“You don’t have to, you know.”
Across the room, Erik’s already got his undershirt off. The moonlight paints him in stark, cold lines; the room itself frigid enough that his skin is all gooseflesh, his nipples hard.
Despite her words, Magda can’t help staring. As many times as she may have seen Erik naked, familiar as they may have once been with each other’s bodies, although his was the first she had known… This Erik is quite different from the boy she’d wed, decades ago.
Crossing her legs, she endeavors to fix her gaze on his face.
He looks perplexed, enough so that Magda has to fight the urge to laugh.
Perhaps he’s not so grown-up after all.
“Maybe we didn’t have the words for it then, but that hardly made you a stranger to me,” she says.
Erik stands there, not moving.
“Magda,” he starts, and she realizes suddenly how much they didn’t have language for, back then.
“Seeing you is more than enough,” she interrupts, her words rushed, hurried to make her point. “Knowing you’re alive, it’s so much more than enough. I love you, Erik. And I know you love me, but that doesn’t change who, what you are.” Magda slows down, picking her words carefully. It may have been a long time, but she recalls fondly how he always was, how strangely delicate her Erik could be. “You shouldn’t make yourself want me.”
Somehow, he goes even more still. “I—I’m not,” he begins, before seeming to change his mind. Shaking off the shock that holds him, Erik crosses the room to sit by her side.
When he takes her hand it jolts her, how very like this is to the day they were wed. She’d been terrified that night. But in the end, all they did that night was hold hands. Still children, they fell asleep that way, side-by-side.
“I suppose I can’t hide anything from you,” he says, tone resigned in a way that confirms her hopes. The either is unsaid, but still obvious: so he did find someone, during their time apart. “Yes. I prefer men. But please don’t think that this,” he squeezes her fingers briefly, the gesture so nostalgic it makes her chest hurt, “is any great hardship on my part.”
Magda looks at their hands, his covering her own, only to wind up glancing to his lap. To her surprise, his body tells the same story. He seems to be half-hard already, from little more than seeing her.
Has he been very long without? Magda looks quickly back to his face, not wanting to be caught staring.
Before… Well, before, Erik was seventeen.
And then one day he wasn’t. They grew familiar in this way, and Erik grew to know himself better. By the last they were together, she had to work up the courage to ask him for it and stroke him to hardness, first.
“Well,” she says, licking her lips. Her body feels overheated, her thighs tighten reflexively. “As long as you got to know a few men, since we’ve been apart—”
“Magda,” Erik hisses, obviously scandalized.
“As if I played the chaste widow,” she says, as she takes the hem of her sweater in hand. “We would only ever wish happiness for each other, right? How are things changed, now? But if you’d honestly like to…”
Magda’s nervous to say anything more, to ruin whatever moment it is they’re sharing here.
It’s true that she’s been with a few men since Erik, to varying degrees of enjoyment. She’s found over the years that it’s experience that brings pleasure more than anything else, knowing what she enjoys, finding men willing to please.
Erik, whatever his preferences, was always willing to at least try. Magda can’t imagine that’s changed. And if Erik was also pretty easy on the eyes two decades ago, Magda doesn’t even know of what to say of him now. If he’s willing…
Maybe it’d be altruistic to insist he shouldn’t. Women just aren’t what he’s made to want. But Magda can’t think of altruism, not now, and besides—what Erik wants, isn’t that for him to decide?
Tugging her sweater off, she then makes quick work of the blouse underneath. In her skirt and bra, she pauses, gauging Erik’s reaction.
He’s staring at her, taking her in as she did him. He doesn’t speak. His face doesn’t betray anything.
What is he thinking? Once she knew him so completely, everything about him—even as a child, she knew of the powers that would bring him such sorrow—but now the distance of years between them feels insurmountable. They’ve spent longer believing each other dead than ever they knew each other alive.
“This is all right?” she asks, hesitant in a way to which she’s not accustomed.
“Of course it is,” he answers, all bluster. As if to prove his point, Erik reaches for her. His hands are so clumsy with the clasp of her bra, she winds up laughing. She brushes them away, tells him to use his powers, instead.
