i. friday, 11.01 pm
Moira MacTaggert is the embodiment of sharpness and poise.
It’s only her dictionary definition, but it’s still all that Erik can see. It doesn’t matter that there’s overwhelming evidence that she’s nothing but a study in compartmentalization. That, here, none of Senior class representative MacTaggert is present. Here, on the sunken couch at Cassidy’s, it’s just Moira who’s carefully smoking around a split lip.
Erik can see why Charles likes her.
Vibrations travel through the floorboards and they are loud enough to make his chest tremble. Lounge Act booms like they’ve been swept back to the ‘90’s, and considering where they are, Erik realizes he shouldn’t really be surprised. Cassidy has a knack for grunge, after all.
“You know, it’s not a competition,”
Moira says the words through a cloud of smoke. Erik resists the urge to cough. She’d directed it out through the balcony door, but there is still something corroding about the scent of Lucky Strikes when you’re used to hand-rolled.
“Really. What makes you say that?”
One last drag, then Moira crushes her cigarette under her sole. “He’s selfish and impatient. If he wanted us to fight, we’d be over and done by now.”
Erik turns his head to finally look at her. “Then why are we doing this?”
In the dull light, he can’t make out anything but the fact that her eyes are dark and indecipherable. It’s not what he really wants to ask – why in a broader definition – and he knows that she knows this as well.
“Selfish and possessive aren’t synonymous,” Moira says, and the way she stresses the last word grates on Erik’s nerves.
It’s not as if Charles has been downplaying how badly he wants Erik to give in and crawl into Moira’s lap, kiss her and tell her it’s all right. Even when everything is so out of left field it’s not even fun anymore.
The unsaid must show on his face anyways, because Moira looks him straight in the eye now. “Then you know that I do this for him. Not for my own benefit, because trust me, Lehnsherr, I don’t appreciate you and your moody ass antagonizing me for kicks. However, I like Charles enough to do my best with you.”
Erik tries to hold her eyes, but ends up redirecting his gaze, catching Charles’ from across the room instead. Charles, who’s talking to Hank, raises his eyebrows, lips curving in an unspoken question.
Erik keeps mouth in a straight line. He has an inkling Moira does the same.
Seeming to feel the tension, Charles makes a gesture and vanishes before he reappears a moment later, and sits down on the last free space: the cushion between them. He darts his eyes between them, patting his thighs. “Have you two come to an agreement?”
It’s obvious he’s going for lighthearted, but it ends slightly high-pitched instead. For all Charles is ready to negotiate and be a diplomat to others even when it can be avoided, he avoids outright conflict towards his person unless forced.
Moira looks like she’s about to shake her head, but stops. “I need a drink,” she says, unfolding from the dilapidated couch and turning back to them. “You want anything?”
“I’m good,” Charles says, all genuine with a bright smile.
Moira turns to him. “Lehnsherr?”
He knows he should answer her. He doesn’t. Instead he keeps quiet in spite of Moira’s eyes resting on him for a good three seconds before she turns into the crowd.
The music changes to something slower and all at once Erik is hyperaware of how close Charles is sitting. The warmth of him, the familiar movement of his ribcage against Erik’s own. Instinctively, he moves his arm around Charles’ shoulders, tugging him closer.
i’m not going anywhere, you know, Charles says, voice clear in his mind over the music.
Erik wants to believe him. He really does. He fingers at the collar of Charles’ sweater; brushes a thumb over the skin covering his carotid. Just right of the spot that makes him whimper when Erik places his teeth over it, kissing with just enough force to leave a mark.
Charles sighs, leaning into his touch. “I simply want you to make an effort, Erik. You tell yourself you despise her, but we both know that it isn’t true,” he says, and while there’s no sharpness in his voice, there would have been. If this was something that Charles knew he could push.
“I thought you liked it when I was possessive,” Erik darts his eyes over Charles’ face.
“I do.” Charles tilts his head up, and there’s something careful about the way he does it. “But this is not about that, and you know that, Erik.”
Erik looks away. In any other constellation, he knows he could have liked Moira. With her firm thighs, deceptively frail wrists, the headstrong stubbornness of her chin. That poise that she can’t get rid off no matter how she tries. But now, as he studies her from across the room, where she’s mouthing at a beer bottle with her split lip –
All he can imagine is Charles’ phantom hands on her waist and his talented mouth between her legs. It’s a petty thing to do with Charles right there, and he knows it. Still, he can’t stop it.
“That was unnecessary,” Charles says softly, but it’s also all he says. Erik spares him a quick glance then leans away again.
Because contrary to popular belief, Erik is well aware of his flaws. He knows he has a jealous streak a mile wide. He knows he’s possessive to the point of ruin, and that he will always choose fight over flight, no matter how bad the odds.
And with Moira MacTaggert being the one Charles wants to fuck, his odds are pretty shit.
If Moira knows Charles is selfish, Erik knows this; Charles hates making an effort in anything. Not only in the way he refuses to get out of bed before ten on a weekend, or can easily spend a day on the sofa without guilt, but on a deeper level, too. Sometimes, Erik thinks Charles wired his own brain to a genius’ level simply so he wouldn’t have to study, unless he wanted to.
So when it comes down to it, Charles can tell Erik he loves him over and over, but some part of Erik will always insist that if hell were to rain upon them – then Charles will choose Moira, if so only for simplicity’s sake.
He carefully keeps those thoughts in the back of his mind, though. When Moira then comes back, he takes the bottle she’s holding out to him. Her fingertips are cold, and she doesn’t look at him as she sits down on the other side of Charles.
Which, considering everything, is fair enough.
ii. saturday, 3.17 am
Later, at home, in bed, Erik can’t sleep. He tosses and turns, senses a car pass outside; the headlights stroking over his walls before disappearing again. Around him, the apartment block settles to rest – it’s not old, but it’s a cold night out tonight – and he stares into the familiar crack in the ceiling.
The very same crack he’d clung to when Charles had first snaked down his body, gently kissing his stomach. With his lips resting on Erik’s hip he’d repeated is this alright? in Erik’s head for every step. Erik had nodded, clutching Charles’ hair as Charles had taken him into his mouth; making Erik’s legs tremble, hips buck and body shake.
Erik turns onto his side and folds his pillow in half.
Charles has a talented mouth, in all senses of the phrase.
Moira MacTaggert has one too, if only in one. Her lips are too thin, but you don’t become head of Debate Club if you don’t have good oral skills. Contrary to Charles though, she doesn’t open it unless she knows she’s in the right. She has always been like that, ever since middle school, and it’s probably why she’s kept her post as representative.
