Chapter 1: Shout When You Want to Get Off the Ride
“Kurt is meeting with his friend from Harvard today.”
Charles looks up from his plate of eggs and toast and stares at his mother, who is sitting at the other end of the table reading the morning news on her tablet. He picks up the piece of now-cold toast and takes a bite, wishing he’d smoked a bowl before he came down for breakfast. Mother is always easier to take stoned.
“I don’t want to go to Harvard,” Charles mumbles around his bite of toast, knowing full-well his mother won’t hear what he is saying. She never does. He could jump on the table and yell ‘Fuck Harvard!’ and she wouldn’t blink.
“He has some sway with admissions.”
Charles stares at his mother who doesn’t look up at him. He thinks about the park and wonders if it will rain today. If the weather is good, he can smoke a bowl there during lunch which will make the rest of his day mellow. His genetics paper is done. His essay on MacBeth is finished. Charles Xavier is probably not the first or the last future valedictorian of St. Jude’s who maintains a 4.0 average and still manages to smoke a hell of a lot of pot. His mind wanders to the dwindling stash in his messenger bag and he wonders if that fucking emo kid who deals to all the other kids will have anything today.
“Harvard is where your father went.”
Fuck his father, wherever he is. Some business deal in Dubai with his new wife and family by his side, leaving Charles in the grips of Sharon the She-Dragon and her asshole husband.
“I’m going to fucking community college.”
Charles sets his fork down with a clatter. Sharon’s gaze doesn’t budge from her tablet.
“With all the fucking commoners, Mother. The nobodies.”
Sharon is silent. She puts down her tablet and reaches for her coffee, taking a long drink. She looks at him, her eyes narrowed.
“How is Moira?”
Fuck Moira, Charles wants to yell. Fuck her and everything she stands for. She’s no different than Harvard, than his 4.0, than everything else in his world that he’s expected to do without question, the good little rich boy. Charles brushes his hair from his eyes.
“Does she have a dress for the dance?”
Charles wonders why his mother cares. Moira is just a placeholder, the perfect highschool romance for his perfect life. He’s sure Moira has a dress. Most likely the latest haute couture right off the runway, a fashion week exclusive. She and her friends had attended the whole week, attending VIP parties, perpetually drunk on champagne. Charles had spent the week stoned in his room watching seventies films noirs.
“I’m getting her a matching wrist corsage,” Charles sneers. “She’s wearing my promise ring. I’m going to ask her to go steady.”
“Watch your tone, Charles.”
Sharon’s voice is low and full of warning, and Charles knows he’s gone too far. He clamps his mouth shut and stares down at his plate, his cheeks hot. He feels the hot sting of tears in his eyes but he will not cry. Not in front her.
“Only cereal? Don’t you need more?”
“I’m good, Ma.” Erik’s words are muffled because his mouth is full of the sugary cereal his mother buys him then nags him about the nutritional content.
“I can make eggs.”
“You have to go to work, Ma. I can grab more at school.”
“Erik,” Edie Lehnsherr tsks as she busies herself in the kitchen of their small walkup. “Ketsele, you know I worry.”
“Yeah, yeah. Could you be more of a Jewish mother, Ma?”
Edie turns and tosses a warm smile towards Erik, then goes back to rinsing dishes in the yellow cracked porcelain sink. Erik watches her. He glances around their dingy apartment and thinks that his classmates would be horrified to see where he lives. Luckily no one really wants to be friends with one of the scholarship kids, let alone the Jewish unapologetically queer one. At least they still want to buy their weed from him. He thinks about the bags he has stashed in his backpack that he’d picked up from their downstairs neighbor, Dante last night. It’s the night of yet another big dance. Kids are going to want the goods, and Erik can’t blame them. After all, any dance at Dalton is made infinitely better by being fucking high as a kite.
Not that Erik will be high. He has big plans for after the dance and none of his asshole classmates are invited.
“You’re staying with Armando,” Edie says, turning to hand a paper bag to Erik. His lunch. He grimaces at it. He hates pulling out his wrinkled paper bag in the cafeteria and will probably try to go eat alone on the steps where no one will bother him. He takes the paper bag in his hand.
“Yeah. His place is closer to school.”
Edie frowns. Erik knows she worries. She should. Tonight won’t be just a school dance. The people he goes to school with are rich, spoiled and no one cares what they do. There will be more than enough cocaine, pills and booze to go around.
“No worries, Ma.” Erik says. He’s only going because he can make a nice profit tonight. He’s been the favored source of weed for about half his class for the last two years, but he doesn’t give a shit about the dance. It’s where he’s heading afterwards. He thinks about the tight leather pants he’s tucked into his backpack, the sheer, tight t-shirt, condoms and lube. It’s one thing to tell your ma you’re going to the school dance, it’s another telling her that you plan to go get fucked.
“Just be careful,” Edie murmurs, coming over to pinch Erik’s cheek. “I love you and I don’t want to bury my son. I’ve already had to bury your father.”
Erik sees the pain in his mother’s eyes. The pain he always wants to make better. His father had gotten the cancer diagnosis ten years ago, when Erik was just seven. It had been fast, and Erik can’t remember many of the details. He remembers that his mother cried a lot. He remembers feeling alone. They had sat Shiva for his father and an endless parade of well-meaning elderly women from the synagogue paraded through their small apartment and told Erik he was the man of the house now. Erik had no idea what that meant. He was a boy and he had just lost his father, so how could he somehow be a man? All he knew was that his father was gone.
This is why Erik takes his sack lunch and doesn’t complain, goes to that awful school that his mother had to take a second job to afford and puts up with being the poor Jewish kid. Because all of it means something to Edie, and she’s lost enough as it is.
“I’m always careful,” Erik says, thinking again about those condoms. He doesn’t want his ma to face him being sick, so yeah, he’s careful about staying safe as well.
“Take a snack,” Edie says as Erik stands up from the faded dining room table he and his mother had found at a thrift store a couple years ago. Money has been tight as long as Erik can remember. Still, it’s their table and even if it is run down, it holds the memories of meals and homework and weekend games of cards.
“Yeah, Ma,” Erik says, thinking that he can just grab something from the bodega, but before he can tell his mother this, she’s putting an apple in his hand.
“If you don’t eat it, give it to your teacher.”
“I’m seventeen!” Erik says, rolling his eyes. Anyway, the teachers at Dalton take large charitable donations and extravagant fruit baskets, not apples from the scholarship kid. Erik frowns at his mother then it melts away as he sees her smile, her eyes sparkling with amusement. She’s teasing him.
“I’m proud of you,” Edie says warmly. Erik smiles. He steps closer to his ma and gives her a kiss on the cheek.
“Love you, Ma.”
Erik picks up his backpack and heads towards the front door where his skateboard rests against the wall.
“Be careful, boychick.”
“Love you, Ma!” Erik repeats, shrugging on his backpack and grabbing his skateboard then slipping out the door and into the hallway. He tucks the skateboard under his arm then heads down the stairs. Once outside, Erik throws his skateboard down and pushes towards the subway.
Chapter 2: Cause' You Crossed My Mind
“I can’t believe Queller told her it was okay to give me an A minus. That bitch had better not ruin my chances of early admission into Harvard. I texted Mother right away but she’s in the Bahamas with what's-his-name, the fucking child molester. Did I tell you that the woman he was seeing before Mom was half his age? I bet they’re fucking in some condo on the beach right now and she can’t be bothered with my text. Jesus fucking Christ, Charles, are you listening?”
Charles blinks. He’s sitting next to his girlfriend, Moira MacTaggert, who is sipping on some sort of iced coffee and talking non-stop.
“Because if I don’t get the A - if Queller says the grade can’t be changed - it means I’m going to have to win the science fair. Win it. I’ve prepared my project on genetics but if I’m going to be one of the premier female scientists in this country by the time I’m thirty, I need that grade changed.”
Charles nods in agreement. It’s lunch time and the students at the Dalton school are gathered around tables eating lunch, most of them chatting away in small groups gathered over takeout containers, or picking at the food prepared by the world-class Dalton cafeteria. It’s a clear day but - typical for New York in the Fall - cold. He thinks about the park, about how much he’d rather be stretched out on the grass, pleasantly mellowed out from smoking the joint he has in the pocket of his uniform jacket. Instead, Moira had grabbed him as he left his last morning class and dragged him to eat with her.
“I can’t believe that bitch, Cordelia. What a fucking moron. She thinks her looks will get her everywhere.”
Charles picks up the gourmet grilled sandwich that had been the only decent looking food available, bragging that it included some sort of arugula and fancy cheese. Moira is staring across the tables at Cordelia Waldorf, the self-appointed queen bee of the social order at Dalton. Cordelia is perched on the table laughing at something one of the lacrosse jocks is saying to her. Scott, or Nate, or something equally bland. She tosses her head back and smiles. Charles knows she is sitting in just the right place for the sunshine to make her hair golden.
“She doesn’t know that in the end, it’s the people with the brains who will rule the world.”
Moira is one of those people. So is Charles. In a world where geeks rule and one’s programming skills can be as attractive as Cordelia’s blinding smile, the geek table holds almost as much power as Queen Bee Cordelia and her minions. Charles and Moira are at the geek table, along with Henry, a sophomore computer whiz and a freshman everyone calls ‘Darwin’ but who Moira has a habit of saying ‘hey you’ to. She actually has just done that, telling Darwin to fetch her a soda. Diet Coke. Now.
Moira thinks she’s different. Charles stares at her, taking in her entirely adequate features, long brown hair, carefully sculpted eyebrows courtesy of her favorite spa, her uniform, cleaned and pressed by her housekeeper. Like all the girls at Dalton, she’s improved on her uniform with jewelry, a huge flower flops its boho chicness in her hair, and she wears disaffection like a badge of honor. She’s sixteen and doesn’t give a fuck about anything except for her perfect life and the world domination she’s planning. She spends the weekends alone, the summers in the Hamptons and no matter how much she says that she doesn’t care that her mom barely has time for her and her dad is busy with his newest gay lover on the Riviera, Charles knows that part of her just wants a hug. He gets to see that part of her sometimes, but only when she’s drunk or stoned - or both - and has come knocking on the door of the Xavier penthouse at 2am, face streaked with mascara, eyes puffy from crying that her mother has missed her birthday yet again.
Charles and Moira have been Charles and Moira almost as long as he can remember, the heirs apparent to separate family fortunes, born and bred on the Upper East Side, destined for each other since they set their grubby hands on the same toy in the playroom at Kindergarten. There’s never been a question. They will grow up together, become childhood sweethearts, be each other’s first love, first girlfriend, first boyfriend, first fuck. They will get married in the Hamptons on a warm summer night with the blink of fireflies in the thick heat, the sound of the ocean in the distance, then Charles will go work for the Xavier corporation, day in and day out, while Moira lets go of her dreams to take care of their first baby. It’s all been determined. They rush towards it head-on like a runaway train. No one will see the pills, the booze, the bitterness and vitriol that shores them up, keeps them presenting their fake faces to the world. It’s not that Charles and Moira are unique. Everyone in the courtyard shares this destiny, doing what they’ve been told is the right thing, smiling for the world to see, screaming on the inside. Cordelia Waldorf is no different. Her fate is the same. A different boy. A different wedding. The same pain.
Charles hates the inevitability of his life. The only escape he gets is lying in the grass at the park, stoned out of his mind. He’s smart enough that he can do this. He can get the grades, give the presentation, and still consume enough pot that he dulls the pain. That’s what he gets for being smart. He gets to survive.
Still, Charles can’t help but think there’s more.
“Did you get the pot?”
Charles blinks again and refocuses on what Moira is asking, her face leaning close to his, her voice low and conspiratorial. Like no one knows the kids at Dalton smoke, drink and spend their weekends coked-up. Pot is the least of their worries. A kid at a party over the summer took too much Molly then decided he could fly. He would have been a sophomore. Instead he’s a cautionary tale in a wheelchair, the poster child for his parents new foundation that works to fight the use of Club drugs. That doesn’t stop anyone at Dalton. Flying off a building is worth dulling the pain.
“No,” Charles says, realizing that the joint in his pocket is the last of his stash. Fuck. It’s not going to be a good party if he has to get through it sober. He pictures his wallet and knows he has at least a couple hundred in there. Scoring some more shouldn’t be a problem. He glances around for the boy who sells, the sullen one with a constant scowl on his face, but he doesn’t see him. Charles shrugs. He’ll find him later.
“Pick me up at seven. You’re taking me to that new place in the meatpacking district before we go to the dance. Ugh, I don’t know why I bother with these dances. They’re so high school. I mean, next year we’re going to be at Harvard, Charles. The dances were cool when we were freshmen, but we’re seniors. Right?”
Charles stares across the tables. One of the doors opens and he sees the kid who deals pot come through it. He’s clutching a wrinkled, grease-stained paper bag in his hand. Charles just stares as the other boy tosses the bag into the garbage can, watching the way the muscles in his forearm flex, the casual flick of his wrist. He’s wearing skinny jeans, a black t-shirt under his school jacket, and a sneer of attitude across his face. Charles watches him, mesmerized, and for a moment he wants to be him. He looks like he doesn't give a shit. He looks free.
“Right?!” Moira says again, this time loud enough to make Charles jump. He jerks his eyes away from the scholarship kid and stares at Moira, who is looking back at him with a scowl on her face. “Jesus fucking Christ Charles, are you stoned? Not that I even have to ask. Did you even hear what I said?”
Charles shakes his head slowly, then offers Moira a wan smile. He doesn’t think he’s heard anything anyone has said all day. But that’s no different than any other day. It’s the same fog he lives in and it never seems to dissipate.
Erik fucking hates this school.
He sits on the toilet and takes a long drag off the cigarette he’s lit. If Edie only knew that her beloved son spent the minutes between classes grabbing a smoke in one of the small out-of-the-way bathrooms with its narrow stalls, creaking pipes and ancient towel dispensers. He feels the acid smoke in his throat and chokes back a cough. He drops his hand to his side and stares at the red glow of the ember at the tip, watching the smoke rise, curling towards the ceiling. He’s already suffered through one of the wannabe beat poet boys going on about the brilliance of Ginsberg, proudly reading one of his erotic poems - as if it was some sort of protest against the confines of Dalton - in his English class. He’s not sure the day could get worse, but sometimes it feels like the universe enjoys a challenge.
Erik had slumped in the back and picked at a fingernail, staring at the the graffitti on the desk he sat at while the poem was read. He rolled his eyes. The world knew Ginsburg was queer. It was no great feat to read his predictably queer-focused poetry. How about one of the poets writing today, the queer, trans, black poets who wrote missives about living on the streets, being kicked out of their houses, rejected by their families? Wannabe Beat Poet boy has a home, a nice one. His family hasn’t kicked him out. Erik knows this because he had blown him there after school once. Wannabe Beat Poet was high on coke, staring down at him with dilated eyes, and Erik remembers wondering why he was bothering with this poser, except that he was mostly non-discerning about having someone’s cock in his mouth. That was two years ago, and Wannabe Beat Poet seems to think he’s the only queer kid at school, with his fucking rainbow flag on his expensive messenger bag and his pretty boyfriend he’ll drag to the dance tonight. It was also before Erik had decided to stop giving a shit. He’d tried to fit in when he’d first started at Dalton, thought that people like Wannabe Beat Poet boy could help him navigate the social gauntlet that Dalton turned out to be. It was before he realized nothing could be done to change his status. He would be the queer Jewish scholarship kid until the day he left this godforsaken place.
Erik flicks the ashes of his cigarette onto the tile floor of the bathroom then smears it with the toe of his worn Converse. He feels a certain sense of satisfaction that he’s leaving some sort of a mark on this place. Even if it’s just as temporary as he is. Some janitor will come clean this stall, wiping away evidence that a student was smoking in the bathroom, and soon Erik will leave Dalton behind, and nothing will be left to tell anyone he was ever here. He won’t have a picture in the hallway, his rich Daddy won’t donate enough for a new wing or a statue. He’ll just be another faceless kid drifting through on his way to somewhere else.
The door of the bathroom slams open and Erik jumps, dropping his cigarette onto the floor and grinding it under his shoe. Fuckity, FUCK, the last thing Erik needs is a misdemeanor for smoking in the bathroom. Even worse, it might mean a locker search, and a locker search will turn up his stash. It might be no big deal if he was any number of other Dalton students, with their privilege and deep pockets, but a scholarship kid doesn’t have the means to explain away a bunch of pot in baggies that are clearly meant to be distributed.
“Fuck,” a voice says. Erik almost lets out a sigh of relief as he realizes that whoever has interrupted him is a student and not faculty. Erik waves his hand in front of his face, a useless gesture, trying to clear the smell of cigarette smoke from the air. It doesn’t matter. The stranger doesn’t seem to notice that the small bathroom reeks of cigarette smoke. Erik holds still as he hears the other person rustle around a bit, then he hears the tell-tale rasp of a lighter. Erik smiles. A moment later there’s the even more unique smell of pot mixing in with Erik’s now-dead cigarette. Erik stands and shoves his pack of cigarettes into the pocket of his uniform jacket. He pushes open the stall door, steeling himself to quickly smile and pass by the intruder. He’s found this is the best way to stay under the radar: look friendly and move fast.
Except Erik stops. He stares.
Leaning against the wall next to the retro paper towel dispenser that no one fills is a slender boy with floppy brown hair and freckles spattered across the bridge of his nose. Erik knows him. Everyone does. He’s seen Charles Xavier in the hallways a million times, that twat Moira MacTaggert hanging on his arm. He’s stood in front of the school during assemblies as one of the teachers announced he’d won yet another award or honor. He’s a Wunderkind of the highest degree. Erik should walk on by. Charles Xavier is no different than any other kid at Dalton. Except Erik doesn’t pass him by.
The other boy stares back at Erik, and it’s not that Charles Xavier has always caught Erik’s attention. It’s that there is something in his eyes, an unexpected sadness. It stops Erik in his tracks and for a long moment he forgets everything, captured by a small fragment of humanity he’s never seen in one of his classmates before. For a brief moment Erik cares.
“Fuck,” Xavier says, taking a long drag off his joint. He rolls his eyes. “I don’t expect YOU will turn me in. You probably sold me this shit.”
Erik remains dumbstruck as Xavier stares up at him, holding in the smoke from the joint. He’s looking back at Erik with his impossibly blue eyes, and Erik feels something tighten in his chest. Finally Xavier exhales, blowing more smoke into the air. He doesn’t seem to notice Erik’s silence.
“Anyway, glad I ran into you. I need more. I don’t think I can make it through tonight without a little help, if you know what I mean.”
Erik blinks. He doesn’t know what the fuck Xavier is talking about. As far as Erik can tell, Charles Xavier’s life is perfect. He has money, the girl, guaranteed entrance to Harvard. The person getting stoned in the bathroom should be Erik, except Erik doesn’t get stoned. Drugs aren’t really his thing. Slammed up against the wall of a dirty spunk-smeared club restroom with some stranger’s cock in his ass - that’s different.
Everyone has their way of dulling the pain.
“You’re the kid who sells pot, right?” Charles asks, his eyes narrowing.
“Uh, yeah.” Erik finally manages to stammer. “Erik.”
“Charles,” Xavier says, putting out his hand, as if they’re at a fucking soirée instead of sneaking smokes in the bathroom. Erik takes it and grips it hard. He’s not so naïve to not know it’s all about the handshake. Xavier’s hand grips his back and they hold on, a brief moment of struggle for dominance until Erik lets go then wipes his hands on his jeans.
“Right,” Xavier says, biting at his lip. “You’re one of the scholarship kids. The gay one.”
The gay one.
Erik glares at Charles. Is that all he is? A scholarship kid? The gay one? Erik clenches his hands into fists, his muscles tensing as if preparing for a fight. He waits for Xavier to throw the punch, to take his chance to beat up the freak. It’s not that he expects it. Charles Xavier is no different than any other student at Dalton. Erik has no idea if he has a problem with the queer kid. It’s just that they’re in a bathroom alone and every single after-school special horror story he’s read on the internet runs through his head. This is when queer kids get hurt. Times like this. Standing alone in the bathroom talking to a stuck-up asshole who isn’t minding his own business. Erik decides to take the chance, that he’s going to meet any fist with his own. He tilts his chin up and meets Xavier’s gaze with all the false bravado he can muster.
“Queer. Yeah. I’m a fucking homo. I like cock.”
