, they are these: first, his instincts are such that conscious decisions are often the final part of his thought processes. Second, Charles-- with that typically selective chivalry-- withdraws considerably during their chess games.

They're playing now; one of their longer games, which has slowly been shifting in Erik's favor. The pauses between moves occur not so much for consideration as for the flow of conversation. They circle back on their old philosophical tracks, binary stars locked in orbit. Even after the paradigm shift of Cuba, they are both still the sum of their parts. It's not so much that Charles retains his unbridled faith in humanity (he's a great deal more selective about that too, these days)-- but they are still very different men.


"You don't really believe this respite will last, do you?" Erik asks, resting his chin in his hand. He's gotten used to playing nude. It rarely crosses his mind anymore, save that it makes him more accessible to Charles. "You may have delayed the inevitable, smoothing away our participation in the Crisis, and the CIA's knowledge of our existence. It won't last, though. As soon as humanity becomes aware of the threat to their supremacy, they will dedicate themselves to destroying us."

"Mmmm," Charles says, lithe fingers tracing over his remaining bishop. "There's no denying that, as a species, it would be in their best interest. Individuals might have sympathy for, or a stake in, the fate of mutant-kind. The whole, however, will react with atavistic panic." Long ago and far away, his innocent geneticist would not even have conceded that much. It's a bit surreal, an unpleasant scrape of ice against Erik's spine. Satisfied with his decision, the professor moves his bishop, nodding to his opponent.

"In a way, you're right. I am playing for time, though I don't think I'm being unrealistic about it." Today, Xavier is wearing a dark navy cardigan over slate gray slacks. Those eyes, so steady as they regard Erik, seem even more heartbreakingly blue. Even now, there's an openness about that face, plain affection for his confidant, that pierces the older man anew.


"To the outside world, this will be just another facility for gifted youngsters. I intend to do everything in my power to ensure this is a safe, welcoming space where they can come into their own." For a moment, the younger man's voice seems very far away. "I think about how ill-prepared Stryker and his fellows were to even grasp the concept of mutants. The ingrained conceit that they are the pinnacle of evolution. We'll have exceptional young people here, and they'll grow up to be exceptional adults. Scientists, artists, inventors, politicians…"


In so many ways, this strategy is as calculating as it is characteristically Charles. There is a brutal honesty in direct aggression-- Erik finds it redemptive. The professor has never shared his opinion.

"I want to get at least one generation of mutants out into society before our existence becomes generally known," his friend continues. "And then, by the time the world accepts the situation as real and immediate…"

It will be too late. There will be mutants in the corridors of power, in the public spotlight, and in the star-chambers where humans had once thought their secrets safe. The world would wake up to discover the war had been fought and decided, with barely a shot fired.

"That's quite the sleight of hand," Erik says, not bothering to disguise his tone. There's a sort of almost religious terror creeping into his voice. Insidious, is the word for it-- though he can't quite bring himself to say that aloud.

"Mutants don't necessarily need to outnumber humans," the scientist murmurs. "Though we certainly have anecdotal evidence to suggest the birth rate will increase. Who knows how many from the 'Baby Boom' are also part of a sudden surge in mutation as well? Not to mention that Hank and I have barely begun to chart factors on a genetic level. It may be that humans will just…" Charles' voice becomes very soft, but he does not look down or away. "Gradually phase out."


Such a deft little blue print, in both its inverted idealism, and its deceipt. Erik can very clearly envision his lover's own ghost-- that pale, quiet boy of empty libraries and lonely rocking chairs. The one who watched Sharon Xavier work a cocktail party, peering between banisters because he'd already been sent to bed. Here she is flirtatious-- there, confiding and sympathetic-- now fawning, yet discrete.

(Spieglein, spieglein, an der wand.)

For a moment, Erik half-expects to feel the serene tendrils of Xavier's thoughts, looking for the translation. Nothing-- his opponent is still interested in maintaining the integrity of the game. The older man moves a pawn, not for the sake of strategy, but because it will not due to let his attention lag. There is something rising, some idea dawning fully that he has unknowingly been considering for some time. A bit like a shell game, another sleight of hand. Now you see it, now you don't. He chuckles a little, shaking his head.

"I don't know what's so funny about sparing innocent lives," the professor says primly. Erik could kiss him, just then, if only for sounding so much like the Charles of old.

"No," the captive whispers, "I don't suppose you would." He smiles easily, because he is mocking himself. By way of explanation, "It's the irony I like. Gallows' humor."

A regal, if somewhat grudging nod in return.


(this is it, end of the rope, end of the line. enough rope to hang yourself, as they say. hang 'em high, and cut 'em down.
i told you. it's sharp, it's metal. it's mine.)


And there it is, the idea come to fruition. A sick, non-survival rose, thorns turned inwards. Silently, Erik watches the professor move his rook, and considers. There are, in his mind, two most likely outcomes. Either Charles takes him for his word, or the idea so enrages the telepath that he projects that wrath outward, which would probably have devastating consequences for anyone in close range. In either scenario, the real Erik-- the man-boy, monster-ghost-- who is the sum of his experiences will be gone. He doesn't believe in an afterlife; if there is a god, he is dead, or else insane. Still, ceasing to exist will be its own type of peace. Everyone should be so lucky.

"I have a solution," he offers, looking at his own reflection in the mirrored board.

"A solution to what?" Charles asks, leaning forward.

"This." With a broad wave of his hand, Erik indicates the room, his imprisonment, the power struggle at large.

For a moment, his jailor seems faintly amused. "Whatever do you mean?"


"You should have done it long ago." The words are atonal-- he's trying for academic disinterest and falling sorely short. Well, no man is eager to die. "Like your solution with the humans-- secure your victory before the struggle even begins." Now he does lift his gaze, drinking in that beautiful face.

(my love, my enemy, my brother in arms)

"Reach into my mind," Erik says desperately. "Make it so that it is what you want. Change what you wish, discard what you can't. You have exactly the powers that separate gods from men. _Be_ god."


What follows is probably a long silence, though the older man cannot hear it over the pounding of blood in his ears. He can feel Charles following his train of thought, how the idea had grown in darkness and knew no light. That poorly composed painting, Japanese soldiers on their final banzai plunge, flashes briefly before him.

"Excuse me?" the professor asks, his voice like the sound of dead leaves on stone.

(hate has one edge, love has two)

"I said--" But Erik doesn't finish-- the breath seems knocked from him, replaced with cold, twisted bone. He hadn't realized how accustomed he'd become to Charles' mental presence, the glow of that affectionate sentience, until it is utterly gone. Involuntarily, he shivers.

"I heard what you said." Not just calm, but placid. Ice over a running stream. "I'm sorry." An expression of regret, rather than apology. "I thought I had made myself clear." The telepath's aura is like some phoenix's wing-span, crackling dangerously even as it suddenly holds itself apart from Erik.


"I love you." Xavier sounds very tired, as though his anger is outweighed by an almost physical disappointment. "_You_. Your mind, and the soul you mistakenly refuse to acknowledge. There's no denying you're physically attractive, and I don't think I've ever argued that point. However…" That blue gaze focuses briefly past the older man, as if searching the shadows. Erik knows better-- it is his own mirror of memory the professor is transfixed by. This is just the first time in a long while that Lehnsherr hasn't been privy to it as well. It's disconcerting, like static marring a broadcast.

(too much interference, too much white noise. I no longer hear the music and, worse still, I no longer remember the song.)

"Do you think other people's minds are pleasant?" Charles asks, seemingly changing tracks. He may not be reading his captive's mind, but he can definitely read the other man's face. He holds up a hand to forestall the familiar, inevitable argument. I'm not talking about whether their thoughts are unkind, or if their essential character bleeds through."

(oh, my poor, chivalrous darling-- do you think I like being right about the propensity for evil?)

"I'm talking about just the _feel_ of other minds around you, constantly. Its like looking at the same bowl of fruit painted by a million different artists. After a while, it can make you feel alien to yourself."


"But you--" Erik protests, remembering the look on his friend's face the first time he'd told the telepath to stay out of his head. The rest of the words won't come, however. It's probably just as well.

"Don't seem to have a problem being in your mind? Have, in fact, sought it out?" Those blue eyes are so _intense_, full of some feeling. It seems unbelievable that Erik cannot immediately decipher what it is. "It's not a hardship to be in your mind, Erik. One of these days, you're going to figure out that you're the exception, not the rule!"

Chapter Text

"It's not a hardship to be in your mind, Erik. One of these days, you're going to figure out that you're the exception, not the rule!"

Charles spreads his hands, palms up and open, an inarticulate gesture that begs, 'please understand', even as the look in his eyes whispers, 'I know you can't'. The metal-bender automatically begins to rise as well, reaching towards the professor. All he gets is a quick, sharp shake of the head.

"I don't want an ornament. Some," the younger man spits the word, "_marionette_ that looks like Erik and sounds like Erik, but is not-- in any way that counts-- _my_ Erik!" Never once during this entire exchange has he raised his voice. He still doesn't, though his words gain a strange cadence, as if imbued with the power of that brilliant mind. "Is this your version of falling on your sword?"


(live when they want you dead; die, when they demand you live. poison the wells, salt the earth. make them pay for every centimeter, every molecule, blood and blood and yet more blood. let them have their pyrrhic victory, and then die with the taste of
--ash, chocolate, unclean things--
your vengeance in their mouths.)


Erik knows Charles doesn't need to read his mind right now. It is clear on his own face, the expression-- or lack thereof-- that shows he has no tricks left, and his back is to the sea.

"Always military terminology, with you," the professor observes. Briefly, the older man's mind seems to tense, waiting for that familiar psychic caress. Nothing comes. The younger mutant is utterly removed from him, and Erik must again fight down the urge to physically reach out. Everything about his captor's body language says such a thing would not be welcome right now. No, Xavier is not listening his thoughts-- he's making a statement based on past experience.


And what can be said to this? Words of apology, yes, but no special skill would be required to detect insincerity. Erik had expected any number of outraged reactions to his gambit. This… this heart-weary sorrow, this withdraw, was not one of them.

"That's the thing about battles," Charles continues. "Someone always wins, and someone else loses. It's not a good metaphor for interactions between two people who supposedly love each other."

There ought to be a pithy retort for that but, the statement strikes Erik as so completely ridiculous-- and so horrifyingly _true_-- that nothing comes to him. They both flinch as the words hang in the air, but whats said is said. What's unsaid is _also_ said; that is the telepath's gift, and his curse. He can know that Erik feels so deeply, even after all this, and also be fully aware his lover remains unwilling to utter the words. Charles tilts his chin up in that regal, defiant manner. He's giving his final word on the subject.
"You don't get to walk away. Especially not like that."

(beloved enemy, resented friend. do you not think it is the same for me? i could walk away and still never leave, always circling back, ardent and covetous even as i refuse you.)

Returning to his seat, the professor gestures distractedly towards the board. "Let's just… finish the game."


They do finish, and in short order. It's hardly more than a formality. Erik no longer has eyes for the board, and Xavier quickly turns the tide against him. It occurs to the older man that he should say something-- try to defend, to explain, because he cannot apologize. They're just _words_, though, and English ones at that. Never has the adopted tongue felt so clumsy, so inadequate.

"Well," Charles says, clasping his hands over his knees. An old part of Erik tenses; so ancient, and yet such a little boy. Surely now, even the saintly professor will take a pound of flesh. "I suppose I'll go bully the lawyers a bit more-- Raven says I'm being abominable-- but I really do want everything in order so we can open for the spring term." There's that brave little smile, like the one in Langley, when Charles said he hoped his new friend would stay. "I can't put off chores forever, I suppose."


It comes to Erik-- rather more slowly than it should have, he feels-- that the professor intends to leave. His captor had kissed him awake, fucking his mouth ardently with that nubile tongue. What followed was a a brief but intensely erotic fumble, during which the telepath held his lover still and relaxed while he ground his own hardness against the older man's thigh. Erik had been wild to touch him, and utterly helpless to do anything save lie there. The thought that Xavier could use him, any part of him-- even something as mundane as his thighs-- for self-gratification had only heightened the arousal. He came when permitted

(such a good little boy)

but his own orgasm almost paled in comparison to the relief of finally being allowed to put his hands on Charles again. Then dinner, and the ill-fated chess game. Not a long sequence of events, but a fair investment. Erik has no way of measuring time, but he knows (he knows) the telepath usually stays much longer. Chess is almost always a prelude to the main event, as both prisoner and jailor indulge in a myriad of touches, pleasuring each other until the feedback loop becomes almost too much to be borne. More often than not, the older man has to beg for mercy. The ecstasy blurs against his physical limitations until he feels lost, almost drunk with it. Only his lover's mind and hands keep him moored. On those occasions, he falls into a sated sleep naturally, awash in the sensation of he and Charles intertwined. He hasn't seen a glass of 'juice cocktail' in… quite some time.


"You're leaving?" he asks, cursing himself immediately for sounding so inane.

"It's probably best, don't you think?" In many ways, the telepath seems genuinely remorseful. He doesn't need to project; the look in those cyan eyes says 'you're so good to put up with me, darling' loud and clear. They will play it like this, then, the coordinated little pin-pricks Charles prefers. The thought kindles a brief spark of anger, which Erik actually manages to hold on to.

"I know you're very busy," Lehnsherr demurs, chin jerking up in contradictory defiance. What a farce. Xavier makes a brief noise of agreement, reaching over to stroke his lover's cheek. It's a simple touch, bit it's also _simply_ a touch. There's no emotive echo behind it, no sense of _Charles_. For all they're standing right next to each other, they may as well be the room's length apart. Or farther. Just like that, the precious little ember of wrath is gone.

"You won't get into any trouble, will you, love?" Again, more part of the script than an actual question. Erik has nothing to gain through physical resistance, not that it would be allowed to last long. He shakes his head slowly. He's tired, and has to concentrate on not hunching his shoulders against the perceived cold. "Well, then. Good night, dear."


With that, the professor is gone. The prisoner hears him linger outside the door only long enough to make sure its secure. Whatever reinforces Erik's cage, it isn't metal. He sits, listening to the fire pop, staring at the abandoned chair.


(They do have a blazing row, once. Not over philosophy or politics, for those discussions are always courtly and pointed, like fencing matches. It's some trivial thing; the heat in the hotel room, which road they should have taken, what might have been said to sway another mutant to join their cause. Whatever it is, its a fight for the sake of fighting. A pressure valve. Charles bids him good night like that, vague and tepid.

The older man is on him in an instant. Not in anger, for he has never raised a willing hand to his young man. Instead, it's a possessive greed. He had been _dismissed_ and, if there is one thing Erik Lehnsherr has always had, since that very first meeting, it is Charles' attention.)

What happened then? Erik turns his own gaze inward, away from the empty room and chair and bed. They'd had a little scuffle, each so fierce in his expression that he made the other laugh. There had been some name-calling, and kisses more akin to bites. In Iowa, that was-- or maybe Idaho. The hotel decor was all tawdry oranges and browns, a riot of the so-called 'modern' look. They ended up making love in one of Erik's favorite positions, which was also one his lover rarely indulged. On the edge of the still-made bed, Charles astride the taller man's lap, facing each other. So warm, and the sweet weight of his liebchen. They both liked having access to each other's mouths but, more than that, Erik adored how Charles needed his careful help to maintain balance. No pillows or free hands, either-- if the professor wanted to hide his face, or the sounds he made, he was forced to do so within the circle of his lover's arms. On that particular occasion, Erik had also availed himself of that pale neck and, for days afterward, had felt an atavistic thrill when he saw the faintest edges of the bruise peeking up over Charles' collar.