It’s not a competition, she’d said. It’s that Erik simply can’t grasp how Charles – who has a constant stream of the equivalent of YouTube comments broadcasted into his brain – can fit so much affection that he not only fully accepts himself, but can fill the quota for two separate beings as well.
“Maybe it’s so hard because you barely have enough for yourself,” Moira had said yesterday, drunk as she was, and it would have been the last drop if it hadn’t been so damnably true.
He puts his pillow fully over his head; deafens the sound of police sirens on the street below. Because Erik knows she’s right. Of course she is. He’s queer. He’s Jewish, on scholarship and mutant. Self-acceptance came at a high-cost. So, fair to say, he doesn’t care that he doesn’t have much affection left to spare.
The thing he has with Charles had, from the beginning, been a slip-up more than anything. One Erik’s glad for – would gladly do again, begging on scraped knees for Charles’ warmth, control and quiet understanding – but a slip-up nonetheless. Being with Charles has meant to let him in behind every wall, into every nook and cranny. It has meant to share. Has meant that Charles wants to know everything about Erik – in exchange for Erik knowing everything about Charles.
He knows Charles is a person – his own person – and that you can’t own people like they are things. It never ends well for anyone. But, as he has told Charles, Erik withholds his right to, if only in his mind, think of Charles as his. They hadn’t talked about it – Erik had said he’d do it, and Charles had hummed happily into his chest and well, Erik had thought that was in mutual agreement.
Up until now, that is.
iii. monday, 06.56 am
This early in the morning, the hallways are almost empty. Only exception is a janitor or two, a few teachers stepping into their classrooms and turning on lights behind windows. It’s silent and slightly eerie.
The photocopier room is right inside the door in the library. To enter, you need an access card – which you may get as courtesy of being president of the Mutant Alliance – but Erik never uses his. It’s only for appearances sake: a token of responsibility for the room only a select few students may access. So when he steps into the room, forms for the end-of-semester meeting in hand, he’s expecting to be alone.
What’s he’s not expecting, is Moira leaning against the only working photocopier. It’s chugging away on what has to be yet another assignment for Debate Club, Advanced Maths Society, or whatever else she’s filling up her over-achieving time with.
Erik doesn’t know. Not that he wants to. He hasn’t seen her since Cassidy’s party on Friday, and even though he knows she can’t hear him like Charles can, he keeps his mind blank; trying to decide if he should stay, or go to the copier one floor up before she sees him.
In the end, she’s the one to make the decision for him. She gathers the papers faster than he’s anticipated and as her eyes land on him, her mouth thins.
Erik holds out his own forms in reply. “MacTaggert. Finished?”
Straightening her sleeves, she takes a quick look back into the trough. “Yes.”
Erik steps through the door as Moira gathers her book-bag and coat. The copier room is claustrophobic enough as it is, but when she pushes past him – shoulder brushing against his chest – Erik actually feels as if he’s on the verge of an attack of some sort.
Especially as the scent of something sharp, coming from her hair, wafts right into his face.
She’s just out the door when she turns again. Erik is about to shoo her out, when she says,
“By the way, I spoke to Charles earlier.”
Erik frowns. “Why?”
“What do you think? For the simple reason that I ran into him, and I wanted to.” She raises an eyebrow. “Which is more than can be said about you. Ignoring his calls? Real mature.”
He snarls at her. “Leave it, MacTaggert.”
He should have seen this coming. Still, that Charles chose her– because he did; you don’t just run into a telepath unless they want you to – stings.
Moira rolls her eyes hard enough to sprain something. “Stop being such a child. Just go find him. I’m refusing to run between you two like a messenger,” she says, and strides off down the hall; steps quick, slim hips efficient despite her boots.
Erik stares after her until she’s turned a corner. Then he tears his eyes away, slips into the copier room and starts up the machine.
By the time he’s copied everything – 52 papers all in all – and walked back to the other end of the school, Charles is already leaning against his locker. He tries so hard to look casual, despite the fact that he could never pull it off. There’s too much tension in his shoulders and he’s tapping a finger against his thigh, belying it all. Still, his eyes lights up when he catches sight of Erik above the heads of a group of freshmen.
Hopefully, that has got to count for something. “Morning,” he says when Erik comes into earshot. “What have you got there?
Erik pushes the door open, making Charles step aside. “Just forms for the meeting.”
“Isn’t that next week?”
“We do, but there’s a small one at lunch today,” Erik digs into his locker, pulling out the AP Physics textbook, as well as the instruction for the lab. Charles still stands too close, and he’s emitting a low-level thrum of that subconscious worry frustration sadness anxiety hurt-soup that never fails to make Erik’s head and heart ache.
When he’s gathered his favorite pen from where it’s gotten stuck between the shelf and the wall, Charles finally blurts, “Why didn’t you answer, Erik?”
Erik nearly snorts, but stops it just in time. Stop being such a child. “I needed to think,” he says.
“I want you to speak to me about this, you know. I have been giving you space since I know you need it, but please, Erik." Charles' worry-lines, the two vertical ones between his eyebrows are deep. "You have to talk to me, if this is going to work.”
A group of harried sophomores walk by; a girlish voice exclaiming “but I didn’t even want to, so I just stayed gone for a while.”
Erik follows them with his eyes, thumbs at his textbook. Wishes he didn’t have to deal with this at all. Having to discuss a problem that wouldn’t be a problem if Charles and Moira hadn’t made it one. He can feel a surge of anger well up again – a way too familiar frustration and unease that he can’t get rid off – when Charles touches his shoulder, caresses his arm and squeezes his elbow in reassurance.
They haven’t really touched like that since Charles brought the whole thing up. Subtle as a shot-gun, he’d chosen his moment; unearthing the can of worms when Erik was panting into his pillow, sated, sleepy with sweat drying on his skin.
So this – Charles’ gentle initiated touch – feels good. Warm. Safe. Something Erik can’t, and isn’t willing to, lose.
He swallows. “I will.”
“Okay.” Charles sounds relieved. “Should we go somewhere quiet, then?”
“I said I will. Just.” Erik stares at the back wall of his locker. It’s dark in there. “Not now, Charles. I have a test today,” he says, softly.
Charles sighs. “Wednesday then? Does it sound better, or are you too busy?”
“Why must we decide on a day?” Erik mutters to himself. Behind his lungs, there a blunt pressure, like that of a bruise. His heart is speeding, leaving his palms clammy.
Charles looks at him a mix of concern and annoyance. “Because you know as well as I do, this will never happen otherwise. And I don’t want to know what happens if it comes to that.”
“Fine. Thursday,” Erik blurts, a tick of panic in his chest.