It’s not a lie. Erik loves cock. He braces himself for Xavier’s fist to fly, but instead Charles blushes at Erik’s vulgarity. Erik takes in the way his freckles stand out against his pinked skin, and for a brief second he wonders if this is how he might look up against a wall, Erik on his knees in front of him. Heat rises up his cheeks.
“Uh,” Charles stammers.
“It’s okay,” Erik mutters, feeling his bravado slipping away, replaced by embarrassment. There’s a vulnerability in the way Xavier looks at him that makes Erik regret his decision to be so blunt. He looks away, feeling strangely awkward, as if he’s suddenly in the middle of something he doesn’t understand.
“Just find me at the dance.”
Erik looks at the floor, toes his sneakers, and starts to move forward, hunching his shoulders. He wants to get out of this bathroom, shake off the discomfort that is suddenly plaguing him.
“The dance?” Xavier says, sounding blank. Erik can’t turn to look at him, can’t see those eyes again.
“The pot. You wanted to buy some pot.”
Erik starts to leave when Xavier’s voice stops him once again.
“You want a hit?”
Erik turns to face those eyes again, finding the other boy is holding the lit joint in his direction. Erik winces. He doesn’t want a hit. He wants to escape the confines of the small outdated bathroom that the school seems to not bother to remodel.
“Not my thing,” Erik growls. Charles doesn’t drop his hand.
“What’s your thing then? Boys?”
Erik’s stomach drops. He can’t shake the feeling that he’s some sort of side-show curiosity for this sad rich boy getting stoned in the bathroom. He’s about to mutter something back at him, hurl an insult that will herald his exit, but instead he stands, mouth agape at the forwardness of Xavier’s question, unable to answer.
“What’s it like?”
The joint still lingers between them as if time has frozen. Their eyes are locked. Erik knows what Xavier is asking, yet he still plays dumb.
“What is what like?”
Xavier doesn’t answer right away. He swallows and Erik’s eyes follow the movement of his Adam’s Apple up and down the pale column of his throat.
“Kissing,” Xavier finally says, “Kissing boys.”
Erik feels his irritation swell. His fists clench and he wants to tell this spoiled, privileged rich boy that he’s not here to quell his curiosity or to educate him about what it feels like when the lips of two men meet. Instead he steps forward, one step at a time, and Xavier’s hand drifts downward, the joint all but forgotten. Erik stops with mere inches between the two boys, until he can almost hear the exhale of Xavier’s breath, almost feel his warmth, almost reach out and touch him, run a finger down the lapel of his school-boy jacket, trace the soft edge of his jaw, brush fingers across the freckles that span the bridge of his nose. Erik dips his head and quickly presses his lips to Xavier’s, kissing him chastely and almost softly. Xavier doesn’t respond, just stands frozen as Erik pulls back, a smirk on his lips.
“That’s what it’s like,” Erik says with a low throaty snarl.
Erik shoves past Charles Xavier, who is still standing next to the paper towel dispenser, his hand hanging by his side, looking dazed. He pushes through the heavy swinging door of the bathroom and almost stumbles into the hallway. He stands there for a long moment, the strange interaction rolling around his mind. What the fuck just happened? Did he just kiss Charles Xavier?
“Huh,” Erik says out loud, his fingers going to touch his lips. He shakes his head then stalks down the hallway, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
Chapter 3: Made My Blood Pump Saturday Night
“Do you want some?”
Charles feels Moira’s arms tighten around his waist. She tips her head up to look at him, her eyes lined with thick, mascara-sticky lashes, splashes of body glitter on the edges. Her lips are pale and glossy, smelling like the same cherry lip smacker she’s used since she was eight years old. They part and Charles sees the small white pill on her tongue.
“No,” Charles mutters, dipping his head a little. The music thumps and Moira sways up against him, pressing her breasts to his chest, and she smiles, a wide, seductive smile that Charles knows he should enjoy, but it feels shiny and fake like everything else around him.
The boy in the bathroom has left him shaken.
The rest of the day at Dalton went as it always does. Literature, math, gym class where he put on shorts and a t-shirt and threw the basketball around, listening to that douchebag Worthington brag about his courtside seats to see the Knicks. Charles doesn’t give a fuck but he pretends he does. He nods and tells Worthington he’s jealous, but the truth is he can’t stop thinking about the boy.
He’s seen him before. It’s just that Charles has never actually looked at him. And he’s never had someone look back with such disdain. He’d just been trying to make conversation, do what his mother has taught him is the polite thing to do, but when Erik had answered back that he’s queer, that he likes cock… the word rolled around in Charles’ head, taking on a life of its own.
It wasn’t just the word. It was the way he said it - full of defiance but with enough truth that Charles knew it wasn’t something he was saying to shock him. Not that it didn’t shock Charles. He hadn’t known what to say, standing in that bathroom, staring at the boy he’d bought pot from more times than he could remember but had never really talked to. But it wasn’t just shock. There was something about the way Erik had said that word that left Charles intrigued.
“That salad was not what I expected. I mean, it was pretty much gross. I should have just sent it back. Mother knows the chef there, you know. I’ll tell her he’s not worth knowing after that dinner. It was terrible. Didn’t you think so?”
Charles closes his eyes. It’s not like anywhere they went would be good enough for Moira. No matter the restaurant, the only thing that night’s dinner was destined to become was an inadequate salad that she picked at like she picked at all her meals. He had thought his food was good but he would never say so. Instead he sat across the table from his girlfriend and tried not to think about the boy in the bathroom, then wished he had actually been able to buy some pot from him before he’d left him so unnerved. He really needs something to take the edge off.
It’s not like he’s going to escape in any other way. He doesn’t like to drink. He doesn’t do blow. The pill on Moira’s tongue was E, and if Moira talks a lot in general, she’s almost unbearable when she’s high. Charles knows there’s a good chance she’ll be crying in his arms before the end of the night, and the thought makes him flinch.
He wonders if the scholarship kid in the bathroom will dance, wrap his arms around someone, sway to the music. It’s an unbidden, wild thought, bubbling up from somewhere in Charles’ mind, a surprising one. Dance like he’s dancing with Moira, pressed up against each other, sweaty, breathing in time. Charles wants to jerk away, to get some space, but she presses ever closer. He stares out across the room full of swaying bodies, couples wrapped around each other, girls dressed in shining couture, high, laughing at the way the lights sparkle around the room. Moira nestles further into his chest and Charles just looks off, staring blankly, until he finds what he’s been searching for.
He’s there, leaning against a wall half in the shadows. Of course he’s there. Charles stares at him, taking in the way he slumps. He’s wearing the same tight jeans and t-shirt with some obscure band name he’d been wearing at school earlier. Charles smiles to himself at the attitude that oozes off the scholarship kid, telling the entire room that he doesn’t give a fuck about them, but if they need some pot, he can help them out. Charles sees him bring a cigarette to his thin, bitten lips and inhale. Suddenly he wants to be there, next to him, watching him, smelling the same cigarette smoke he’d smelled when he walked into that bathroom, desperate to smoke up, to get away from it all, to slow everything down. Suddenly he wants to be kissing him again, but this time deeper, hungrier. Charles feels his dick start to stir at the thought.
Moira leans back suddenly, causing Charles to grip at her back. He sways forward, trying to keep his balance while keeping her from falling backwards onto the floor. When he pulls her back, she looks at him and laughs, a bright but jarring sound, then licks her lips.
“You’re so beautiful.”
Charles rolls his eyes. The pills are kicking in. Moira sways again.
“It’s all so beautiful.”
Charles looks out across the crowd again, towards the wall where the scholarship kid is still hunched, and this time he sees him differently, with Moira’s words still ringing in his head.
She laughs again then releases Charles as the tempo of the music changes, turning faster, the bass starting to vibrate the room, and the crowd around him starts to jump, the dancers bumping, grinding, sweating to the beat. Charles barely glances to see where Moira has disappeared to. He’s lost her for the night. It’s not the first time this has happened, it probably won’t be the last. She’s lost to the joy of Ecstasy, feeling nothing but euphoria.
Charles remains in the middle of the crowd. His hips move, his shoulders rock. He turns, scanning across the crowd until he finds him again. Erik. Still slouched, staring at something, or maybe nothing, his face blank, as if he doesn’t give a shit about anything. Still, Charles remembers the way Erik had looked at him. He was going to walk on by. Everyone does. They think they know you, don’t think they have to look. But Erik looked. Charles’ body sways, he feels strange, lost, the beat vibrates his body. He stares, watches, and then the scholarship kid looks up.
Their eyes meet.
Charles’ breath hitches.
What the fuck?
The blank look on Erik’s face shifts, transforming into a scowl, apparent unhappiness to discover that Charles is watching him. Charles should look away, should pretend he hasn’t been staring, but instead he lifts his chin, gives Erik a look of challenge. Like the challenge that had been cast towards him when Erik had told him that he liked cock.
It’s a dare, except Charles has no idea what he is daring the tall, sombre kid across the room to do. After a long moment, their gazes locked, Charles’ movements slowing until he’s standing still, staring, Erik looks away. He runs a hand through his short, cropped hair and turns, walking swiftly towards the exit of the rented hotel ballroom filled with writhing, heated bodies. Charles’ mouth drops open and he follows Erik’s movements, turning his head to watch Erik push his way out of the room.
Charles suddenly feels jumpy, like he’s going to crawl out of his skin unless, unless… he’s not even quite sure. It’s a compulsion, an impulse that he doesn’t fully understand. The entire room slips away. Harvard, Moira, grades, the pressure he hates that leaves him unable to think sometimes, all becomes background noise, and the only thing Charles can do is follow Erik. He pushes past dancer after dancer, feeling the slip of bare, sweaty skin against his forearms, the brush of fine tailored tuxedos almost mirror images of the one he’d donned for this event. He’s careening into people, muttering his apologies, and he cannot get to the exit door he just watched Erik disappear through fast enough.
By the time Charles is in the hallway the elevator door is closing, leaving just a glimpse of black t-shirt, dark hair. Charles hits the button once, twice, then huffs out a breath, looking up and down the hallway until he sees the large green sign stating “Exit” indicating the location of the stairwell. He walks towards it, his steps quick. His feet fly down the stairs, his heart pounding, until he finally bursts into the lobby, breathing hard. He looks around frantically until he sees Erik through the glass doors, on the sidewalk. Charles stares at him again, and this is yet another moment when he should wonder what he’s doing. Why is he chasing the scholarship kid out of the building? He lunges towards the glass doors just as Erik turns and walks away. Charles bursts out onto the sidewalk, looking left, then right. Looking for Erik.
Charles finds Erik leaning on the side of the building around the corner from the entrance, a cigarette between his lips. Charles skids to a halt when he sees Erik’s lanky silhouette out of the corner of his eye. He stands still for a moment, breathing hard , then turns to face him. Erik takes the cigarette from his lips, letting his hand drop to his side. His eyes narrow as Charles stands before him. He opens his mouth and his voice is an antagonistic growl.
“I’m done selling for the night.”
Charles feels momentarily confused. He shakes his head a little then realizes that Erik is talking about weed. No. He’s not here for weed. Charles says nothing, just stands, looking at Erik, his mind whirring. Erik shifts a little, glances away from Charles, then looks back at him, his mouth fixed in a sneer, his eyes glittering from the lamplight, his face now looking smug, as if he’s discovered Charles’ secret.
“Why are you following me? We’re not friends now.”
Charles almost laughs. No. It’s not friends he wants. Charles isn’t sure what it is, but it’s not friends. He steps forward until less than a foot separates the two of them, gathering up more boldness than he feels. His heart pounds, his mouth is dry. Without saying a word, Charles reaches for the cigarette that Erik is dangling between his fingers. Charles slowly lifts it to his mouth and takes a long drag, trying to keep his fingers from trembling, fighting the urge to gag at the taste. Erik’s eyes follow Charles’ every move, the smug look on his face slipping away as Charles lifts the cigarette to his mouth a second time and takes another long drag. Suddenly he knows what he wants from the queer scholarship kid. He flicks the half-smoked cigarette to the ground and Erik’s eyes follow the motion, his mouth opens half in protest, but before he can say anything, Charles closes the distance between them and in one swift motion he takes Erik’s face in his hands and kisses him.
Erik startles at the press of Charles’ lips but he does not pull away, and after his initial surprise, Erik kisses him back. Their mouths open wide and there is nothing tentative about the contact. Charles’ brain whites-out as their tongues slip against each other, and through the haze he’s suddenly struck with how much he wants this. It’s not like kissing Moira, which is soft and full of giggles. Erik’s mouth is hard and insistent, his hands are gripping Charles’ hips. Charles feels a surge of sensation he can’t quite identify, a deep tingling ache that makes him gasp against Erik’s mouth and Erik deepens the kiss. It’s tongue and spit and teeth until the hands gripping Charles’ hips start to push him away. No. The mental protest bursts through the fog that has enveloped Charles’ brain. Erik breaks the kiss and Charles chases after him, wanting more. Because for the first time in a long time he feels something through the numbness.
“What the fuck?” Erik hisses, his chest rising and falling fast, his lips shiny with spit. Charles blinks at Erik, feeling unsteady. He wants to lean forward, fist his hands in Erik’s t-shirt, dip his forehead and rest it on his chest until the world stops spinning.
Erik stares at him and Charles sees that the other boy’s eyes are shining with what might be tears. His voice his hoarse and his words halting.
“You can’t do that. I’m not… I’m not some experiment… You just can’t.”
Erik pushes at Charles and Charles stumbles backwards. He watches, dumbstruck, as Erik bends down and picks up a backpack, hoisting it onto one shoulder. Charles still says nothing. Erik straightens and looks at Charles again, and this time his eyes are sparking with anger and something else. Charles stares into them, and he realizes that the other thing he’s seeing is hurt.
“Fuck you. Just fuck you.”
With that, Erik turns and strides away, his shoulders hunched in anger. Charles stares after him, his brain not even able to form words of protest. Then, without even thinking, Charles follows.
Chapter 4: Make My Heart Beat Double Time
It takes a long time for Erik’s mind to settle. He chastises himself over and over. He never should have even talked to Xavier. Kissing him was utter stupidity. He should have brushed by him, not bothered to stop. Damn those eyes, that face, the way Charles had looked at him in that bathroom. Damn him for following him out of the dance. Damn him for kissing him, a kiss Erik can still feel on his lips. He is not some play toy for a rich stoned straight boy to mess with. Being the queer kid doesn’t make you fodder from someone’s experiment.
The club is full when he gets there. Erik nods at the man at the door who barely glances at his fake ID before smearing a stamp onto the back of his hand. Most kids wear their club stamps like badges of honor. Erik has a small bottle of rubbing alcohol in his backpack. He’ll use it to rub the ink off before he crashes into Armando’s spare bed early in the morning. Staying with Armando wasn’t entirely a lie.
The loud thumping music doesn’t shake away Erik’s annoyance. He needs a fucking drink after what happened with Xavier. Erik heads to the bar, pressing through the sea of bodies that surrounds it, then stands waiting to catch the bartender’s attention. As he waits, he unconsciously touches his lips.
Erik has been going to the clubs for the last two years, he’s been fucked and sucked, but he doesn’t kiss. He’s not dating the men he picks up, so why should he kiss. But kissing Xavier, it was sloppy and good. More than good, if Erik allows himself to think about it. It’s not that Erik didn’t like being kissed by Charles Xavier. The problem is that he liked it too much. It left his head spinning, his cock half-hard, and it had taken all his willpower to push the other boy away. When his mind wanders back to that moment, he remembers the way Xavier had pressed against him, the feel of his hips under Erik’s palms, and the fact that Erik didn’t want to stop.
Erik runs a hand through his hair. Fuck him. Fuck that fucking school. Fuck them all.
Finally Erik has a drink in his hand. He tips it back and drains the entire thing down his throat, the alcohol buzzing along his veins almost immediately. He doesn't usually drink but tonight he needs something to chase the memory of that asshole’s mouth on his away.
Erik makes his way to one of the walls, keeping an eye on the dance floor as he goes. This is not the school dance. It’s full of people drunk and stoned, grinding up against each other. There is a scent in the air, the hot, musky smell of sweating bodies and sex. Normally Erik might spend some time leaning against a wall, wait until some guy catches his eye, then go dance. He might dance for a while until he ends up in the back hallway or the bathroom. Not tonight. He needs to squelch the feeling of unease in his gut. It’s only a matter of time before someone dances up to him, eyes heavy with invitation, and Erik knows he’ll accept. He needs to be fucked hard enough to forget. He drums his fingers against the wall, feeling wound up with tension, and he knows tonight he won't be particular. As Erik glances about blankly, searching, eyes scanning all the unfamiliar faces, he sees one he knows. Erik goes cold.
Suddenly he’s back in that bathroom, staring into those eyes, and that same feeling of surprise wells up. His lips tingle, the ghost of that kiss on them. Erik shrinks against the wall, feeling it vibrate from the music, he lets his eyes roam down that compact body, those slim hips, muscular thighs. Erik jerks a little at a nip of pain and realizes he’s biting at his lip.
The first thought Erik has is how the hell did Xavier get in, but then he realizes that if he can buy a fake ID from a kid in the library, so can Charles fucking Xavier. In fact, he can probably buy himself twenty. The second thought is What. The. Fuck. Can’t he leave well enough alone? He stares as Xavier stands at the edge of the dance floor, looking uncomfortable and lost, scanning through the crowd, wearing a fucking tuxedo. Jesus fucking Christ, he looks like the freshest meat Erik has ever seen. Erik knows it. Practically every guy in the club knows it, and he sees heads turn slightly, eyes glance over without ever losing the beat. Erik tips his glass back and the ice clinks against his lips. Fuck. He needs another drink.
Erik leans against the wall for another long moment, watching Xavier as he glances awkwardly around the room. The lights flash, the music pounds. Erik watches the other boy’s face as it glows white then purple, his eyes wide, glancing across the crowd. He won’t see Erik here, slouched in the shadows. Erik can just wait until the schoolboy gives up and leaves, but there is something else, a sense of pity, that drives Erik to push himself up from the wall and start walking forward.
Their eyes meet when Erik is just a few feet away. Xavier’s mouth opens, as if to say something, but any words that emerge are drowned by the pulsing beat. Erik grabs Xavier’s arm, his fingers gripping the fine wool of his tuxedo. Xavier jerks at his touch, glances up at Erik who offers him his best scowl.
“Let’s get you the fuck out of here,” Erik says, leaning down to say the words into Xavier’s ear, ignoring the way the other boy shudders at his breath against his skin. Idiot Erik thinks to himself as he pushes Charles ahead of him. They make their way through the crowd towards the door. Erik frowns. So much for getting fucked. He’s been sabotaged by one baby-faced asshole who can’t leave him alone.
The cold air stings Erik’s face as he stumbles out to the sidewalk, Xavier trailing behind him. He blinks at the cold and the shock of the chill of the air against his sweat damp hot skin. The bouncer stares at the two of them momentarily, then goes back to standing by the doorway with a blank yet intimidating look on his face. Erik sets his jaw and turns to face Xavier, his lip curled into a snarl.
“Go home.” Erik’s sharp words backed by the throb of the club behind him. Xavier looks at him with wide, shocked eyes. Erik swallows. He can accept anger, hostility, but what he sees is hurt. Fucking bastard is looking at him with those blue eyes full of pain. Erik feels rage start to well up in him. He’s had to learn the hard way that Dalton kids, that world, does not accept him, and here that world stands begging for his sympathy, asking him to understand, looking for something Erik knows that he could offer, but the price he would pay would be tremendous.
This boy could ruin him.
“I can’t,” Charles Xavier almost squeaks, the words just loud enough for Erik to hear. He cocks his head. He can’t? His world is fancy cars, trips around the world, anything he wants. There are people suffering - living on the streets, needing a home - and this spoiled rich kid dares to say that he can’t go home. Erik’s fists clench.
“I mean, I don’t want to,” Charles adds, as if he can sense the ire his words have caused.
Erik relaxes. Someone walks by him, brushing his shoulder, causing him to stumble a bit. He realizes that they are standing on the sidewalk, people walking by, making their way to their next destination, blurry and happy, not noticing two teenagers standing together awkwardly, locked in some sort of conflict that neither of them understands. Suddenly Erik feels self-conscious, exposed, as if everyone can see what’s happening. He wants to hide, to find a dark, quiet place to sort out his head, but he can’t. Because blue eyes are staring at him. Erik reaches out and grabs Charles’ shoulder, digging his fingers in firmly, ignoring the shudder he feels. He pushes Charles towards the building, shoving him against the brick wall, ignoring the small huff of breath Charles lets out.
