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of shuttered and scented rooms

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There are more important things to be focused on, Erik knows - god, does he know that - but it is hard for him to concentrate enough to think of any of them, not when he has Charles in his lap, warm and heavy and affectionate like this.

Charles. It's hard to believe it really is Charles, not a doppelganger, not a clone, not a shapeshifter, not even merely some feverish hallucination on the part of Erik's guilty brain, but Charles, himself. Not, admittedly, the Charles that Erik knows so well, but something even better, perhaps: Charles as he once was, young and lovely as Erik remembers him, and (best of all) a Charles who still cares for him as he once did.

"I don't believe you," this Charles murmurs, soft against Erik's neck. "I cannot imagine any future where I could stop loving you."

Erik hadn't spoken the thought aloud; Charles merely plucked it from his mind, perfectly intimate. It's been years since he had Charles in his mind like this, tangled like twisted branches grown together.

"You don't know the things I've done - that I will do," Erik points out reluctantly, but all he receives in return is an impatient huff of breath against his throat.

"That was not me being reassuring and sweet," Charles says. He punctuates the statement with a kiss against Erik's pulse point, one that makes Erik sigh, press up into the touch the same way he did twenty years ago, thirty, the first time Charles touched him in that gritty motel room out in the desert, still hot air and hotter breath, their skin slick and wet everywhere they touched. "I already know that you're my curse and my gift, love. I'll never be free of you."

Erik turns his head, catching Charles's mouth with his. Perhaps when he was a younger man he would have argued the point, but he won't, now; he wants too badly to believe in it, he suspects. And whatever reason Erik has been brought here, whatever mission it is they need to carry out...

It can wait. It can wait long enough for this. It's been years, now, since Erik last touched Charles like this. He has never been one to throw away an opportunity.

His hand is on the back of Charles's neck, holding him still, as Erik kisses him. The kiss is almost violent, but Charles does not struggle, doesn't try to gentle it; he places his hands on Erik's shoulders, clutching just as tightly, and moans into Erik's mouth.

Your mind is intoxicating, Charles says, thoughts pleasantly blurry. It always is, of course, but... You're so different from him in some ways. So much calmer, less bitter.

He can't help but laugh at that, breaking the kiss to chuckle, dry and humorless, against Charles's lips. "Less bitter?"

"Mm," Charles affirms. "It's like... the hurricane is gone." He strokes his hands down Erik's arms, stopping at his fingers to lace them together with his own. "An ocean, deep and unfathomable, but calm on the surface. You've found that place we spoke of, between rage and serenity."

Erik's memory is imperfect, but when he thinks of himself as a young man, the anger is what he remembers most clearly: a burning thing inside him, vicious and blunt and cruel. He has never lost that fire, but at some point it may have changed from a roiling boil to a steady simmer. He would never have lived this long if he hadn't; he would never have managed to lead an organization like the Brotherhood, would never have accomplished any number of the things he has.

Charles squeezes his hands. "For god's sake, Erik, will you stop thinking so hard? I'm asking you to fuck me. Will you do that or not?" There's irritation in his voice, as his eyes track Erik's, vaguely worried.

It occurs to Erik, for the first time, that he is missing something. Well, even then Charles knew him well enough to be aware how self-centered he was, is. Erik can't be surprised that Charles might rely upon it for his own reasons. "Why?" Erik asks. "Why are you so eager for this?"

Charles leans forward, and nibbles, very gently, on Erik's upper lip. It is a move, Erik notes, that has never failed. "My friend," Charles says quietly, "you are not the only one for whom it has been a long time." He shares a memory of what Erik has to assume was the last time they were together for him - moving together in Charles's old bedroom in the mansion, Charles riding him and eagerly seeking his own satisfaction, Erik trapped below him, paralyzed by Charles's beauty - and Erik thinks, ah.

His legs, still working. The top floor of the mansion. The night before the beach.

"He'll come to you," Erik says, his own voice hoarser than he has heard it in quite a while. "It's not lack of caring that keeps him away- it's not-"

"Shut up," Charles grits out, "it doesn't matter, just-" His hand is between the two of them, then, palming firm at Erik's crotch, knowing and nimble as it ever was. "You want this and I do, too. Do we have to discuss it any more?"

"No," Erik says, with some determination. "No, we do not."

He kisses Charles again, pushing away both past and future, and lifts Charles up in his arms as he rises to take him to the bed.