Charles’ serious expression falters into confusion. “What?”
“Thursday. I have study hall at 10 am. I promise we’ll talk. About,” – Erik makes a sweeping gesture; at the emptying hallway, at the universe, at them – “this. I do.”
A shadow of relief passes over Charles’ face, and he nods. “Good.”
“Good,” Erik repeats, digging his fingers into the strap of his bookbag. The button on his jeans is hot against his stomach. “Am I allowed to go to Physics now? Ms. Munroe is not forgiving of late-comers, as you know.”
That makes Charles laugh. “Yeah, I know. Hug me first, though,” he says, stepping back far enough that Erik can close his arms around him, clutching him a little too hard, a little too close, before letting go.
iv. wednesday, 8.29 pm
Tuesday and Wednesday pass in flurry of cold winds and late nights. He can feel time move along as he goes to school, rides the subway, does homework and speaks with his mother. But, at the same time he remembers waking up, only to go to bed minutes later.
It’s quite disconcerting when your days are filled to the brim.
The final time it happens, he’s just come home from a run. He’d ventured out in an attempt to clear his head. It had always helped to exhaust his body before, so although this mess is a bit more extreme than any previous, he’d been willing to give it a try.
But as he steps into the hallway, legs aching, Edie steps out from the kitchen, hands on her hips.
“Where have you been?” she asks, calm, but nonetheless demanding.
“Out running. I told you?” Erik peels off his jacket and hat. It had started to sleet somewhere along East River and now he’s shivering in his damp clothes. Even his socks are soaked.
Edie gives him a stern look. “Yes, Erik, you did. But that was over three hours ago.”
“What?” He looks down at his watch. Eight thirty. He really has been away forever. “Oh.”
At that, his mother seems to pick up on something in his tone, cocking her head to the side. “Is everything alright with you?”
“Yeah,” Erik lies and bows down to untie his shoes. “Yeah. Just – just a lot on my mind lately.”
Such as Moira MacTaggert. Such as Charles Xavier, Erik’s current boyfriend. Such as Charles Xavier sleeping with Moira MacTaggert. Charles kissing Moira, his prospective girlfriend, while he, Erik Lehnsherr, Charles’ current boyfriend, is right there.
But also about how he could do all of that with Moira, himself. Touching her, getting to know her and, most of all, confiding in her. Letting her in behind his walls, even though she is so harsh and mean. Because Erik isn’t young and naïve enough to believe that this is really about her. No, the fact that Charles wants her at all – well, that must mean that he’s failed somewhere, doesn’t it?
The thought comes from nowhere – the clarity of it, at least. It crystallizes in an instant, the crispness spreading like frost in his chest, making it near impossible to breathe.
He’s brought back when his mother’s fingers touches his his forehead, just like she’d done when he was younger and staying home sick. “You got so pale there for a moment. Are you feeling lightheaded? Do you need to sit down?”
“No. No, Mama, it’s fine.”
She does step back then, but her frown doesn’t cease. “It’s all well and good that you take care of your body, but there’s such a thing as too much exercise, you hear? Especially if you haven’t eaten all day,” she says, stern even as she brushes his sweaty hair from his forehead.
“Yes. I’ll be more careful next time.”
“That’s my boy. Dinner is ready, so go shower and we’ll eat.”
He obeys, and after he’s cleaned off everything, they eat together; talking about their days. His mother tells him a story about how one of the nurses had spilled gel over one of the keyboards, and now it won’t type ‘t’ unless you all but punch the key. She laughs as she recalls it.
It’s nice and does take Erik’s mind of things. But only for so long. Once he’s back in bed, staring at the crack – that crack – in the ceiling, the ice spreads in his chest; slowly but surely choking him to death.
v. thursday, 10.15 am
If somewhere Erik had actually believed that his scheduled talk with Charles would turn out okay, that it would solve anything, it disappears almost as soon as he closes the study room door behind them. He’s had a bad feeling about this ever since he woke up, and it turns out he’s correct.
Because it goes downhill right from the start.
“But why do you need her at all?” Erik spits out, fifteen minutes later.
“I have told you,” Charles’ voice rises with every word, never mind how he tries to hold it back, “It’s not about replacing you! I am not replacing you!”
“You still want her, so that doesn’t change anything. Not for me.”
“This isn’t just about you, Erik!” Charles’ cheeks are blotched now and Erik would hate himself for making his eyes shine like that if his own anger wasn’t boiling under his skin, ready to blister it.
“No, it is.” He grits his teeth. “You are so desperate for this to work, for your own benefit, that you don’t give a shit that maybe, I don’t like her! I don’t want anything to do with her!”
“Oh for God’s sake!” Charles throws his arms out, nearly sweeping his textbook off the table. ”If you despised her so much, I wouldn’t push this at all!”
“How do you even know that I don’t? I haven’t told you!”
Ever since Charles told him he wanted to introduce MacTaggert to their relationship, Erik has dutifully kept his mouth shut about her. Both the good and the bad.
“You think I’ve been rummaging in your head? Is that what you think?” Charles says, lowly, and the now the hurt shines through. “What do you take me for?”
Erik clenches his jaw. “I don’t know.”
“What do you even mean by that?” Charles shouts. “Erik!”
“To be honest, I don’t know what you’re capable of anymore,” Erik says.
He regrets it as soon as it’s out of his mouth. Charles’ face falls – for a moment it hangs in paralyzed free fall, before it suddenly hardens and those mirrors in Charles’ eyes, that Erik always thought he was immune against, slam up with full force.
“Really. You really think that. Well, you don’t think I’ve tried? That I wish I could just stop and conform and hide?” Charles says, and his eyes are dead, but it doesn’t save his voice from breaking. “You utter – you hypocritical twat.”
Erik’s anger may have catapulted him out his own body, onto that plane where he’s simply watching himself heedlessly march on with rationality thrown to the wind, but the ice in Charles’ words slams him right back in with enough force to leave him breathless. “Charles, it’s not –”
“No. I don’t want to hear it,” Charles snaps. “Come back when you’ve pulled your head out of your ass and admitted that you do want her. Nevermind that she’s just a human!”
Charles shoves his stuff into his backpack, and Erik knows that this is the moment he should stop him, at least tell him that no, that’s not the problem, has never been the problem. But he can only stare as he watches Charles slam the door and leave.
vi. thursday, 7.56 pm
He doesn’t see Charles any more that day. If it’s by Charles’ choice or a coincidence he doesn’t know, but he’s oddly relieved. Erik may not be inherently evasive of confrontation, but when it comes to Charles, the fear of his disappointment outweighs the chip on his shoulder.