“The bathroom.” Erik makes his voice firm, almost angry. He must get this point across, must make this boy stop following him, asking him for something he cannot give. “The bathroom,” he repeats. “It was a mistake.”
Charles flinches. Erik knows he’s made the cut he wanted to.
“You don’t want this. And I don’t want your fucking complications. Turn around, go back to your girlfriend, your rich parents, your life, and forget it ever happened. You misunderstood....”
Charles’ lip trembles. He stares up at Erik, who suddenly realizes he’s standing close enough to feel the heat off Charles’ body, close enough that one more step would have him pressing that compact frame against the wall, close enough that he could dip his head down….
“My life,” Charles lets out a dry laugh, then looks away, eyes starting to become damp with tears. “Fuck my life.”
Erik frowns. Somewhere behind the annoyance, the ire he feels towards this asshole, a different feeling starts to rise. Empathy. Erik tries to ignore it, to push it back to where it came from. It’s of no use, will lead to nothing but pain, but he cannot ignore it. He stares at Charles who is staring away from him, looking down the block at nothing. Cars rush by. A couple strolls past and Erik hears the sharp pointed laughter of a woman trying too hard on a date. Finally Erik gives into the feeling. He sighs, his shoulders sagging, the fight leaving him.
“We could get coffee,” Erik says, his voice softer, kinder. Charles turns to look at him, and Erik can see that his eyes are shining with tears. Fuck “I mean, if you don’t want to go home. My night’s pretty much ruined as it is.” Erik gestures limply towards the club. He’s not going to get fucked tonight. Not after being hijacked by Xavier, his trembling lower lip and sad eyes. Those sad eyes are now looking at him with hope. Charles smiles. Erik likes his smile.
It’s the dumbest thing he’s ever done, but Erik nods.
Chapter 5: Now I'm The Only Sour Cherry on the Fruit Stand,
Charles burns his tongue.
The coffee is hot and strong, served in chipped mugs that the tired waitress unceremoniously plunks down in front of them. To her they are punk-ass kids who equate to less of a tip.
Charles had eyed the sugar shaker but when Erik ignored all accoutrements and sipped his coffee black, Charles has just watched him swallow, staring at the hard edge of Erik’s jaw, and taken a large swallow of his own, not realizing the liquid was piping hot. Charles puts the mug back on the table, coffee splashing over the rim. He looks at the boy who had changed everything since that morning, and all he wants is to kiss Erik again, to see if he tastes like the strong diner coffee, to see what lies beyond kisses that make Charles burn like fire. He knows what to do with Moira, all the right steps. But this...it’s different. Unexpected.
Charles bites his lip.
Erik sighs. His shoulders sag.
The room is filled with the buzz of conversation, the clink of dishes, orders being yelled. It’s bustling, alive, unlike the upper crust restaurants Sharon takes Charles to. It smells of long-forgotten cigarette smoke and fried food.
“I like it here,” Charles blurts out, reaching out to wrap his hand around the warm coffee cup, briefly wondering if he should dare another sip.
“Why don’t you want to go home?” Erik asks almost at the same time. Charles jerks out of his reverie and his reality crashes back in. He feels tears well in his eyes. He barely knows this angry, insolent boy but somehow Erik now holds one his secrets. He hates going home. Charles thinks about Sharon, about how she only pulls him out if she wants to brag about him to her friends; about Kurt who would prefer he was away at boarding school. He thinks about everything he does. Moira. School. College. Everyone expects it from him. No one asks him what he wants. He thinks about how the only way he can get through the day, the week, is to smoke up, to stay high, because then the emptiness isn’t as bad.
“They don’t know me,” Charles says plainly. He takes another drink of coffee and this time it doesn’t burn his mouth. It’s strong, bitter, and he wishes he’d put in sugar and cream. He glances across the rim to see Erik watching him, a softness in his eyes, a trace of a smile on his lips. Charles smiles back.
It’s easy to see Erik’s story, the role he plays. He is the queer kid who doesn’t give a fuck. But at least he’s true to who he is, walking around like he doesn’t need anyone, always stuck on the outside. Is that the price one pays for being able to live their own life?
“Sometimes I want to just stand up and yell, just shout nonsense at them.” Charles’ voice is soft as he lets loose the things he normally keeps locked inside. “I lie in my bedroom and imagine how shocked everyone would be. How angry my mother would be. I expect they would send me away, lock me up, tell me I need medication…”
The words tumble out, as if now that he has told someone the truth, he cannot stop. He pauses and gives Erik a long look. For a moment they are both silent, then Charles lets out a deep shudder and the tears that have been threatening to fall slide down his cheeks. Erik startles and suddenly his hand is on Charles’, a heavy warmth that somehow grounds Charles. He sucks in a deep breath then tells this almost stranger a truth he rarely admits to himself.
“I’m so lost.”
Charles feels a hot flush of embarrassment. He had not walked out of the dance because he wanted to pour out his soul. He never expected to be sitting here. It was just that Erik was different. When he had kissed him, he had felt alive, and he wanted more of that. Charles looks away from Erik, stares across the diner but seeing nothing. His mind is a tumble of emotions: sadness, regret, hopelessness. He feels laid out bare, vulnerable...this boy…what is he doing to him?
“I like it here too.”
Erik’s voice cuts through Charles’ thoughts. He blinks and shakes his head, his gaze shifting to the other boy, confused at the sudden change of subject.
“This diner,” Erik clarifies. He smiles at Charles, as if he knows he needs small talk. “You said you like it here. I like it here too.”
Charles wonders how long Erik has been coming here. Does he bring other people - other boys he might have kissed or might have wanted to kiss? Or did he come here with his parents on Saturdays after synagogue, sitting at the formica tables, feeling grown up because they let him order coffee just like the adults? He realizes he knows nothing about the boy sitting with his hand resting atop his own. Does he have two parents? Are they divorced? Where does he live? What is his life like? Charles wants to know more.
“Erik…” he starts. He sees Erik frown, as if he knows what’s coming next. Erik pulls his hand back and Charles jerks a little at the loss of contact. Charles watches Erik carefully, saying nothing. He pictures Erik standing outside the dance, kissed, breathing hard.
You can’t do that. I’m not… I’m not some experiment… You just can’t.
“You boys want to actually order something?”
The waitress’ voice breaks through and Charles startles a little then looks up to see her standing beside their table. Her voice is rough from too many cigarette breaks, her hair is brassy red from cheap dye she probably buys at the bodega down the street from her rent control apartment, and she is smacking on a wad of gum as she stares down her nose at them with disdain. Charles glances at her name tag and sees that she's called Loretta.
“I...uh, I left my backpack at the club,” Erik stammers, his cheeks growing flushed. Charles thinks to the five different credit cards he has in his wallet, and he realizes that he’s thankful for Loretta. Without her interruption, Erik would probably be telling Charles to fuck off.
“I could eat.” Charles feels his stomach growl as he says the words. “You can pay me back.”
Erik hesitates for a long moment, and Charles can tell he’s weighing his options. Charles doesn’t even know he’s holding his breath until Erik mutters a reluctant sounding ‘Okay,’ and Charles exhales heavily.
Charles will never ask for repayment.
They order. Fries, burgers, more coffee. This time Charles dares to put in sugar and half and half, ignoring the arch of Erik’s eyebrow. He feels strangely confident, like himself. They talk, Erik telling him stories about growing up in Brooklyn, about his mother, about what it’s like to go to school with people like Charles. Charles listens. The food arrives and it’s hearty and good. Charles says he doesn’t think he’s ever had such a good meal, and Erik lets out a guffaw, reminding Charles that he has dined in Paris and London, let alone the best the Upper East Side has to offer. Charles gives him a long, serious look, then says that it might be the company that makes it so good. He watches as a slight blush climbs Erik’s cheeks at his words and this makes Charles smile.
Finally, after the diner has emptied and Loretta has given them at least a half dozen hints that it’s time for them to go, Charles pays the bill, including a huge tip for their waitress, as Erik stands up, wiping his hands on his tight jeans. Charles watches the way his palms glide across his strong thighs and suddenly the contentment of good company and good conversation shifts into something entirely different.
“It’s 3am,” Erik says, as if this in itself should have some meaning. Charles nods and picks up his tuxedo jacket from the seat of the booth. Shrugging it on, he ignores Erik’s statement and instead starts walking towards the door. Unlike the club, where he had trailed after Erik, this time Erik follows him. Charles pushes through the door of the diner and for the second time that night they find themselves standing on the sidewalk in New York. Erik glances down and shuffles his feet, as if he’s not quite sure how to proceed, and considering how much bravado he offers the world, Charles finds his sudden awkwardness endearing.
“I have to get to my friend’s house,” Erik says, shoving his hands into his pockets. He pauses then looks at Charles. “And you should go home.”
Charles doesn’t answer. He just looks at Erik, searching his face, looking for something, wanting…
“I guess I’ll see you at school,” Erik says. They both know it’s a lie. They won’t have anything after tonight. Charles will still be the sad little rich boy and Erik will still be the angry queer Jewish outsider, both stuck in their roles. Charles is searching for words, trying to figure out what to say, when Erik shifts his weight a little, stares down at the sidewalk for a long moment then lifts his face to look at Charles again. Charles notices that his eyes are pale in the dark that shifts color to tones of gray.
“You can take a cab from here.”
That’s the moment that Charles chooses to kiss Erik for the second time that night. He should protest, should tell Erik he doesn’t want the night to end, but instead he takes a step forward, then another, until only inches separate them. Erik opens his mouth, whispers the word ‘don’t’ but before he can tell Charles that this is a bad idea, that Charles doesn’t know what he wants and of all things, he can’t want this, Charles moves onto tiptoe and presses his mouth to Erik’s.
There is no hesitation this time. Erik groans against the press of Charles’ mouth, kissing him back, his hands sliding around to grip Charles’ back, pulling him against him. It’s rough and fast and Charles’ head is spinning with the feel of it. His body responds as if this is what he’s been waiting for. This is what he’s wanted without knowing it; an angry scholarship kid who is gripping his hips and kissing him like he’s the oxygen he needs to breathe. Finally Charles breaks off, and this time Erik does not push him away. Charles dips his head and rests his forehead against Erik’s chest, his breath coming in gasps. He realizes his dick is getting hard. Erik’s hands are firm on his back, keeping him close, and this time he does not tell Charles that he cannot have this. He just holds Charles, his arms trembling, his breath coming in pants, as if he’s as far gone as Charles feels. After what feels like an eternity, Charles lifts his head. He stares up at Erik who is looking at him with an unreadable expression, his face a mass of shadows. Charles searches for the words, and finally settles on the truth.
“I don’t want to go home.”
Chapter 6: I'm a Penny in a Diamond Mine
“Do all asshole rich kids have credit cards?”
Erik stands in the lobby of the hotel, his dick hard, his clothes shabby, feeling turned on and out of place all at once. He’d wanted a fuck. He never expected this.
“We get them when we get our Asshole Rich Kid membership card,” Xavier says flipply. Erik arches his eyebrows at Xavier’s cheek and glances around again. The ceilings are high and the foyer is dominated by a massive chandelier that sends a warm light through the massive room. There are overstuffed leather couches scattered about and clusters of beautiful potted plants. Erik fights the urge to turn and leave, walk away, but something makes him stay. More like someone named Charles Xavier, who is paying for a hotel room so they can fuck without blinking an eye. This was not how Erik expected to end his night.
Erik wonders if Charles knows this is what they’re doing. All of this is a prelude to sex. He glances over at Charles who glances back and smiles, and Erik feels his chest clench.
“The fucking Ritz Carlton,” Erik says when Charles turns around with a card in his hand and a wide grin on his face.
“Waldorf Astoria. Same difference.”
Charles makes his way across the wide lobby like he’s been here before. No, like he owns the place. It must be something to have enough money to count on the discretion of the world around you. Not one frown or moment of surprise that a teenager in a rumpled tuxedo wants to book a hotel room at 3:30 in the morning. They arrive at the elevator and Charles pushes the button while Erik stands next to him, body tense, fingers drumming on his thighs, staring at the numbers as they tick downward. Finally the doors slide open and they step in at the same time, turning to face out to the lobby as the doors slide shut again.
In Erik’s fantasies, the elevator is the perfect place for foreplay, their own private box, where he could turn and press Xavier against the wall, bury his face in his neck, taste the hollow of his throat with a flick of his tongue. They would both know what they were heading for, both know that the moment they were finally behind the closed door of the hotel room, they would be ripping each other’s clothes off. Except Erik actually has no idea what comes next. The club is easy. Everyone there knows what they want. They know how to get it. They know the dance. This dance - it’s something entirely different, and as much as Erik might want to reach out and pull Charles to him, he only stands next to him, feeling awkward and out of place as the elevator rushes upward.
It stops on the twenty second floor.
The hallway is long and deserted. Their shoes make no noise on the thick carpet. Charles leads the way and Erik realizes this is the second time that night that Charles has lead Erik. Erik trails behind, his head whirring, trying to make sense of all this, but not willing to turn back. Finally Charles stops outside one of the doors and turns to Erik.
“A corner suite. They upgraded us.”
“Oh,” Erik responds to this information, feeling not quite sure what he should be saying. He settles on a bland,’Nice.’ In response.
Charles doesn’t seem to notice Erik’s hesitancy. He pushes the door open and Erik follows him inside, down a short hallway and into a small sitting room. It is here that Erik stops and stares, because stretched out before him is a wall of windows, floor to ceiling, and he finds himself looking out over the sparkling expanse of New York City at night. For a moment Erik wants to turn off the lights and collapse into one of the comfortable-looking chairs and just stare out at the city he was born in, seeing it like he’s never seen it before.
The city at night doesn’t seem to move Charles. He barely glanced out the windows as Erik stands gaping in awe. He probably has a view like this from his fucking bedroom in his goddamn penthouse, Erik thinks to himself as he watches Charles ignore the view and go to push open French doors that take up most of one wall of the sitting room. Erik glances through them and sees that they lead to the bedroom. He makes his way to stand in the doorway when Charles pulls off his tuxedo jacket, toes off his shoes and suddenly launches himself onto the bed with a loud whoop. He bounces around on it, like a small child. Erik frowns as he watches the other boy. Erik could never feel comfortable enough here to just bounce on the bed as if it’s a trampoline. It’s too nice. Too expensive. Too special. He stands, staring at Charles who finishes his display then flops onto his back and stares at Erik, his hair tousled, his cheeks flushed, his chest rising and falling from the exertion. Erik stares at him, because he suddenly realizes that Charles Xavier is freckled and pale and utterly beautiful. The next thing he realizes is that he wants him in a way that he’s never wanted anyone before. Erik feels his throat tighten, his groin tingle, and before he can think about what this might mean, he launches himself onto the bed, landing next to Charles, then rolls to pin him to the bed with his weight. Charles laughs and looks up at him, his eyes bright and mirthful, and Erik cannot help but grind his half-hard prick down onto Charles. He’s rewarded with a gasp and a sudden shift in the way Charles is looking up at him, a darkening of those eyes, a lick of a tongue on those lips.
“Do you know what you’re asking for?” Erik asks, his face close to Charles.
“Yes,” Charles, voice is a breathy anticipation-tinged whisper.
Erik shifts himself upwards into a kneel so he’s sitting above Charles, straddling his hips, looking down at the rich asshole who is slowly turning his life upside down. This is not the club, not the bathroom, not some sort of quick fuck to get release. He places his hands on Charles’ chest, feeling the crisp fine cotton of his tuxedo shirt, presses his palms where he knows Charles’ nipples are, then slowly, deliberately he draws them downward, sliding them down his ribs, down the sides of his abdomen that clenches at his touch, until they come to rest on Charles’ hips. Charles gasps a little and bucks up into Erik’s touch.
“Do you know what we can do?” Erik whispers, his voice starting to sound thick with how much he wants this.
“Yes,” Charles says, “I’ve thought about it.”
Erik hears a hint of truth. Charles stares up at him then takes in a shuddering breath. “But first....first, please, kiss me.”
Erik feels as if he’s standing on the edge of a precipice, staring into something so vast he can hardly recognize it. He knows he should turn away, and he also knows it's too late. He searches Xavier’s flushed face, not quite sure what he’s looking for. Permission. The punch line of the joke. What comes next matters little because come Monday morning they are still the same people, trapped in their same lives.
The word, the way Charles is looking up at him, sends an ache through Erik so strong that he almost gasps. This boy will break him into countless pieces and the thought shakes him to his very core. Erik blinks. He knows he should push Xavier away, roll off him and tell him this - whatever it is - is a mistake. It’s not too late to walk away, to call this a slip fueled by too much lust, too much youth, too much utter stupidity. Except that Erik isn’t drunk…he’s not.... he’s….
Charles’ voice breaks through the fog and Erik shakes his head, pushing away the feelings that grip him. It’s just one night. It’s not forever. It’s nothing. His heart pounds, his hands shake. He smiles then dips his head, and for the second time he kisses the boy who had watched him so carefully in the bathroom what feels like a lifetime ago. Charles pushes himself up on his elbows to a half-sitting position, meeting Erik’s lips, and the kiss is nothing short of cathartic.
They kiss for a long time. Erik likes the way Charles kisses him, hungrily yet sweet and naive. This is not like the men at the club who want to kiss him. For them Erik turns his head, distracting them by starting to sink to his knees. He promises them his mouth for anything but kissing. With Charles, it’s all he can do. He pushes him backwards until Charles is against the crisp duvet and Erik is sprawled over him, kissing him deeply, tongues tangling, their mouths slicked with spit. If Erik could manage any level of thought he might smile to think that this is almost enough for him, making out like he’s fucking fifteen years old. Erik wants more so he lets his hand drift down, fingers plucking at the fabric of Charles’ shirt until he manages to pull it free from the waistband of his dress trousers. Erik’s fingers drift under the fabric, sliding across the warm skin of Charles’ abdomen, feeling the fine dusting of hairs and the way the muscles there contract under his touch. Charles gasps and stops kissing Erik, letting his head fall back and staring up at him with eyes dark with lust.
“I…” Charles starts, a single syllable, thick and slow. He takes in a breath and frowns a little, looking confused. Erik steadies himself on one elbow, shifting his weight slightly off Charles’ smaller frame, all of a sudden worried that he’s too much, too fast. He doesn’t say anything, just stares into Charles’ eyes and waits, the hand on Charles’ abdomen stills. Charles takes in a deep, shaking breath, then he turns his head to the side, as if looking at Erik is too much.
“I want… god help me, I want you. I just, I’ve never….”
The tension in Erik softens a little.
“You’ve never? Not even with...uh….”
“Moira?” Charles’ face flushes as he mentions his girlfriend’s name and Erik can’t discern if he’s embarrassed or guilty. He doesn’t really want to know.
“I guess so. Yeah, but....it didn’t feel....” Charles’ voice trails off. He glances away for a long moment, then looks back at Erik. “It didn’t feel like this. I’ve never done something like this, with someone...someone like you.”
Erik lets out a long breath. He stares down at Charles who is still looking away, and something inside Erik breaks loose. Suddenly the tension and anticipation of sex eases.
“Okay,” Erik say softly, then he repeats the word as he searches for what he wants to say. “Okay. We can take it slow.”
Charles doesn’t answer. Erik moves the hand on Charles’ abdomen slightly, just an inch.
“Is that okay?”
Charles turns his head to look at Erik again.
Erik shifts his weight off Charles and rolls to lie next to him, stretched along his side. At the same time he starts to move his hand, rubbing soft circles across the softness of Charles’ stomach. Charles eyes flutter shut. Erik would ask if his touch is still okay but he can tell that the other boy is enjoying it. Feeling a bit bolder, Erik slides his hand upwards in one long stroke until he reaches one of Charles’ nipples. Charles gasps softly.
“Still okay?” Erik asks gently.
Charles’ nipple is hard under Erik’s fingers and he longs to undo the buttons of that white dress shirt, hoist himself onto an elbow and dip his head to take it into his mouth. Instead he just brushes and teases it with his fingers, watching Charles’ every reaction. He slides his hand across from one to the other and Charles arches into his touch.
Charles is panting softly now, and Erik almost smiles that a little nipple play can get him going so nicely. At the same time, it’s not like this is doing nothing for him. His dick is hard, and he’s starting to ache. He spends a few more moments on that nipple, then moves his hand downward, ignoring Charles’ protesting whine. He stops at the waistband of Charles’ dress trousers and deftly runs his fingers under it, causing Charles to buck slightly.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Charles asks, raising his head to look at Erik with unfocused eyes. Erik smiles.