He breathes in, moved by such a simple request. Had she never asked for that, before? Sadly, she wouldn’t be surprised if it were so. After so long on the run, after so much pain, it always felt simpler to pretend she and Erik were just an ordinary young couple, like any other. To pretend they never had a past, just a future: a little house, a happy family.
She pushes the memories back, and focuses instead on Erik, on how much easier it is for him to use his powers than his hands. He unhooks the clasp, draws the bra off her. It’s a shivery, foreign sensation to be undressed like this, and Magda loves it.
And once that’s done, Magda sees no reason to stall any further. She pushes her skirt and undergarments and tights off all at once, lets them lie heaped on the hotel floor, and sits back further on the mattress.
Magda’s well past being shy of her body. She’ll always range on the too-thin side, she’ll always bear the marks of survival (how the fire could leave no physical scars, just the constant raw taste of smoke in her lungs, she’ll never know) but still… For better or worse, this is the body that has got her through all these years.
And it isn’t as if Erik hasn’t seen her at the worst.
For a moment, Erik remains frozen in place, sitting at the edge of the bed and staring at her. It’s like he expects her to disappear, and who could blame him? She can’t stop looking at him, either, waiting for this all to fade. For it to be yet another dream.
Then Erik stands. She’s struck again by how much better he looks now, the strength of his muscles and how well-fed he is for someone currently living on the run, and he’s taking off his belt and unzipping his trousers and Magda can’t think of much else. He pushes the last of his clothes off, exposing himself completely to the cold of the room. His cock is hard, fully erect, heavy and ruddy against his stomach.
Somehow, intimate as they once were, she’s half in disbelief. Her memory had apparently allowed an inch or two to fade.
She manages to shake herself, and smoothes the sheets next to her. “Come here,” she asks. As Erik gets on the bed, his movements are cautious, almost wary as he approaches her.
Kneeling by her side, he pauses.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he says.
His words make Magda pause, too.
In their time apart, she’s thought very little of the night they first knew each other. When he was with her, before... She had known the memories of that night ate at Erik, sometimes.
But with him alone, thinking her dead—she realizes suddenly that the memory must have haunted him.
What can she even say of it, now? All she can think is, it wasn’t the worst that could have happened. It’s a sentiment she expects would give Erik little comfort, even if it’s the truth. She was lucky to escape the camps, period; luckier still to have never caught the eye of the guards, or the attention of men when she and Erik were on the run together. It was a chance in a million for her first time to be with a boy that loved her, who was as gentle as he knew to be. Who would lie with her after and stroke her hair as she cried. All she can do is hope the memories of other times together can start outweighing that first night.
“Don’t worry about that,” she says, “it’s okay.”
Reaching for him, she urges him to lie over her. He moves awkwardly, as if not sure what to do. For herself, Magda would be just as happy with any number of positions, but—maybe it’s just that this is how they always did this, not knowing any better, but it seems right. She guides him between her legs, wraps her thighs around him.
He braces over her body, and reaches between them to feel for her sex. His touch is gentle, almost timid. Magda wonders again, about the things he’s done with men; about how different it is, about the ways in which he may have been loved. Has he lain like this, his body open and hungry, waiting for a man’s cock?
When Erik’s fingers slip inside her, he makes a soft, questioning noise. Magda leans up to brush a kiss against his chest.
“It’s okay,” she tells him, again. “It’s good, really, Erik—”
Her hips roll against him, almost beyond her control. On the inside of her thigh, his cock presses hot and hard. Magda doesn’t know that she’s ever wanted anyone so much.
“Please,” she says, past caring about begging. Perhaps she should show more restraint, not knowing exactly what it is that’s making Erik hesitate. If it’s pride, a reluctance to seem awkward or unskilled with a woman, or that fear of hurting her—that’s all nonsense.
But if it’s something else, if he’s fighting his very nature to be with her...