After Algebra II, he therefore locks himself in one of the study rooms to complete his AP Government essay. He’s typing away, constructing sentences from media to the lobbyists and how communication have to adapt to different mediums to appeal to everyone. It’s not a subject that comes easily to him, but for some reason he can’t stop writing.
The words pours out of him, page after page after page.
When he does take his eyes off the screen, the sky outside has gone dark . The windows in the study room don’t have blinds, but as he looks out, he sees only a reflection of himself in the glass; pale against the darkness outside.
Saving the document one last time, he pulls up the library printer in the list, ticks it off before he gathers everything and heads down the hall. This late in the day – it’s nearly time for the alarms to kick in – the halls are empty. Not even the janitors that are here during Erik’s early morning habits can be seen, and the soles of his shoes squeak against the linoleum as he walks towards the print room.
There is a soft light coming through the door window. Erik doesn’t bother with his access card – no one is around to accuse him of stealing at this hour – and slips inside with ease. Most lights in the school are directed by hyper-sensitive motion sensors; a paper falling to the floor is enough to set them off.
So that’s why Erik nearly bites his tongue off at the first bang!
“Fuck! Come on, you piece of useless motherfucking shit!”
There is another bang, like that of a kick, and a heavy thump. A frustrated growl that breaks off into something else before everything goes quiet.
Carefully, Erik looks around the corner.
Leaning heavily on the copier, shoulders shaking and hunched up to her ears, is Moira. She has a hand clutched in her hair, and with every breath, her ribcage shakes. On the sleeve of her crisp white shirt there’s a streak of black ink and also something that may or may not be blood.
Erik’s seen her at parties, with split lips from martial arts and university hoodies against the cold. But even then, there was always that poise. That self-control. That holier-than-thou aura that she can’t seem to lay off for one minute. To see her like this, shaking and crying over a photocopier –
He’s just about to turn, go to the printer one floor up, when she straightens and turns.
The moment her eyes land on him, he can see the horror. That flicker of fear that he’s never seen before, before it immediately switches over into something steely and harsh.
“What?” she snaps. A muscle in her jaw ticks, and even from here, Erik can see the tear tracks on her cheeks. “What are you looking at?”
Erik doesn’t say anything, because telling the truth would be to admit to something that he’s not ready for. He and Moira aren’t too unlike in that sentiment that they never open their mouths unless they know they are in the right.
Taking his silence for an answer, her lips curl away from her teeth. “Well, take a fucking picture, Lehnsherr; it’ll last longer.”
For some reason, he doesn’t feel the usual anger that he harbors against her. That – that – yes, that envy that bubbles up every time he hears her name. Maybe because she’s completely and utterly bare here. There’s nowhere to hide. For either of them.
So, instead, he says, “What are you doing?”
She’s still hunched, but her shoulders relax a fraction. “Trying to get this piece of shit to spit out posters,” she says, cocking her head toward the copier.
She narrows her eyes. “Yes. What about it?”
“That one – there’s something wrong with the ink cartridge. If you – “ Erik motions for the door slightly to the left; well hidden if you haven’t used it oh so many times before, “ – open that, you can change the pressure settings. Turn it up.”
Moira opens the door and digs her hands into the depths of the treacherous machine. She has to stand on her tiptoes to reach in properly, jeans stretching over her long legs, and once again, Erik feels as if maybe he should look away.
“The little thing to the right? The wheel?”
Erik nods. “Yeah. Flick it towards you.”
Setting it to the her preference, she clicks the door shut and turns the copier on again. It rumbles to life, and two seconds later perfectly dark blue flyers spill out, instead of the teal striped ones littering the floor.
“Fucking finally,” Moira leans against the machine; hands dirty with ink. A strand of hair has made its way into her mouth and her eyes are still wild, but somehow, it really suits her.
Erik clears his throat. “What are they for?”
“Open essay competition on the registration act. Winner gets published in the next issue of NSDA’s journal.”
“Really? You’re ready to take responsibility for that?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Moira looks straight at him. “You think that I’m afraid of backlash?” she says, raising her eyebrows. “Come on, Lehnsherr.”
A part of Erik wants to flare up at that, but he’s used up all of his righteous anger on Charles, and feels oddly flat. Especially since he can’t stop thinking about what Charles had said. Then there’s how he’s been treating her lately; her defensiveness is probably so ingrained there’s no hope for remedy.
But, deeper down, it’s also that Erik is tired of fighting. With Charles. With Moira.
So he shakes his head before she’s even finished the sentence. “No. You’re not. It’s good.”
He can almost taste her surprise at that. She sticks her hands in the pockets of her blue jeans. “Or it's just the right thing to do.”
For a moment, none of them say anything. Erik’s overcome with an inability to know where to put his hands, so in the end he mirrors for Moira’s stance – weight on one foot, hands deep in pockets. There’s some loose change in the front one, and he closes his hand around the coins.
Moira tilts her head. “You know –”
The copier beeps. Closing her mouth, Moira turns around and starts gathering up the new, toasty flyers from the trough. Her fingers are nimble as she pulls out a binder and stacks them all neatly inside.
Erik takes a deep breath. “What is that I know?” he asks. “You and him, you’re both saying that I know, but I have no idea what I am supposed to know.”
At that, Moira stops. The fluorescent lights make her eyes glint with something that makes her soften.
“Well, that we can make this work, if we want to.” She gives him a pointed look. “If you would just calm the fuck down and think, then yes, it’s possible. I probably could make career as homewrecker, but it’s not what I want. Neither do I think it’s going to be necessary.”
“Because one,” she holds up one finger, “He’d be a miserable idiot without you, and two: we’re both equally pragmatic people once you actually use your brain.”
She starts packing the flyers into her bag. Erik just stares at her.
“So. The question you need to answer is, are you willing to try?” she asks, her steady gaze looking at him with no expectations at all. “As in, are you in, for real?”
Later, as he’s looking back on what made it turn out the way it did, Erik will come back to that moment, and realize how big a part that look played. She studies him for a long while, and Erik can see, for himself, why she’s quite brilliant after all. There’s something about her, something enchanting but strictly practical, something delicately indestructible that, from the very beginning, has made it so hard for him to take his eyes off her.
He swallows. “I am.”
“Good,” she says. “Did you have something to copy too?”
Erik shakes his head. “Just printing out an essay. AP Government.”
She hangs around, plucking with different things on the shelves as Erik logs in, chooses his document and waits as it prints. Once finished, he gathers the papers from the trough, stapling them together with the one chained to the wall.