If anything, the bunker room seems even colder now, airless as a vault. Without thinking, the metal-bender strikes out at the chess board, knocking the pieces so that they clatter and roll on the cement floor. Even this anger does not last long, though it is a bit stronger. Perhaps, if he'd been in the bathroom, he might have heard the pipes hum or pop in sympathy. The pawns and rooks and bishops care not; they lay scattered and inert, and silica will never sing for him. He's going to have to fish under the divan for a few of the pieces, as well, though he's damned if he'll do it right now.


Finally, Erik makes his way to the bed, pulling the thick comforter free. 'It's a sensory translation, dummkopf,' he thinks, even as he wraps the thick blanket around himself and steps slowly back towards the hearth. It is simply that his non-telepathic mind has no other way of comprehending the sensation of Charles'… absence. He gives that blue velvet cushion a fair nudge with his foot, but he also refrains from sitting on the low couch. Instead, he collapses in an inelegant heap on the rug, as close to the fireplace as can possibly be wise.


(He does this as a boy, too, in that far away land of Before. In the winter, he sits so close to the fire, or the wood-burning stove, that his mother comes to ruffle his hair and tease him about making sure he bakes evenly on both sides.)


There are actually things he could do, aside from cleaning up the mess he just made. He could make it worse, for one, though he recognizes that as just the sort of impulse that led down this road. There are some novels left from his convalescence-- A Tale of Two Cities, Idylls of the King, the later of which Charles showed a marked preference for reading aloud. There some loose paper and a red pen, left from one of the professor's editing sessions, too. In the nightstand, he thinks, or even in the quite neglected desk in the corner.

Never the less, Erik cannot be bothered to move. His gray eyes stay on the fire, watching the change, the combustion as fuel is burned. He has shelter, he has fed. No one has beaten him, or taken samples, or strapped him to a slab that more belongs in a morgue. It is only Charles' company he has been deprived of, the man who has held him here unwillingly, and that is nothing.


"Less than nothing, as they say," he murmurs to himself. Like removing a single grain of sand from glass, like dividing by zero. He tilts his head back against the divan, closes his eyes. He's been staring at the fire so long the greenish imprint remains in the pink of his lids. In a little while, he will gather the scattered chess pieces, build up the fire. He will entertain himself with something, or simply go lie in the bed. For now, Erik dozes, rising back to consciousness awkwardly, unable to be truly asleep or truly alert. When he does try to wake, the world takes on the faintly yellow cast of hyper-reality familiar from all night stake-outs and narrow, exhausted escapes. He doesn't really dream. Instead, fragmented thoughts and images pass before him.

(The picture post-card beach, somehow littered in bars of stolen gold. The sound of chalk against the board, of the Math teacher instructing fifth year students to practice problems with negative numbers. Except the numbers won't stay still, they're red and sticky and come off on his hands. Something that smells too sweet, burning-- he can't find it and the scent is everywhere. The bar in Argentina, on a brilliant spring day. There are no men there, just pigs, and their throats have all been cut.)


Later, he will look back on such disjointed visions and remember that, for the majority of his life, he has considered that a good night's sleep.

Chapter Text

Erik is aware that he's in trouble-- he just doesn't realize how _much_ until Charles visits him again.


He'd drifted off to sleep by the fire, unconsciously curling into a defensive position that greatly annoyed him when he woke. Then, of course, there were the chess pieces to collect, put back in order. Hunting for the glass figures only made him long to strike out again. That sharp, satisfying spike of anger--

(you will pay and pay and i will see to it that you never stop paying)

the knowledge that he had worked his will on something that was powerless to stop him. He supposed that was what Shaw truly sought, in the camps, and in Cuba. Not defense, not even vengeance, just malice to be inflicted. To be the author of other people's misery, exert god-like powers over life and death.


'Well,' he'd thought with a smile that made a mockery of the expression, 'even gods are judged eventually. Slain, cast out, usurped, or all of the above.'

(You are dead, and by my hand. I swore it and I made it so. I gave you back what was yours, that coin slicing through your skull and the folds of your brain tissue. I hope that, in your last moment, you felt everything going to ruin, and I hope it tasted like hypocritical chocolate blocking your throat.
You are dead, Schmidt. So just
stay that way.)


In the end, the fearsome doctor was just a man. A mutant, yes, but still a small and pathetic creature. Mutants would be gods only until they had nothing left to rule,

(in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king)

though Lehnsherr did not deceive himself that he would ever see that day. And why should he? Whatever he'd been born as, he'd been _shaped_ into a thing made for fighting, for revenge.

(take it out in blood because i know you have no honor)

The rage that had been building inside him ebbed, then. He reset the chess board with a listless disinterest, and spent a long time looking at the empty, rumpled bed. For the first time since the beach, since he'd been shot, he was truly alone. There was no remorse in him for what he'd done-- or been about to do-- and also no regret. He had never expected peace, but this yowling cavern within was something else entirely. It made him think of sheets of rain, of the chill in Northern England and the way the whole landscape seemed to turn gray and mildew. Shaking the thoughts off physically, he'd climbed under the now-familiar duvet, forced himself to finish sleeping.
With such thoughts on his mind, it was scarcely a wonder that the nightmares found their way to his door again.


He wakes now, suddenly. Not gasping or crying out, for he has long since learned to be silent, but there is nothing to stem the tide of adrenaline. His body says 'run', the little ghost-boy says 'fight', something shriveled inside of him says he cannot go back there again. He can, though, that's the problem-- he mind does not need to warp or distort these visions. The things he saw, as they were-- as they _are_-- unvarnished, are so grotesque as to make a mockery of life, and even the concept of hell. When he gets like this, he's half convinced it's still happening, that it will never fucking stop.

"Erik." Charles says. Whenever he was when the older man awoke, he's sitting on the edge of the bed now, holding the hand Erik has balled into a fist. "Breathe. You need to breathe."

He does, in part simply because its Charles' voice, telling him to.


"That's it," the professor encourages, slowly prising the strong fingers from where they've been digging into the dreamer's palm. His other hand strokes along Erik's jaw. "You're right here." He does not say, you're safe', which is utterly in keeping with Charles' character. The younger man may be at times hopelessly optimistic, but he has never enjoyed lying outright. They stay like that for a moment, before the telepath very gently rests his lover's hand back on the bed. The touch lingers oddly but, when Erik can see that mobile expression again, it is nothing more or less that Xavier the chess partner, the friend. Complete with a smile from the very early days, welcoming but a bit reserved. "I brought you something."


Erik rises from the bed, head down, more concerned with trying to rub the phantom images out of his eyes than anything else. He has learned to forget the immediacy, push it back. Like going inside oneself, there's a trick to it, but one can… disremember. So it takes him the span of several breaths to recognize what his captor has set beside him. A black bundle, clothes. He should know, because they're his-- no doubt taken from the mansion bedroom he'd occupied in that other, fleeting life. Black slacks, gray turtleneck, underwear and socks. They look so foreign sitting there, like an anachronistic _idea_ of clothing, instead of the real thing. Looking up in askance, he finds that Charles is no longer facing him. The young man has turned his back, as if-- after all of this-- there is still some illusion of modesty to be preserved between them.

"Get dressed. Supper's getting cold." Gentle, but very firm.


The whole thing is ludicrous, but Lehnsherr hardly feels like laughing. Instead, he dresses, highly aware of the feel of the clothes against his skin. Nothing more or less than fiber, than weave, but it feels as though he's pulling his skin along jagged ice. He could make a snide remark about rewarding bad behavior, but they both know that's not what this is.

"Finished?" Worse than Charles' turned back is the fact he has to _ask_. His lover is there, and not; that warm, familiar mind is still held apart from him. Detached. It occurs to the older man that he once spent entire days like this, entire sessions of chess or lovemaking, looking at this flat image and thinking it vibrant.


Dinner is noodles and parmesan, with chilled Marsala. The mysterious Betsy at work again, undoubtably. It's temporarily displaced the chess board, which is odd. Erik turns his head ever so slightly, trying not to be obvious as he looks for his cushion.
It's gone.

"Sit down, Erik," Charles says, perfectly pleasant. His face gives nothing away, as calm and affable as the first time he asked 'may I sit with you?' in the Langley canteen. The meal must be very good, judging by the previous feasts they've sampled, and Erik puts real effort into trying to taste it. Ceramic fork, knife, his separate glass and plate. It's food-- _good_ food, and it should not be wasted or unappreciated. The professor keeps up a steady stream of daily commentary, occasionally phrasing something as a question, getting a vague nod in response. He's trying to convince Alex and Sean to apply for university, though the former has declared he has no patience for it at all. At any rate, the telepath does not think the elder Summers is eager to leave young Scott, who clearly adores him. Raven and Angel are thick as thieves-- really, there should be some sort of _quota_ on giggling, and he'd be very pleased with the English Ororo is picking up, if it wasn't all slang.


None of this is exactly new. Xavier has always made sure to keep him informed about the others in the household, although G-d only knows the explanation he's given them in reverse. Even just a little while ago, Erik might have pressed on that, asked with flippant good humor if the telepath even let them _remember_ Erik. The words stay on his tongue now, they curl and die and get swallowed with the meal. He drinks deeply of the wine, though it is again far too sweet. Charles, thrice-damned _Charles_ and his choreographed battles, his perfect little geometric shapes. It is easy to imagine the professor as a young boy, honing this skill over a silent table, exchanging glances with a cherubic Raven and, oh, would you pass the sugar, dear?


The part of Erik that is tensed for pain, prepared for a physical punishment, does not relax. It can't-- he will never truly believe there isn't a threat. But it does coalesce, gain mass and weight to become like a ball of impure lead in his stomach. Patience, endurance, stubbornness; he has all of these, in abundance. He has outlasted other things.


This too, as they say, shall pass.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Except it _doesn't_ pass, and Erik is becoming greatly weary of the wisdom 'they' seem so eager to convey. Hindsight, they say; the grass is greener, all things in their time, and if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. He would blame it on the language, on the fact English can't seem to express any idea without also implying two others, but he knows that's not it.

Charles doesn't stay as long as he used to. That is not to say Lehnsherr is neglected in anyway-- they have meals together at such intervals that he is never hungry, and there is always a game or two of chess. Sometimes, Charles brings books, the way he did in the beginning, or outlines he wants to show off, changes for the school. There's always news of the others, companionable rambling. Hank has been corresponding with a physicist at Harvard-- he's garnered some rather ingenious ideas from their long, highly technical letters. Sean and Angel have taken to flying together, and it is rather amusing to see such a seasoned girl utterly at a loss when faced with silent, almost awed attention.


Apparently, Erik is also now trustworthy enough to be left to his own devices. No more quaint little cocktails, though at this point they might be a respite. He does push-ups, sit-ups, for _something_ has to replace the extremely athletic sex his body had gotten used to. He plays word games in all languages he's fluent in, throwing in a few others when he starts to get bored. 'Idylls of the King' is read, quite thoroughly, along with 'Bleak House', and 'Flatland'. The latter remains as utterly incomprehensible as it was the first time Erik came across it in sixth form. The teacher had insisted it was supposed to be satire; Lehnsherr had been equally adamant that a story about an oppressive, exploitive society was hardly ironic-- it was just the truth. Still, the idea of two-dimensional beings being introduced to those with three leaves a bad taste in his mouth. It makes him think of distance and perspective, how he is sometimes pathetically grateful when Charles kisses him on the cheek, and then angry because it can hardly be _felt_.

He discovers that his room is thirty foot-lengths by forty-two, if measured exactly heel to toe.

Breadth and depth; distance and perspective. It's like the long weeks he spent _watching_ Charles, fascinated and angry and wanting, except now he knows what he's missing.


(It's in Minnesota, of all places, that they finally reach the point of no return. Lehnsherr has already spent a great deal of time _wanting_. He confines his more detailed fantasies to the shower, and the lightless quiet of 3 AM, but awareness of his friend is always there. Their shoulders brush, they walk in perfect step with one another. They spend hours together in enclosed spaces, and the younger man makes these little _noises_ while he dozes under Erik's leather jacket, looking for all the world like an invitation to sin. Even awake, gazing about with his natural curiosity, he looks like something to be gobbled up, carried off, _hoared_.

He longs, and every day it continues to feed his wrath. Charles should not move him so.


It's not as if the younger man is perfect; there are flaws in that elegant form, just as there are cracks in that gentle soul. The professor is naive, he can be condescending, he manages to be a factual genius while remaining incredibly sheltered. He is possessed of seemingly limitless compassion, but is in no way selective about whom he bestows it upon, and he has the most convenient moral blind-spots. The metal-bender has never had much tolerance for other people's faults. He has dropped or avoided others interested in him, and for far less. But Charles, even when he's playing a jaunty tune on Erik's last nerve, remains endlessly alluring. For all the moments the older man wants to shout, 'grow up, open your eyes!', he still wants the geneticist exactly as he is.
It's maddening.


So they return to their lodgings as they so often have-- with nothing to show for all their revelations, their kindred entreaties. Lake Vermillion is aptly named, and the sunset casts Charles in beautiful shades of bronze, crimson, and rust. As has become the habit when they strike out, they've both indulged in their preferred poisons. Going to a bar with Charles is a challenge in multi-tasking. Keeping up his end of the discussion, mesmerized as the telepath sips, fidgets, and makes wild gestures with his hands. He must also watch the others, the ones who are watching his young man, wanting. The professor makes it a point to hit on any vaguely attractive young woman and, while his pick-up lines make Erik want to cringe with laughter, the older man is aware of the often predatory attention his young friend garners unconsciously. A hyena, he tells himself, is uniquely suited to guard against other hyenas. However where is nothing to protect Xavier from his friend. In the deepest dregs of the night, Erik can admit that he would have it no other way.
It never occurs to him that he might need protection, against Charles.


"It's fascinating, trying to predict particle behavior," the professor explains, leaning ever-so-slightly against Lehnsherr. Charles does not _do_ drunk, only vaguely tipsy, prone to meandering half-lectures that follow some chain of logic only he can define. Erik, who has watched his friend grow ever more melancholy through their last three refusals, has mostly held himself back. The chill off the still icy lake is bracing, and he steers the other by the elbow, towards their rustic little hotel room.

"Thing is," Xavier continues, having paused only long enough to watch the metal-bender exert his power over the locks. "Thing is-- the more we become convinced that something is elemental, the foundation, the more wrong we turn out to be. Protons and neutrons, _quarks_ of all things… who knows what other types of exotic matter are out there?" Erik nods slowly, making little noises of agreements in the right places, though the Englishman's cosmology is distressing at best. Raven is always quite happy to relate an incident in Oxford, during which a certain rather inebriated grad-student reduced an Astrophysics major to frustrated tears. He's fairly certain tonight's lecture started off with the periodic table, though he fully admits he may not have caught all of it. The telepath's already tempting lips had been quite intimate with his martini, and it was more than a little distracting.

"Quarks," he repeats, because it seems to be a salient point. Also, there are certain English words that are utterly laughable, and that is one of them.

"And possibly anti-quarks," Charles informs him sagely. It would almost sound wise, save for how tangled he's become in his own cardigan. "Like anti-matter."

"Fantasy," Erik dismisses. He watches the younger man struggle for a moment longer, before finally toeing off his shoes and reaching between the beds to assist.

"_We're_ fantasy." The professor sounds very pleased with himself. Together, they manage to get him down to his collared shirt. Those try little buttons yield at throat and wrists to give tantalizing glimpses of flesh. "There's so much in the universe that sounds… sounds outrageous. Kerr black holes, for example."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Erik says, stripping off his own turtleneck, "though I'm sure you'll tell me all about it."

"It's fascinating."

"You already said that."