“I missed you,” he whispers, his voice raw. Magda lets go of his hips, reaching instead for his face, heart aching for the both of them. Letting his fingers slip free, Erik leans in to kiss her reverently.
Between her legs, his erection slips easily, pressure hot and perfect against her cunt. Still holding him, kissing him back, she tilts her hips to meet his next thrust.
The head of his cock pops in, suddenly, and Magda gasps. He feels so big in her, that kind of pleasure that borders pain. Erik tenses above her, pulling back from their kiss to look at her.
“Shh,” Magda soothes, stroking her hands down so she’s petting his shoulders. She rocks her hips again, arching so more of him slides in her, tugging him down with her legs around his back.
“Fuck,” Erik groans, in his perfect English, and for some reason it makes Magda laugh. Of course Erik cursed around her before, but rarely, and certainly not in English. Hearing it now gives her a peculiar joy, reminds her all over again that he’s actually here. That this isn’t a dream.
“Yes,” she teases, squeezing his waist between her thighs, “that’s the idea.”
And, unbelievably—Erik laughs, too. It’s nearly enough to make Magda cry, it’s been lifetimes since she’s heard that sound. What she wouldn’t give to know that he’s happy. To know that during their time apart, someone else was making him laugh in just this way.
“That’s it,” she says, as he starts moving. The sound of their breathing, the wet noise of their joining, emboldens her. “Fuck me, Erik,” she groans. And her own English may be far less practiced, but it makes Erik moan and start thrusting into her all the harder.
It really is a good angle like this, she realizes suddenly. And Magda’s been without company for a while. It’s been longer yet since she had a man she wanted so very much, and for it to be her Erik again…
When she comes, it’s not a shock she does so before Erik. Even if he didn’t prefer men, she remembers Erik was forever stubborn in his want to please her, first. What is surprising is how quickly it happens.
Magda cries out in pleasure, her body tightening around him. Erik thrusts smoothly through it, driving her into a long, feverish orgasm. After, she’s boneless and languid, and she watches Erik as he continues to move in her.
For a second, she worries this won’t be enough, won’t bring Erik his own completion. But Erik’s looking at her with such affection, his familiar blue-grey eyes staring at her as if he’s trying to memorize every inch of her body. Magda strokes his arms, his shoulders, his beloved stubbly jaw.
Maybe it won’t work out. Who can know? But whatever happens, she thinks as she trails her fingers down the dip of his spine… Whatever happens, at least they’ll have had this.
After a while, Erik’s breath is coming out in desperate, short gasps. He closes his eyes, and Magda doesn’t know if it’s because he’s overwhelmed or if he’s imagining her to be someone else, but she scarcely cares.
He tucks his face against her neck, hauls her close, and she grasps his shoulders so tight she fears it must hurt him. And the sound he makes as he comes—it’s so different.
He was always so quiet, but now he groans, a low, shockingly loud noise. Magda sighs, her hands bruising on his shoulders, clenching around him as he empties into her.
Erik’s groan cuts off into panting, his thrusts growing rhythmless and wild, until he stills. Even then, he stays in her, cursing and wincing as she grips him, riding out her second release, his huge cock slipping out only when he’s grown too soft to stay in.
Shivery with pleasure, Magda tries not to show her disappointment when Erik rolls off her to lay by her side, far enough that they aren’t touching.
Stretching, she lets herself relish this feeling, unashamed when Erik stares. Her body feels good, all lazy and warm despite the abysmal conditions of the hotel, her cunt just the right amount of sore. How she ever considered Erik’s dick normal, even as a naive girl, Magda will never know.
For a moment, they just lay there together. Magda isn’t sure what to say, exactly; after it all, thank you feels a bit crass.
It’s Erik who finally breaks the silence.
“I was sure you were dead,” Erik says, his voice quiet and flat. It’s not the first time he’s said that, not even tonight.
Out of the corner of her eye, Magda takes him in again. It’s still quite the marvel to see him in the flesh at all, much less as he is now: his body well-fed and strong, with the age-lines he’s impossibly lived long enough to bear. He’s staring up at the ceiling, frowning at it as if he’s trying to puzzle through the horror of memories.