“By the way, if you’re going home, I could give you a ride,” Moira then says. “Because you’re out in Queensbridge, aren’t you?”
“Yeah.” Erik stuffs the essay into his book-bag. ”You too?”
“No, Astoria, so it’s on the way. Are you finished?”
Erik takes one last look around, making sure he’s not leaving anything behind. “Yes.”
“Let’s go then.”
vii. thursday, 8.23 pm
The snow had started falling just this afternoon, but the steps are already covered in a soft layer. The sidewalks are soggy thanks to the traffic and the parking lot is nothing but a big slush pool. After a bit of calculated skipping, they do make it to the sole car of the student parking lot – an old, rusty Volvo with a bumper sticker declaring “if you can read this, you’re too damn close”.
Moira pulls her keys out. “I know. Don’t say it. It’s our winter rat.”
Erik raises his eyebrows. “Your what?”
“Winter rat. The car you drive in the wintertime, because of all the slush?”
“We don’t have a car,” Erik says, watching her take the engine pre-heater out of the socket, coiling the cord around her arm.
“You really don’t need one in New York. I just have it today because they don’t want me to go on the subway this late.”
She unlocks the car and they get in. It smells newly vacuumed, but the floor by Erik’s feet is littered with sandwich wrappers and napkins. The AC sputters out a rusty gust when the engine rumbles to life, and slowly the mist on the inside of the windshields starts to clear up. Moira rummages around for something out of the side compartment. As the car starts heating up, Erik unwinds his scarf. The snow on the windshield is gone, letting the light in from the street light above them.
Moira must feel his gaze, because she meets his eyes. “We have to go see him.”
“Do you know the way?” Erik asks.
Dabbing her still healing lips with a chapstick, Moira shakes her head. “No. Do you?”
“Yeah,” Erik says. He’s driven with Charles’ many times, but also taken the subway. Both of them generally prefer the apartment Erik shares with his mother back in Queens, but once they get into Charles’ room, there’s really not much a difference.
“Good. Then you’ll guide me,” she says as she turns the ignition and drives out from the parking lot.
Snow hits the windshield in a constant spray, and with the way the headlights light them up, it almost feels as if they are traveling through space. Moira takes off the top of her mitten and turns on the radio, settling on a 90’s station. Erik picks up his phone, and types up a quick message, alerting his mother he’s going to Charles’ for a bit.
He clicks send, sending the text off into the ether. And it’s then it suddenly becomes real. They’re going to Charles. To talk and come to a solution, instead of skirting around, hiding behind walls and throwing angry words at each other.
“I – “ Erik starts. Moira takes her eyes off the road to look at him. They’re just outside of the inner city now, going down winding roads towards the mansion. It shouldn’t be this hard, especially not after what he’s already told her and what’s she’s already said.
But it really is the hardest part to admit it to yourself. “It’s not really about you. It’s not about you at all.”
The rumbling of the engine filters to the foreground. “I know,” she says. “I know, Erik.”
“Still. I’m sorry.”
“You should be. Do you realize what an asshole you were? Goodness,” she mutters, but there’s a smile ticking at the corner of her mouth.
And so, Erik can’t do else but return it.
viii. thursday, 9.48 pm
The car bounces a bit, ploughing through snow piled up on the long driveway. The Volvo has front-wheel drive, but Moira knows when to let up and when to push on the gas, so soon enough they’ve reached the dauntingly large house.
Erik steps out, surprised when his boots sink almost two inches into the snow. From the windows, a warm light spills over the forecourt.
“You’re not afraid to get stuck?” He cocks his head towards the car and the snowflakes falling from the sky in increasing masses.
Moira shrugs. “You’ll just have to pull it out for me,” she dismisses, and starts heading up the stairs, Erik in tow.
Ever since he'd gotten to know Charles, Erik has felt slightly intimidated by the sheer size of Charles' home and the huge entry doors. Moira doesn't seem to feel that at all. Without hesitation, she knocks on the double doors; three rapid and determined knocks.
Either he must feel their presences outside, or he's on the other side of the house, because it takes a small eternity before Charles finally opens them. He opens the just enough to peek his head outside. He looks exhausted; woolen socks on his feet and at least three layers of sweaters against the cold.
“What are you doing here? I thought –” Charles starts, but Moira cuts him off.
“Hello,” she says and before Erik can do anything she’s pushed past Charles and into the foyer.“Erik, where’s the kitchen?”
When he realizes he’s not getting any explanation from her, Charles turns to Erik too. However, “She drove me here,” is all Erik has time to say before Moira forces him to look at her again.
“Where is the kitchen?” she demands.
“To the right,” Charles replies airily. Moira nods, and with Erik in reach, she grabs his elbow and drags him along.
The Xavier kitchen is probably the most homey place in the whole house, not counting Charles’ room or the den where Erik has spent many nights playing video games with Raven and Charles. It’s shiny and clean, but the utensils hang on the walls and there’s a table set up by one of the windows. Someone, probably a maid, has put tinsel along the kitchen fan and on the window sill.
“We’re making tea,” Moira says, and then looks at Erik. “Kettle?”
Erik takes the electric one off the hotplate and hands it to her. She fills it up to the max and motions for him to put it back. Seemingly out of pure intuition, she also finds three mugs from the cupboard above her, and then tells Erik to get some tea, since she doesn’t know where to find it.
All the while, Charles watches them from the doorway, a dumbfounded expression on his face.
Once the kettle has clicked, Erik pours the water into the mugs and Moira brings them to the table. She sets them down on three places, pulls out a chair and sits down. Erik doesn’t need to be told to sit down opposite her, almost hitting his head on the low hanging lamp when he does.
For a moment, Moira is just blowing on her tea, and Erik is watching her. Charles, who hasn’t moved from the doorway this whole time, is too. His arms are crossed over his chest and and he looks very, very torn.
Moira looks up at him.
“So, are you going to stand there all day, or are you sitting down so we can fix this?”
The sharpness in her voice spurs Charles into action. He almost stumbles over his own feet in order to comply, and sits down heavily on the chair at the edge of the table; setting him up for a two front-war with Moira on the left and Erik on the right.
“So,” he says, tentatively, biting at his pinky nail. “I assume you two have figured something out?”
“You could say that.” Moira takes a sip of her tea.
She directs her dark eyes at Erik again. Doesn’t even have to say anything for him to understand what she wants him to say. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t even know the details of what it is that is bothering him, because she knows enough that she’ll know if he lies. Not that Erik wants to. He'd been telling the truth back in the copy room, that he’s in for real.
But even so, it doesn’t automatically make it easy.