"Then it's… mesmerizing, intriguing." Some very satisfied nodding, before the telepath sits himself on the edge of the bed so he can correct this grievous over-sight in Lehnsherr's education. "Kerr black holes… to think that one might actually travel through layers of reality, _see_ a parallel universe…"

"You," the older man playfully tosses his shirt over the other's head. "Are just making things up now. In fact, I think you've learned just enough to make you sound like you know what you're talking about. Your field is supposed to be genetics."

"All the sciences are noble," his friend says petulantly, effect further ruined by the mess he's made of his hair. "It's important to be well-rounded. Hank would tell you--"

"Hank is even less intelligible than you are."

"--that parallel universes are completely possible within the current cosmological model. There are so many variables," Charles adds, staring past the other for a moment, as if imagining such vistas. Those blue eyes then refocus on Erik, holding his gaze as the telepath defiantly tilts his chin. "Universes where mutation occurred earlier in our timeline, or not at all." One hand braced on the nightstand, he leans forward, closing the space between them, putting a hand on his friend's knee. "Universes where mammals aren't the dominant life-form. Even…" Ah, that aristocratic hand is traveling slowly upwards, and by touch alone. Charles is watching the older man's face with a mixture of challenge, trepidation, and reckless hope.


"A universe where you and I are in bed together. Right. Now.")

Chapter Text

("Parallel universes are completely possible within the current cosmological model. Universes where mutation occurred earlier in our timeline, or not at all. Universes where mammals aren't the dominant life-form. A universe where you and I are in bed together. Right. Now."

Charles says the last part so softly, moving his deft hand up from Erik's knee, tracing the line of his trousers along the older man's inner thigh. There's something endearingly boyish about Xavier when he's in these moods, more focused on theory and possibility than hard fact. When he lets empirical evidence hang, Erik can see the eager but awkward undergraduate, the gangly teen waiting to grow into his limbs. In this particular sense of alienation, the disparate men actually lock and match. A voice in the inky black ocean, saying 'you are not alone'. Ah, but those eyes- that unmatched blue-- they said, 'i am not alone, _we_ are not alone' and they were brighter than the sea-moon with their rejoicing. The professor's eyes are bright now, too. Some of it is the drink, some of it is the pitch of affinity that has developed so quickly between them, but there is more. Telepath or no, Charles is making a gamble; there is joy in finally abandoning everything to chance, and fear that the odds won't pay off. The metal-bender knows the inferno's edge of risk quite well himself.
Even that thrill pales in comparison to this young man.


The taller man chuckles indulgently, even as he uses his angle to catch Xavier off balance, tackling him to his back on the other mattress. Their bodies are pressed together, not a breath between them. Erik distributes his weight so that it is not overwhelming, while still leaving his opponent quite effectively pinned. "Really, Charles. We are in bed."


"You know what I meant." There's some lip-biting, which shreds the finer points of the older man's control even at the best of times. His manages enough finesse to turn most of the lights off, leaving only the lamp on the nightstand and the dim wash of sunset through the curtains.


"And if there is such a place." He keeps his voice low, silky, as teasing as the fingers he strokes against Charles' neck, down that lissome body to seize upon wrists. He can almost hold both of Xavier's in one of his hands. The pulses beat against his palm, quick and delicate. Delicious. He breathes the words against the shell of an ear. "Then that Erik is a fool."


The tension in his friend's body is immediate and potent, but the taller man maintains his grip. Charles is trying to crane his head, make eye contact, read his expression. Erik trails his lips and breath a mere centimeter away from pale skin, ghosting over it, feeling those hips press up despite the sudden altercation.


"He's a fool," Lehnsherr reiterates. "Because, when _I_ take you, you are damned well going to be in your right mind, and you'll remember every. moment." Now he does pull away a little, just enough to cup the other man's jaw, brush back a strand of hair.

"Erik." It's less a word than a movement of lips. A round 'o' shape follows, as the older man grinds their hips together, enjoying the feel of his friend beneath him. The outline of Charles' hard-on is hot, like a branding iron, both comforting and enticing in its weight. Erik kisses like he's waging a war, taking what he's spent so long watching helplessly across tables and in rear-view mirrors. They both groan into it, scarcely separating for air. The professor's approach is more coaxing, devious-- he sucks on his friend's tongue like it's a reward in and of itself, instead of just foreplay.


"Mmmm," Erik murmurs when they part, drawn down to stroke and nuzzle the curve of the other man's neck. "I suppose I should feel distinctive. That wasn't even a genetics line."


Quite suddenly, there is a burning without, as well as within. The metal-bender has become accustomed to his own low, constant hum of desire. Its pitch increases, having Charles under him so, but he still knows the shape of that wanting. Friendship, lust, rivalry, awe and competition and desire, all surrounding some other, deeper emotion he refuses to name. This outside thing, however, is more gentle, like a man trying to gentle a wild beast in out of the storm.

--want you. special. treasured. my friend, my brother. same, same, my other half. want closer, want _more_, will give so much more--

Like the cresting of a tidal wave, the feeling of Charles' affection overtakes the other man between heartbeats, earnest and unvarnished. Erik refuses to call it anything more than caring, than attachment but-- even as he seeks to own in that naming-- he knows what it really is.

"Erik, you must know that my feelings for _you_--" The words aren't necessary, but they are all the more dangerous for being uttered aloud. Yes, Erik knows, and now Charles knows-- what's coming next. A faint shadow flickers in the professor's gaze, an echo of an echo of loss.


"Charles." He strokes his hand through the younger man's hair, feeling how fine it is, tracing the crown and the shape of his skull. Behind that face, those eyes, lies a brain gifted in ways he cannot even begin to fathom. More than flesh on flesh, its caressing tendrils are like the waves of that night ocean, drawing Erik back from the edge. "Mein schatz," he whispers ardently, trying to soften the blow. "I would have you, in my bed as well as by my side." He rests their foreheads together, "But not in here."

"No. No, I suppose you wouldn't." The telepath tries to look away, even as Erik sits up, draws forward the wrists he's captured so he can lave at them, press his lips to the faint tracery of veins. "I gave you my word, and you still have it."

"I have no doubts about your honor, Professor Xavier." The older man can't help but smile at being able to embrace his friend, draw him close. "Your word is your bond." Charles has freed his wrists, and Erik would miss the feel of them, if not for the fact he's now able to put both hands on the professor. He strokes along the line of his lover's hip, his arse, kissing the edges of that mouth as if working himself up to a spectacular feast.

"Indeed. Bound is a good word for it.")


'Bound,' Erik thinks presently, staring at the dim flicker of firelight on the featureless concrete walls. At the time, he'd hardly been phased by Charles' comment-- it seemed like just a little pointed dig, one of the many ways they couldn't seem to stop needling each other. Now he truly considers it; the restraint implied, the loss involved.

(look but don't touch, eyes only. grayscale in which color isn't just absent, it never existed at all.)

One can, however, be bound to, as in possessed of. That's a dangerous word, 'possession'. An object, a thing owned, yes, but there is also possession as an act, being taken over.

(the flesh is willing but the spirit is; the spirit is willing but the flesh is)


The feel of Charles' will, so finely wrought but infinitely strong, moving through Erik's own mind. The older man's early attempts at freezing out his lover-turned-jailor had been for naught. The professor loved it, far preferred it, when Erik reciprocated of his own volition, but it had never been a requirement. Like the devastatingly erotic night in the bath, Xavier could read even the desires his lover kept tightly submerged. Sometimes, his will was iron

(When Erik was still recovering, the telepath made him submit to being held. Coddled, fussed over, recipient of a thousand soft touches that-- no matter how tempting-- he would have turned away in the time before.)

and sometimes coaxing, seductive.

(Once he's made an intimate acquaintance with Charles' nipples, it's hard for Erik to ignore them anymore. The telepath always projects his pleasure, every lightning flash of delight along nerve endings, but that is almost incidental. It's putting his mouth on those tight buds Erik adores. He lingers over them, lips almost sore from puckering, feeling dirty and wanting to touch himself and not quite caring about either.
It's the kind of ecstasy that's only terrifying later, when he's alone.)


That sense of belonging is gone now, and he cannot seem to wrest apologetic words-- in any language-- from his own tongue. A part of him is disgusted that he's even tried. He dreams in German, in Polish, echoing off one another like discordant cries. His French is very proper, cunning and politic, the stuff of deception and negotiation. In Hebrew, nouns change in the genitive construction. The very fact of ownership, of possession, transforms the word, sometimes unrecognizably.
There are moments when English is so very imprecise.


More than not being able to force the words, Erik feels robbed. He had not realized he was learning yet another language-- the give and take of lyric, of his mind and Xavier's as one-- and now it has been stolen from him. Verbs missing, preventing action, whole clauses and piles of adjectives gone in the night.

Which is stupid, because if he ever asked for anything, it was for Charles to say out.


Possession; noun, verb. Besitzrecht, zu besitzen.

(Ani ledodi, vedodi li.
Oh, do be silent. Please.)

Even more than being seen, that boy, that tattered child-corpse is afraid of _needing_. Which is a fine thing to discover, this far down the line.

(At least down there, in the lightless crypts, _he_ is howlingly lonely, too.)


While Erik has possession of-- control over-- metal, it is impossible to deny that it has power over him, too. Perhaps even more than Schmidt, it has shaped his life. It has cost him so dearly, slain whatever might have been considered his child's soul. He has used it to kill, to build, and he is drawn to it always. Whether he likes it or not. How many rainy days did he spend crouched in the Barrow's cellar, between the radiator and the out-dated coal bin, feeling the shape of his isolation? The hum of the radiator was much better than Mrs. Barrows and her 'Emergency Ward 10' warbling on the radio. It was warm, and the coal bin made it defensible. Cold comfort, yes, but with so much metal around it was just the slightest bit like being held.

In Argentina, he'd gone miles out of his way, temporarily distracted from the rush to locate Shaw. At first, he hadn't really known what it was that called to him-- only that it was seductive, humming on a frequency that is his alone. The din of machinery had actually been the last thing he became aware of and, when he beheld the silver mine, he'd had a moment of near-religious awe. There was no getting too close to it-- it was an operation flooded with workers, extracting precious metal from lead ore. They spread through the caverns with an irritating buzz, like that of a hive.

None of that mattered. Erik could _feel_ the metal, the veins reaching down into the tactless earth, so much further than mortals could ever hope to mine.


He thinks of that now, as he touches himself. The onanism is, in part, simply something to do. Lehnsherr is well aware that he has far too much time to think, and his body has also gotten used to very frequent sex. He'd been spoiled long before Cuba, to say nothing of how naked his wrists and ankles now feel, without those loving cords. How would it feel, then, to stand within those caverns, senses feel of the myriad metals all around? It would sing to him, he knows, an endless aria without a voice, pitch-perfect. For a few moments, he strokes himself in vain. He cannot imagine anyone with him there, anyone he would grant the intimacy to, save Charles. Damn him, and damn Erik for a thousand kinds of fool. The instant the idea flickers, he knows it's bullet-proof. A helpless coil of heat-want waves through his stomach, along his pelvic bone.

So, fine-- he would take Charles there, where the minerals are strong, most fully themselves. He would put his hands on the professor, would have the melodic voice of the mine and the hum of the telepath's thoughts as the other listened vicariously. Charles wouldn't be able to resist, caught between scientific inquiry and the curiosity of a little boy. The ore would want Xavier because Erik did-- it would be nothing to pull from it, shape it to cradle, hold his lover in place. Kiss-bruised lips, chrome against ivory skin. With such a beautiful, debauched incentive, it would be little effort at all. Those blue eyes would be watching, and he'd sense that hitch in the younger man's breathing that always came when the metal-bender demonstrated his powers. It would be like having more than two hands.
He would touch Charles _everywhere_.


And if, to reach that final pinnacle, he must imagine Charles
(lovely, pinned-and-held Charles)
leaning forward, _ordering_ him to finish, telling Erik that he is a good boy…


Well. These days, he thinks morosely, it's not as if his thoughts are anyone's but his own.



Chapter Text

Erik does not intend to fall asleep on the floor. He's there mostly for the change in scenery and because, in his spartan mind, the bed is not for lounging. Sleep does come to him on the rug, though, patchy and irregular, filled with inverted images and a cacophony of mirrors. He'll take what he can get. Perhaps some sliver of his consciousness once believed slaying the monster would stop the terrors. That impression has been thoroughly corrected, now. It is more as though, in felling Shaw-- in sending that rag-corpse crashing down-- he has disturbed some great layer of ash.

Even when his dreams are not coherent, they still rot from within with horror. He smells that ash, and the burning of the bodies that made it. The sickly sweet odor of cooking flesh.
Shaw always said it made him hungry.


Lehnsherr fights,

(he is not a doctor, he is a madman. he says-- ah, little erik, you never cease to entertain…)

forcibly tries to maintain consciousness, claw his way up out of the pit. The nerves in his body tingle with adrenaline

(it tingles, the pain boils and that man, oh that awful man says that metal conducts electricity, my boy, so what about you?)

with all the anxious chemicals that stem from mortal peril. What was now _is_, and the present is merely something he made up to stay sane.

(So tell me, then-- says the man to the boy-ghost, says the shadow of the boy to the future man-- will I never be free? This demon, these memories inside of me, consuming from my will and from my body. When I die, will they slither out between my cold lips, a parasite finally robbed of its host?)

There's something about that-- the image of a worm writhing on a hook-- that disturbs him. He senses another presence and, even though he interprets it as a threat, it is still a relief.


The touch is too gentle to be real. Erik strikes out never the less, dominant hand curling around the offender's wrist, tight enough to cause pain. No permanent damage, not yet. He reaches with that other muscle, with his metal sense, and there is nothing.
That startles him enough that he opens his eyes.


"Erik," Charles says quietly. The older man releases the telepath's wrist as if burned, gaze immediately drawn to the marks left by his own powerful fingers. In the next moment, he reaches for Xavier's hand again, this time instinctively gentle, seeking to soothe. Neither of these actions are conscious. The professor does not allow this, drawing the hand back to his sweater-clad chest, like a wounded animal.

"Charles." The strength of his own voice surprises him-- it feels like he should be hoarse from screaming. "I didn't mean--"

"I know, my friend." The professor's smile is very small today, a mere quirk of the lips that fades as he exhales. Those eyes are like stained glass, too rich, with the pupils reduced to mere pinpoints of black. "I should have given warning."


Neither one of them points out that this has not been necessary for some time-- after all, the touch of the telepath's mind had gentled Erik long before physical proximity was an issue. The captive stares up at the younger man, seeing the tense set of shoulders and the dark smears of bruise-purple under his eyes. He wants to reach out again because, though he can clearly see the tints of auburn hair and the sweet splash of freckles across the aristocratic nose, it still feels as though he's alone in the room. Erik has suffered worse, ten thousand times worse, but he still wonders if this is what it's like to go insane. The mind, slowly cannibalizing itself, until no perception is trustworthy.


"You gave me a fright," Charles chides, though he works to keep his voice light. "What on earth are you doing on the floor?"

"Variety." With that he rolls on his side, sure to give the professor crouching next to him ample space. They both stand, not touching, and for a moment the metal-bender expects to feel that cool psychic tendril, looking for the truth. Nothing, and Charles does not ask him verbally to elaborate.


"Supper, then." Xavier gestures to the low table by the divan. They sit carefully beside one another, as the older man wonders what he has (or has not) done to deserve this little bit of closeness. They normally face each other across the cleared chess table-- now, to maintain eye contact, he must angle his body so that his trousers almost brush against Charles' khaki pants. The professor is slumped at the opposite end of the couch, fingers of his right hand flexing aimlessly, face almost bloodless as he stares into the fire. Erik recognizes all the hallmarks of a lengthy session with Cerebro-- or whatever McCoy is calling the latest incarnation-- and he swears under his breath.