“Going slow,” Erik answers, feeling confident. “May I?” Erik’s fingers tug at the waistband, move to the button. Charles nods wordlessly and Erik flicks it open then pulls down the zip. Xavier’s boxers don’t disappoint and are just as fancy as everything else about him.Erik feels the length of the other boy’s hard dick through the choice 100% cotton, feels the way it jumps slightly at his touch, hears the sharp intake of Charles’ breath. His dick isn’t that big, but Erik’s had his share of big dicks shoved up his ass, and while they’ve been good, he’s never had one make him feel this far gone before he’s even seen it. His hand trembles as he closes his fingers around its thick shape and feels its heat through the cotton under his palm. Charles moans as Erik increases the pressure of his hand and he bucks himself up into Erik’s touch, his body telling Erik that he’s ready for the next step. Erik removes his hand and Charles whimpers and bucks again, then Erik’s fingers hook inside the waistband of Charles’ trousers and without hesitation, he starts to pull them down. Charles whispers ‘yes’ under his breath and lifts his hips, wriggling a little to help Erik along. Suddenly Erik is seized with the need to see all of Charles, so he makes quick work of undressing the rest of him, pulling dress socks off his feet, helping him out of the sleeves of his dress shirt. When he is done, Erik pulls down the duvet and Charles lies naked on the clean white sheets staring up at Erik, his skin flushed and heated.
Erik likes sex. He’s been having it since he was fifteen. He’s jacked off athletes who blame it on the alcohol and never meet his gaze. He’s blown men with rings on their left ring finger who grip his hair too tightly. He’s messed around with strangers at parties, their pupils pinpoint, words slurred. But this...preppy asshole Charles Xavier lying on the bed, a flush across his freckled skin, his chest rising up and down, biting at his lower lip, mouth swollen from kisses, dick hard and leaking - it’s something different than Erik has ever known. If he allowed himself to stop and think, Erik might think it’s what he’s dreamed of. If he could stop his head spinning from lust, he might see all the things he knows he cannot have: dinner and movies and long talks over cups of coffee. He might see a future.
Fuck the future.
“Touch me,” Charles murmurs, his brow knitting slightly as Erik continues to hesitate. The world slips into Erik’s brain, and suddenly he’s no longer interested in going slow. Erik smiles at Charles and wishes he had his backpack, which is still sitting in the coatroom of the club. He’ll get in the morning. He thinks about the small bottle of lube he keeps there, then lifts his hand towards his mouth and spits into it.
“Of course,” Erik agrees as he takes his hand and wraps it around Xavier’s dick then starts to move just as he leans down and captures that swollen, bitten mouth one more time. This time it’s not slow. It’s rough and urgent, and Erik longs to stretch out against Xavier's hip as his hand slides up and down his spit and precum-slick cock and rub his own hard-as-fuck cock to get some sort of relief.
“Ohhhhh, fuck!” Charles says against Erik’s mouth. “Erik. That’s good.” Erik moves his hand faster and he feels Charles’ hips start to jerk upwards, seeking more. He feels Xavier’s hands grabbing at his back, digging into the fabric of his shirt, then it slides quickly down to the waistband of his jeans.
“You. I want to touch you.”
Fingers fumble awkwardly at the button of Erik’s jeans and he pulls back a little, making his hand bend at an awkward angle, and the rhythm of his strokes falters. Charles groans a small protest at the change then outright protests when Erik lets go of his cock for just a moment to pull down the zip of his jeans and pull out his now painfully hard dick, then returns to stroking Charles from tip to base. He feels Charles’ hand wrap around his cock, clumsy, a little hesitant. Erik doesn’t go back to kissing Charles but puts his mouth right by the shell of the other boy’s ear.
“You’ve never done this before?” Erik whispers hotly, tightening his grip and clenching his teeth as Charles’ strokes on his cock start to grow more confident. “No guy’s ever touched you like this, jerked you off, made you come? No wrestling matches gone awry, no circle jerks in the basement?”
“No...uhhhh, that’s hot.”
Their hands are moving more frantically. Erik feels his groin start to tighten. It’s a fucking mutual hand job and it might be the hottest thing Erik has ever done.
“Better than touching yourself?”
“Better than your girlfriend?”
“Better than anything,” Charles gasps. “Oh god, Erik… I’m going to…”
The last word is nothing more than a loud grunt because Charles is coming all over Erik’s hand, come pulsing from his dick, hot and sticky. Erik tightens his grip and holds as Charles shudders over and over. The hand that’s been wrapped around Erik’s dick tightens then lets go entirely, and Erik takes his free hand and starts working himself as he watches Charles’ face, flushed and slack from ecstasy. Erik knows he’s close and it takes only a few more strokes before he’s coming as well, shouting something incoherent as his orgasm takes over then leaves him shaking on the bed next to a naked and blissed-out asshole he’d barely known until this morning.
“Jesus Christ that was good,” Xavier mutters, reaching out blindly to find the covers and dragging them up over them. “I...that was just…. Mmmmm….”
Erik feels the familiar post-orgasmic lethargy steal over him, his muscles twitching in the aftermath of his orgasm. He knows he should get up, zip his jeans up, drag his sorry ass home and forget this night ever happened. But it’s almost five in the morning, the bed is comfortable, and a very warm Charles Xavier is turning into him, murmuring something Erik can’t quite make out. He really should go, but Erik doesn’t. He doesn't even undress. Instead, lying back allowing himself to sink into the mattress, Erik sleeps.
Chapter 7: We Could Be Movers
Charles opens sleep-crusted eyes and stares blearily into the room, trying to figure out where he is. For a long moment he can only feel confusion and then the previous night and early morning comes rushing in, a jumble of half-formed memories, ending with Charles post orgasmic and drifting off to sleep in bed next to…
Erik Lehnsherr. Holy fucking shit.
Charles jerks a little and looks over to see Erik fast asleep almost a foot away from him, the soft, clean covers pushed down around his waist. He’s lying half on his stomach, half on his side and for a long moment Charles watches the gentle rise and fall of his back as he breathes long and slow.
It isn’t like waking up with Moira. The few times her parents have been away and Charles couldn’t get out of staying over because of studying or lacrosse or an early day golfing with one of Kurt’s Harvard buddies, waking with Moira had been a resumption of the non-stop conversation from the night before sprinkled with inquiries about whether or not it had been as good for him as it was for her. Charles winces a little at the memories. It’s not that he dislikes Moira. She’s fine. She’s more than fine. She’s everything he should want. At least she was until last night.
Charles eases out of bed slowly, trying hard not to wake Erik. Erik stirs a little and mumbles something, then returns to drooling on the high-thread-count Egyptian cotton pillow, dead to the world and entirely unaware that Charles has escaped the confines of the bed they shared.
The carpet is soft under Charles’ feet. He thinks about the look on Erik’s face when he’d opened the door to the suite last night, how amazed and overwhelmed he’d looked, as if he wasn’t used to hotels like this one. Charles feels a quick flush of embarrassment as he realizes that it would be entirely expected that Erik might feel uncomfortable. Luckily for Charles that discomfort didn’t keep Erik from touching him in a way that leaves him shivering at the memory as he makes his way to the bathroom. Charles shuts the door softly, not wanting to disturb Erik, then turns to look at his reflection in the mirror. It’s the same Charles Xavier who looks back at him. The same thick chestnut hair, the same blue eyes and the same annoying freckles across the bridge of his nose and down his shoulders. He doesn’t know what he expected. To look somehow different now that he’s had sex - can one call a mutual hand job sex? - with Erik. Erik, with his intense blue eyes and sharp jaw, an attitude full of prickles, ready to fight the world - yet the way he had touched him, the soft drift of his fingers on Charles’ skin, the way he’d looked into his eyes. It was as if Charles was seeing someone the rest of the world never got to see, and the idea disturbed him on a level that he didn’t quite understand.
Charles raises an arm and sniffs at his armpit, wrinkling his nose, then his hand drifts down to scratch at his belly, and he realizes that his skin is covered with dried come. The thought both thrills him as he remembers why he’s come-encrusted and how Erik’s hand had felt on his cock, and disgusts him as he realizes exactly how much he stinks. Moving to the shower across from the sink, Charles turns it on, thinking to himself that no matter how nice the sheets and how plush the carpet, it never fails that the bathroom is always too small and poorly lit. His next thought is what it might be like if Erik were here, if they both stepped under the spray, let the water sluice down their bodies, and how Charles might curl a hand around the nape of Erik’s neck, tug at him until his head dipped and dare to kiss him. Charles likes kissing Erik. Charles feels a stirring in his groin, and he knows that if he keeps thinking like this, keeps imagining Erik naked, skin wet, and how he would look with his hair slicked back, water beading on his eyelashes, lips moist, he can get hard enough to jack himself off in the shower.
When Charles is done showering he dries himself off then wraps the damp towel around his waist. He steals quietly out of the bathroom, being careful to tread lightly, barely glancing at Erik’s still sleeping figure as he manages to swipe his boxers off the floor near the bed where they’d been unceremoniously tossed the night before. Charles lets the towel drop and pulls the boxers on over his still-damp skin as he picks up the phone and asks for room service. Moments later he’s done, having ordered one of everything on the breakfast menu. He doesn’t know what Erik likes after all. Better to be safe than sorry.
The breakfast arrives, the hotel staff not blinking at skinny kid in boxers who answers the door. Charles tucks in and eats half the plate of bacon before the memory rises up from his brain.
Charles is slumped on his desk, getting through another lesson in European history, doodling pictures down the side of his book, curling wisps climbing the edges of the page.
“Five to six million Jewish people.” The man at the front of the room drones on. Charles draws another long wisp.
“Fifteen thousand homosexuals were placed in concentration camps.”
A piece of paper folded into eighths lands on Charles’ book. He glances up and sees Moira looking at him, rolling her eyes and mouthing the word ‘boring’ his way. Charles wonders why she sends paper flying at him when she could just pick up her phone and text him.
“Mr. Lehnsherr?” Charles glances towards the corner of the classroom where the instructor is focusing his attention. He sees one of the scholarship kids slumped there, a shock of hair hanging in his eyes. “Was anyone in your family affected by the Holocaust?”
There is a rustle in the room as all the eyes turn towards the kid in the corner. Charles watches him blankly as he stares back at the instructor and there is a long, heavy silence.
“Mr. Lehnsherr?” The instructor sounds mildly annoyed, and Charles wonders how much he resents teaching in this school full of privileged kids heading to Ivy League schools, who, the brochure claims, will change the world someday. Who knows, maybe the sullen kid who is now glaring at their instructor will be the fucking president. Charles huffs out a little laugh at the thought. Not likely.
Mr. Lehnsherr looks at the teacher, unmistakable disdain on his face.
“Are you asking me because I’m a homo, or because I’m a Jew?”
Charles stops chewing his bacon, half a strip still hanging from his mouth. Shit. The snappish Mr. Lehnsherr is sleeping sprawled on sheets that stink of sex, except now Charles knows his name is Erik, and he jacked him off last night. Jesus fucking Christ. Don’t Jewish people not eat bacon? Charles jumps up from the chair he’s been slouched in and grabs the plate then runs to the bathroom and dumps the remainder into the garbage, muttering ‘shit shit shit’ under his breath. He returns to the sitting room, the greasy plate gripped in his hand, to find a rumpled, sleep-sexy Erik peeking under one of the silver domes sitting on the cart that room service had brought.
“Breakfast,” Erik says, giving Charles an amused glance. Charles feels himself blush under that gaze, his mind going back to last night.
“Fancy,” Erik says with another smile. He takes a finger and runs it through the pile of whipped cream melting on top of the Belgian waffles, places his finger in his mouth and sucks it clean. Charles feels his cheeks start to flush and he can’t stop staring. Charles remembers the surly kid in class and he thinks that he likes this Erik, with his sleep-tousled hair and his jeans unbuttoned and sitting low on his hips.
“I didn’t know what you’d want,” Charles finally manages to stammer, wincing at the squeaky, unused sound of his voice. He walks over to stand next to the cart and stares down at the plates. Erik sets the tray cover back down with a small clang then turns to look at Charles, taking a step closer. Charles watches as Erik’s hot gaze runs up and down his body, and suddenly he wants to cover himself, to hide.
“You.” Erik says with a half smile, as if he knows how ridiculous his response sounds, but still doesn't cares. Charles feels a hot melt of desire in his groin at this single word and before he can say anything, Erik is dipping his head and capturing Charles’ mouth in an open-mouthed kiss. Charles’ head starts to spin. His knees buckle and one of his hands flies out to steady himself, slamming down hard on the food cart. shit. Erik breaks away and looks at Charles through narrowed eyes.
“Huh?” Charles’ head is spinning and he can't quite process what Erik is saying.
“I didn’t see any bacon. You’ve been eating bacon.”
Charles looks at Erik, a small frown of confusion developing between his eyes.
“You’re Jewish,” Charles finally manages as Erik moves to the room service cart and checks under the plate covers one more time.
“You don’t eat bacon.”
Erik turns to look at Charles then smiles.
“I’m an atheist.”
“I eat bacon.”
“But you...I remember, you said you’re Jewish.”
“I am,” Erik’s mouth twitches in amusement as he watches Charles digest this information. “I’m Jewish and I’m an atheist. And I eat bacon. Except it seems I don’t because you ate it all, you asshole.”
Charles blushes. He thinks about the bacon in the bathroom trash.
“This looks good.” Erik removes one of the covers then takes up a forkful of omelette. He picks up the plate and settles into one of the chairs as he eats, balancing the plate on one jean-clad knee. Charles watches Erik’s mouth as he chews and Erik looks at him, his eyes sparkling with that same amusement. Charles opens his mouth, not quite sure what he’s going to say, and what comes out surprises him.
“You should come home with me. We could play X-box or something….”
Erik snorts a laugh around his mouthful of food then gives Charles a look that says Charles has just said something incredibly stupid. Where Erik was relaxed a moment before, sprawling in the chair opposite Charles, suddenly his body is tense. He sits forward on the edge of the chair and gives Charles a long look.
“I don’t think so. You’re Charles fucking Xavier. I’m just the idiot who gave you a hand job last night. Plus you said you didn’t want to go home.”
Charles remembers Erik's hand on his dick, moving the foreskin up and down. He bites his lip. He feels a loosening in his groin, a warmth at the memory of pleasure, and despite Erik’s words, his posture, the harshness he projects, all Charles can think about is how could he get Erik to touch him again. How he can extend whatever this is they are doing.
“I don’t want to, I mean…” Charles says, feeling confused. “I just thought…”
“It was one night, Xavier,” Erik interrupts, “One night and now it’s done. I’m fodder for your therapist or a secret you whisper to your frat brothers so twenty years later they can dig up your secret homosexual past and blackmail you when you’re State Senator.”
Charles says nothing. Erik laughs again then takes another bite of omelette.
“I’m certainly not coming home with you,” he mutters around the mouthful of food, almost to himself.
“I…” Charles starts, not sure how much of what Erik has said to refute and not quite sure how much is the truth.
“Home!” Erik says suddenly, dropping his fork to his plate with a clatter. “Oh shit, what time is it?”
“Shit. I gotta go.”
Erik sets the plate down on the cart and rushes into the bedroom. Charles stares at him as he grabs his coat. Feeling dazed and unsure, Charles searches the floor until he finds his wrinkled dress trousers and starts to pull them.
“Where do you need to go?”
Erik stops and looks at Charles and for a long moment Charles thinks the other boy is going to tell him to fuck off. Charles feels his chest clench at the thought that this might be all they have, although he’s not entirely sure what else he wants, or even what he could have. He does know that he doesn’t want Erik to walk out.
“Home. I gotta go home. My mother. She’s expecting me.”
Charles can’t quite comprehend what Erik is saying. He thinks about Sharon, who is either sleeping off another cocktail party or getting ready to lunch at the club, but doesn’t ever care where her son is, as long as she doesn’t have to bear the embarrassment of jail or rehab. He thinks of Kurt, who still resents that Charles flatly refused boarding school, who barely knows Charles is alive. No one is expecting him, so it seems strange that someone is expecting Erik. Erik, who seems bold and brash and so grown up.
“Your mother needs to know where you are?”
“Oh, Jesus fucking Christ, yes. My mother cares what happens to me. I’m not like you rich assholes whose parents are too busy heading to St. Bart’s to care what’s going on.”
Erik shakes his head and heads toward the door. Charles finally locates his white tuxedo shirt and throws it on, not bothering to button it up, as he follows Erik towards the door. He grabs his shoes from the hallway and walks just behind Erik out of the suite and towards the elevator. They both step in and Erik pushes at the button for the lobby with impatient stabs of his long fingers. Charles buttons his shirt and puts on his shoes as the elevator makes its way down. They walk out into the lobby. It's not until they are standing on the sidewalk that Erik turns and looks at Charles again, his forehead creased, his face irritated.
“Aren’t you going home?”
Charles answers truthfully, his voice wavering a little, bracing himself for Erik’s bluster, for Erik to tell him again that he’s rich and spoiled and clueless. Then Charles follows his ‘no’ with ‘I told you I don’t want to go home.’ He holds Erik’s gaze, refusing to look away. Erik stares at him and Charles watches as his face softens.
“Well, fuck. I have to go get my backpack first.”
Charles feels himself sag in relief.
They take a cab to the club. Erik says he doesn’t have any money and Charles insists. When Erik opens his mouth to protest, Charles tells him it will get him home to his mother sooner. The man who opens the door is the bouncer from the night before. Erik calls him Janos and they exchange a few friendly words, then Erik disappears through the grimy double doors, leaving Charles standing shivering on the sidewalk, regretting he hadn’t grabbed his jacket on his way out of the hotel. Erik reappears a few minutes later, his backpack slung over one shoulder, his mouth set.
“Subway,” Erik grunts.
“We can take another cab,” Charles starts, then he decides differently. There is something about Erik that needs this, needs to feel that he is not a charity case. Charles backpedals. “No, subway. It’s fine.”
They catch a train to Brooklyn. It’s crowded and warm, strange smells wafting from different passengers. Charles smells stale cigarettes, alcohol, urine. He thinks how the subway would scandalize Moira, how she would make faces and stare at the people around her. He pictures her face, mouth pinched, eyes glittering. Then he looks at Erik, who is holding onto a rail and staring out one of the windows into the blackness as the car speeds along. He looks at ease, comfortable, and Charles is glad that he didn’t insist on a cab. He doesn’t want to remind Erik of their differences. He doesn’t want that distance between them. The car slows and people shift, some getting off, some arriving. Someone pushes into Charles and he stumbles forward, bumping into Erik. They are closer now. The car starts moving again and Charles sways, trying to keep his balance, and now the only thing he can smell is Erik. He smells of sweat and the club, of musk, and something else. Charles feels a strange ache, something familiar yet not like the lust he’d felt the night before. He dips his head towards Erik and without thinking, rests his forehead against the back of Erik’s shoulder. He feels Erik startle a little, and Charles waits for the other boy to move away, to break contact, but he doesn’t. They stand like that, close together but not pressed up against each other, Charles resting his head on Erik, a gesture of intimacy beyond what they mean to each other. The car slows for the next stop and Erik shifts a little, causing Charles to lift his head. Erik turns his head and glares at Charles.
Charles blinks and dips his head a little, wanting that contact back, wanting that moment again. He turns a little and moves away from Erik, looking down at his shoes and feeling out of place.
Erik moves forward without another word, his hands shoved in his pockets, shoulders hunched. Charles follows him. The moment is gone and Charles feels entirely unsure if it ever happened in the first place.
By the time they reach the dingy brownstone that Charles assumes must be where Erik lives Charles is entirely lost. He doesn’t go to Brooklyn. There’s no reason to. At least not until today. He follows Erik through the the front door of the building, glancing briefly at the peeling green paint that someone used to try to make it look cheery, and into the lobby. Erik doesn’t pause or make sure Charles is still behind him. He goes straight to a row of dull metal mailboxes, fishes around in his pocket and pulls out a key. Charles watches in mild fascination as Erik opens one of the mailboxes and pulls out a stack of envelopes, and he realizes that he doesn’t know where the mailboxes are in his own building. The mail just appears, sitting on the kitchen counter, any pieces of junk mail already sorted out by the maid. Dorothea or Dorota, or something like that. Suddenly Charles burns with embarrassment at his life. He feels his cheeks grow hot and he looks down, staring hard at the dirty tile floor, scuffing his toe at one of the broken octagon green tiles, and it suddenly occurs to him that the green paint on the door is meant to match the color of the tiles, an attempt at a color scheme by someone long ago when this building must have felt much grander than it does now.