Moira sighs. “Just tell him, Erik.“
Then, seeming to sense that this isn’t something that she can make happen with brute force, she adds, “It’s okay.”
Her eyes are on him, but even more so, he can feel Charles’ boring into him as well. Their fight this morning seems ages and ages ago, and yet it’s so fresh, it still hurts to think about.
“I want to try,” he starts. “With us. I’m just not good at talking. And I just felt – ” It’s such an odd word to say. It feels clumsy in his mouth, even though there’s no other way to say it “ – as if I wasn’t enough for you. As if I had failed somewhere. I just wanted to be enough for you,” he says, more steady the second time. “So I agreed.”
“That’s also why I got so angry at you,” he starts again, still not looking at either of them, completely unable to. "I never meant what I said, Charles. I know you’d never do such a thing. But, I didn’t know what else to do, when you didn’t tell me where it – where I wasn’t good enough,” he says, and one part of him wants to close up immediately, close up the hole in his armor that is bleeding profusely and showing no signs of stopping.
Beside him, Charles goes quiet for a long time. Erik can hear him breathing, can feel Moira’s boot brushing against his shin. On purpose or not, he doesn’t know, but it’s the last piece the he needs to look up and meet Charles' gaze.
Charles is just looking at him. His eyes are shining and then he’s reaching out his hand and Erik doesn’t hesitate before he takes it.
“Erik. Erik,” Charles’ voice doesn’t break, but it’s a near thing.
“I should’ve told you.”
“It’s alright. I’m so sorry,” Charles says, his mouth moving and tensing as if he’s trying to keep himself from crying. “It’s alright.”
“No,” Erik says. “No, Charles, it’s not. I had no right to say those things to you. I’m sorry I did.”
Charles holds Erik’s hand still – a tight grip, but still soft enough that Erik can slip out of it if he needs to.
“The most important thing–” Charles starts, carefully as to not trip over his words as he has a tendency to, “ – about this, is that it’s not about that you’re not enough. You are. God knows you are. I am not taking parts from you, just as little as you're getting them. You have to understand, Erik, I am not giving you scraps,” Charles says, softly, and Erik has to direct his eyes to the table for a moment, something burning brightly behind them. “I am not giving Moira scraps, either. I am a whole person, and neither of you are getting half or less of me. I'm not getting half or less of you either. I have, honestly, so much for the both of you. I don’t split myself for you.”
Erik doesn’t have to look at him to hear how his voice breaks ever so slightly at the last word. Instead, he clutches Charles hand, rubs his thumb over the veins on the inside of his wrist.
“I care for the both of you, just as much. You do not take from one another. You could only add,” he concludes, and Erik raises his eyes just in time to catch Charles’ gaze before he looks at Moira, who’s staring right back at him, something indecipherably fond on her harsh features.
Charles holds out a hand to her as well, and she doesn’t snort or sigh as Erik would have anticipated, but simply takes it.
However, just a moment later she rises from her chair; the legs screeching against the tiles.
“I’m getting a refill,” she says, looking back at the both of them. “What about you two?”
“I’d love some,” Charles says.
Moira looks at Erik, and he find himself staring at her mouth, the nearly healed split down the bottom one that adds to the fullness of them, and he says, “No, I’m good.”
ix. thursday, 10.58 pm
“It was good we did this,” Moira says when she swallows the last dregs of her tea. “But I better be getting home. I need to sleep some.”
“I guess you do,” Charles says.
Moira raises from her chair, going to put her mug in the sink. Halfway to the counter, however, she stops.
“What?” Charles stands up, walks over to where Moira is standing, and looks out the window.
It’s immediately clear what she’s referring to. Outside, where it was dark an hour ago, there is now a white snow chaos of the likes Erik have never seen. Snow is piling up rapidly, and even the stupidest of people wouldn’t dare to stick their nose out the door. Much less drive a car.
“I’m not letting you home in this,” Charles voices after a minute of just staring at the small apocalypse outside. “You’re staying here until it dies down.”
Moira looks uncertain for a second, biting her lip, but then she nods. “Fair enough,” she says. “It’s probably going to keep on through tomorrow as well. They said something about it rolling in tomorrow, but I guess it just came early.”
“Evidently,” Charles says. “So, do you want to sleep in the den? It’s spacey, but it can be quite cold there, even with a fire.”
Erik has slept in the den once in the winter time. Never again. “Any other options?”
Charles sticks his hands in his pockets. “You could always come upstairs to...”
He trails off, and for the first time in his life, it really shows that Charles is flustered. Flustered at the prospect of inviting them up. It would be humbling, if Erik wasn’t so nervous too.
Moira gives them both a pointed look. “Shall we go upstairs then?”.
They leave the kitchen and head up the stairs. Erik has walked this way so many times over the last four years that he knows how to avoid the creaking seventh step, and to take an extra big step not to bang your toe on the top one. Still, it feels wholly different. The lights are flickering and Charles is walking in front of him as usual, hands in pockets, but there’s no denying that having Moira beside him, breathing softly, changes everything.
Once they’ve gone inside, Charles closes the door behind them. Moira sits down on the side of the big, four poster bed, immediately starting to unlace her clunky, practical boots, sighing with relief as she gets them off. For a moment, Erik remains standing, before he sits down on the foot of the bed, watching as Charles goes up to his desk, fiddling with some papers.
There's a very stuffed silence, only interrupted by the rustling of Charles turning a page.
It's Moira who breaks it.
“Erik." Her whisper isn’t loud at all, but at the same time, it’s clear as boiled ice.
She’s quiet for a while, and Erik spares Charles another glance. To anyone else, it might not look as if anything has changed. But Erik has studied the subject of Charles’ shoulders for years now. He knows every freckle, every mole in the galaxy spray on them, but he knows just as well when they are unnaturally tense.
Which they go when Moira says, “I want to kiss you.”
Erik wheels around. Moira is laying down across the bed now. Her hair is fanning out over the pillows, the auburn a stark contrast against the white sheets. When he doesn’t move, she pushes onto her elbows and scoots towards him until she’s so close Erik can feel her breath on his lips.
“I really do have to do everything for you, don’t I?”
Erik huffs out a breath, too shocked to do anything else. She puts a hand around his neck, toying with the hairs at his nape. The touch is light, but it makes a shiver race through his entire body, warmth pooling in his stomach.
“Probably,” he whispers, and he’s certain she’s smiling for real when she leans forward.
Moira kisses just like Erik imaged she would. She goes straight in with a contradictory softness that has Erik relaxing in a heartbeat. Her lips are soft, and she lets out a little sigh as she presses her tongue against his, using her hands to direct him where she wants him to go. It’s easy to let her, so Erik does, not thinking about anything else but how oddly not strange it feels.