Dinner tonight is lamb and Claret, undoubtably good, but incapable of holding Erik's attention. Instead, he watches Charles pick at his food, occasionally rubbing at the skin between thumb and forefinger. He hasn't even bothered with the lamps-- there's just the fire, and Erik can see even that light is causing him pain. He knows this; hours upon hours of Charles submitting to patch electrodes and _needles_, patiently breathing while Hank calibrates, asks if the telepath can be more specific, and do they need to adjust the current? Lehnsherr does not know what the young man sees when his mind is amplified, but it hardly seems worth the frail, breakable quality that overtakes him afterwards. At Langley, Erik had blithely lied to their handlers, saying the machine could only spit out so many answers at a time. Hank-- who was very much aware of the assassin crowding behind him, surreptitiously pinching a nerve at the elbow-- had enthusiastically reassured the human agents that he was working on allowing for longer sessions, yes yes but, for now, they had to be kept short.


He can just picture it, the indigo bulk of Beast bent over Xavier, more-than-human hands manipulating equipment, the two of them happily chattering away in their scientific pidgin. They would certainly have plenty of time to tinker and experiment now. No looming international crisis, no tight training schedule, and certainly more time than the professor was spending here, with Erik. The jealousy is as familiar and possessive as it is laughable. Like a Dali painting, he recognizes the bits of shattered reality even if the whole itself does not make sense.

(twice-guess, thrice-guess, then guess yourself again. and you're right back where you started, mirrors facing mirrors, until you see yourself from all angles and feel the scrape of the unvarnished cosmos behind your heart.)


Charles stirs from his contemplation of the wine and the fire, seems to finally realize his companion is watching him with grey eyes that barely blink. Another one of those short lived smiles, and the professor begins a running commentary on the rest of the household, tone upbeat and discordant. Sean had taken Angel to a showing of _Psycho_ at the cinema in town; a maneuver that, while not clever, was well-meaning. It had failed to impress-- Angel was largely unmoved, and Banshee has since been too properly terrified to shower. Alex and Hank are, for once, very much united in seizing every opportunity to tease them about it. Janos never has much of anything to say, but has turned out to have a brilliant head for numbers. He's helping Scott and Ororo get up to speed in arithmetic. Then something about the East Wing and faulty wiring, but the rest trails off vaguely. Erik has cleaned his plate, but Charles' remains largely untouched, fork abandoned in favor of fruitlessly pinching the bridge of his nose.

"I'm sorry, dear." A fleeting, ghost-touch against Erik's trouser-clad leg. "I know I'm not very good company tonight. It might be best I go…"

A whole host of words, in tones ranging from pleading to anger, spring to Erik's lips. He speaks none of them. Instead, he pushes his utensils away, reaching out to put his hands on the professor's shoulders. He does so slowly, clearing telegraphing his intent before hand, so Xavier can decide if he'll allow it. The line of muscle on either side of the neck is tense, like brittle shale, and the older man begins to massage his friend's shoulders. The professor's thick maroon sweater prevents skin-to-skin contact, but-- aside from the little mishap earlier-- this is the closest Erik has been in many sets of waking. Hands falling limp at his sides, Charles relaxes, leaning into the kneading motion with a little sigh.


Emboldened, Erik closes the already small space between them, very softly touching his fingers to the back of the telepath's neck. The shiver he receives in response is good; he knows it breaks up the pain that's wedged itself in the younger man's temples, dreadful little spider's legs of hurt. Charles is not actually prone to migraines-- their presence is generally only caused by use of Cerebro, and extreme over-exertion of psychic powers in general. When the professor's brain protests, it does so quite intently, though Erik has never seen it quite this bad. Xavier's skin has taken on a faint, translucent sheen the metal-bender has only seen in memories, the sickly little Charles of lonely hallways and paid nursemaids. As the younger man's eyes slip closed, Erik leans forward to brush his lips against those high cheekbones, the temples where each heartbeat makes a throb of pain.

'Stay,' he thinks, as useless as a light signaling out into the Black Sea. 'Please don't go.' The professor isn't listening, though-- he leans into the strong, comforting hands and still holds himself apart.

Instead, Erik says, "You don't have to go."


"Oh, just there," Charles purrs, tilting his head back as his lover cradles and massages the base of his skull. A moment later, though, he's starting to sit up again, reaching as if to collect the cutlery and plates back on their tray. Erik takes the young man's hands-- ostensibly to rub that mystical articulation of the thumb. He begins to bring them up to his mouth, then halts the motion as Xavier's expression shutters.

The tone, when it comes, it wry and self-mocking. "Trying to seduce me?"


"No," Erik answers honestly. He tenses, waiting for the tendrils of Charles' power to sift through his thoughts and verify. Still nothing and-- while he manages not to sigh or grit his teeth-- his own shoulders slump a little. "Just… if you stay, I'll…" What is there to say? He's been skating dangerously close to that edge in his own mind, the yawning labyrinth where all the worst memories and most irrational fears are held. Through all his restless nights and listless, thought-heavy days, there has been no Charles to sense this, to pull him back and cling to him, demand he remain sane.


There's no arguing that the logic-- or what's left of it-- is faulty, but Erik is so tired. He's survived worse, oh yes, but the thing about surviving is the living you have to do afterwards. Day in, day out, with the knowledge branded in scars on your body and polluting ink in your skin. You must move forward each day, utterly displaced, dependent on the forbearance of your hosts, still very much the Other. They expect you to do things-- the mundane and the banal-- eat, sleep, shit. They say things about looking to the future, trite nonsense, and in the night you wrap your arms around yourself and pretend it isn't a substitute for being held. There are no graves, no points on a map where you can say 'here is what we consigned to the earth, here is what is left'.

(you cannot be exiled. you are part of the kingdom of G-d.)

And, because there are no markers, no urns,

(the kingdom of G-d is inside you)

Erik carries his dead with him. Always.


He does not want to-- cannot bear to-- think of this any longer. He draws Charles close to him, cradles the younger man against his chest, rubbing soothing circles on that slim back and pressing endless dry kisses into soft, dark hair. The professor's hands come up to rest against Lehnsherr's heart, but he does not push away. He allows himself to be held, rocked ever so slightly, stroked with infinite care.

Finally, Erik says, "Please."

"You make a convincing argument, my friend." There's an old note of pleasurable teasing there. Charles rests his cheek against the other man's breastbone, rubbing against the soft fabric of his shirt. Erik takes the wrist he gripped so brutally earlier, kisses it, inhales the faint smell of sweat and laboratory and fading cologne. He tugs at the edges of the dowdy sweater and, for a moment, receives resistance. Then, Charles smiles and helps the other man pull it up over his head. Indulgently, he asks, "Temporary ceasefire?"

"Mexican stand-off," Erik says roughly.

A chuckle. "You wish."

The metal-bender does not particularly wish for anything right now, save that Charles allow him to caress, to lean back so that his own lanky frame pillows and supports the younger man. There's a faint hum under that pale skin that Erik never seemed aware of, before. He wonders if its the simple mark of organic energy, or if its the restrained torrent of the telepath's thoughts. As he traces along each knob of Charles' spine, he decides it's irrelevant. What matters is the young man he's holding so carefully; that he is touching the professor, and that Xavier is relieved and pleased by that touch.


"Just keep…" Charles descends into those little noises Erik once hoarded so jealously. Soft little moans, breathy sighs, throaty sounds of base pleasure. As ever, it provokes a stab of heat in his groin, the air before a gathering storm. He wills it down-- he is taking care of Charles right now, nothing else. The young man stretches out against him, wreathes his arms around his lover's neck.

"What did you do to yourself?" he whispers, not really expecting an answer. He stokes the faint side-burns, the shell of an ear, feels the smaller form shiver against him delightfully.

"Hank is--" there's a yawn, "--really quite brilliant. This version of Cerebro is far more sensitive, capable of much finer gradations. Not just locating mutants--"

"Not an inconsiderable task in its own right."

"No, indeed. But more than that, it is capable of sensing a collective response from a community of minds, like an emotional dowsing rod." Erik makes a vague interrogative sound, reaching to stroke his lover's hip, the small of his back. "I can feel the manifestation of our group-- that the others we've drawn here feel safe, and that they belong. I can feel the fear of the mutants out there, who still believe themselves to be aberrations, alone." Charles takes a deep, slow breath that he does not release. "And I can feel the humans-- restless, anxious, vaguely aware of danger in a primitive corner of their species' consciousness."


The concept inspires awe, in the old sense of the word. Fear, the abject knowledge of a force far more powerful than anything that can be fought. At the same time-- just as Charles has never remained unmoved when Erik demonstrates his gift-- the metal-bender feels helplessly aroused. Xavier's mind is like a part of nature's fury, wholly unable to be contained. In his most serene moments, Erik can feel every speck of iron in his friend's blood, like a singing flame. It takes a level of serenity that's difficult for him to manage. But Charles-- ah, Charles, who was already capable of sensing a lone man in the middle of an ocean… Amplified by Cerebro, by his own vast intelligence, he can throw a thought around the world and back again. Clearly, not without a cost, but the fact it can be done at all steals Erik's breath. Even if he were to leave Westchester, escape all this, there would never be anywhere he could hide.


"So what did you do?" he asks, aware of the sudden lack of moisture in his mouth.

"Nothing much." The professor rolls the shoulder Erik's hand has gone still upon. Obligingly, the older man resumes the soft strokes and petting. "It's not even a push, really. Fear and suspicion are looking for outlets. Not a single person on this planet is honestly ready to except the notion that humans aren't the pinnacle of evolution. And there's ever so much else to worry about, anyway-- the space race, communist infiltration, rebellious youth, and the continuing threat of nuclear war, to name a few."

Very softly, "You redirect."


"You can do that. On a collective, subconscious level."


There's a pool of molten, capitulating _need_ down in Erik's hips. His cock hardens, and it takes everything in him not to thrust up against the young man in his embrace. His hands tremble, but he manages to regulate his breathing, the desire to wantonly bare his neck. The impulse is as strong as it is shameful, and he cannot help but shiver.


Charles lifts his head a little so he can gaze into Erik's eyes. Those dark pupils are almost the right size again, ringed in delicate blue. The older man stares back, caressing the back of his hand along his lover's jaw.

"You're being awfully well-behaved tonight, dearest."

The roll of his shoulders is minute, enough that the professor can sense it, but not so much as to disturb his rest. Charles still refrains from touching Erik mentally, and he does not say he's a good boy. The young man is tired, obviously strained, but also regally supine. They both know very well who is in charge.


"Rest?" Erik asks, in leu of an answer. He receives a small nod and, with a little bit of maneuvering, lifts Charles into his arms. The remains of dinner sit forgotten by the fire, along with the professor's discarded sweater. Between the wing chairs, the mute chess pieces keep their own council. Pulling back the comforter, he very gently settles his burden in the center of the bed. He removes Charles' shoes and-- with surprising lack of protest-- the damnable plastic-buckle belt. Barefoot, fully clothed, Lehnsherr takes a step backwards, unable to read anything definitive in that relaxed, sleepy expression.

"Get in," Charles says gently, only briefly opening one eye. "I'm not going to turn you out of your own bed." He stretches out a welcoming arm, bare chest enhanced by the flickering firelight. When Erik doesn't move, he adds, "Clothes stay on."


"Alright." Agreement comes easily enough. Climbing in beside his captor, Erik lays on his side, allowing the telepath to curl up against him in the position he so favors. Cradled against the older man's chest, head tucked underneath the strong chin. Erik continues the soft petting, aware he is comforting himself-- fussing, like a dragon with its treasure-- more than he is soothing Charles. His erection has softened somewhat, though its still a bit uncomfortable. The flesh is resigned to being ignored, for now.The best thing for Xavier, once a migraine has fully set in, is to try to sleep through it. He just has to unclench enough to actually reach slumber.

"Dreadfully rude of me," the professor murmurs, nuzzling Erik's shirt.


"You just woke up."

"It doesn't matter." It's true, in more ways than one. None of Erik's rest lately has been at all restorative; it's been more like trying desperately to maintain against the force of a siege. Even without that edge of exhaustion, he would be content to lay here, holding Charles and feeling the shape of his liebling in his arms. He's not so foolish as to squander what he's managed to obtain.


Sure enough, even as Charles' breathing evens and his body becomes pliant, Erik remains awake. For some time, he manages not to think of anything, but even Xavier is not a charm to ward away bad dreams. The near-frozen, sullen chill of his thoughts returns, turning everything inside out, always looking for angles. He fights, but still slips just under the fine, undisturbed surface of rational thought.


(Broken images. A heap of them-- or so said the poet, who saw a Great War and foolishly thought it would end them all. No shelter, no relief.*

Mosaic shards of life. Long, rainy winters in England; the rusty, abandoned transom down by the canal, the stink of the murky water as he watched it churn. Nights when he woke up crying, because he had dreamed of Hahnenfuß, a field of it going on forever, until the world seemed on fire. Those children, that first isolated winter in Derbyshire, singing in the snow.)

Erik snorts a little, opens his eyes briefly. He'd forgotten all about that; how he'd listened to the foreign words in their idiosyncratic accents, and misunderstood. The carolers had been singing 'Silent Night', and he'd felt a just the smallest pang of compassion, thinking the song mourned the death of all good things.

He should have known they were incapable of such understanding.


"Alas, calm," Erik whispers, kissing Charles' forehead. "Alas, bright."





Chapter Text

Erik knows that when

('if, if', some desperate part of him protests, 'I never conceded to 'when''.)

the moment finally comes, it will do so unheralded, with nothing to mark it. He does not believe in signs and portents, has no patience for the conceit that encourages people to lower their guard. For every night one spends lying in bed, dreading some confrontation or battle, there is also an ordinary, unremarkable day

(it rained a little that morning; Mama made eggs, Vater was up early, as usual. then the sun came out.)

when your enemies come for you, without warning. Anxious hours crossing the Russian border, balanced by how unprepared they were for Shaw's attack on their own territory. The stars could align, the omens might all be in order, and still a few hours might leave you changed, indelibly, in ways you could not have imagined.


(In Miami, he thinks, 'Tonight, I will finally kill him.' Of course, he does not, but the Erik who slips under the surface of that dark water is not the same as the one who rises, fighting but held, to discover he is not alone.)

And the beach. Of all blasted things, that stretch of sand and too-vivid ocean, like someone's _idea_ of the Gulf, all tropical colors. Even as his shoulder screamed in agony from the gunshot wound, even as he lay cradled in Charles' lap, he had felt a sort of removal. Had looked back at himself-- younger only by hours

('Are you ready?'
'Let's find out.')

but also by decades, and knew he was a fool.


(It's a gray day-- a little chilly, maybe, but nothing of note. Erik and Mama have been in town, on some errand now lost in the time between. He's very young, on coltish legs, and when he isn't holding Mama's hand he keeps his fisted in her skirt. He doesn't remember exactly what happened. Words, slurs shouted, tall men crowding and everyone else looking studiously away. The actual event itself matters less than how much it upsets Mama. He can see that all too plainly, in the steady way she blinks, in the knife-sharp line of her lips. Her pace is brisk, but not hurried. It says, 'I have business here, I have a _right_ to be here' and it says she is not afraid, though she is.

When they get home, they peel off hated coats, and Erik takes hers the way he's seen Vater do, like a little gentleman. He wants her to smile, for the tremor of fear in her shoulders to go away. She does smile, but it isn't real, and he goes to hang up their things.

"You silly girl," he hears her say as he quietly reenters the room. Leaning heavily on the washstand, her back is too him-- she seems to be speaking to the Mama in the mirror.