Charles is startled by Erik’s grunt and looks up to see the other boy halfway up the first flight of stairs, heading towards the first floor, his body half turned and his face towards Charles, scrunched up into a quizzical look. Charles lifts his chin and shakes his hair back, feeling a strange surge of defiance, or maybe discomfort, being so out of his element. The feeling is novel, and in a flash he wonders if this is how Erik feels every day.
“You’re the one who wanted to come here with me.”
There’s an edge to Erik’s voice, an accusation behind false bravado, and suddenly Charles realizes that Erik is embarrassed. He doesn’t want Charles to see this. Charles’ hesitation, his uncertainty, is making things worse.
“Yes,” Charles says, pushing a confidence into his voice that he doesn’t feel. He cannot be some sort of tourist to Erik’s life, gaping at the novelty of a mailbox, noting how the stairwell smells of cooking, expressing shock at the sounds of voices that drift through the walls, music somewhere in the distance. He cannot let on that this is worlds away from the Marko penthouse, where he can spend hours in silence, entirely unaware of the teeming humanity of New York that surrounds him, while here there is no escape. He can’t hurt Erik like that.
Charles hurries up the stairs after Erik’s fleeting figure, gripping the handrail. He pushes down his worry and goes headlong into the unknown.
Erik’s apartment is nice. That’s what Sharon would say if she were here, her tone polite. It’s shabby but clean, a well loved couch across from a television set, a small kitchen just off the living room. Erik throws his books down on a table in the short hallway by the entrance and Charles carefully sets his backpack on the floor next to the table then wipes his hands on his dress pants, and he wishes he had something different on. Jeans and a t-shirt, something more like Erik wears.
“Did you have a good night, boychick?” The voice that comes from the kitchen is warm and just the sound of it makes Charles smile.
Not quite sure where to go, Charles stands right behind Erik, who leans on the doorway into the kitchen and shoves his hands into his pockets. Charles watches him carefully, noting the light blush of pink that climbs his cheeks. He wonders if he’s remembering their night.
“Yeah, Ma. It was okay.” Erik slumps a little, angling his shoulder towards his mother, creating a barrier with his body to deflect her questions. It’s such a teenage move, and counterbalances the bravado that Erik throws at the world. Suddenly Erik doesn’t seem older or more experienced. He seems like a boy.
“I brought a friend.”
Charles takes that as his queue to step around Erik and peer into the kitchen. The woman speaking is tall and angular, just like Erik, with dark hair and dark eyes. She’s wearing worn jeans and an apron, her dark wavy hair tied up in a bright blue handkerchief. She’s standing in front of a stove and Charles can see that a pot is boiling there.
“A friend?” The woman’s eyes are keen with interest as she looks Charles up and down. For a moment he feels a strange sense of fear, that somehow he will not meet this woman’s standards, then she smiles and Charles lets out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding. “When do you bring friends home? He must be a special friend indeed.”
Charles feels the heat of a blush climb his cheeks, a combination of embarrassment that Erik’s mom doesn’t know how he came to be standing by his son’s side, and pleasure that it’s clear Erik doesn’t bring people home very often. Charles shakes his head a little, trying to rid himself of the feeling that he might be someone special. After all, he practically begged Erik to bring him here.
“Mrs. Lehnsherr,” Charles says, extending his hand. It hangs in the air as Erik’s mom wipes her hands on her jeans then reaches one of them out and grips Charles’ with it. It’s warm and strong, and before Charles knows it, he’s being pulled in for a quick hug.
“Edie,” Erik’s mom says.
“My mom’s a hugger.” Erik is standing behind Charles and Charles can’t see his face, but he sounds sheepish, as if he’s revealing one of his mother’s deepest flaws. Charles frowns a little and tries to remember the last time Sharon hugged him.
“You boys going to study?” Edie asks, turning back to the stove, “I’m making knishes. They’ll be ready in about an hour.”
“Yeah, study,” Erik says, grabbing Charles’ hand. Before Charles can say goodbye to Edie, who is now stirring whatever is in the pot to make ‘knishes’, Erik is dragging him down a drab hallway to a doorway that is covered with posters of bands Charles has never heard of. Erik opens the door and Charles follows him through, suddenly realizing that the room they are in is Erik’s room. Charles swallows. His mouth feels cottony and suddenly he longs for a drink of water.
“Your mom,” Charles rasps out, then pauses. Erik is at his desk messing with a small portable speaker. “Your mom.” Charles starts again, “She’s nice.”
“Yeah,” Erik mutters. He fiddles with his phone a bit more and suddenly the soft beats of electronica fill the room. Erik turns and offers Charles a huge, toothy smile that leaves Charles feeling slightly unnerved and a bit like a small fish about to be swallowed by a shark. “She’s great. You know what we should do?”
“No?” Charles says, that feeling of being small and out of place welling up again.
“I should totally blow you.”
Charles’ mouth goes dry at the thought of Erik’s mouth on his prick.
Erik offers him a curious look. Charles stands there, dumbfounded.
“A blow job. Surely whatshername has given you one before.”
Charles is frozen as Erik moves towards him, his hands going to the buttons of Charles’ shirt. He flicks each of them open, one by one and all Charles can do is stare at those long, deft fingers.
“I just think you have a really nice cock, if I recall from last night. I’d like to suck it.”
Charles feels his chest tighten and his prick perks up as Erik’s fingers graze across the bare skin of his chest. His heart is pounding, his skin feels hot and flushed. He’s in the bedroom of some scholarship kid he barely knows, the kid who is currently slipping fingers under the waistband of his trousers. The kid whose mother is making something called knishes in the kitchen.
Charles freezes. He opens his mouth and his voice comes croaking out.
Erik looks at Charles and smiles while pushing open the button of his trousers and pulling down his zip.
“I locked my door, but you’ll still have to be quiet,” Erik murmurs, leaning forward to place a kiss along the hard edge of one of Charles’ clavicles. Charles shivers and a small moan escapes from his mouth. “Besides, this is hot.”
“No,” Charles gasps as Erik bends over and licks across one of his nipples. “I...it’s just.” Another lick. “I want…”
“What do you want?” Erik murmurs as he hooks his fingers into Charles’ trouser waistband and boxers and starts to pull them down, sinking down to the floor as he goes, onto his knees, and Charles looks down to see that his now-hard cock is jutting from his body and inches from Erik’s mouth...oh god, his mouth.
Charles moans softly again and his head tips back of its own accord. His whole body trembles in anticipation. Erik is right. Moira has gone down on him before, her chestnut hair bobbing, her eyes glancing up at him, and it had been good. But it wasn’t this. She wasn’t Erik, and Charles can’t think through the haze to identify why this is different. He just knows that it is.
Erik licks a long stripe down Charles’ hard prick, causing Charles’ head to jerk back up. His hand flies out, landing on Erik’s head and he grunts out, “No!” They both stop dead, Erik on his knees, Charles’ hand on his head. The room is still except for the noise of their heavy breathing. Charles removes his hand from Erik’s head, dropping it to his side, watching as Erik slowly rises to his feet. They stand facing each other, Charles with his pants pooled around his ankles, his groin aching, and part of him wants to say “yes” and have Erik back on his knees.
“What do you want?” Erik’s voice flat, as if he’s fighting for control. “You kissed me, followed me, we had sex and when I told you to go home, you refused. If you don’t want more dirty gay sex with the school’s queer kid, what is it that you DO want?”
Charles stares at Erik, watching how Erik’s eyes narrow, how his nose flares. He can see that the other boy is mad. Erik’s words tumble around in his head. What does he want?
“No one asks me that,” Charles looks away from Erik’s angry gaze.
“Asks you what?” Erik huffs out irritably.
“No one asks me what I want.” Charles says bitterly. “Not my mother. Certainly not my stepfather. Everyone tells me what I should do but no one ever asks.”
Erik stills and frowns at Charles’ words. He shrugs a little as his anger softens and his bluster deflates.
“Well, I guess I’m asking. What do you want, Charles Xavier?”
Charles blinks. He looks at Erik, taking in the chiseled planes of his face, his pale blue eyes surrounded by dark lashes. His gaze goes to those thin lips that he likes to kiss, to the flush on Erik’s cheeks as he stares at Charles, even the light smattering of freckles across the bridge of Erik’s nose that are no competition for Charles’ own spotted skin. Charles looks away, swallows and opens his mouth.
“I want something for myself and I want it to be something no one can take from me.” Charles takes in a gulp of air, and without really meaning to, he lets the words tumble out. “I want someone...someone for just me.”
Charles takes in a breath. The room is quiet. There’s a spot on Erik’s bed. An inkblot, or some other kind of stain. Charles stares at it, not wanting to look at Erik, to see the horror he is sure will be on his face. He squeezes his eyes shut and plunges into the unknown.
“I want that someone to be you.”
Chapter 8: We Could be Shakers
“You can’t.” Erik’s voice is a hoarse whisper. “I just...I mean, you can’t….”
Erik feels like he’s drowning. Charles has been staring into the room and he now moves to look directly at Erik.
“But I do, Erik. You asked me what I wanted. I want you even though I don’t even know what that means.”
Everything slows, like they are underwater. Charles Xavier stands in front of him, stripped half naked, hip bones jutting out, prick hard, his truth laid bare. Erik knows what's happening is a shit show of disastrous proportions. He knows it will end badly.
“I want you,” Charles says again.
“Fuck,” Erik mutters. He closes his eyes and in his mind he goes through every reason he should tell Xavier to pull up his goddamn pants and take his puppy dog eyes and his sweet as fuck preppy lacrosse body and get the hell away from him.
“You can’t...,” Erik says again, glancing at Charles through his lashes.
“Why can’ I?”
“I’m nothing to you. Nobody.” Erik says the last word with a tinge of bitterness that surprises even him.
“Why do you say that?”
“You’re Charles fucking Xavier.” Erik spits out, frustration growing at Charles’ naivety. “You live in a penthouse, I live in a walkup. People like you and me, we can fuck for a weekend, but more than that?”
“No,” Charles says evenly, levelling his blue gaze at Erik. Erik’s heart skips a beat. His throat tightens. He stares back at Charles and as he does he feels his defiance start to slip away. He knows he should hold onto it. It’s the only protection he has and without it, he’ll be fully exposed, but he cannot move. He can’t think. Suddenly everything comes into sharp focus. Erik blinks.
Erik steps forward just one step, his eyes locked with the asshole who has been dogging him for the last two days. Erik’s heart is pounding. He studies Charles as if he’s seeing him for the first time. He sees how blue his eyes are, an almost painful blue, like the way the sky can be too bright just before a storm blows in. Charles closes his eyes briefly, as if Erik’s attention is too much, and Erik marvels at the way his lashes sweep across his cheek. His eyes wander downward to pale skin. He sees freckles. Acres of freckles, spattered over the whitish skin of Xavier’s shoulders, sprinkled across his forearms. He glances at his hands - they aren’t small but aren’t big, the nails bitten, cuticles cracked. Erik sees that they are trembling. He reaches out and gently touches the back of Charles’ hand with his fingers, then he lifts his eyes back to Charles’ face.
“Impossible,” Erik whispers, his hands going to rest on those freckled shoulders, feeling Charles jerk slightly at his touch. He presses his palms to the curve of Charles’ shoulders, feeling the warmth of his skin. Taking in a deep, shaking breath, Erik drags his hands down Charles’ arms, feeling the friction of Charles’ skin against his palms and this time Charles shudders. Erik’s hands still on Charles’ forearms and he tightens his grip on them. He lifts his eyes to gaze once again at Charles’ face, searching it for answers. Erik’s not sure what he sees in Charles’’ eyes. Is it fear? Pain? Lust?
Love? Is this love?
Erik moves closer to Charles. They are inches apart now. Charles’ mouth falls open, jaw slackening. Erik dips his head and places a kiss on the curve of Charles’ shoulder.
“Erik,” Charles rasps, his voice hoarse. Erik glances upward and sees Charles watching him, eyes unfocused, and suddenly Erik aches like he’s never ached for someone before. Without thinking, he releases Charles’ arms, ignoring the whine of protest that emerges from Charles’ mouth. Erik sinks to his knees a second time, leans forward and takes Charles’ hard, leaking prick into his mouth.
Erik’s sucked off plenty of people in the past few years. Charles Xavier’s uncut, entirely average cock isn’t the first he’s had in his mouth. It probably won’t be the last. But the sound that Charles makes as Erik wraps one hand around the base of his prick while he takes the rest into his mouth is almost beautiful. Erik knows he should pull off and remind Charles that his mother is cooking just a few rooms away. Before he can even consider it, his senses are flooded with the taste of Charles’ precome and his mouth is filled as Charles thrusts forward between Erik’s lips, and suddenly the last thing on earth Erik wants is to stop.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Charles hisses. Erik’s free hand goes to grip Charles’ hip, stilling him as he tries to thrust forward a second time. Steady, Erik thinks to himself, swirling his tongue then taking Charles’ cock even further into his mouth.
It’s not the best blow job Erik’s ever given. Or the worst. It might have stayed that way, Erik on his knees, Charles’ cock in his mouth, one hand holding that sharp hip bone, the other pumping the base of Charles’ shaft or playing with his balls. If only he hadn’t wanted to see what Charles actually looked like as he started to make more of those noises, as his hips started to snap forward, and instead of trying to keep him still, Erik lifted that hand off his hip, opened his mouth wide and let the boy thrust. He might have still been able to call it something it wasn’t, still be able to walk away from this shit show. If only Erik hadn’t glanced up.
“I’m going to come.”
Charles’ voice is thick with lust, his hands tangled in Erik’s hair. Erik glances up just as he feels Charles’ legs tense up, feels the curl of his hips, and their eyes lock. Charles’ blue eyes are now dark and stormy, his pupils blown wide, his mouth slack and Erik can’t look away as Charles lets out a strangled groan and comes, almost surprising Erik as his come spurts, warm and musty, into his mouth. Erik gags a little then swallows.
“Oh my god,” Charles pants over and over, his thighs trembling, and Erik reaches out as the other boy starts to sink towards the floor. “Oh my god,” Charles repeats, “What did you do to me, Erik Lehnsherr?”
Tears prick Erik’s eyes. He pulls Charles towards him, cradling him to his chest. Charles nuzzles into the hollow of Erik’s throat, pressing kisses to his skin. Erik stares into the distance, not seeing anything, barely feeling Charles’ lips on his skin.
“I don’t know,” Erik whispers, feeling his eyes grow wet.
Erik’s still painfully hard but he can’t ask Charles to return the favor. Not when everything about him feels like it’s going to fall apart. Instead he mumbles something about getting cleaned up and rushes out of the room, fumbling with the lock a little, trying to ignore the confused look Charles flashes him. It’s only when he’s finally behind the closed door of the bathroom that he notices that he’s shaking. Erik holds his hands out in front of him, looking at the way they tremble. He turns on the shower, strips off his clothes, steps in and quickly jacks himself off. Once he’s done, he stands under the spray, eyes closed, letting the water wash over his head. It plasters his hair down, runs rivulets down his shoulders, chest and back. Erik barely notices, entirely lost in his thoughts.
What the fuck just happened?
Charles Xavier is in his bedroom.
Charles Xavier, with his floppy hair, bright eyes and trust fund credit card. Charles, with that mouth that quirks when he thinks something is funny. Charles, who is everything Erik should walk away from.
This will not end well.
“Fuck,” Erik says loudly, hoping the shower drowns out the expletive.
Erik turns off the shower and steps out, not caring that he’s soaking the bath mat. He grabs a towel and runs it quickly across his body, then he grabs a pair of sweats that are hanging off the back of the bathroom door and pulls them on, ignoring the way they drag across his shower-damp skin. He walks towards his room, stopping outside it when he sees that the door is ajar and the room is empty. Just as he realizes this, he hears voices drifting from the kitchen. It’s the familiar warm tones of his mother and the vibrant tones of Charles. Erik turns and drifts away from his bedroom, down the hallway and towards the kitchen.
What he sees stops him in his tracks.
Charles has changed his clothes. He’s wearing some of Erik’s sweat pants and his slim figure swims in them, and it appears he found one of Erik’s old t-shirts because it’s hanging off his shoulders, big and loose. Erik stares as he thinks that his clothes make Charles look impossibly young and even more vulnerable. For the first time he realizes quite how vulnerable Charles really is, how much he has risked to follow Erik and refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Edie is standing at the counter, a giant bowl of potatoes in one arm, a wooden spoon in the other. Erik closes his eyes briefly, thinking of how many times he’s stood next to his mama as she made knishes, listening to the same story she’s now telling Charles.
“...the old country. She saved the recipes all the way through the war.”
Erik almost wants to roll his eyes, to get Charles’ attention and send him a silent apology for having to put up with his mother’s stories, except that Charles is entirely engrossed with what Edie is telling him. He’s perched on the counter, legs swinging slightly, feet bare, watching her as if she’s telling him the most fascinating story in the world.
‘And they died in the camps? Your grandparents.”
Erik sees his mother’s face grow sad. How many times has she told him this story? How many times has he listened politely? This time though, seeing it through Charles’ eyes, it’s almost like hearing it for the first time. Erik’s heart clenches at his mother’s melancholy.
“Yes,” Edie says gently. “They got my mama and my papa out. Both were very little. But they never got my grandparents out. I want to go back there someday. Back to Auschwitz where they died…”
Erik blinks. He never knew this about his mother.
“I never knew them. I have pictures, just a few. My family, it was large and now it’s just me and Erik. All those people killed…” Edie’s voice trails off and the kitchen is silent for a moment, then she sets the bowl of potatoes with a clang and wipes her hands on the apron she’s wearing, then smiles. “All I have is her recipes, but when I make them, I feel like maybe I know part of my grandmother.”
Erik feels tears sting his eyes. His throat feels tight. He clears it a little and both Edie and Charles look towards where he’s standing in the doorway.
“Ketsele,” Edie says warmly. Charles says nothing. He just looks at Erik, his eyes shining with an emotion Erik can’t quite name. “You’ve never told me about Charles. You should have brought him home a long time ago.”
“Ma…” Erik protests, feeling a hot flush start to climb up his cheeks.
“He’s lovely, bubbala,” Edie finishes, giving Erik an indescribable look, and suddenly he wonders exactly how much his mother knows. “A good boy.” Edie says, picking up the bowl again.
“Your mother is teaching me how to make knishes.” Charles’s voice sounds slightly high pitched and nervous. “And she offered to wash my clothes but I’ll take them to the dry cleaners. She said you wouldn’t mind me borrowing these…” Charles’ fingers pluck at the fabric of the sweat pants.
“We should get you home,” Erik says, his voice hoarse. He feels nervous and awkward, not quite sure what to do next.
“I thought you might like dinner,” Charles says quickly, pulling at the hem of his shirt a little as the scowl on Erik’s face grows deeper, “After all you’ve done for me….”
“All I’ve done,” Erik echoes dully, his mind whirling. They both know what Charles is referring to.
“It’s the least I can do.”
Before Erik can say no and suggest Charles catch a cab, Edie looks up from where she’s working.
“You should go,” Edie flashes Erik a knowing smile and Erik knows she’s fully aware what’s going on here. “I have to work tonight so dinner here will only be sandwiches.”
“I’ll need to change,” Charles says, almost to himself, and suddenly Erik feels awkward and embarrassed as he realizes that Charles might expect them to go somewhere where he can’t wear sweats. He’s about to protest, when Charles blurts out, “Or we can just pick up takeout.”
“It might be nice to spend some time with another friend besides Armando,” Edie chimes in.
Erik’s mouth goes dry. He should say no. He should walk away. He opens his mouth just as Charles starts to stammer.
“I mean, you don’t have to, I mean…”
“Okay.” Erik says, against all of his better judgement.
“I can just go home...wait, what?”
Charles stares at Erik.
“Sure,” Erik sounds more defiant than he feels. His heart pounds.
“Wonderful,” Edie says, wiping her hands on her apron. She looks at Erik and smiles, and Erik realizes his mother may not be as ignorant of what’s happening as he would like her to be. If they were alone, she’d tell him that Charles was a nice boy and she was glad they’d found each other, then give him a lecture about safe sex. All too normal when everything about this is far from normal.