She pulls away after a few moments. Her pupils fill nearly the entirety of her eyes, and suddenly, Erik has a hard time breathing, his cock pressing against his fly.
He just kissed her. He kissed Moira MacTaggert.
It gets even harder to breathe, but then the bed dips beside him as Charles sits down. He has an odd expression on his face, but it’s all it is. Curious, maybe. Erik doesn’t have time to analyze it too much though, because after flicking his eyes over Erik’s face, Charles kisses him as well.
It’s familiar, and nice. Where Moira goes in head first, all confidence and a cutthroat approach, Charles is sensual. He always has been, and Erik lets his eyes slip shut as Charles hold his head cupped in his hands, thumbs circling his cheekbones. He can feel Moira behind him, her damp breath ghosting over his ear, but even with distractions, Charles’ lips still hold the main of his attention.
It’s a while before Charles pulls back. His hair is ruffled from where Erik has run his hands through it, and as always, his cheeks are flushed and his breathing a little heavy. He is also most certainly hard, just as Erik.
“You really like watching us.” Moira doesn’t say it like a question. Charles nods nonetheless, fingering with a loose thread on Erik’s sweater.
“Yes,” he says, looking up and into Erik’s eyes. Then his eyes flit to the side, doing the same with Moira. “Yes, yes I do.”
A silence settles, but it’s not as uncomfortable as before. Rather, now that he actually lets himself feel, instead of trying to repress everything, it feels very good; Charles in front of him, hands on his thighs and Moira’s warmth radiating against his back. It’s a stereotypical fantasy for straight boys, and Erik is anything but a stereotypical straight boy, but there’s something to be said about sitting here, between these two people, between Moira and Charles, that makes that pool of warmth drip even further down.
He swallows, and Charles’ breath hitches and a smile spreads on his face. It’s not his usual one, that beacon of confidence and warmth, but instead, it’s tentative, a little nervous and shaky, but the most adorable thing Erik has ever seen.
“Do you want to do this?” he asks.
Behind him, Erik feels Moira’s hands tighten on his hips for a second before they fall away, only to come back up around his chest. Her breast are soft against his back, but her hold is anything but.
“Yes,” Moira says.
“Yes,” Erik hears himself saying, mouth dry as he stares into Charles’ eyes.
They lie down together. Erik unlaces his boots and lets them clunk to the floor, and not for the first time, he’s grateful for the sheer size of Charles’ bed. He hasn't got a problem with his narrow bed at home, even if the logistics of cuddling with Charles can get a bit problematic. However, there’s a sort of decadent luxury in being able to spread your arms and legs out without hitting or knocking into anyone.
Charles strips down to his undershirt and boxers before sitting down on the other side of Erik. Moira has pulled her sweater and white shirt over her head, and it’s first when she takes of her bra that Erik can see where the blood from earlier came from; a torn nail with a dark crust. When Charles looks pointedly at him, Erik pulls off his sweater too, and kicks his jeans off. Immediately, the cold of the big mansion creeps up his skin.
“How are we going to go about this, then?” Charles says.
To his right, Erik hears Moira stifle a sigh as she flops down onto the bed. “Like this.”
She’s lying down, naked save her panties with legs bent at the knees and spread wide as she motions for Erik to come closer. When he hesitates, she pulls him down to lie on top of her, her strong thighs gripping his hips. She puts her feet on the back of his knees, pressing his hips down into the mattress and Erik fails to not groan at the pressure on his cock. He’s been hard ever since she kissed him, but the sensation grows tenfold when he tries to get away, but she just holds him still, laughing.
“Charles, do you want to fuck him, or me?”
“I’d love to see your face, dear,” Charles replies, and when Erik turns to look at him, the nervousness is gone. Any other time, Erik would have been perfectly alright with that, but now there’s a deluge of heat washing in over him.
“You do want to fuck me, Erik. Don’t deny it,” Moira says. Erik figures there’s nothing lost in admitting it, so he nods, making Moira raise a smug eyebrow. “Charles wants to fuck you. At the same time.”
All salvia seems to evaporate from Erik’s mouth. “Yes. Please.”
Moira just laughs again, and pulls him into a kiss. Erik’s heart is racing; he can hear the rush of blood in his ears as her arms come up around his shoulders, pulling him closer. He can feel her breasts against his chest.
“Just don’t crush me,” she warns, and pulling up one leg, she swiftly slips her panties down to her ankle.
“Won’t,” is all Erik manages to say.
Charles’ hands stroke down his sides, up and down a few times, before they slip into his boxers. Erik hisses as his cold hands, but it breaks off when he has to bite his lip as Charles rubs his palm roughly over the head of his erection, spreading wetness and making Erik keen from behind his teeth.
Hadn’t Charles been here, breathing steadily against his back, his breath in Erik’s ear, it would have been outright scary. One part of Erik has never felt as out of his depth as he is now, looking down at Moira’s doe eyes and her fingers that rubs at her clit with quick strokes. But, it’s oddly all right since it’s Charles who mouths at Erik’s neck and strokes his cock, fingering lightly at the circumcision scar.
But another part of him is in the moment; feeling the building tension, the adrenaline racing up his legs on one particular upstroke that synchronizes with Moira bucking her hips into her hand. Erik hangs his head when Charles speeds up, and he isn’t surprised when Moira cups a hand around his neck, guiding him towards her chest.
Seeing that Charles’ has a very sensitive chest, Erik knows what to do.
He opens his mouth, scrapes his teeth over her erect nipple, gently flicking his tongue over it. She makes a sound low in her throat; a gasp turning into something else. The fingers in his hair tightens.
“That’s good,” she breathes, and drags her calf against his hip. “Keep going,”
Charles’ hands slip away then, but they return a minute later. Erik holds his breath when Charles whispers, tell me if you want to stop into his mind, and then slicked fingers starts rubbing at Erik’s ass.
It’s a familiar feeling too, but in combination of everything else, Erik nearly has a whiteout. It takes all his willpower not to give in to the building tension in his groin and come right then and there. He swallows several times, trying to grapple the intensity of it. Moira slips her fingers between his on the bed, and he gladly takes them, panting into her chest when Charles’ finger finally slips inside on an easy slide, making his hips stutter forward.
“Calm down,” Moira says, and Erik tries. She seems to feel his struggle, because she stretches over to the side, grabbing something. A moment later, she’s pulling him closer to her again, aligning their hips.
“I’m more than wet enough now,” she mumbles, and Erik can’t do anything else but feel Charles’ fingers inside of him and breathe into her neck as slim fingers roll a condom onto his cock and guides it into her.