Except, it is a stranger he sees in the glass. For just a moment, he looks upon her not as Mama, but as Edie Lehnsherr. A woman who was herself, such a short time ago, a girl. Who laughed at her own wedding, who had a fine hand for stitching and a love-- if not talent-- for dancing. A young mother, who is marked already, who has a son and wants to protect him but is ever so afraid.

"You silly girl," Mama whispers to Edie, that woman in the mirror. "Oh, you fool."

Of course, she will turn around-- smile at him and be fully Mama, and open her arms. He will walk into them and be held, press his nose into her hair. He is young enough that what he has seen does not make sense, and will be forgotten.

Now Erik wonders, years later. Any old day, any mundane cruelty. She never once moved from Vater's position that they could endure. She never stopped saying it would be alright.

Never the less, he thinks that was probably when she knew things would end badly.)


Blessings come without warning too, though far less often. Rare as rain in the harshest desert. The very first lead, stumbled across by chance, that began the trail to Herr Doktor; the metal transom that sheltered him with the sixth form bullies decided it was time for the foreign boy to take his lumps. Arms reaching out for him in the ocean, a voice he'd never heard before-- much less in his head-- that still seemed hauntingly familiar.

How many hours had he spent praying to his mother, pretending that wasn't what he was doing?

('Thou shalt have no other gods before me', alright, okay, but You turned Your back on me first.

Please show me a sign, send me a dream. If you're still there, be Mama, show me you forgive me. Please know it was never because I didn't love you enough, please. That wasn't it at all.
Show me I'm not alone.)


There was nothing, of course. There were no burning bushes. The sea would not part, and the walls remained standing to imprison. Faith was a luxury afforded to the pretty British boys he endured at school. The healthy, well fed boys who asked rude questions and-- when he did not answer-- made things up and sniggered behind his back.

(They stop one night, on the side of the road in Missouri, too tired to drive and unable to find lodgings. Charles sleeps curled around Erik's leather jacket, propped up against the passenger door with his fist pressed against his cheek. The half moon makes his boyish good looks faey, his dreams as even as his breathing.

'I should hate you,' Erik thinks, fingers curling in his lap. He stays on his side of the stick-shift, his side of the car, and forces himself not to reach out. He doesn't hate Charles, though, and that's the problem. His heart is very full, but not with loathing, and it has been too long since he's wanted to protect someone. 'When you are all those things I despised, how is it you are so good?')


Just one more boy, too wise for his years, too trusting, too kind for this world. Erik doesn't actually credit his meeting with Charles to anything other than capricious chance. That does nothing to stem the warm, befuddled tide that springs from his dead-boy's heart the first time he hears, 'You're not alone, Erik. You're not alone.'

Something says, 'finally'. Something says, 'thank you'. Something insists that dragons could be slain, that Joshua really did command the sun to stand still. Of all the mutants he's met, Charles is the only one who ever could have gotten under his skin like that, startled him into belief and trust.
For all he hates signs and sigils, Erik thinks the fact he still considers Charles a blessing is a portent in and of itself.


(This doesn't bode well. You realize that, don't you? Up is down, left is right and right is wrong. This is not rational, this is not sober, this is madness most discrete*.)

Erik knows that. He also turns his back on it, away from the ghost-voice in the caverns. He has Charles with him, and thus no time for these concentric, overlapping tangles that make his head and heart ache.


They're arranged together on the low couch, Charles reclining distractedly in Erik's arms as he proof-reads yet another one of Hank's articles. The older man nuzzles the professor's neck, reading over his shoulder and occasionally pointing out as awkward phrase. McCoy is highly technical, brilliant, and obviously well-versed in his subject (this time, it's separate inheritance mechanisms of mitochondria), but he isn't always the best at making his chain of logic accessible to others. Charles is silent and relaxed, his only movements that of the red pen in his hand, and the little nods in response to Lehnsherr's comments. A certain physicality has returned to their interactions; not intimate touch, but casual affectionate contact. Erik soaks it up eagerly-- the weight and warmth of Charles in his arms, the texture of soft skin behind the telepath's ear-- and knows better than to push his luck. Things have improved since Charles' migraine, but he knows he isn't off the hook.


(hook, line and sinker…

'it is a gilded hook, that yields poisoned bait'**

or a song, deep and soulful on a bad piano 'got your hooks in me, dear', and who does he think he's fooling?)


After that visit, the professor begins greeting Erik with a firm but close-mouthed kiss each time he arrives, clearly enjoying giving as much as he receives. Erik's cushion has reappeared, and he eats at Charles' feet once more. Still fully clothed, but accepting food from Xavier's fingers, leaning against a warm thigh, helplessly aroused. It seems everything is heightened now, that he's always half-hard and wanting. If it's desire, then it's blind, groping by touch, burning like coal fires that spend years raging underground. The metal-bender honestly doesn't know if he took some of it for granted before, or if it's a balm for Charles' continued mental distance. He doesn't remember, and context-- perception-- is everything.
In the end, its immaterial.


Punishment, privilege; good, bad. He knows he's being played. Gently, reverently, like the finest of instruments, but played never the less. His body hums for his captor's touch, a taunt string on the neck of a violin, the way the most skillfully crafted wood seems to yearn for the musician's hand. If the professor lingers at all during meals, the older man will suck and kiss his jailor's fingers with a lack of shame he sometimes finds humiliating later. In that moment, however, all he sees is the open look in Charles' eyes, all those gradations of blue, and it warms him when he is so cold.
And there is another new ritual, when Erik and his lover part.


The first time the younger mutant arched up and whispered a breathless, 'kiss me' in his lover's ear, Lehnsherr had been confused. Charles has access to his captive's lips as much as the rest of that toned body. Searching that expressive face, he'd wondered at the difference implied by requesting, rather than taking. Finally, Erik kissed the telepath as he would have in that short, other life. Sheltering the smaller man with his body, he cupped the back of the professor's skull as one would a chalice. The kiss was a deep drink, lewd and decadent. Both men were breathing hard when they pulled apart, a flush creeping rosy under Charles' freckles.


The request never varies. Before Xavier goes, he always whispers those two words, tilting his face up receptively. Erik-- who is at pains to keep his own touch gentle, conciliatory, waiting to see what is allowed-- uses the opportunity to glut himself on his young friend. Hands covetously over that luscious arse, practically fellating Charles' tongue. Trying to convince his adversary to stay. Sometimes it does buy him a few minutes, as they lean heavily on one another, trading small touches as they recover. Once, just the once, Xavier began rubbing against him as the kiss got more heated. Moving his own hands to ride the motion of those slim hips, Erik had parted his legs, pressing one thigh obligingly forward. The heat of the younger man seared him through both layers of clothing. Together, they moved-- the man receiving pleasure, and the tool providing it. That thought alone made Erik's bones simply melt with desire, but he held himself still, not addressing his own need.

When Charles came, he arched like a bow in his lover's arms, lips wet and wrecked from kissing. It was, as always, arresting-- made all the more so by the fact it had become suddenly rare. Erik held him close, fingers playing along with soft material of the cardigan, every cell aching with distance and closeness. As his breathing evened, the telepath's hand darted down to cup the older man's hardness. Their eyes locked, pewter gray to the clearest blue. It seemed for a moment that both of them were frozen, treading in disputed waters. Finally, Erik looked down and away, concentrating all his energy on not thrusting. His body hummed under that loving, proprietary hand.


Whatever reaction the professor had been looking for, that apparently wasn't it. He bestowed one more soft press of lips, drawing away.

"Goodnight, love." So quietly Erik was more aware of the movement of that mouth than sound.

His own voice was rough, unrefined iron. "Good night, Charles."


Now, Charles sits up, setting pen and carbon aside, stretching with fluid grace. He smiles over his shoulder at Erik, stifling a yawn in the cuff of his sweater.

"Hank's work is beginning to draw a great deal of interest," the Englishman says, carefully reordering the papers. "Genetic science is growing by leaps and bounds. Even without the knowledge of _our_ step in evolution, humans are taking note." A little quirk of a smile, "And I think Beast's new reclusiveness has given him a bit of celebrity."

"Difficult, to produce such wonderful results and analysis without being able to present them yourself." In his mind's eye, Erik still defaults to the image of a wiry, overly pink Hank, glasses thick and askew. It was really only in Cuba what he observed in the mutant's altered form and, though it was memorable, it does not have the weight of day to day interaction. Curious, to think that Hank will never be that boy again-- as if, in a way, he'll never come home.

"Hank is trying," Charles sighs. "But it's hard on him. For all Raven's desire to be genuine and at home in her natural form, I don't think she quite understands the luxury of being able to _choose_." He shakes his head a little. "Mind you, I'd not say it to her face, and there's no denying that her feelings of being stifled are legitimate, but it's just not the same for McCoy. He's immersed himself in so many projects to avoid the issue, though I do think some of our new students are helping. Ororo has a shock of white hair you know-- lovely, but unusual. And of course, Azazel has always been where Beast is now."

"It's different," Erik says very quietly, "being marked on the outside. I can't imagine what it would be like for it to be so unconcealed." He doesn't scratch at the skin of his left fore arm, mostly because he has spent years teaching himself not to.

Xavier reaches out, lacing their fingers together. "You know, when Raven first came here, I'd sometimes catch her wearing this form… at night, usually, when she thought she was alone. It was a woman-- not really anything remarkable, with that sort of ash-blond hair. After a while, I figured out who it was she was mimicking."

Erik makes a soft, interrogative noise, though he feels he already knows the answer.

"It was her mother."


And there it is-- why Charles can so unify these disparate beings, why so many of Shaw's former associates have stayed. They are all looking for a way back home, and many of them have never had one to begin with. There is a comfort, though, a strength in being known.


('And what are you?' Shaw asks, tapping some instrument, or even just his fingers, on Erik's shoulder. 'A monkey has five figures, but that doesn't make it a human being.'
And this boy, whose untempered power has only served to rob him of everything, would stare at some spot, some imperfection on the wall or irregularity in the dirt.

G-d, why did you make me so? Even the dirt from Your hands had a helpmate. Are you so cruel as to fashion only one monster, so its burden of ugliness is multiplied by being alone?)


There are cracks everywhere in Erik's mind now, too many to combat. Like iridium, capable of withstanding fantastic temperatures, but a brittle metal all told. A diamond cuts titanium, but adamantium slices through those shimmering jewels as though they are simply shards of ice.


('The two of you!' Mama says, throwing her hands up. Both Erik and his father wilt a little under her gaze, but they don't move. 'Too much alike,' she says, raking a hand through her hair. 'Break before you bend.'

Erik is not a difficult child; his father is not an unkind man. But they are as alike in their convictions as they are wildly opposite in temperament. If Erik is metal, than Vater is stone; patient against wind and tide and all things that would change it.

'If you will just admit to it, we can move on,' Jacob says, looking at his son with significant weight. In the Lehnsherr household, items-- Mama's metal thimbles, sewing needles, the tips of Vater's fine ink pens-- seem to migrate into Erik's room. It happens more and more as the world chips away at their peace. For the boy, it's not politics or religion, or moral principle. It's fear like cancer, spreading silent, poison eaten with every meal. He does not know how these bright little comforts come to him, does not understand why it soothes him to see/feel them when he opens his eyes. They cluster in piles, on his nightstand, in his toy box, sometimes under his pillow. 'If you took them, just admit it,' is always Vater's refrain.

'I didn't take them,' he says honestly, willing the truth into his voice. Mama holds out a hand between both of her boys, as if she can physically forestall another round. 'I won't admit to something I didn't do!'

Utterly frustrated, Vater tugs at his beard. 'Mit a lefl ken men dem yam nit oys'shepn!'

'No,' Mama agrees quietly as he stalks off. Erik holds out a handful of thimbles and buttons to her, lower lip trembling. She takes them gently, ruffling his hair. 'But there's nothing that forbids you from trying, eh?')


Erik doesn't know how long he's been sitting here, letting the fire be the subject of his thousand-yard stare. He's aware that he's holding Charles' hand too tightly, that his own jaw is clenched so hard it hurts. The professor doesn't say anything, just strokes the knuckles imprisoning him with his free hand.

"It's alright, love," Xavier says. "I didn't mean to upset you."

Alright-- all right. Everyone gets to be right. Father said 'you cannot empty the ocean with a spoon', and he was correct. Mama said Erik would try anyway, and that was true too. Teaspoon by tablespoon by tiny measuring cup, always trying even when he had forgotten why. There's a weariness in his bones now that has nothing to do with physical pain or lack of sleep. It is a hollowness, an emptiness; it is the night ocean in which he could drown, or fight, or be held.


Slipping from his seat on the couch to his knees, Erik bows his head. He's sharply aware of the patterns in the rug, of the way Charles is still holding his hand, of the scuffed leather in the professor's shoes.


He takes the hand he's still holding, examining the lines of the palm. Lifeline, little callus from writing, the bracelets of lines on those delicate wrists. Slowly, Lehnsherr presses a kiss into the pulse, then the thumb and first two fingers. Charles always touches those to his temples when he's reading someone-- just that little tell. The metal-bender is not thinking about the future, about the moment, or even about the past. Just the shape of the emptiness inside him, where every memory and belief walks alone. Erik presses those fingers against his temple, forcing Charles to touch him there as the telepath will not in his mind.

He says, "What do I need to do?"


Chapter Text

"What do I need to do?"


Charles does not pretend to misunderstand Erik. Instead, he makes a soft sound, not unlike the little murmurs of pleasure Lehnsherr once so delighted in drawing from him. The professor's free hand comes up to cradle his prisoner's jaw, communicating aching gentleness, though Erik cannot see his expression. He keeps his own eyes focused downward, on the wild curves and angles of the patterned rug.

"Look at me," the telepath commands. In Paris, Erik had seen many a carving of chaste knights and renaissance angels-- none of them were as beautiful or as moving as Xavier's face is, right now. It's difficult to hold that cyan gaze, the all-encompassing warmth like the myth that draws suicides to drowning. It's peaceful, they say, it barely hurts at all.


(And he has thought about it, many times, whether he will admit it to himself or not. Death has lain skin to skin with him, even when his body was still sexless and innocent, and now as a gangly adolescent. It is an intimate enemy, all pale and blonde and cloyingly made-up, the way Shaw preferred his women. She is his silent shadow in the relief-tents of France, in the foster-houses of England. He is horrified, he is repelled-- he cannot look away.

He plays down by the old textile mill, mostly because the upper-form boys don't look for him there. The water is dirty, the walls crumbling, and Erik himself breaks the few remaining windows by warping the metal casings. He climbs precarious archways, runs over loose tile, thumbing his nose at the devil as he goes. A boy-- not _this_ boy, of course-- could break his neck, could lose his balance and fall into the murky run-off, the drainage systems still stained with dye. Some other boy, who is not obligated to live by the fact he has survived, who will not have to face his Mama in 'olam ha-ba and say he had failed to avenge her. It doesn't hurt to imagine; it's all _theoretical_, which is a word Shaw often employed. The possibility of this dead boy-- corpse found floating, bloated and pale cheeked-- is as comforting as it is impossible.
But accidents happen. They happen all the time.)


There must be something of that sullen, terrified child showing now. Bone peaking out from under scraped skin. Charles bows a little, leans down to kiss Erik's forehead as though soothing such a hurt. This young man who had, years later, jumped in after him and insisted he not let himself drown.

"I--" the older mutant begins, but articulation escapes him. His grip on the professor's hand goes slack, and Charles uses the opportunity to free himself. With one last, measured look in his captive's eyes, he finally draws the other's head into his lap. Biting his lip, Erik rubs his cheek against the fine tan trousers, arms doing up to encircle that slim waist. There is someone breathing, making a wet and labored sound-- quantifiable only as failure to cry. He feels fingers in his own hair, carding, caressing.