Chapter 9: If We Could Just Shake Somethin' Outta the Blue
Erik pushes out the doors of the apartment building and bursts onto the stoop. He scurries down the stairs and stalks onto the sidewalk, his shoulders hunched. Behind him wunderkind Charles Xavier hurries to keep up. Finally Charles manages to grab onto Erik’s arm. Erik stops and turns to face him.
“We don’t have to do this,” Charles says earnestly. His face is serious. His eyes somber. He looks unsure. “I can go home.”
Erik bites at his lip and stares into those eyes that are staring back at him. He thinks about Charles turning and walking away, leaving him alone, and he doesn’t want that.
“No,” Erik mutters reluctantly. “Don’t go home.”
“I can stay?” Charles looks at Erik earnestly and Erik feels his reluctance slip away.
“Yes. Stay.” Erik sighs.
They walk for a while, side by side, Erik not quite sure where they are going or what they are doing. Charles is silent, hands shoved into the pockets of Erik’s too-big sweats. Erik glances over at Charles. Charles glances back. They weave towards each other, bumping shoulders and hips, not walking together but not walking apart. They round a corner and Erik sees a biryani cart up ahead. The smells of cumin and curry drift down the block and Erik’s stomach growls.
“That looks good. We should stop,” Charles says, as if reading Erik’s mind. Erik starts to say something about a food cart not being in line with Charles’ tastes, but Charles is wearing a disarming smile and Erik’s stomach growls again.
They end up sitting on a bench cradling hot flat bread sandwiches. Charles digs into his, taking huge bites and telling Erik it’s good between mouthfuls, and that he doesn’t usually eat street food.
“Dinner out,” Charles grins. Erik laughs a little and takes another bite, glancing over at Charles as he chews. Erik finishes his sandwich and wipes his hands on a flimsy paper napkin. He sits in silence for a moment, his thoughts tumbling around his head, then finally asks a question that’s been nagging at him.
“Do you like her?”
“Her?” Charles asks around a mouthful of food.
“Her,” Erik repeats. “Your girlfriend. The one you ditched so you could fuck me.”
Charles blushes at Erik’s bluntness. He swallows his bite and turns a serious gaze to Erik.
“That’s not entirely fair.”
Erik knows it’s not fair. Still, Charles started this. He asked him what it was like to kiss a guy. He followed him out of the dance, to the club. He refused to go home and kissed him. He did all of that, and he has a girlfriend.
“She’s okay,” Charles says after a long moment. “I mean, we’ve been together for so long, everyone expects us to be together, I’m not sure if I like her or if it’s just always been this way.”
Charles’ eyes get a faraway look that makes Erik’s heart clench. It’s just so...sad.
“I mean, she’s Moira. It’s always been Moira and Charles. We’re going to Harvard. We’re going to get married. We go to dances and spend holidays with each other, and she keeps hinting about a promise ring, but do I actually like her…”
Charles’ voice trails off. He turns away from Erik and stares across the street at nothing. Erik crumples his sandwich wrapper and looks around for a garbage can, struck by the feeling that he’s poked around too much. Charles sniffs a little, then turns back to look at Erik, his face blank except for his eyes that are a little too glassy.
“She talks a lot.”
Erik snorts. That is the truth. Moira MacTaggart rarely shuts up.
“Let’s go,” Erik says, taking Charles’ garbage from him then getting up to toss both into a nearby garbage can. Charles follows him.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
Erik looks at Charles. He thinks of the club and his hookups. No boyfriend, just quick fucks. No one to cheat on. No ties. Erik feels strangely sad.
“No,” Erik says. “No boyfriend.”
They walk a little longer, this time closer, and Erik thinks that if this wasn’t so strange, it might be perfect. If Charles wasn’t a straight rich kid at school. If they had been able to just meet and decided they like each other, maybe they could be holding hands right now. Maybe they would be going to the next dance together, not that Erik wants to go to any dance. Maybe he wouldn’t be so lonely.
They end up in a random park, not too far from Erik’s walk up. Charles flops down on the damp grass and Erik follows suit, not caring that his coat is getting wet. Clouds cover up the later afternoon sky, glowing a light pink and the world around them seems alight.
“What happens when you graduate?” Charles says into the cold air, his breath puffing small clouds.
Erik doesn’t answer right away. It’s not a question that has an easy answer. Everyone around him knows their plans. They wave their acceptance letters and talk about the application process as if it’s a sure thing.
“I don’t know,” Erik says, “I mean, a job maybe. Or community college.”
No Harvard, Princeton, Brown. Nothing like that for the queer Jewish scholarship kid.
Charles is silent. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a baggie with a lone crumpled joint and a lighter. He takes the joint out of the bag, places it between his lips then lights it, taking in a deep breath and holding it for a long moment before he blows out smoke. He holds the joint towards Erik who shakes his head.
“Community college. That sounds good,” Charles finally squeaks unconvincingly, followed by “You don’t smoke?”
Erik shakes his head. No. He has his vices and pot isn’t one of them. It turns out that floppy haired blue-eyed preppy schoolboys might be on the list though, because Erik can’t stop watching Charles who is lying back with his eyes closed as he takes another drag of his joint. His gaze follows the curve of his cheekbone, the slope of his nose, the arch of his eyebrows. He feels a slow curl building in his groin, and suddenly he wants nothing more than to take the joint from Charles’ fingers and hold it while he leans over and slowly kisses the other boy senseless.
Charles’ eyes open. Erik feels strangely exposed. They stare at each other for a long moment.
“Then what do you do?” Charles whispers, his joint momentarily forgotten. Erik toys with the question for a long moment, then, to his own surprise, he answers honestly.
Charles face starts to turn red and Erik wonders if he’s gone too far. Charles swallows hard then continues.
“That’s what you were doing at the club?”
“And you do it a lot.”
“Do you smoke pot a lot?”
Charles is silent for a long time then finally answers Erik’s question.
Everyone has their escapes. Erik wonders if Charles regrets asking. Charles takes a long drag off his joint. Erik sees that Charles’ hand is trembling. Charles blows out the smoke, turning his head so he doesn’t blow smoke in Erik’s face. He sits up and tosses the mostly smoked joint into the grass then grinds it with the toe of his dress shoe. He turns to look nervously at Erik, opens his mouth and asks an entirely unexpected question.
“Would you fuck me?”
Erik snorts a little.
“Haven’t I already done that?”
Charles blushes. It’s almost sweet and Erik distinctly remembers the same flushed tones across Charles’ skin as he’d come undone. Suddenly he wants to be back in that hotel, back kissing Xavier.
“Yes, I mean, I guess. I...um, I mean, would you, um, you know, FUCK me.”
Erik swallows. His dick comes alive. His heart starts to beat so loudly he thinks Charles must be able to hear it. The idea of doing more with Charles makes his mouth water.
Charles looks at Erik, his gaze wary, as if he’s waiting to be rejected.
“You want that?”
Erik feels fear well up. Is this the moment? Charles tells Erik he wants him to fuck him and when Erik agrees, Charles turns on him. It’s a sick joke, for all the rich brats at school to laugh about. He can’t breathe as he stares at Charles, who seems to be caught up in his own thoughts.
“Yes,” Charles finally whispers.
Erik wastes no time rolling onto his side, lowering his head and kissing Charles, who tastes like pot and spices. It’s not a chaste or tentative kiss. There is no question that needs to be answered. It’s fast and sloppy, open-mouthed. It takes Charles by surprise for just a moment, then he’s kissing Erik back, tongues tangling, licking into each other’s mouths, teeth clicking against each other in their fervour. Every time Charles moves to pull away, Erik recaptures his mouth, until they are breathless and panting, and Charles pushes against Erik’s chest with his hands until they have some space between them, Erik still leaning in towards Charles, wanting more.
“Where do we go?” Charles asks. Erik knows the other boy has his endless credit card, could get them another high-end hotel with room service and a view. But Charles is asking which means that he wants Erik to decide. It’s Erik’s choice. No hotel rooms. No illicit trysts. He wants to have this boy inside him, in his home. In his bed.
“My mom will go to work soon,” Erik pants.
“Okay,” Charles says, blinking nervously at his agreement. “Okay,” he repeats.
“Okay,” Erik echoes, and those words send them down a path that neither of them had imagined when Erik had walked out of the stall to find Xavier leaning against that bathroom wall.
Charles says he needs a change of clothes. He points out to Erik that he’s wearing too big sweat pants with dress shoes.
“Plus I’m cold,” Charles says, letting loose a shiver. Erik resists the urge to put his arm around the other boy’s shoulders. They are standing on a corner while Charles tries to hail a taxi. They get one on his fifth try and they are on their way to the Upper East Side.
When they arrive outside Charles’ penthouse, he doesn’t ask Erik up.
“Sharon,” Charles says sheepishly. “I…, uh, I’d have to explain this…”
Erik nods. There’s no need to say much more. He’s not the kind of friend Charles would bring home. Erik paces outside the building, occasionally glancing at his phone to check the time. Ten minutes pass, then twenty. At twenty five minutes Erik starts to think maybe he should brave the stoic doorman and ask to ring Charles Xavier, when Charles bounces through the heavy front doors of the building. He’s wearing a pair of tight jeans and a thick wool coat with a scarf and tennis shoes. Erik frowns a little when he sees that his hair is wet and Charles flashes him a brilliant smile.
“You showered,” Erik observes, a little dryly.
“Thought it might be a good idea,” Charles answers, running a hand through his wet hair. He blushes. “You know...because….” Erik moves a little closer and inhales. Charles smells good. He leans in a little more and Charles takes a step away. He glances at the sidewalk.
Erik feels a surge of irritation and shame. Charles is willing to be close to him if they’re in Brooklyn but here, he pulls away. It makes Erik think of straight guys looking for an easy fuck, putting their wedding rings back on and going home to their wives. He’s not some sort of experiment, not a learning experience. He’s not...
“Moira,” Charles says. “I just don’t need…”
Erik relaxes a little.
“Oh,” He says, taking another step away. Charles offers him a grateful smile.
They take the subway again, this time Charles leaning into Erik and Erik putting a tentative arm around him. They are no one here. Charles rests his cheek on Erik’s jacket and Erik rubs his thumb over the wool of Charles’ coat. Erik’s mind starts to pretend, to think that this could be more than a lost weekend. Unbidden tears prick at Erik’s eyes because despite everything he knows differently.
They reach their stop and Erik reaches out and dares to take Charles’ hand. Charles offers a small smile to Erik and does not pull away. Erik grips Charles’ hand tighter as his heart sinks. There is no way this will end well.
Chapter 10: We Could Get Off the Ride
“Are you sure?”
Erik’s apartment is dark and smells like knishes and home. The penthouse never smells like home. Erik stands in front of Charles, his face shrouded in the shadows, asking a question that has no simple answer. Charles looks back at him, a mass of emotions churning in his belly: fear, excitement, anticipation, desire.
He’s had sex with Moira. It had been awkward and unremarkable, Moira moaning under him like a porn star and it took a long time for him to come. Charles thinks Erik could make him come in his slightly uncomfortable form fitting jeans if he keeps looking at him like he is right now.
“I’m scared,” Charles says, biting at his lip.“You’ve done this before?”
Erik smiles. He huffs out a little laugh at Charles’ question. “Uh, yeah. I’ve been sexually actively since I was fifteen. I think it’s probably best if I bottom for you.”
“Bottom?” Charles echoes, feeling lost. The conversation is almost surreal.
“Um,” Erik starts, and even in the shadows Charles can see a slight color climbing his cheeks. “well, you fuck me.”
Charles feels that soft curl of desire sharpen at Erik’s words. He licks his lips.
“Okay.” Charles agrees. He pauses for a moment, then asks a question tumbling around in his head. “What...what’s it like?”
“Being inside a guy?”
Erik steps even closer to Charles and stares down at him. His gaze is hot and intense. Charles fights the urge to look away, to bury his face in Erik’s chest. They had both taken their coats off when they arrived and Charles thinks Erik’s worn T-shirt would be soft against his cheek and maybe he could card his fingers through Charles’ hair, soothing all worries away.
Erik answers Charles’ question in a voice thick with want.
“It’s tight and good. Way better than jacking off. At least most of the times I've done it. Sometimes…. I...uh, oh god.”
Erik glances away and, even in the dim light Charles can see that he is blushing.
“You must think I’m such a slut,” Erik mumbles. Charles reaches out and touches Erik’s arm softly.
“No,” Charles whispers. He thinks so much of this boy, he could never think poorly of him. “Experienced. I’m grateful.”
Erik turns his face back to Charles, his eyes dark with pain.
“I never should have kissed you. Should have let you be yet another asshole at that fucking school full of assholes.”
Erik’s words spit out, as if they hurt.
Charles thinks about what he would have lost if Erik had never kissed him. A sharp pang comes with the thought of never having known Erik.
“But you didn’t.” Charles’ voice is soft.
“And here we are,” Charles says, as if that's all that matters. As if the fact that they come from different worlds doesn't mean anything.
“Here we are,” Erik echoes, sounding lost. Erik is the more experienced but for some reason Charles feels like he’s in control.
“And I want you,” Charles whispers. The truth.
With those words something inside Erik seems to snap and suddenly he’s kissing Charles with such intensity that it is neither gentle or soft.
“Bedroom,” Erik slurs against Charles’ lips before kissing him again, and Charles nods his agreement. He doesn’t want to fuck on Edie Lehnsherr’s couch with the smell of her cooking in the air.
“Yessss.,” Charles manages to hiss. Erik’s hands go to Charles’ waist, his fingers digging into his skin and before Charles realizes what is happening Erik is hoisting him upwards, his hands sliding under Charles’ ass just as Charles wraps his legs around Erik’s slim waist. Erik kisses him again as he makes his way down the short hallway that leads to his bedroom and Erik’s words from moments earlier come rushing back.
Are you sure?
Charles is more sure of this than he is of anything else in his life. More sure than Harvard or Oxford. More sure than Moira. He wants Erik. Erik is a singular moment of meaning shining brightly in his mostly meaningless existence.
They reach Erik's room and Erik carefully deposits Charles on the bed. It’s a rickety twin that squeaks with Charles’ weight, but Charles does not notice. He doesn’t notice the punk band posters on the wall, the desk with a laptop sitting on it, both covered in papers. He doesn’t see the worn stuffed bear in the corner, a reminder that neither of them is much past childhood. All he sees is Erik. Erik’s fingers catching the hem of his T-shirt and pulling it up over Charles’ head. Erik’s mouth that dips down and kisses one of Charles’ pert nipples just before he swipes his tongue across the sensitive bud, causing Charles to arch into his touch. Erik sliding Charles’ jeans down his hips then pausing to cup Charles erection through the thin fabric of his boxers, the warm pressure of his hand causing Charles to moan.
When Charles is naked, his clothes in a pile on the floor, Erik stands up resulting in a long whine of protest emitting from Charles. His protest is short as he watches Erik strip his clothes with efficiency, then come to stand at the end of the bed. Charles takes in Erik’s sinewy build, stuck between child and grown-up, shoulders starting to broaden, slim hips. He looks at Erik’s erect dick jutting out from his body. To Charles what he sees is nothing short of a revelation. He sits up halfway, reaching, wanting, only to have Erik crawl onto the creaking bed, placing a hand on Charles’ chest, pushing him gently backwards as Erik straddles his hips. Charles’ hands find Erik’s thighs and he grips them, staring at the boy above him, flushed, naked and hard. Erik dips his head down and Charles rises halfway to meet him, their mouths crashing together. Charles’ hands slide upwards and around Erik’s back, pulling him even closer.
“Please,” Charles whispers against Erik’s mouth, not entirely sure what he’s asking so desperately for.
“Yes,” Erik answers. He gently pushes Charles back down onto the bed, ignoring Charles’ protests, swings himself off the bed, goes to his backpack then returns.
“Lube and condom,” Erik grins. Charles feels a blush climb his already flushed cheeks. His breath catches as he realizes this is going to happen. He glances down the length of his body as Erik carefully rolls the condom over Charles’’ erect and aching dick. Charles’ hips buck at Erik’s touch and he bites back a moan. He can’t hold back his noises when Erik slicks him up with lube. This is enough, Charles thinks to himself. He bucks up again, wanting more, wanting Erik to tighten his grip, to thrust. Erik makes a shushing sound. He releases Charles’ dick, wipes his hand on his covers then places it gently on Charles’ heaving chest.
“Almost,” Erik whispers. “Slow down.”
Charles stares up at Erik, their eyes locked together, and he feels his breathing start to slow until they are taking long, deep, shaking breaths in unison, the gentle pressure of Erik’s hand keeping them connected. Erik smiles a little as the feel in the room shifts from frantic to languid, and Charles can only wonder at how Erik can bring him back from the edge. Slowly Erik slings one of his legs over Charles until he’s on his knees, straddling him, their eyes still locked together, their breathing still in sync. Charles mewls a little when Erik removes his hand and watches with careful eyes as Erik takes the bottle of lube, squirts some onto his fingers then reaches behind himself, working that lubed finger into his ass.
“Jesus,” Charles hisses under his breath. He’s not sure he’s ever seen anything hotter than Erik Lehnsherr, the skinny Jewish scholarship kid, stripped naked, flushed, eyes heavy-lidded, a finger up his own ass. The urgency starts to build again, swirling in the distance, franticness threatening to break through.
Erik sees the state Charles is in and he smiles down at him.
“God damn, you’re beautiful,” Erik says quietly just before his mouth falls open again as he works his lubricated finger to carefully loosen that tight sphincter of muscle, getting it ready for Charles. He pulls his finger out and wipes it on the sheets again, and Charles thinks that it’s probably Edie that does his laundry, and what might she think of her son’s lube encrusted sheets. The people who do Charles’ laundry are paid to not care what state their employers leave their sheets in.
Erik shifts again, tilting his hips, reaching a hand back to steady Charles’ cock. Charles gasps again at the touch, taking in a deep breath, fighting for control as Erik slides himself down slowly until Charles is buried deep inside his warm tightness.
“Oh,” Charles says, staring up at Erik, who seems to be in a similar state, head hanging down, mouth agape. “That’s...that’s good.”
More than good.
“Yeah,” Erik manages to mumble. “Give me a second.”
There’s more than this? Charles can’t believe how good Erik feels around him. Charles holds himself still, concentrating on the feeling. Then Erik uses his sinewy thighs to slide himself upward.
“OH!” Charles calls out, his voice loud in the quiet of the room. Suddenly the silence strikes him. When Moira had decided they would do it, she’d lit candles and put on some cheesy slow jam, spreading her legs and guiding Charles inside her. Now the room is quiet, dark, the only light coming through the window is from a dim streetlamp outside. The only sound is Erik’s groan as he slides himself back down Charles’ dick and Charles’ hips switch upward.
“Oh, oh, oh...fuck,” Charles stammers.
Erik slides upward again and Charles’ hips chase him. He stares up at Erik’s face, memorizing how he looks with his eyes closed, his jaw slack. Back down. Then up. Faster. Charles pushes himself up on his elbows, his hips thrusting upwards every time Erik slides down his cock. Erik increases his pace, the sensation builds. Charles’ eyes flutter shut.
Erik shifts. His pace slows a little. He groans something that sounds like Charles’ name, followed by “Right there. Yes. Oh god.”
Charles has no idea what he’s doing right, but every time he curls his hips upward, Erik groans deeply. Charles does it again and again, pushing upwards, Erik looking more and more undone.
“Oh, god, Charles. I’m supposed to...what are you doing, how can you know…oh, fuck it.”
Erik’s eyes fly open and he grabs his own dick, working it up and down as Charles pushes up into him. Their eyes remain locked as Erik’s strokes become faster, hurried and Charles hips pump harder. Charles feels the familiar fluttering sensation of orgasm start to build in his groin, the light tightening of abdominal muscles, and he pants to Erik that he’s going to come just as Erik lets out a loud shout and his dick spurts come all over Charles’ chest.
The whole moment is too much. The way Erik’s ass tightens around Charles’ dick as he comes. The way Erik’s chin drops to his chest, his eyes screwed shut, abdominal muscles clench, as he rides out his orgasm. The musty smell of sweat and sex and come that fills the room. As Erik is coming, Charles feels everything fly to pieces and he comes as well, arching up into Erik, hips switching upward, heels digging into the bed, arms flying out for purchase.