She reaches over for him, resting her hand lightly on his wrist. His arm tenses, and before she can speak, he turns to her suddenly.
“Had I known—” he starts, only to stop and clear the thickness from his throat, “Magda, had I any idea, I would never have left you, never…”
“Shhh. I know.” She strokes his wrist gently, turns from her back so they’re lying face to face. “More than anything, I could always trust in you. You gave so much, from the very day I saw you again.” She skims her hand up his arm, still stunned to feel more than mere skin and bone beneath her palm. She cups his shoulder, his muscles thick and pleasingly warm.
“That night—” she breathes out, trying to shake the smothering tide of her own memory. For everything else she’s survived, it’s that night that haunts her most. The smoke has never cleared her throat. “Well, what can I say? I lost her to a fire, and you to a mob. How often I wished it weren’t so, for all the good wishes are.”
Erik makes as if to speak, and she squeezes at his shoulder. “But now, here you are,” she finishes, letting him go only to put her hand on his cheek. Leaning in, she steals one more kiss. “And whatever else happens, I’m so glad. For tonight. Erik, I was happy just to see you on the news, though how you managed to stay alive, I’ll never know.”
“Magda,” Erik says, his voice wavering. He pulls her closer and kisses her back, and Magda can feel she’s not the only one tearing up.
“To see you alive is more than I ever dreamed,” he manages after a long moment. “But a night isn’t enough. We had a home together, once. You deserve more passion than I can give. I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you’d have me again—”
Erik trails off, and Magda waits, their breath the only sound in the dark of night.
“Those cameras,” he starts griping, out of nowhere, and Magda laughs. “Maybe it did some good, but I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if they had only reached mutants and you. I’ve become more trouble than I’m worth to the cause.”
Magda had suspected as much, from the moment she ran into him in the woods. Why the hell else would Erik have crossed back to this side of the curtain? Trouble enough being Jewish in Poland, much less mutant or queer; while matters are certainly better on the whole, Magda’s fairly sure the one thing that's got anywhere near being easy in Poland is being Polish.
“I’m tired,” Erik confesses. “I’m tired of running, of being without purpose.”
“You’re not without purpose,” she tells him. “But if you’re tired, stay. As long as you need it, you can have a home with me.”
Erik’s breath hitches, and there’s something about it that makes her wonder once more about the life he’s left behind.
“Then I’ll stay, as long as you let me.”
Magda swallows, pets his cheek wonderingly.
“And won’t you miss it?” she asks.
Forward as she’s been tonight, she can’t bear to press the issue now, with Erik so raw and open. She just hopes he takes it as, won’t you miss your work, or won’t you feel as if you’re abandoning your cause, being here with me, and not as what she truly means.
He loves her, yes. But to give up what he is?
Once she heard news of him at last, it wasn’t just the fact he had survived that gave her consolation. He was alive, but he also had a cause, and better still… Perhaps, she had thought, he had found the sort of love he desired, too. Free from the responsibilities he seemed to tie to himself, regarding her, was he not better off? It was enough to give her pause, to stay her hand when she considered reaching out and writing to him.
Won’t you miss the company of men, she wonders. Won’t you miss him, whoever he is?
As if in answer, Erik leans in and presses a kiss against her lips. And another, sharp and fierce. She meets him, kiss for kiss, letting her own hunger match his.
They should talk about this, Magda knows. The decades that have passed between them, they aren’t something to be ignored so casually.
For Erik to abandon her, she could understand: he thought her dead. But for him to leave his new life, his new love? It speaks of something that makes Magda’s heart unbearably heavy, hurting for this man, for the sweet boy she met so long ago.
Then again, ever since those long ago days, she’s trusted Erik. Why not trust what he thinks he needs right now, as well?
One day, she knows she’ll learn about the life Erik found, about the man who showed him love—just as she knows he told that man about her.
But for now, she urges Erik on. Pulling his body atop hers, she whispers her love in every language they share, and lets his weight bear her down against the bed.