"Erik." It's not a question, which is good, because Lehnsherr doesn't have any answers. Instead, it's an invocation, the way mystics once though the secret name of G-d could give life. The faint ghost of it slides along his skin, an agonizing reminder of the absent cords. To yearn for a marking, a brand-- even an invisible one-- is foreign. But Erik cannot deny he misses those bonds, not now.


"Please." Said as a shuddering sigh. He's not even sure precisely what

(set the clock back, erase the moment, i promise to swallow the words without complaint. give me back what i had but did not realize, let the fruit hang whole and untouched once more)

he's asking for. Helplessly, he repeats, "What do I need to do?" As if being given some task will solve things. At least that would be more straightforward.


"What do _you_ think you need to do?" Xavier asks, turning the sharp edge of inquiry around. For all the professor's tone is soft and soothing, Erik still fights down a wave of frustration. Nothing is even straightforward with Charles-- it's all refracted in crystal, seen from the corner of one's eye in a mirror.

"I can say I'm sorry." Though they both know the suggestion of an apology is not the same as actual repentance. A bit more petulantly, face still buried in the younger man's lap, "You _know_ I'm sorry."

"I know, love." It hardly seems possible, but the fingers petting Erik's hair become even more gentle, as if he is some precious and breakable thing. He feels that fragile; something archaic, worn to the thinest of parchments, the faintest of inks. A part of the metal-bender just wants to stay here, feeling the rug beneath his knees and all of Xavier's tender little touches, the most exquisite snare about his shoulders. He could stay here, forever suspended on a razor's edge between grudging compliance and honest surrender.


(It is perhaps the oldest story, and for good reason. The colors are rich and lit from within; a tree, a garden, the virgin sky. Here is the hand of man, trembling, lusting for the one fruit forbidden in a cornucopia of delights.)

Common wisdom holds that it was an apple, but Erik knows better. He remembers sitting with Vater near the study fire, reading from the Mishnah. G-d, the sages said, had hidden the identity of the tree to preserve its honor. That faraway boy, who still believed in lucky marbles and crossed fingers, had wanted to know what it was. A peach, an apricot? Perhaps a plum? He had envisioned something exotic-- like the cherries Mama spoiled him with, big enough to take up a grown man's palm.

(and isn't a bite like a kiss, in so many ways? they ate of the fruit, and it communicated the knowledge of their bodies. did they look back as they were cast out of Gan Eden, knowing they would never again taste anything so sweet?)

Erik knows what it's like to be truly owned by Charles.


"Punish me," he says, before he can think better of it. And then, senselessly, something he had whispered to many of the men with whom he practiced Shaw's murder, "The last time pays for all."

The touches stop. That elegant hand is utterly still, and for a moment Erik is terrified that he's once again made a mistake. 'Charles,' he thinks, 'oh, Charles, they are only words. You can trade the meaning of a syllable in one language for half a dozen in another. It's not always an even exchange.'

"I won't hurt you," the professor says. Strong shoulders trembling, Lehnsherr feels the petting resume, as if to calm. "Discipline," his accent clings to the word, as if it explains everything. "Not punishment. Do you understand?"

"No," the older man pleads, muffling the sound in the warmth of a thigh.

And there's that endless ocean-patience; "Perhaps later."


"Undress," Xavier says. Erik rises, removes his clothes mechanically, because he has been asked. The black fabric lies in haphazard folds on the floor, gone from his mind as soon as it falls from his fingers. He stands before his captor, bare as he has not been in so long. The fire is still healthy-- it casts both of them in its shades of glow, makes Charles beautiful and tempting as the shape of that unnamed fruit. The professor settles back more fully on the divan, bracing his legs. He pats his own lap calmly, never breaking eye contact, and there is more than confidence in his gaze. "Lie across."

That's harder, but the metal-bender does it, head resting on the cushioned edge of the couch. He can feel every thread of the other man's pants-leg against his half-hard member, can feel the faint pressure of Charles' knees.

"How many?" The telepath's question inspires a wave of wild laughter in Erik, but he doesn't let it escape. He swallows it down, chest shaking with it, and breathes out through his nose. Of course Charles would ask.


"Thirty-one?" There's fond amusement in the question, just as comforting as the hand against his hip. "May I ask why?"

"Not too low, not too high." In this position, Erik can't really shrug, but he gives it a go. "And it's primorial prime number." The response is not a laugh, but it's a very warm sound all the same.

"You'll count." It's not a question, and therefore does not require a response. His backside feels cold, despite the ambient warmth of the room.


Erik waits. Less than a heartbeat, but also a long strand of moments. The first strike is more startling than anything else, though Charles keeps his fingers together and his hand firm as any paddle. The sting is delayed, as if it needed time to sink in, and then there is another one on top of it. One, two. His own voice, heard down a long tunnel, announces them.
He closes his eyes.

It has been a long time since he's paid for breaking the rules-- especially in currency that isn't blood.


('Erik,' Charles says warningly in the Russian general's mansion. A little arch, but very firm. The Frost woman seethes, battering the strange hard-glass feel of her diamond form against the metal Erik has brought to confine her. He could break her like this, he knows, can see the ghosts of fissures starting and wonders what would happen if it spread.
Erik. Again, but in his mind this time-- the molten gold feel of that psyche is the only thing more entrancing than what Lehnsherr can or cannot do with his power. That's enough.
And it is enough, it's plenty, as he watches the professor take on the same talent in a foe. Frost cannot stand against him-- Erik has felt her barbs in his own mind, and he knows they're nothing to what Charles can do. If he lets himself.

The metal-bender focuses on the restraints he's made, very carefully thinking of nothing at all.)


There's no rhythm to the strikes, nothing so predictable. Instead, Charles keeps the spacing syncopated, impossible to anticipate. Each loud smack may come on its own, or in a cluster, or in orderly two-by-twos. It stings, but the sensation is transitory and incidental. He doesn't fight or shirk from the blows. He has endured, he has defied-- now he accepts, which is perhaps the difference Charles meant.


Twelve. Thirteen, fourteen.


(The only rule is that there are no rules. Mama had rules-- no slamming the front door, no back-talking Vater, always wash your hands before supper. G-d has plenty of prohibitions and commandments for everything; what you can eat, when you should rest, what you can do with your body.

G-d has broken all of his promises, and Mama is gone.

What earns praise from Shaw one day may be utterly insufficient the next. Erik is struck for crying out during experiments, but also for being 'too quiet'. He's beaten for speaking Yiddish, then whipped for daring to dirty the German language with his lowly tongue. Like rain when the sun is shining, there is no rhyme or reason. Herr Doktor may smile broadly before slapping Erik across the face, or roll his eyes in seeming fondness and deny the boy food.

Sense has fled the world along with kindness, and it will never return. Even later, with a full stomach and healing needle-scars, it never really gets better. Please-and-thank-you, yes I'm fine. English is imprecise, and the British utterly preoccupied with politeness.
--that's very good of you--
you must have so much patience, taking a boy like that in
--oh, it's no trouble--
he eats our food, why is he so sullen
--really, you're too kind--)


Twenty four.
A long pause. Twenty-five.

Lehnsherr can see why some might find this sort of thing sexual, but it doesn't really strike that cord for him. Instead of being aroused, he feels oddly safe. There's physical discomfort, but his body is a connoisseur of torture, given and received. There is no malice, Charles does not want to hurt him, and he knows there will be thirty-one blows. Not thirty, not thirty-two. The rules of the game, the lines on the map, have not moved while he wasn't looking.

"Twenty-six." Erik seems to be getting closer to his body, though at the same time he hears himself as if over the loud crashing of waves. Sharp coastal cliffs, jagged boulders. Breakers, they call that white spray.


Almost there, and he realizes Charles' free hand is comfortingly entwined with one of his own. The grip of his larger fingers must be punishing, though he's had no awareness of holding on at all. The professor does not complain, or strike harder, or withdraw the hand. It's just there, the short white palm he has kissed, the fingers that belong more to a pianist or a surgeon. It loops the blows back towards Xavier somehow, making him a participant in, rather than simply a dispenser of.


The last three follow in quick succession, carefully measured all the same. The sound of the final impact fades, leaving only the crackling fire, Charles' even breathing, and the surprisingly loud gasps falling from the penitent's lips. The next touch of flesh on flesh is a mere whisper-- just the delicate tips of the professor's fingers against the small of Erik's back, the sides of his hips and the sore skin itself. The older man's muscles twitch in response. It's involuntary pleasure, too much sensory input, and intense vulnerability all rolled into one. His own grey-green eyes are dry, but Lehnsherr can feel tears gathering in his throat instead.
A strangle-hold of silence.


'Erik,' It is the sound of Charles' voice, and so much more. A sinuous slide of possessive concern, the warmth of Xavier's presence twined with the cool tendrils of his telepathy. Erik doesn't feel the connection return at all-- rather it as if some ephemeral velvet has been lifted, or some new spectra of light is revealed, illuminating something that was there all along. To call it a change in perception is accurate-- and perhaps some small part of him questions it-- but the words fail to encompass Erik's greedy relief. The closest analogy is the image that flickers briefly in their shared thoughts; Erik's oft-doubted soul, nestled utterly in the palm of Charles' hand.

'Oh, my dear.' The professor's accent carries mentally, making his next inquiry even more faintly ridiculous. 'Are you alright?'

'Yes,' Erik answers, even as he shakes his head 'no'. Charles is careful to guide him away from his prone position. The older man automatically slips back down to the rug, wild patterns once again meeting his bare knees, but the telepath is right there with him. As soon as his own body realizes the smaller form isn't leaving, Erik begins to cling. Xavier ends up half-coddled in the naked man's lap. There's a faint sheen of sweat in the hollow of the Englishman's throat-- Erik presses his lips there and nuzzles, smelling the clean weave of cardigan, masculine cedar, and just Charles.


With a bit more maneuvering, the mind-reader tucks his lover's head under his chin, entangling them further. It is impossible to tell who is holding whom, and Lehnsherr cares not. Of paramount, singular importance to him is the fact Charles is completely present. The phoenix-wings of his aura enfold Erik, keeping the metal-bender close. One strong hand steals up to the vertebra of that pale neck, auburn dark hair fine against the low curve of the skull.
The seat of the soul; the vital connection of the mind.

In Charles' case, there's not much difference. A part of Erik will always see the professor as that moon-washed, welcoming boy in the ocean. Savior, harbinger, first friend he could remember in years upon years. That Xavier later developed an equally important facet as lover and partner is only logical; the lithe form Erik adored marking, every freckle and smile and understanding look he felt so sure he could own.

Now there is the conquerer as well, his darling of honeyed traps and the upper hand.


(fair salvage, possession is nine-tenths, to the victor go the spoils. everything, all of it, yours, charles. yours. the sword that longs for its master's firm hand, the disciple asleep on an ecstasy of pins.)


A low, melodic moan issues from the younger mutant's throat. He clutches Erik close, physical strength and mental potency as one.

"Say it," Charles commands. "Say it out loud."

"Yours," Erik says roughly, and is rewarded with a wave of adoration/avarice that makes him long to bare his throat again. It occurs to him that, even as he attempted to goad Xavier into a form of psychic murder, a part of him had anticipated pleasure in those last moments. Indolent delight in destruction, because it was authored by Charles' hand.

"Never, never," his captor whispers. It is unclear to whom the telepath is speaking-- Erik, the universe, or the concept of death itself. Every touch they exchange, while not explicitly sexual, feels almost unbearably charged. "Do you know what you do to me?"


(friend, brother-lover, dearest prize, my own. love you want you always safe, always mine never leave make sure you never _want_ to leave…)

The disjointed thought-words dissolve further, mixed sensory images too quick to register and too lovely to ever forget. After a moment, it ebbs back into a smooth, caring mirror, as Charles forcibly calms his own mind. Their embrace regains its former soothing texture, and the telepath gives his prisoner a kiss on either side of that firm mouth.


"I have something for you," the professor whispers, completely aware of how raw and fragile Erik remains. They study each other-- one with tender consideration, one with the blind adoration of a flower for the sun. A brief, almost painful little smile twitches at the corner of that red mouth, and then it's gone. Leaning their foreheads together, Charles's words are a stir of breath.

"They're called Persian buttercups."

Lehnsherr has the briefest moment of confusion, before the image rises in his mind, a blossoming ghost. The Hahnenfuß, concentric petals a crown of gold touched carmine-orange. Mama's flowers.


If Charles has ever actually been in danger from his lover, it is in that thin slice of a moment. It's a singularity so small it almost can't be measured-- but Erik doesn't share her, not with anyone, not ever. But, like the afterthought of match flaring in a vacuum, the anger is gone before he really has a chance to realize its there. As the afternoon with the satellite, the older man knows his friend is not trying to take, but to give.

'This is yours.' And then the Hahnenfuß, bright from his own mind, and the stacks upon stacks of books Charles searched to match the guarded memory. The professor gives like a child, holding forward eagerly, shy and wanting the recipient's delight as a gift in return. No amount of cynicism, realism, or the world's harsh touch will change that core; the trembling, sleep-rumbled boy who first opened up his home.


Erik cannot see clearly. There _are_ tears in his eyes now, which he muffles in his lover's shirt, trying desperately to breathe around the ones that run down his throat. It takes a great deal of focus not to come apart, cave like the walls before Joshua's horns. Erik holds on with determination, with the last bit of stubborn will he hadn't known he had been saving. Eventually, he becomes aware of a sound in the room, echoing off the bunker's thick walls to be swallowed by the dark.

Somewhere, some poor stitched-together creature is weeping. A boy-monster miserable with the taste of chocolate and ash and loss.

Nothing will ever be able to make it okay, Erik knows. But for the first time it seems possible for both the man and the boy to survive past revenge.

Charles is very, very careful, and he gladly embraces them both.




Chapter Text

For a little while, time ceases to have meaning. Everything is parenthetical, contained within the circle of Charles' embrace. Erik abandons himself to the younger man's rocking and crooning, soaking it in and making himself small. The mantle of snowy-warm affection has been returned to him-- its delight as indescribable as a vagabond's first sip of water. He would clutch it close if he could. As it is, all he needs to do is relax, surrender to being held.


At some point, the professor encourages him to stand, gently herding him towards the bathroom. When awareness returns to Lehnsherr, he is standing before the filling claw-foot tub, hand on the warming metal faucet. The thrum of even such commonplace steel is grounding. Absently, he runs his fingers along the spigot, almost stroking, and Charles watches him with undisguised fondness. Learning to manipulate his magnetic ability was one thing, but he cannot remember a time when he wasn't at least _aware_ of any metal around him. The sensation intrigues Charles. Its constant song is nothing like the cacophony of minds the telepath was forced to begin filtering out almost before he could walk. Both of their talents have come at a heavy price-- though there probably isn't a mutant in the world who hasn't been bitten, and savagely, by their gifts.

"It can be good, too, though," the telepath reminds him, flooding the older man with the exquisite way their psyches slide against one another. "You deserve for it to be good."


(Hasn't that been part of the problem? From the very beginning, Charles makes it good. It ought to be impossible, but that's hardly stopped the young scholar before. Every time he watches Erik work his will-- be it through common tin or smooth loops of gold-- his lips part, eyes bright with wonder. It makes the older man want to do more, extend his reach farther, and he is in no way comfortable with being eager to please. Even that shameful, hungry part of him might be overlooked, if not for the fact that Charles _makes_ the metallokinesis itself easier. Erik's power is hewn from rage and despair, not this fragile sense of belonging. It is foolish to lay aside one's weapons, even in an unearthly oasis.