“Oh god,” Charles manages to shout, then suddenly everything becomes too much: Erik in his lap, his cock buried in his ass. He pushes feebly at Erik trying to tell him that it’s too much. Understanding, Erik pulls off Charles’ still-pulsing cock, rolls onto his side and pulls Charles into his arms, cradling him as he rides out the last vestiges of his orgasm. Erik’s thumb traces down one of Charles’ cheeks, and Charles suddenly realizes that Erik is tracing the path of his tears.
Something inside Charles breaks. Suddenly he understands what Erik has been trying to tell him since they met. Charles cannot breathe as the impossibility come crashing down on him.
He cannot do this.
Erik can never fit into his life. He can’t be anything but a dirty weekend fuck. Charles will date Moira, marry her, go to Harvard, do what’s expected. He’ll pass Erik in the halls and pretend he’s no different than any other student. He’ll never tell anyone that the queer Jewish scholarship kid is someone special. Erik knew this. Now so does Charles.
Charles should leave. There’s no reason to stay, except he is boneless and blissed out, and he cannot move. He lies cradled in Erik’s arms, eyes heavy. Just as he’s drifting off, stuck between sleeping and waking, he feels the soft press of lips on his temple then he hears Erik whisper into his ear in a low and rumbling voice, thick with sleep.
“Harvard won’t wait forever.”
Charles picks up a piece of toast and bites into it. It's dry and tasteless, but Charles doesn't care. He wishes he was stoned. Sharon is always easier to take stoned. Charles hasn’t been stoned for three months. Not since…. Charles brushes his name from his thoughts. There’s no use.
“Moira’s mother said she’s accepted at Harvard. I expect you'll go with her.”
“I don't know,” Charles says, his words muffled by his mouthful of toast. There’s not much Charles knows these days.
He dreams about him. Charles wishes he could stop the dreams but the moment he closes his eyes, Erik is there. He wakes with tears leaking down the side of his face, and if Moira is sleeping next to him, he’ll brush them away, and even if she’s noticed, she’s never asked why her boyfriend wakes crying in the middle of the night.
If he’s alone he whispers Erik’s name into the darkness and lets the tears flow.
He thought leaving was the right thing. Charles can still remember the weight of Erik’s arm around his waist, the way he’d nuzzled closer in his sleep as Charles carefully extracted himself from that cramped, squeaky twin bed. He can still picture how Erik looked in his sleep, lit only by moonlight, his hair tousled, face relaxed and vulnerable. Charles had fought back the urge to crawl back into the warmth of Erik’s arms, to trace the planes of his face, memorize it with his fingers. Instead he caught a cab and went home.
Erik doesn't look at him at school. Charles goes to class and meets Moira for lunch, and everything is the same. Except it isn’ and all Charles wants is for Erik to look at him, and maybe it would be enough. Charles finds himself in the bathroom...that bathroom...the one where the sullen, handsome boy had emerged from the stall with a defiant look on his face and Charles decided to talk to him. The one where their lips had met in a brief, chaste kiss that would change everything.
Erik is never there.
“Kurt flies in tomorrow,” Sharon says absently. Charles shrugs. It’s the last dance of the year and Sharon knows she won't see him for the weekend. Moira has rented a suite, and all her friends are coming.
“And this time I won’t lose you,” Moira had promised, patting Charles on the arm. What Moira doesn’t know is that Charles wants to be lost. Lost might be better than broken.
“Does Moira have her dress picked out?”
Charles blinks at Sharon’s question.
“Her dress. Has Moira picked out her dress?”
Charles shakes his head. He vaguely remembers Moira saying something about a dress and what Charles should wear. He’d barely heard her, staring at the doorway leading onto the patio, waiting for something. No, someone. For Erik. He’s always waiting for Erik.
“I guess,” Charles says distractedly, glancing down at his plate.
“For pete’s sake, Charles. I have no idea what’s gotten into you lately.”
Sharin’s voice is snappish. Charles looks up again to find her glaring at him. Her anger doesn't matter to him. Nothing matters. He huffs out a little laugh and her eyes harden.
“What’s so funny.”
Charles looks at Sharon. “Moira said the same thing.”
“I can make you eggs.”
Erik swallows his mouthful of cereal.
He’s not sure any breakfast goes by without his mother trying to feed him more.
“I know ma. I’m okay. Really.”
Some lies roll off the tongue easier than others.
Edie goes back to washing the dishes in the sink. She’ll pick up another shift tonight at the clinic where she works, all to make ends meet, to keep Erik in that god damned school. He hates every moment of it. He’d begged Edie to let him drop out after...Erik can’t remember that weekend, can’t bring himself to think of him...after all that had happened. Edie had refused.
“It’s your future, bubbala,” she’d said over dinner after Erik had made his best case. “I want it for you, your father would want it. A good education. A chance.”
A chance at what? Erik still wonders.
He’ll go to community college in the fall. No one really knows, but no one ever asks the scholarship kid what his plans are, unless they can use them as yet another success story in one of the school’s fundraising letters. Going to Kinsborough and getting a job doesn’t ring as well as a full ride to Harvard.
Fuck Harvard. Fuck that school. Fuck them all.
Erik chases a stray Cheerio around his bowl.
“Armando’s tonight?” Edie asks, her back turned as she wipes a rag around another dish.
“Coming home, Ma.” Erik says for the third time that morning. Edie turns around and offers Erik a slight frown.
“What’s happened to you? Something’s changed.”
“Nothing’s changed,” Erik mutters, glancing away from his mother’s concerned gaze and grabbing the almost empty box of cereal. He tips the remainder of its contents into his cereal bowl, sets the box down and grabs the milk.
“You would have stayed with Armando before.”
Before. Erik can’t stop the wave of pain that courses through him. Tears sting his eyes.
His mother probably knows. Edie Lehnsherr is more astute than she lets on. She knows that Erik brought a boy home. Her gay son, something they’ve never really talked about, brought a sweet, friendly blue-eyed boy home and then everything changed.
“Things change,” Erik says, sticking his spoon into the bowl to scoop up a bite of cereal.
Everything has changed since that weekend.
Erik knows where he can go to watch Charles. He’s mapped out the entire school, knows what class Charles will leave, which one he’ll go to next. He knows where he can sit to look into the courtyard at lunch without being seen. He knows the sound of Charles’ laughter drifting down the hallway, his easy gait. He watches as Charles eats his lunch, watches as his girlfriend chatters away, her mouth never stopping moving, her hand lightly touching Charles’ arm, and Erik wishes it was him touching Charles. Only him.
Charles is always watching too. Staring towards the door. Waiting.
Erik will make a nice profit tonight. He has his backpack full of his stash and he’ll probably sell out. A little extra cash before summer, when he will graduate and lose his best pool of clients. It might be time for a job other than dealing pot to spoiled rich kids. There will be no club afterwards though.
It’s not that Erik really wanted to stop finding people to fuck him. It’s just that somewhere in this shit show of his life, what had always been his escape became even more meaningless. Erik lies to himself, tells himself that he’s just outgrown those habits, but he knows the truth. He knows that it’s all about Charles.
He broke that weekend, in both body and soul. Charles broke him with his innocence and hope. He broke him by walking out in the middle of the night. He broke him by not even looking at him the next day or the day after. If the pain is particularly bad and the dream is vivid, Erik might even admit the part of the truth that he almost never looks at. It’s not his body and soul that are broken. It’s his heart.
“Just be careful.” Edie says, breaking through Erik’s thoughts.
Erik looks at his mother who is wiping her hands on a kitchen towel. She walks over to him and smoothes his hair just like she’d done when he was small.
“Whatever’s going on with you, I love you. Never forget that.”
Erik’s eyes sting with tears.
The day goes by fast. It’s the same as any other day at Dalton, Erik drifting from class to class, slouching in the back row, hoping no one calls on him. He eats lunch staring into the courtyard, watching Charles like he always does. Kids stop by and buy pot, but never Charles. Not since that weekend. Erik’s chest clenches as the sun breaks through, shining down on the table where Charles sits. Moira grabs her purse and rifles through it, pulling out a pair of sunglasses. Charles glances away from the doorway and suddenly looks in Erik’s direction, as if the sunlight has revealed Erik’s hiding place, and for a long moment Erik thinks he’s been caught. Then Charles turns his head away, says something to Moira, and Erik feels both disappointment and relief wash through him.
The dance is at some hotel ballroom, full of lights and decorated to the nines. Erik makes his way there on his skateboard, munching on a sandwich he’d grabbed from a food cart near Dalton. Everyone else will have gone home, put on their haute couture and their custom tailored tuxes. They will spray expensive perfume and cologne, gloss lips and smooth eyebrows. They will arrive in family limos and Bentleys, Rolls Royces, borrowed Daddy-cars for the evening, playing grown up when they have barely left childhood. Erik hates it all, and now even more. Because this is where it all started.
Erik doesn’t change his clothes. Fuck them all, they can deal with his skinny jeans and band t-shirt. He’s not going to play their game, but he never really has. Erik makes his way to coat check and ignores the slight huff from the attendant when he hands her his skateboard and backpack. She sticks them both on the ground in a corner, under dress coats and furs. The remainder of his stash is in his pocket, small bags of weed waiting to subtly change hands. It won’t take long, and then he can go home.
The ballroom is full of people when Erik enters. It’s hot and loud, and suddenly his mouth is dry. He could make his way to the bar, get a drink, but instead Erik slinks along one of the walls then leans up against it, gazing across the room. It’s not long before kids start coming up to him, bills in their hands, leaning almost too casually next to him. He slips them the baggies, shoves the money in his pocket. He can’t be done soon enough because all Erik really wants to do is leave, to escape the memories that seem to be coming unbidden.
Then he sees him.
He’s on the dance floor, arms wrapped around his girlfriend. They sway softly, as if no one else is around them, and for a moment Erik sees what everyone else sees. They are beautiful, shining beacons, the best of the best. He sees why Charles is there, why he stays when part of him had practically begged a poor Brooklyn kid to fuck him, stays even though his sadness is unbearable. Charles and Moira are the future. Fortune doesn’t smile on queer kids, no matter how much they want to pretend it does. It would never be him in Charles’ arms, never be him wrapping himself around that slim waist, dipping his head to inhale his scent.
Moira lifts her head, her hand slipping around Charles’ neck, pulling him down to kiss her. Erik squeezes his eyes shut as his chest clenches with pain.
He can’t stay.
Erik pushes himself away from the wall, gripped with the urge to run, when he freezes. Charles is looking at him.
Erik can’t breathe.
He wants to scream. Even if he did, no one would hear. No one would care.
Do you love her?
Why can’t you love me?
Charles’ eyes are full of regret, and Erik aches for everything that has brought them here. Another couple blocks Erik’s view. Everything slows down. The music fades and then Charles is gone. Erik’s breath hitches, his chest tightens with an anguish he cannot entirely name. Another song starts up, the kind of fast, pop song that Erik hates, and the dancers stop swaying, breaking from their teenage dreams, and they start moving faster. Erik scans the crowd, looking for Charles. He sees Moira, surrounded by four or five other girls in their shining dresses. He moves his gaze across the room and finally he sees him. Charles is weaving through the dance floor, dodging his fellow students. Erik watches him for a long moment, narrows his eyes, then pushes himself off the wall.
I was gifted the MOST amazing thing yesterday - SOUR CHERRY ART! So many thanks to avictoriangirl. Please go check it out. It might make the fact that this is getting painful a teensy bit better.
Charles is drunk. He didn’t really mean to be drunk. It just happened. Moira kept putting a glass in his hand and he didn’t really care what was in it. Bourbon. Whiskey. Gin. All he knew was it kept the room spinning, kept him from remembering where he was, who he was with.
Moira likes to dance. She drags him, stumbling onto the floor, grips him by the hips and grinds herself against him. It’s awkward. Charles doesn’t know how to respond. She looks up at him, offering him a wide smile then pulls him even closer.
There was a time when Charles would have pulled her closer, wrapped his arms around her back, buried his face in the crook of her neck. Not anymore. Not since….
The music changes tempo and Moira wraps herself around Charles, tipping her head onto his chest, breathing something into the thick air of the ballroom that might be ‘I love you’ or ‘I want you’, but Charles can’t really hear. Everything is surreal, and he feels numb, as if he’s watching his own life flash by. Isn’t this what he’s supposed to do? Last dance of the year. Hold his girlfriend tight. Stand at the edge of the rest of his life. So why does it feel like he’s already lost everything? It’s a question that has an answer. The answer is leaning against one of the walls of the ballroom.
The room spins. Moira kisses him. Charles thinks of Erik, of his lips, the way he’d kissed him. Lost in the memory, he moans against Moira’s mouth. She hold him tighter. Charles breaks the kiss, looks up and sees him.
Charles feels tears start to well up. How can he ache like this? He squeezes his eyes shut against the tears, he and Moira turn a little, and Erik is no longer visible. The music shifts tone, speeding up and Moira pushes away from Charles, her mouth open, laughing and joyful. Charles’ chest clenches. He stumbles backwards, sways a bit, the alcohol making his head spin. He can’t...he just can’t. He needs to get out, to breathe some fresh air, to clear his thoughts. Everything is wrong. He needs…
Charles bumps into someone.
A voice whispers into his ear. His name. Deep and rumbly.
Charles swallows, and suddenly he knows what he wants. He turns to see Erik standing in front of him, eyes dark with pain. The lights flash, casting shadows then chasing them away. Charles reaches out, takes Erik’s hand, and leads him away from the dance floor, through the tables where people sit with drinks in their hands. Charles looks around until he sees the presentation stage a few feet away, the DJ in the middle, and behind him a long, heavy curtain. Charles heads towards it, Erik still in tow, and he slips behind it.
“Erik,” Charles finally breathes. The other boy stares at him, his mouth opens, and Charles doesn’t hesitate. Alcohol buzzes along his veins. He lunges forward, hands going to press against Erik’s chest, mouth pressing to Erik’s with a moan. Erik responds in kind, kissing Charles, hands sliding around Charles’ back, pulling him to him.
“I want to fuck you,” Charles whispers against Erik’s mouth. “Oh god, Erik. Here. Right now.”
Erik stills. Charles’ mouth moves to his neck, pressing kisses down its length, sucking on his warm skin. His hands travel downwards, skimming across Erik’s chest, fingers finding the waistband of his jeans, and for a moment Charles smiles into the crook of Erik’s neck. Of course he’d show up to the last dance of the year at Dalton in jeans, a final ‘fuck you’ to the school.
“Or I can get a room. Moira won’t miss me.”
All night with Erik. Charles’ fingers slip under the waistband, feeling the warmth of Erik’s skin, the fine hairs of his abdomen against their backs.
“No,” Erik whispers, his voice shaking.
Charles isn’t quite sure if he heard Erik correctly. He slides his hands upwards, under Erik’s t-shirt.
Erik’s voice grows stronger. Charles’ hands still. He stands there, head tilted into Erik’s shoulder, panting, his dick half hard. Slowly Charles looks up at Erik. The music from the dance blares in the background. He searches Erik’s face. He sees defiance.
“Erik?” Charles says quietly. It’s not really a question. It’s a confirmation of what this means.
“I can’t. I can’t do this. Not this way.”
Charles feels panic start to well up.
“I love you Charles.”
Tears spring into Charles’ eyes with Erik’s words.
“But you’re no different than everyone else at this fucking school. I can’t feel this way. I can’t dream of you and watch you dance with her, then have you fuck me. It...it just doesn’t work that way.”
“You love me?”
Emotions clash inside Charles. He feels like he’s hanging in space, the world around him crumbling away with Erik’s words.
“Yes,” Erik whispers. “God help me, it’s the dumbest thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve been fighting it, but yes. But you don’t love me.”
“If you did, you wouldn’t be out there with her. You wouldn’t be ignoring me in the hallways. You would be with me….”
“Erik,” Charles’ voice is strangled.
“You’d be my date at this fucking stupid dance, not dragging me behind a curtain for a quick and dirty fuck.”
“Please.” Panic wells in Charles’ chest, it tightens his thrust and it’s hard to breathe.
“I’ve fucked a lot of guys, Charles. I’ve been a one night stand too many times. What you want would be so easy for me to give. Except you’re not a one night stand. You’re more. I don’t want this. I don’t want to be part of your confusion.”
Charles feels something inside himself collapse. He looks at Erik, silently pleads with him. That weekend, Erik, the memory, is the only crack of light in his fucked up, confused life, and now he’s telling him he can’t do this. The worst part is that Charles understands.
“I’m fucked up,” Charles says, tears escaping onto his cheeks. Erik reaches out and traces one of them with his finger.
“No,” Erik whispers. “No, you’re beautiful. You have so much, Charles. So much that it makes me hurt to see you destroying yourself. So figure it out. Then, when you do….”
Erik’s other hand comes up and both cradle Charles’ face. He bends his head and places a sweet kiss on Charles’ lips.
“...come back to me.”
Charles chokes back a sob. He squeezes his eyes shut as Erik’s hands fall away from his face. He stands like that for a long time, breathing in and out, trying to calm down the storm that rages inside of him. He feels anger, shame, and sadness at his life. He presses his lips together, feels them tremble as he struggles to gain control. Finally Charles opens his eyes. He’s standing alone behind that curtain, the music thumping.
Erik is gone.
Nothing will ever be the same.
six months later...
FYI, from this point on the story will be Erik POV, outside one chapter devoted to Emma Frost.
Erik grips his paper coffee cup and makes his way through the swirling snow. He squints as the flakes coat his eyelashes and buries his mouth deeper in his scarf, hoping his breath can warm him a little. The damn coffee is probably cold by now. It seemed like a good idea to grab it on his way home from campus but he’d missed the bus, then decided to walk. There were just a few flakes of snow swirling down at that time but they quickly turned into a true storm, leaving Erik and his coffee out in the cold.
Dinner will be ready at home. Erik shifts his heavy book bags from one hip to another and in his head he hears his mother telling him to stop carrying that messenger bag, that a backpack is a much more practical way to carry the one million books he needs to take full load of classes. Erik thinks for a moment that she might be right, but he likes his bag. He found it at a thrift store and it holds just the right amount of things. It has tattered edges and imperfections, just like him. Erik likes it because it has the button that says “Queer Voices Matter” right next to the one of his favorite band, so the world can know who he is. He decided after Dalton that he wasn’t going to lurk on the edges anymore. He was going to stand up. His mother had kindly pointed out that he could just as easily put buttons on a backpack, to which Erik had let out an exasperated “Ma!”.
He’s only a couple blocks from home now. Erik decides he should ditch the coffee and finds a garbage can. He hopes dinner will be something warm. It’s Edie’s night off from the clinic, so there’s a good chance that it won’t be another plate of cold cuts. That’s usually what Erik manages to make for her, and although his mother is always gracious, Erik thinks he needs to pull out some of her cookbooks.
A memory of Charles wells up, unbidden, and Erik remembers him in the kitchen, talking to Edie, the way his face was so serious as he listened to her tell him about their family. It’s been six months and the memories don’t hurt quite as much. At least that’s what Erik tells himself. Give it some time, his mother had said one night as she rubbed his back. She’d found him crying in the darkness, and Erik had felt too foolish to tell his mother that his heart was broken over someone he’d barely known. Somehow she’d known, sitting on the edge of his bed, her hand making soothing circles. It will get better, she said.
She was right.
Erik hadn’t heard from Charles since that night. He’d never even gone back to Dalton. He went home and told his mother that he needed to find a way to graduate early, and he needed her to ask no questions. Instead of arguing with him, Edie had just nodded. She’d called the office the next day, told them she was ill and needed Erik to care for her, and was there a way he could finish his final four weeks with home studies. Erik never went to graduation, never went from party to party, everyone sharing acceptance letters. He never heard anything about Charles or anyone else at Dalton. He was done with those people. They’d inflicted enough damage.
Erik stops at the steps of his building, feeling relief to finally be home. His hands are numb and he wishes he’d remembered to put his gloves in his bag that morning. Edie will chide him and the next time he heads to class he’ll find three new pairs of gloves tucked into his bag, just like the scarf he was wearing now that he’d found a week and a half ago . He knows his mother needs to stop mothering him, and he tells her this regularly. He tells her that he’s grown up.
“You’ll always be my baby, ketsele,” Edie had sighed when Erik told her he’d found the scarf and she didn’t need to take care of him, “Just give me this. For a little while longer. You’ll find someone else someday and I won’t be able to tuck warm things into your bag. He’ll do it for me.”
Erik had blushed at his mother’s announcement. His heart had grown three times its size with her words and her acceptance that Erik would not be settling down with a nice girl. He had hugged her, wrapping her up in his arms and holding on tightly. She had plenty of time to mother him. There wasn’t anyone else right now and Erik didn’t think there would be anyone in the near future.