Erik has had sex with girls before. Before Charles, there was Magda, until she moved away to Chicago. To say that he’s missed it isn't fair, but it’s also a different sensation altogether to sink into Moira and hear her high-pitched gasp of surprise in his ear. Charles, the times when he wants Erik inside him, usually just groans and laughs, telling Erik that he’s really lucky Charles is such a size-queen after all.
Moira groans too, once she gets her breath back. “Fucking hell,” she puffs out on an exhale, and her nails dig into his shoulders. “Oh God.”
“Too much?” Erik can hear the grin in Charles’ voice.
Just as he can hear Moira’s death-glare. “Shut up, Charles,” she bites out, and Charles just chuckles.
He rubs his thumb at the soft skin behind Erik’s balls, making him shiver. Moira takes a look over his shoulder then grabs Erik’s hair and kisses him again.
“You’re okay?” Erik asks her when she lets him up for air. Moira rolls her eyes and pulls him down for another kiss.
Erik is still kissing her when Charles slips his fingers out. Erik gaps a bit at that, not having noticed that Charles had already worked up to three fingers inside of him until they aren’t there anymore. But he barely registers the loss before Charles’ hand settle on his hips, squeezing once in warning, and he pushes inside.
For a split second, Erik feels as if he’s leaving his body. He’s dimly aware that something is rattling near-by, that the iron in Moira’s blood is racing and that the whole world is shaking, but his main concern is that he simply can’t seem to get enough air into his lungs. Because Moira is tight, warm and wet around him, and Charles’s chest is pressed against his sweaty back, and he’s inside Erik, stretching and filling him to the brim and Erik’s inside Moira, and he’s stuck fast, in between them –
Suddenly, Charles makes a shushing sound, and Moira’s hand is stroking his side with a light, but determined touch.
“Erik, calm down. Breathe,” she says, and Charles in his mind a moment later, asking, should i pull out is it too much?
Erik just shakes his head at that, reaching back to hold onto Charles’ arm. Any part of him that he can reach.
“No,” he croaks out, swallowing. “No. Don’t. Just. Slowly.”
Moira shifts a little under him, and Charles breathes out a hot breath over Erik’s ear. “Slowly,” he repeats, and Erik nods, looking down at Moira. By now, she’s looking relaxed, though there are splotches of red all over her heaving chest. Her fingers are between her legs again.
“Okay?” she pants, looking into Erik’s eyes.
“Okay,” Erik says back.
“Okay,” Charles confirms, and then thrusts forward, gently and slowly, just as promised.
The movement pushes him farther into Moira, and she clenches around him. Erik’s breath catches in his throat. Charles’ hands are steady on his hips and Moira is just moaning, now; low, consistent sounds of satisfaction.
It’s like he’s wrapped up in a blanket, one that is muddling his thoughts in sensations. Charles’ breaths are harsh, but his thrusts are always careful and gentle. With Moira around him though, Erik’s already too close. His stomach muscles spasm every time Charles glances across his prostate, and he’s fallen onto his elbows, bringing his face close enough to Moira’s that he can see the flecks of green in her eyes and feel the movement of her hand against his hip.
Her thighs are tight around his hips, letting her determine how deep he sinks into her. And every time it feels as if everything is too much, she instinctively seems to know that she should kiss him or bring him down to mouth at her chest.
Time goes soft around the edges, a rhythmic push and pull that turns into something grey of pleasure.
Then, Moira’s gasp stutters, becomes harsher. One of them transforms to a little shout in his ear, her hand moving even faster between her legs. Erik takes his mouth of her chest just in time to catch her eyes widen, mouth falling open – and then she’s bucking up against him, clenching so tight that Erik can’t do anything but clutch her close and let the dominoes fall; let the climax reach it's tipping point as he tightens up around Charles’ as the world shakes out once again, and Charles groans, stutters and leaves bruises on Erik's hips and pushes forward one last time, and Moira keens, and Erik can’t breathe and then he’s coming, and coming and coming.
When the last tremors die down, his arms give in and he sinks down onto Moira’s chest; feeling the rise and fall of her ribcage. Charles rolls onto his side, breathing as his fingers dance lightly over both of their skins, passing between Erik’s to Moira’s and back again in small, intricate circles.
It feels good. Safe.
“God, it’s so cold,” Moira says after a while, gently pushing Erik to the side so that she can take hold of the corner of the blanket and pull it over them. Erik isn't sure he'll be able to move -- everything feels sore and too open -- so he gladly lets Charles position him to his liking. It's only when they are all under the soft duvet that Charles pokes him again.
“Erik, can you get the lights?” he asks into the skin of Erik’s shoulder.
“The lights, you hear, not the bed-springs,” Moira quips in. “No more earthquakes tonight.”
Erik pinches her in the ribs, making her squeak and roll away, but he plunges the room into darkness all the same.
x. friday, 09.36 am
It’s grey-white when he peels his eyes open. From the big window directed at the foot of Charles’ bed, a white light characteristic to blizzards filters in. He turns his head, seeing Charles, still asleep with his face mashed into his pillow, snoring slightly.
To his right, Moira is already sitting up, tapping away on her Starkphone. She’s fetched his sweater off the floor, and her collarbones are poking out from where it’s nearly slipping off her shoulder.
She’s got no pants on, and she looks up when she feels his gaze on her. “Morning.”
“Morning,” he replies.
“We have a snow day today,” she tells him, showing him the official statement from the school’s website.
“Good.” Erik yawns, stretching out in the bed. There’s a twinge in his back and a familiar deep seated ache in his groin. “What time is it?”
“As in how much of the day have we wasted sleeping?” Moira grins, and Erik returns it.
“About an hour. So, still reasonable,” she says. “We can still get something done.” The “if we want to”, goes unsaid.
Erik closes his eyes for a moment, and she goes back to checking different news sites or what else she’s doing. There’s a slight rustling as she’s changing position, and Charles’ breath stops for a moment before he goes back to his lazy snoring.
Erik open his eyes and finds himself watching her. Here, in Charles’ bed, wearing his sweater, is the first time that he can say and mean it wholly, that he doesn’t see her as a threat anymore. Not when her lips are still swollen, her hair's an utter mess and she’s, for lack of a better word, the most self-contained Erik has ever seen her.
Once again her intuition catches him, and she looks up again. “What now?”
“Nothing,” Erik says, honestly. “Just looking at you.”
“Because you haven’t stopped me,” he says, grinning at her.
The next moment, Charles jolts awake as Erik gets a surprisingly vicious pillow to the face.
Which, considering everything, is fair enough.