He brings out the gun because it makes Charles nervous. Erik is not fond of those weapons, either-- there's nothing more satisfying than giving that push, divorcing the parts until the casings and triggers drop like marionettes cut from their strings. There's no question in his mind that he can stop the bullet. He could probably do something flashy with the brass too, if he wanted to be arrogant about it. Charles' hand trembles, though, and he won't do it. The Englishman is the strongest person Erik knows, and firearms the refuge of cowards and dogs. It's not fear, but understanding in that azure gaze. The telepath is not going to let an unpleasant memory of him join Lehnsherr's already massive arsenal.
Even as he bulks at the idea of moving an entire satellite, part of Erik feels very caught.)


Right now, it's almost euphoric, from the simple bathroom fixtures to the every-day workings of pipes throughout the mansion. To him, it feels organic, the flowing lines of a tree branching or vines surrounding a chosen trellis. That Xavier feels it with him, hand in guiding hand, heightens the satisfaction.

"You're so much stronger than you know." The professor says, making each word a little kiss along his lover's jaw.

"Both of us," Erik whispers, thinking back to the reach of the younger mutant's mind and all it's subtle intricacies. 'Conduit,' he thinks vaguely of himself, imagining Charles' power as dazzling luminescence, like lightning drawn to an iron rod.

"Oh." Young voice so shy, but very touched. "Oh, yes." Pride twines in with the waves of caring, joins layer upon layer of love and protectiveness and desire until the metal-bender is weak with it. He's dizzy, almost intoxicated, leaning heavily against the tub's edge.

Charles moves away from him to undress, waving away even the thought of aid. Those lips quirk in an little half smile, something that might be smug if it were not also so incongruously adorable. Erik focuses on catching his breath, eyes drawn again and again to the lines of his lover's body. The freckles dotting those pale, formerly hidden shoulders make the older man's mouth dry. The telepath disrobes eagerly, watching just as raptly in return. The air, already warm from the ambient bath, feels heavy and charged. Indolent.


Adding something to the bath, Charles climbs in, gesturing for the other man to join him. He parts those strong swimmer's legs invitingly, a mirror of their previous encounter. Erik sinks obligingly into the embrace, feeling the younger man harden further as they almost spoon hip to hip. A subtle yet familiar scent is rising with the steam. Faintly spicy, like cinnabar or the dark heart of a forest. He recognizes it from the telepath's body-- the ever-present, complimentary note to the natural sweat licked from shoulder blades and neck. The result is the same as it always is; the coil of heat in his gut feels like an almost physical blow. That very first time, he'd caught the scent on his own leather jacket after loaning it to Charles-- then thanked any and all heavenly powers that he had something with which to cover his lap. Now, the slightest brush of current in the bath only serves to egg him on. His friend chuckles in honest delight, drawing one of those aristocratic fingers along his shaft. A caring little tease.


(Erik is extremely cross about Cerebro, before he even lays eyes on it. Those strong, large hands take the Englishman's shoulders, shaking half in jest and half in frustration. Charles feels the heat of that grip through his shirtsleeves, the breadth of them and the commanding craftsmanship of bone beneath the blazingly warm skin. When he looks up, glassy eyed and distant, it is because he is utterly taken aback by how visceral the reaction is.
At the time, Erik had thought him too confident in his own powers to even listen to reason.)


The shared memory provokes a shudder from them both. The metal bender lays submissively in Xavier's embrace, sensory perception heightened to a mosaic of impressions. The hardness against his tailbone, the proprietary hand on his thigh, those pert nipples against the curve of his scapula. The professor has an entirely willing captive, now-- Erik is past helpless arousal and well towards making an abject offering of himself. The transformation strikes a very distant cord of surprise, but its not as alarming as it should be. Lehnsherr has reached that wonderful place where it is pleasure in and of itself to obey. A warm, dark pocket in the deepest glacier.


If he feels a prickle of worry along his vertebra, it is only because his surrender implies a coming change. The other makes soothing sound under his breath, licking drops of water along broad shoulders.

"It will be as it was," Charles reassures him, thinking back to those short weeks before the beach, now cast in almost idyllic light by men who have seen so much more. "Only better. Running a real school is going to be exhausting, but it will carve out a place for our kind. I want you by my side, Erik-- I always have. Out there," he waves a vague, regal hand to indicate the world at large. "You'll be as you've always been. Strong, brilliant, a father figure-- oh, don't look at me like that, you know its true." The soothing embrace turns wanton, as delicious as being trapped in an elegant web.

"In here, you'll be as you really are." Fervent touches along Erik's carotid, and Charles presses a multitude of kisses against the pulse. "_Mine_."

There's a low rumble of appreciation from Erik, a mixture of a moan and a sigh. He thinks briefly of the stories of demons loose in the desert sands, captured by powerful mages. Solomon had such servants, ancient spirits bound by a ring, delighting in their chains even as they snarled.

"Every cell in your body," the telepath whispers, laving the column of his lover's neck, "Every thought in your head."


Lehnsherr's muscles want to tense, the natural toque applied by the body as it strains towards satisfaction. Instead, professor's velvet-soft mental grip keeps him relaxed and pliant. Right now, it seems Charles just wants to relish the feel of being skin to skin, flushed from the temperature and closeness.


'I've missed you.' At least both of them have moved past articulation, Erik thinks, apropos of nothing. The other's thoughts are a soothing balm, utterly without reprimand. He can only attempt to push his own, less gifted psyche towards the bright sapphire consciousness, grasping clumsily. He's met more than half way, as one would rush to embrace a lover suddenly returned from being lost at war.


('Little boy, little boy, strange little boy.' It echoes everywhere, but only Charles can hear it, only Charles knows the quick, calculating thoughts as glittering ladies and sharply dressed men hold their cards close to the vest. The blue girl is a god-send and they are thick as thieves, but there is still a cavity in his heart, arching and unfilled. Brian Xavier's psychology textbooks, labored over by a form still dwarfed by the thick volumes. Endless pulp novels, _Amazing Stories_ and _Galaxy_ read to tatters because they contained telepaths and psychics and people who could 'peep' into minds. Devoured, because there's never just one of them in the stories, and sometimes late at night he wonders if he's been left behind.)


'I'm not…' Erik begins, unable to understand quite how he is so precious to this young man, even when he cherishes Charles in much the same way. He thinks of that Frost woman, her thoughts as sharp and glittering as the second skin she assumed. Watching Charles read her had been like a splinter of acid in the metal-bender's chest. It hadn't mattered that he himself had demanded mental integrity, solitude. The envy, hypocritical or not, had been potent and immediate, much more so than even the times when Moira leaned close, laughing softly and holding Charles' gaze.

'You're so much _more_ than another telepath.' Xavier moves in his lovers mind, masterful and smooth. Like brush-strokes. 'It's you I want, darling. Surely you must know that by now.'

Erik does know that, though the anatomy of it still escapes him. Everyone must carry some version of this warped mirror within, reflecting back broken, horrible twins back at their owners. Even if they don't, Charles carries a glass like that. Not exactly like Erik's, but close enough… and that is all that matters in the end. That they fit together, even along their broken edges. The wave of gratitude he tries to send peters off vaguely-- the professor is running wondering fingers along the older man's temples and jaw. That commands far more attention.


When those pale fingers stray, Erik cranes his neck, capturing a thumb to suckle mindlessly. The water feels at once soothing and intense against his sore arse. The discipline itself may not have been exciting, but the evidence of it is, this thing the professor has wrought in his captive's skin. He's trapped in this haze of arousal, unable to reach that final pitch or calm himself, torpid with every kindness Charles has wanted to give him.

'I missed you, too,' The words echo in more than one language, shifting between thick vowels and sharp consonants. It doesn't need to be said, of course, but Erik is happy to give it anyway. The past few weeks

(has it been weeks? it has, he senses it from Xavier. the arsenic edge of the telepath's worry, his instinct to comfort and the struggle to let Erik conquer those last dark barricades on his own.)

lay stark and bare before the telepath's power, making Erik turn to hide his face against that slim neck. It accomplishes nothing, save that he abandons the faintly ink-stained thumb in favor of the younger man's clavicle. The fantasy of the silver mine seems to have a will of its own. It is drawn to Charles, moth's wings beating against the telepath's awareness, almost as if he already knows where it is.


"You flatter me, dearest," Charles manages to whisper. He turns the images over and over like prisms, amusement overshadowed by how touched he is. The professor can see everything; Erik's two tempestuous loves, grudgingly acknowledged but ardently felt. "It's beautiful. You're beautiful."

"_Charles_." Lehnsherr feels as though he could rip the entire network of silver veins from the ground right now, if he was asked to. He would bend it to Charles in obeisance, make it sing for the professor. The metal-bender is anything but serene; he blazes like magma at the lip of a volcano, though rage is gone from him, too.

"Would you like to come, sweetheart?" Coy, solicitous. "Something to take the edge off? After such a draught, I do expect that cock of yours to be _very_ dedicated in serving me tonight."

"Please." Erik is so keyed up that he feels the iron in the welling drop of blood before he registers the pain from biting his lip. "Oh, oh…" He makes himself hold off, though he has no idea quite how. Distantly, he thinks of another evening, and Charles' comment about dirtying the bath.

"Such a good, considerate little boy." The praise comes with a touch on his thigh, though it is thankfully on the outside, away from what feels like the throbbing of his entire awareness. Whispered against the shell of his ear, "You'd best hurry up, then."


It ought to impossible to move when he's this hard, but Erik manages to wedge himself out of the tub, standing dripping on the mat as he helps Charles joins him. Lehnsherr carefully towels the smaller form dry, though he's temporarily distracted by the beautiful flush of those nipples. He strokes them, is ready to bend to put his mouth to them, but Charles shakes his head. The sigh he releases is so deep he almost doesn't remember to breathe back in, but the older man obeys and turns to place the towels back on the rack. In the next moment, he finds he cannot move his hands away from the bar, fists curling of their own volition. He looks over his shoulder, grey-green eyes widening even further when he feels the silken slide of the cords finally returning, winding around wrists and ankles like affectionate little serpents.

"Did you miss those, too?" Xavier asks, though it's obvious he already knows the answer. "I know they missed you." Erik closes his eyes to savor the feel of the bonds seeping into the whole of his being. In his mind's eye, they are golden, like the flush of sunlight across his lover's pale skin. He thinks he'd like to put his mouth on them, if there were some way he could.


"Oral fixation." The professor's admonishment is light, indulgent. Gracefully, he slips between Erik and the wall, nudging the older man's legs so he has room to kneel. Feet on the mat, braced against the rack and tile, Erik can only watch. Then he knows he cannot look away, because Charles is using those bruise-red lips to pepper little chaste kisses all over the metal-bender's cock.

'Look who's…' The return volley is more habit than anything else, and he can feel how it pleases Charles, even as the professor gives him a little warning pinch on the thigh.


"I'm going to fuck you," the telepath says pleasantly. "I'm going to take you back to that bed, get you on your hands and knees and make love to you 'til you cry. You'll feel so good and be so sore you won't be able to tell the difference between the two." Right now, he's tracing along Erik's sharp hips with almost academic interest. "I want that pretty hole of yours nice and relaxed and ready for me."

There's not much coherent thought left in the older mutant's head, though his arsehole clenches instinctively, anticipating that beloved invader. 'Ich…'

'Du.' Xavier returns, revealing the dimple of his smile. "So…" he says aloud, "what do you suppose I do with this?" He laps briefly at the erection before him with his tongue, wringing a long groan from his victim.

'Whatever you want, whatever pleases you, whatever you please. Please, please. Oh, please…' The thought spirals in on itself, especially when Charles raises a hand to cup the older man's balls.

"My priceless whore." Sugar-sweet, a croon. The warmth of that mouth is enough to make Erik scream, and then bite his lip anew trying to stifle it. The taste of copper wells against his tongue-- some of it may be dripping down his chin.

'I'll lick that up later,' the professor promises. The telepath goes down on Erik with all the usual skill and more, effortlessly tweaking pressure and suction until black spots dance before Lehnsherr's eyes. The pleasure has a little edge of hurt, and that hurt is so _good_. Knowing what Charles is going to say doesn't actually lessen the impact.

'My sweet, my best. Come.'


He does. The black spots coalesce, a void-brilliance with every shard of color as Charles swallows around him, so good he feels it in-between his shoulders, in the tips of his fingers and toes. He probably screams again, though all he's really aware of is the sound of his own pounding heart and the possessive wend in Charles' thoughts.

'Good boy.'





Chapter Text

When his vision clears, they're kneeling on the bath mat-- or rather, Erik is. Charles is once more draped across the older mutant's lap, one hand playing light and regal fingers along the iron curve of neck and spine. There's just a drop of white at the corner of that impish smile. The professor waits until he feels his prisoner's gaze focus, cleaning it with a quick, pink movement of tongue. Erik _just_ came-- he felt it in his thrice-damned toes!-- but the image never the less provokes a low, helpless moan. Xavier sits there, beautifully flushed, allowing himself to be clutched close.

This is a position the metal-bender had to wrangle for, in that short other life. He had embraced his professor often, in the same way one held the wings of a small bird. Carefully, yes, and with no intent to harm, but also with firm determination to bind. Now he knows that, no matter how close he presses his young man, he does so at the telepath's indulgence. Its a humbling feeling, and a heady one. Charles reclines against him, as though condescending to use the older man's body as a throne. The power there, the feeling of being shaped by those small, soft hands makes Erik want summon offerings, be _worthy_.


Gently, Charles is playing the cool waves of his telepathy against these strands of feeling; both the old desire to physically dominate, and the metal-bender's new knowledge that he has no choice but to submit. The professor thinks Erik is beautiful this way, serving him. Pleasure pours over both of them like honey.

"I should just sit here," Charles whispers, making a luxurious feline stretch. "You're quite comfortable, you know." Kisses along the firm curve of deltoid and bicep. "I've always loved how strong you are." To Erik, the physical prowess of his own body is almost incidental. A means to an end. The thought of attracting others, whether by accident or design, registered rarely-- and then only as a strategic device. Now, tangled in the endless cords of Charles' regard and possession, Erik sees himself almost as a stranger. No crude stitches or pilfered organs here. Xavier saw him, dripping in his wet suit on that very first night, and thought of nothing so much as an ancient warrior. The kind who fought viciously for the privilege of being sacrificed to the gods.

For every time Lehnsherr has spent an evening glowering at a faceless crowd, conscious of every covetous gazes directed at his friend, Charles has also been aware. Not of his own admirers, but of Erik's. Charles, a princely Mona Lisa, eyes betraying nothing even as he delighted in the fact Erik will only ever have eyes for him. They match each other-- geometric tessellations repeating endlessly, until all perspective is lost.


"And you called me a tempting serpent," the telepath chides, licking along his lover's chiseled jaw.

(Every time you marveled my powers, reminded me that I wasn't beholden to the Army or the CIA. Every time you pulled away just so I would reel you back in…
You don't know what you did to me. I could have taken you in front of all of them, wiped their memories. I never used to want that sort of thing, be able to acknowledge the possibility even in the darkest corners of my own mind. Even saying, 'I could stop you-- I could, but I won't'… a few days before I would never have allowed such words to pass my lips! But I wanted to stop you, oh…)


There's a swell of bright, golden-edged images from both men-- different, yet as finely matched as woodcuts authored by the same talented hand. Erik, on his knees in front of the professor, begging to stay. Earning the privilege with a diligent mouth.

Presently, Erik parts his lips so that they might be fucked by the telepath's agile tongue. Hadn't he known, then? He could have quit Langley, fled like every preservative instinct screamed to, gorged himself on vengeance alone. He had wanted to be wanted, though; to be asked to stay. Once he was in Charles' orbit, he was caught. _They_ were caught-- they ruined each other as surely as entropy flung apart the stars.

"You love it," Charles murmurs confidently, because the same is true for him.

"Ja," is the reply. As sweet and mysteriously satisfying as that nameless fruit.

"I've wanted this." Defiance in those brilliant-water eyes. "This close-- closer. I should just sit here." Imperiously, returning to his original subject, "Relax, and touch myself while I look at your handsome face."

How well Lehnsherr knows the particular tilt of that chin. He lowers his own steely-green gaze, contritely kissing the knuckles of the hand he's holding. It's entirely possible no one-- not even his beautiful godling-- can bear this much love without the thinnest edge of fear.

The siren counter-tenor is both a tease and a threat; "I'd come all _over_ you."


"I would thank you for it," Erik whispers in return, not the least bit surprised to find its true. What follows is a wave of pleasure just as warm as the arms Charles throws about his neck. Xavier rests his head trustingly against the older man's chest, almost like a sleepy child. At the same time, liquid-velvet tendrils invade the metal-bender's pleasure centers, wringing an orgasm directly from his brain. The climax is almost entirely mental, but no less powerful for it. The professor easily rides the slight bucking of his lover's body, a pleased little grunt the only sign he even notices.

(perfect, you're perfect-- my love, oh yes…)

Erik savors the faint ache of over-stimulation, projecting nothing but gratitude. Charles is quick to get to his feet, all animated grace.

"I believe I said something about fucking you in that bed."


Lehnsherr would scoop the professor up and carry the younger man there himself, but he doubts his legs are currently capable of supporting even his own form. Instead, he puts his palms flat on the tile and crawls forward a little, unsteady even in that. The only thing that stops him is the professor's low, melodic groan. Xavier has been holding back this entire time, by sheer force of will and a craftsman's understanding of neural pathways. The sight of the metal-bender like this seems to be a bit much, even for a telepath of Charles' caliber.

"Oh, don't do that," his captor croons. "G-d, you should see yourself. Some other time." He motions frantically with an outstretched hand.

'Come to you on my hands and knees,' Erik projects with deliberate volume. 'Crawl forward and suck on your cock.' Unconsciously, he licks his lips-- very much aware of it in the next breath, reflected as it is through the myriad colors' of Xavier's arousal.



"I'll turn that pretty arse of yours a darker shade, if you don't behave yourself." It's a warning, but it contains no heat. Instead, the professor links their hands together, towing Lehnsherr towards the bed with simple, contagious joy. He walks backwards, slow but sure-footed, as if he can't stand to lose sight of Erik's face. When the round of that pert ass bumps up against the too-high mattress, strong hands grip slim hips and lift Charles up, arranging him amongst the pillows as though he is as fragile as his beauty suggests. Erik knows so much better-- has always known, in one way or another-- that mind like the shimmering of some mystical sword, sheathed in the most intricate silk. For a long moment, Lehnsherr crouches at the edge of the bed, lost in tracing the lines of flesh and gradual shift of pale-skin hues from the flickering fire. He thinks that ethereal, impossible blue is the color he would like to see when he dies.

'Wunderschoene…' All of his languages seem to fail, words too small to hold in the meaning. Even his first tongue is inadequate, having only the virtue of being raw and honest. He raises his hands, hovering indecisively, the old battle between desire to touch and simple awe.

"Are you mine?" Not a question, but an encouragement to confirm. The telepath motions him forward, holding lissom fingers to support the older man's jaw.

"Yes," its the ghost of a word, past dry lips. Charles kisses him for it. It is not enough-- Xavier will accept this gift, but every dark and burning corner of Erik demands he himself give more. "Your servant," he continues, almost blushing as he drops his gaze. "Your prisoner, your slut, your fuck-toy."

"My treasure." This kiss is harder; scholarly hands frame his face, hold him in the union of mouths even as Charles reverses their physical positions. For a moment, Lehnsherr goes completely limp, reveling in the feel of the professor's weight against him. "My sweet little boy… do you want to be good for me, dearest?"


"Kneel up," the professor instructs, soft touches guiding the older man to roll over, place his lower legs flat against the duvet. "Hands and knees-- all the way, there's a love."

For a moment, Erik seems to lose the lovely cadences of that voice, as if it is being overpowered by some great and terrible wind. He looks down at the fabric of the comforter, taunt between his hands, and feels the rusty iron tumblers begin clicking into place.


That ragged, stitched up boy-- son of rage and loss-- was subjected to a great many evil things, but not that. As with that early session in the bath, it is not Charles he fears. Not Charles, and not even the intensity of being laid open, as the enema had accomplished so meticulously. It is just that he cannot _see_ his young man, cannot have the slight form fully before him and _known_. A seemingly minor tangle, and yet not; he has never been taken in this position-- has avoided the reverse with Charles, even in the Time Before. The thought, the rough charcoal of desire is one thing, but the reality for someone who has been both hunter and hunted is something else entirely. A part of him is shamed to still be so effected by it. There's a low and burning feeling spreading from his Adam's apple. Erik does not move or even protest, but all within him is suddenly chill and unyielding bone.

"My love." Strokes down his flank, along his hips as the beloved countertenor returns, it's echo a twin wending its way in the older man's thoughts. "Erik, darling. Would I ever let you be hurt?"

No, no of course not. The very lightest of fingertips trace over his still-sore arse; that is not _hurt_, not as Erik understands it, but a transitory proof. A means. He feels the complaining little nerve endings and knows that his Charles was good to him, so good. Thirty one and that was it, all forgiven, over-and-done-with-gone, and he so wants to be good. Wants to be in the professor's grasp, not fighting, moving mountains for him. Those demons, powerful when the world was a mote in G-d's eye, singing in their chains.

"And you are good," his lover reassures him. "So good, my best boy." A rain of kisses the backs of his shoulders, the line of his neck and vertebrae. "I want to take you like this-- feel you under me. Feel you arc up into and know that every inch of you is mine."

Good, yes; and true, yes. He will not be asked for something he is not capable of, Erik knows that. Still, it is a relief when he feels the storm-smooth texture of Charles' psychic powers, regulating his breathing and making him relax. He welcomes it, mind rushing to embrace the foreign will. Seductively, Charles' mind draws him further inward. A tempting figure seen in dark mist.



He knows Charles is prepping him-- has the lube from the nightstand and is gently, gently opening him up. At the same time, he is straining his own limited psychic senses after the force reading through him, like chasing the tide. Past the fantasy of the silver mine, the frantic arousal of the days before Cuba, or even the heady delight of their first night together on the road. What the telepath settles on is blurred, with rough and hasty edges. The sketches of a man who thinks his subject might take flight.

(They will find their own kind then-- he and Charles, no suits. The serene defiance when Charles took his side… ah, that was worth sticking around it see. So many brilliant facets to this young man, and still he wanders about the Langley complex as if he is _safe_, as if he cannot read the demarkation of enemy ground. Erik wants to be wanted, to be _told_ to stay.

'I will stay,' he thinks. He manages an edge of politeness, withholds the most scathing comments, endures allowing Hank to use Charles for such frivolous tinkering. At night, he locks doors and completes what used to be just another function with a handful of fervent, deliberate strokes.
'Stay and have you, watch you, touch you. They do not know who or what it is they have among them and I will make sure they never know…')


"Hmmm," Charles says, as if savoring some vintage rare and fine. He moves to two fingers, deft and careful, kissing and laving the shell of Erik's ear. "I always got these waves off you, my pet-- very confusing. Protectiveness and then anger, desire and resentment, a want that was shaking the ground from beneath your feet." And that's what Xavier is looking for. Not the context of their personal histories-- delightful though that is-- but the darkest gem in a hoard of images, a base kind of loveliness.


(It's here-- an image of Charles, breath-taking beyond telling, pierced and adorned and dripping in the finest of chains.
'Have you,' Erik thinks, when the hours of sharing small hotel rooms and smaller cars begin to wear. He is not equipped for this, the wanting or the tenderness that underscores even the most possessive of fantasies. It's easy, though, and tempting. He locks the bathroom door and takes comfort in the anonymity of the predawn hours.)


"You make me look so stunning, darling," the professor praises. "Not half so beautiful as you." He's pushing in, warm blunt head piercing Erik the way the metal-bender once dreamt of taking him. A whisper, "Tell me about it."

"Make every one myself," Lehnsherr admits through a clenched jaw. It is embarrassing and freeing, and the kind of deeply erotic image one did not like to own up to in the light of day. It has its twin in the way Charles so adoringly flays him open, the way that cultivated accent says 'mine'. "Every chain, every bauble. Keep you all lovely and shackled-- safe from them but not from me…"

"Oh?" Almost as sweet as the slide of the younger man being sheathed fully inside of him. It's a slow, rocking rhythm, and one utterly determined by the telepath. Those hard nubs, those beloved little shell-pink nipples, are rubbing deliciously against Erik's back. "I want to show you something."


It is the same image; nothing material about it changes. Not one stroke of color, or play of shadow, not a single deviation from the old fantasy summoned from half-conscious corners of the mind. Erik towering over Charles, embracing him with chains and hands and arms. What changes is the understanding of the very man it belongs to. Not a conquerer taking his prize, but a worshiper before his idol. A beggar, offering trinkets and devoted touches to try and sway his mysterious lord.

(The image of Charles, so bound and enshrined, smiles tenderly. Erik, with his aggressive wanting, kneels. Runs hands along pale thighs, listens to the light tinkle of hooped metal. He feels the weight and shape of Xavier's cock with a warm, careful hand. Traces where the younger man remains uncut, cups and gently rolls the balls.)


Lehnsherr can *see* where his hands are fisted in the bed-clothes. He is firmly, delightfully aware of the weight of Charles sheathed fully inside of him. At the same time, his beloved telepath is a spinning a tapestry of alternate sensations, so skillfully crafted that they actually compete with reality. The smooth, achingly satin flesh of Xavier's inner thighs under Erik's own big hands; the intimate scent of the professor, intoxicating as he breathes in through his nose. Even his mouth, originally open to gasp for air, feels filled with the very same girth of flesh he's pinned on. Moaning, half-mad with tantalizing eroticism, the metal-bender closes his eyes. Surrendering completely to however Charles may wish to shape the world.

Erik-- the skilled assassin of Before-- drooling around his prisoner's cock, sucking for everything he's worth. And Erik, the professor's captive, kneeling in the center of the monstrously plush bed-- thrusting back into every stroke of fucking and moaning all the while. He's deep in that warm, coral-colored place where the rush of Charles' thoughts and Charles' will are the definition of pleasure.


The professor kisses and nibbles on his lover's pulse; the telepath arrayed in beautiful chains strokes the cheeks and hair of the captor giving him head.

'Tell me.' Two images, one sweet command. Erik's every cell is alive for that voice-- he thinks he would stop his own heart, crawl across broken glass, lick his own come from the younger man's dainty toes… just to always have that glow of love in the way Charles speaks to him. 'You have it,' Xavier reassures him. 'Always, my love. Now, tell me the truth.' It matters not that the Englishman knows it already, perhaps better than Lehnsherr himself. What matters is hearing Erik say it, forcing the older mutant to articulate somehow. 'Why did you fight so to own me?'

It's only three little words. Cheap syllables, if you listen to the radio. Easy to come by; on TV, on Lover's Lane, in dingy motel rooms and the backseats of cars. Only three words in German, too-- an actual even exchange-- but he never even lets the thought of it surface in his mind. Everyone Erik has ever said those words to is dead. Gone, and gone and never coming back home.


'Because I was waiting for you, Charles,' he says instead. The professor knows that loneliness, the fear of going from cradle to grave without even one touch from your own kind. 'It wasn't just a matter of finding someone like me… it had to be _you_.'

Xavier's thrusts falter for a moment, rhythm giving way to wild shudders. They're both close, though; so close the scent of sweat and cinnabar and sex is its own cocoon.

'Yes,' says Charles, 'For me, too.' Then, as he finds his methodical timing of thrusts once more, 'Ask nicely, darling.'

'Please, Charles… may I come?' The older mutant has a heartbeat or so to be proud of that-- five clear words, and all in the same language, too.

'Erik,' Charles murmurs, the same tone in which mystics invoke blessings. Lehnsherr feels the cords of red-gold aura sliding against his already over-sensitized skin. Around ankles and wrists, looping possessively about his neck, around the inside of his thighs to--


He realizes where the psychic touch is going an instant before it happens. Then, the beloved bonds close tenderly around his penis. The texture is heavenly, and impossible to describe-- soft as velvet, as slick and warm as Charles' obscene tongue. A delicate but inexorable silk. Erik's lungs burn. He is focused so much on waiting for permission to come, he's momentarily forgotten to breathe.

'So sweet, my little love,' Charles says, drawing oxygen in _for_ him. 'Good boy, Erik. You may come.'

After that, he is only a web of nerves to experience pleasure, and a throat to scream Charles' name.



They end up spooned on their sides, Erik within the protective curve of Charles' body, both of them gasping and utterly wrecked.

"Thank you," the metal-bender murmurs, placing little kisses in the center of the professor's palm. "So good. Thank you."

"We're not half done yet, dearest," Charles murmurs, taking a moment to suckle on the older man's earlobe. Those beautiful, princely fingers steal down around the curve of Lehnsherr's arse, finding his still wet and oozing hole. The over-stimulation is both sweet and sharp, making the captive cry out. "Yes-- be as loud as you want," the telepath encourages, playing with Erik's pucker and his own come. "As loud as you want, for as long as you want." Idly, like a sorcerer examining the weave of a spell. "The weather's been awfully dreary, and everyone has been training so hard. I do believe the whole household will sleep in-- and _quite_ soundly-- tomorrow."

Charles can _do_ that, the older mutant thinks. The pucker of his own arse squeezes around the invading fingers. Erik has been used so well he aches, but he still shoves eagerly into the touch. The edge of hurt is delight on his tongue. Nothing occurs on Graymalkin Lane-- there is no one who comes, and no one who leaves-- without Charles allowing it to be so. No army or enemy force will ever get close enough to attack. The professor could turn them back, erase memory and intention, even strike them dead if it suited him.


"Now, darling," Xavier scolds, but there's no heat. He's watching Erik bare his neck in base, wanton surrender. The older man fucks back on the fingers and forward into the sheets, trying to make himself as accessible as possible. Charles slips the next climax out like a thief in dream; gloriously lazy, flowing and unfettered. They both taste it, and sigh.

It takes a monumental gathering of effort but Erik turns over, responding to the telepath's desire to be held. They're both filthy, covered in each other's sweat and saliva and come, only managing a dry spot to rest in because the bed is so very large. In a little while, they will wash again-- Charles assures him wordlessly. They will partake of one another, and then of food, and Erik needn't feel anxious of the many corridors and rooms outside this sanctuary because Xavier will be there, right next to him, holding his hand. Charles will feed his pet fruit and bits of cheese, letting his best little boy lick wine from his soft, cupped palm.

In the morning, there will be a late breakfast-- a homecoming and smiles for a prodigal who never really went away. New faces, old friends, and his place at Charles' feet at the end of the day. For now, the professor wishes to be held. The younger man does so love the feel of Erik's strong arms around him, of that warm little crevice he can rest in just under the older mutant's chin. Lehnsherr's body cradles that of his friend, his lover; the telepath holds his captive equally close with his mind. There will be rest, and more pleasure tonight-- after all, Erik has not had time to reacquaint himself with those sweet nipples, to lay there at Xavier's mercy and have suck.

"I love you," Charles says. It is more than true; it is the marrow of bone.

"Ani ledodi," Erik admits, words raw and still pulsing with blood. "Vedodi li." Not quite there yet, but getting so much warmer. The satisfying feeling of building flame. It's hard to say the words, to escape the feeling of inviting calamity, no matter how earnest the affection is.

Despite their exertions, the metal-bender shivers a little in anticipation, kissing his gentle master's hair. Three little words.


Erik knows eventually Charles will make him surrender those, too.