It’s not like people weren’t interested. There was the swarthy, butch head of the Queer Student Union who had excitedly introduced himself as Logan until Erik almost growled at him. He kept his distance now. There was the shy boy at the coffee stand who always gave Erik a big smile with his latte. Lots of people were interested, but Erik wasn’t.
Erik just wants to be left alone. He goes to meetings, classes, the college chess club. He takes the bus home, or walks, eats dinner with his mother, all knowing that someday this fog will lift. He just doesn’t know when. Charles was his first love and first loves mean something. He was also his first broken heart and Erik has no idea how long a heart can stay that way. He isn't sure if it will ever actually heal.
Erik shakes the snow off on the stoop, knowing the building superintendent will grouse at anyone who leaves snow to melt in the entryway. Punching in the building code, he makes his way into the lobby, feeling relieved at the surge of warmth from the building’s old radiators. Erik walks over to the mailbox, opens it and takes out a small stack of envelopes. He turns then trudges up the stairs, making his way to the apartment. He puts his key in the lock and turns it, pushing at the door with his shoulder a little since it tends to stick in the winter, then stumbles through, dropping his bag and kicking the door shut behind him.
“I’m home!” he calls, shrugging off his wool coat and looping it over a hook next to his mother’s down parka. He starts to toe off his boots when he hears the voices. One is his mother’s. She laughs, a happy sound. The other is….
Erik goes still.
“Ma?” Erik calls. The voices quiet. He hears the scraping of one of the kitchen table chairs. Erik walks down the hallway towards the kitchen when his mother leans around the corner.
“Boychick!” Edie says with a wide smile, “A friend stopped by.”
Erik walks towards his mother and rounds the arch to the kitchen, then stops. His mouth falls open as Edie places a hand on Erik’s arm and says in a warm, delighted tone.
“You remember Charles, I’m sure. He told me you were at Dalton for four years together. I never knew that.”
Charles Xavier is sitting at the kitchen table. He’s smiling and the edges of his eyes crinkle. His hair is longer than it was at Dalton. He’s wearing a pale blue button up and a fucking cardigan sweater. He’s looking at Erik with an expression of warmth mixed with fear.
“Charles!” Erik blurts out, unable to cover his surprise. Charles startles a little at Erik’s tone, his fingers nervously go to the mug of tea sitting on the table in front of him. He picks it up then sets it down again. He offers Erik a practiced, congenial smile.
“I’m home for break. I thought….”
Charles trails off awkwardly. Erik just stares, still trying to absorb that Charles Xavier is drinking tea with his mother in their kitchen. Finally he manages to stammer something, still unable to hide his astonishment.
“Oh,” Erik feels his cheeks flush. “There’s a difference?”
Charles huffs out a laugh. “No. Unless you’re Sharon. Harvard is Kurt’s alma mater. She was also pretty unhappy with me for majoring in genetics. Not exactly what she’d planned.”
Suddenly Erik feels ashamed of his community college, his plans to major in education. It’s not Oxford or genetics. He can’t help but again be reminded of the gulf that has always separated their worlds.
“It’s an internationally renowned genetics program,” Charles says, almost apologetically, as if he can read Erik’s mind. “And I’m good at it. I want to teach. Sharon always wanted me in biotech. It’s where the money’s at.”
Charles rolls his eyes. Erik feels himself relax a little.
“So, you’re on break?” Erik starts.
“Yeah. Sharon and Kurt are in St. Bart’s. I’m all by myself and I remembered your mother’s cooking.”
“Knishes!” Edie exclaims. “I remember talking to you about them.”
“I made them, you know.” Charles says, looking from Erik to Edie. “It’s lonely in England and I decided I wanted something that reminded me of home….”
Home. The word rings in Erik’s ears.
“I only have stew tonight,” Edie says, “But you can stay for dinner. It’s just the two of us. I made plenty.”
Charles’ face lights up for a moment before he glances down at the table then looks back up, looking polite and composed.
“I would love to. I mean, only if Erik is okay….”
Erik is far from okay. He’s about to open his mouth, to protest, when Edie blurts out, “Of course he’s okay. You’re one of the few friends he knows from Dalton. I’ll grab a bowl.”
Edie stands up and bustles around the kitchen, picking up bowls, spoons and a pile of napkins. She arranges them on the table while Erik stands in the archway looking at Charles. Charles doesn’t say anything. He glances away, then gets up and asks Edie if there’s anything he can do. She puts him to work putting water glasses on the table, and now that Charles isn’t so close, Erik slides into one of the chairs and watches his mother and the boy who broke his heart bustle around their kitchen.
Charles is bigger than he was six months ago. He moves with an easy confidence and offers Erik’s mom a quick joke and a smile. There is a maturity about him. It seems Oxford has been good for him. Finally the table is set and Edie has ladled stew into each bowl. They settle into their chairs, Edie sitting between the two boys, Erik and Charles across from each other. They talk about nothing. The snow. Edie asks about England. Charles is friendly and polite. Every once in awhile Erik looks up to find him watching him with an unreadable look on his face. When their eyes do meet, Charles quickly glances away.
Finally the meal is done. Charles wipes his mouth, puts his napkin on the table and announces that he should be getting home.
“It’s late,” he says, patting his stomach. “That was good stew, Mrs. Lehnsherr.” Erik smiles at Charles’ boyish politeness.
“Edie,” Erik’s mother insists, “Erik’s friends call me Edie.”
“Does Erik have many friends?” Charles asks, his tone teasing with an undertone of seriousness. Erik isn’t sure what he’s looking for until his mother tells him, ‘no’ and that he was the only one Erik has ever brought home. It’s then Erik sees Charles relax a little, as if he’s reassured that no one else has traded stories and made knishes with his mother.
Charles stands up and Edie goes to fetch his coat off the hooks in the hallway. Charles and Erik sit in silence while she’s gone, Charles with his hands folded carefully in his lap, Erik pushing his crumpled napkin around the table, tracing an invisible pattern, neither of them sure what they should say to each other in these few moments alone. Edie returns, clearing her throat. Erik looks up to see that she’s holding two coats in her hands.
“It’s cold out, boy chick. I think Charles could use some company while he waits.”
“Mrs. Lehn...Edie, it’s okay. The car will be around soon.”
“No. I raised Erik to be polite and it’s not polite to have a guest wait outside in almost blizzard conditions. I insist. And here…”
Edie shoves a pair of gloves into Charles’ hands. He looks at them and opens his mouth to protest when she cuts him off.
“Erik always forgets his. I keep extra pairs around. I don’t want your hands to get cold.”
Charles blinks in surprise, his mouth twists a little. “Thank you,” he says politely. He shrugs on his coat followed by the gloves, then offers Edie a small, grateful smile. Erik stands from his chair and takes his coat, pulls it on, then he and Charles walk down the hallway and out of the apartment. It’s not until they are on the stoop that either one of them talks.
“You came back,” Erik says just as Charles turns to him and exclaims,
Erik blinks. He guesses that’s the case. It wasn’t waiting as much as him not able to move beyond the floppy brown hair and blue eyes that are staring up at him now. Neither of them says anything else until Charles opens his mouth, and instead of platitudes of love or declaration of devotion, he says, quite simply, “Do you want to walk?”
“Don’t you need to get home?”
“Yeah. I mean, no one is there, the snow will just get deeper, but I can walk for a little bit. Anyway, I came to see you.”
Erik feels his chest tighten with Charles’ words.
“Okay. Let’s walk.”
They make their way down the block, snow falling in swathes, big fluffy flakes, forming mounds and drifts on the sidewalk. The sky is that pinkish gray that comes with snow, and the whole world is clean and bright. They walk side by side, but this time neither of them bump into each other, each keeping their distance, each acutely aware of everything that separates them. Finally, after two or three blocks, Erik looks over to see Charles’ hair is covered in snowflakes, that his lashes are wet, and his nose is slightly reddened from the cold. Erik stops and Charles takes two or three steps before he realizes he’s alone. He stops as well then turns to look at Erik, who is staring at him.
“Why are you back, Charles?” Erik asks, his voice sounding muffled in the cold. His words form little puffs of breath in the chilled air. Around them the snow continues to fall.
“For you, Erik,” Charles says, offering a shy smile. “Isn’t that obvious? You said to come back to you, and I have.”
“And you think I would still want you?”
Charles’ smile fades a little.
“Do you, Erik? You said you loved me. I now know that I love you too. But things can change, feelings can fade. Do you still want me?”
Erik takes in a deep breath. The cold air hurts his throat. Charles stands before him looking earnest, his voice quivering a little. Erik’s heart aches. There is only one answer to his question.
Pain bursts through with Erik’s words, pain he’s been holding back for months. Of course he still wants Charles. He’s never stopped. But that wasn’t enough in the first place. Why would it be enough now?
“So, what do we do?” Erik gasps. This should be a moment of relief, of happiness, but all he can feel is fear. “You’re in the UK, home on fucking winter break. Our lives are no different. I’m still in Brooklyn, you’re still Upper Eastside.”
“I’m not the same, Erik.”
“I’m living my own life. I told you, Oxford was my idea. Not Sharon’s. Not Moira’s….”
“I broke up with her at the dance, Erik. You were right. I was trying to live in two worlds. I wanted to fuck you and have the stability and acceptability that Moira offered. I was wrong.”
“I told Sharon I’m bisexual. I told her that I might bring a boy home someday. When I told her, I was hoping it might be you. So that’s why I’m here. I want to give us a chance.”
Tears start to roll down Erik’s cheeks. He feels a sob building in his chest. He stares down at the snow-covered sidewalk, trying to compose himself. He might have been okay, with enough time. Maybe he’d be able to flirt back with the guy who makes his coffee. Maybe they would have had a date and discovered they like each other. Not now. Not with Charles there, warm and real, snow dusting his hair and shoulders, telling him that he wants to take him home someday. Erik’s been telling himself he’s okay but Charles is ripping away all the bandages he’d used to try to put himself back together.
It feels too late. Too much. Erik can’t see Charles standing in front of him, telling him that he was worth changing for. All he can see is a future where Charles hurts him again. Erik realizes it’s not just that Charles needed to grow up, it’s that they’ve always been from different worlds and people like Charles will always end up hurting people like Erik.
It’s best not to hurt in the first place. He can’t do this again.
“No,” Erik mumbles, almost to himself. He lifts his head to find Charles staring at him, his face stricken. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Charles’ face falls. Erik turns and walks back to his apartment, his feet creaking in the fresh snow, more tears rolling down his cheeks. He walks away from Charles and does not look back.
By the time Erik returns to the apartment his tears have dried up. Edie frowns when he pushes his way through their front door, her forehead crinkling with concern.
“Don’t, Ma,” Erik says, putting up a hand when his mother opens her mouth to say something.
“He seems like a nice boy.”
Erik looks at her.
“He’s the one who made you cry, isn’t he?”
Erik feels the tears well up again. He nods, pursing his lips and trying to hold back the sadness that’s beginning to build.
“He came to find you. I just don’t see….”
“People like him,” Erik starts, “They don’t do anything but hurt people like me, Ma. You know that.”
“Oh Erik,” Edie Lehnsherr sighs, and Erik hears all her love and frustration bound into that heartfelt sound. He steps forward and his mother wraps her arms around him, letting him sag against her, whispering soothing sounds into his shoulder.
“Love is hard,” Edie says softly. “Love is hard.”
Chapter 14: Emma
A short chapter from Emma Frost's POV. I wanted to give her a little more context and backstory. So, meet Emma.
Emma Frost straddles two worlds.
The first day of class she’d seen him, brooding over the art history tome that every other kid had dragged into the room, flipping absently through the pages as if he didn't give a shit. She’d made note of the dark haired, moody fellow student, but not much more. It wasn’t until the meeting at the Q-Center, where Logan was on one of his tirades about internalized homophobia and its dangers, that she’d actually taken interest. He was there again, standing in the back of the crowd, arms crossed, slumped against the wall, watching the whole thing with dispassionate eyes.
That made Emma interested.
She doesn’t like that many people. But there’s something about him, something a bit like her.
Emma’s been alone for a long time. She tells everyone since she was sixteen, kicked out of the mansion. It was long before that. Emma’s been alone for as long as she can remember, even if she was living under her parents’ roof. Winston Frost was too busy running his business. Hazel Frost was too coked up to be a parent. She can still remember the day she left, dragging a suitcase behind her, her father, who had never truly been a father, framed in the doorway of the mansion, watching her walk down the long driveway. There had been part of her that kept hoping he would call her back, tell her it had been a huge mistake. Any normal parent would have. Hell, any normal parent wouldn’t have kicked out his teenage daughter in the first place
It was Scott’s fault. Well, kind of. He was older and handsome, sharp features, a strong jaw. He was supposed to tutor her, but Emma didn’t want to learn. So she tried to seduce him, biting at her bottom lip, leaning forward so he could see her cleavage. It was Scott’s fault but it was his girlfriend who had set the whole pile of shit on fire. Emma could still remember the day they met, remembers the way Jean had smiled at her, the way the sunshine had set her red hair a glow.
She had come with Scott to the mansion to sit in on their lesson. Emma had barely learned anything that day, watching Jean from the corner of her eye, taking in the fullness of her bottom lip, the soft curve of her breast. Scott slipped into the background and it wasn’t her affair with her tutor that had Winston sputtering in rage. It was finding his daughter ass-up, face buried in Jean Grey’s soft, wet cunt, that had led Emma to walk down that driveway, her head held high, her heart pounding, with no idea where she would go or how she would survive.
She did survive. She slept on park benches, skulked in alleyways, stole food from bodegas, whatever she needed to survive. When things got really bad, she slouched on street corners, her skirt short, eyes watching for shiny cars driven by married men who came into the city looking for girls like her. A far cry from the mansion she’d grown up in.
Five years later that life is in her past. Emma Frost has her own place. She’s enrolled in community college. She’s going to make something of herself. She goes to class and keeps to herself, except there’s something about that mercurial boy in the corner of her art history class, the one she learns is named Erik, who does not bother to contain his glare when the instructor calls on him. The one who rushes away from class and grunts monosyllabic answers any time another student asks him anything. He’s surviving. Emma knows this because she’s surviving too. She’s been surviving her entire life, and she knows the signs.
Emma straddles two worlds. She’s been rich. She’s been poor. She’s been hungry, been scared, not known where she will sleep or how she will eat. She’s dressed in the finest couture and smiled prettily while hoping her pain won’t shine through. She knows it’s better to be alone, but sometimes, it’s also good to have someone by your side. She knows privilege and she’s chosen the other side.
This boy. Erik. She knows him. He is like her. Against her better judgement, Emma Frost decides this moody, brooding Erik is going to be her friend. Because everyone needs a friend.
Even people like him.
Even people like her.
Erik has a couple weeks of school left. He taps his pencil on the desk in front of him then makes a few notes on the small laptop he carries from class to class. The professor at the front of the class drones on about something to do with 18th century French Art, not noticing that half the class is sleeping and the other half is staring out the windows at the snow that continues to come down. It’s been almost a week of snow without any respite. Erik frowns a little as he glances at the clock on the wall. It’s his last class of the day and then he will head home to study. Finals are next week then it’s winter break.
Winter break reminds him of Charles, home from Oxford, and how much more people like him have in this world. Of course he has a longer break. Heaven forbid the rich kids miss a chance to party and ski.
The clock ticks to the top of the hour and the professor slams his laptop shut loudly, making a few students jump with surprise.
“The final will be comprehensive, people,” he says loudly as students stand up, stretch, pack books and laptops into their bags. “Special emphasis on the last three chapters.”
“You ready for the final?”
Erik hoists his bag onto his shoulder and looks at the girl standing next to him. She’s dressed entirely in white, her blonde hair cropped short, pale blue eyes, a ring in her nose and her hands propped on her hips.
“I saw you at the meeting, you know, at the Q Center. I got there late. Logan….” the girl rolls her eyes, “Anyway, since we’re in the class together, I thought…”
Erik blinks. The girl in front of him stammers a little, tumbling over her words, looking nervous. Erik wondered for a moment if he makes people feel nervous. He finds this strange, jolting considering that he feels like the least of the least in all areas of his life, especially after his experience at Dalton.
“...thought you and I might study together.”
“Uh,” Erik manages to stammer, walking towards the door, “I…”
“Emma,” the girl says, smiling at him. “You look like you could use a friend.”
Friend The term feels foreign. Erik blinks, startled to think that he might actually make a friend.
“Plus I need to pass this test and you seem to know your shit.”
Erik pauses at the doorway and looks at Emma Frost. His lips curl into a sneer.
“So you’re using me?” Erik asks, the edges of anger starting to well up. It’s Dalton all over again. It’s Charles.
“Oh Sugar,” Emma laughs. It’s a dismissive sharp kind of laugh, heavy with experience. “Of course. Aren’t we all using each other?”
Erik relaxes a little. A friend. Emma smiles a brilliant, cheeky smile, and Erik realizes that he actually could use a friend. It’s been just him and his mother for a long time.
“Okay.” Erik sighs, capitulating.
“Fuck, yeah,” Emma says. Erik smiles at her foul mouth. Against his better judgement there is something about Emma Frost he likes. He follows Emma into the hallway as she chatters away about French art and how much she prefers contemporary artists, telling Erik there’s a great exhibit at a gallery downtown. Instead of turning towards the entrance nearest his bus stop, Erik heads in the same direction as Emma. Then he hears his name.
Erik freezes. He knows that voice. He’d know it anywhere. Emma turns before Erik does and to Erik’s horror, he hears her say loudly.
“Oh, is this your boyfriend? He’s cute, Sugar.” followed by a loud smack of her gum. Erik turns slowly to see Charles standing in the hallway. He is wearing a black wool peacoat and a scarf is wound around his face, covering his mouth, so blue eyes peer at Erik from under the same floppy hair that Erik always longs to card his fingers through. He’s holding a cup of coffee in each hand.
“No,” Erik says softly, his heart pounding. What is Charles doing here? Hadn’t they already said goodbye? Didn’t he understand that there was nothing between them, that there never would be? Erik has to give him credit. He has chutzpah.
“Hmmmm,” Emma’s,voice is filled with doubt, as if to say, ‘uh, yeah right.’ “Sure. I guess we can study another time, Sugar. Here’s my number. Text me.” Emma shoves a torn piece of paper into Erik’s hand and turns, walking away from the two boys standing in the hallway, staring at each other, leaving Erik with no distraction and no escape.
“Your mother gave me your schedule,” Charles says, his voice a bit too cheery, his eyes nervously darting around for a moment. “I brought coffee.”
Erik frowns and does not take the steaming cup that Charles is extending towards him.
“God dammit Charles.”
“It’s just going to go to waste,” Charles’ voice is artificially bright, his words slightly strained. He shakes the cup towards Erik. “Good coffee is a terrible thing to waste, don’t you think?”
Erik sighs then takes the cup from Charles’ hand. Just this once, he tells himself. He notices Charles is wearing the gloves Edie gave him. Erik smiles to himself, just a little, thinking about his mother and how she defended Charles. If Charles has never felt he’s had anyone in his corner, Edie Lehnsherr is now truly on his team.
“She likes you,” Eriks says, sipping the warm beverage, glancing at Charles over the rim.
“Who?” Charles asks, taking a sip of his own.
“My mother. She likes you.”
“Ah,” Charles laughs. Erik likes the sound. It’s easy and warm. He’s not sure if he’s ever really heard Charles laugh like that. “I know. I’m using that to my advantage.”
Erik frowns. He shouldn’t be doing this. He knows how this ends. But still, he doesn’t ask Charles to leave. He hoists his heavy book bag on his shoulder and starts to walk, setting a rapid pace, leaving his unwelcome companion behind. Charles scurries a bit and catches up.
“I have to get home to study,” Erik snaps crisply, as if he owes any explanation to Charles. He glances over at the other boy who strides next to him.
“Some of us don’t get extended winter breaks.”
“Alright.” Charles winces a little at Erik’s slight. Erik stalks on in silence. He’s going to tell Edie to stop meddling in his life when he gets home. Some loves aren't meant to be. Some loves will only ever lead to heartbreak.
“I’ll walk you to the bus,” Charles says. Erik glares sideways but does not protest. They walk to the bus stop where Charles stands next to Erik in silence until his route arrives.
“So, uh, see you later,” Charles says as Erik turns to get onto the bus. Erik does not answer. He spends the entire bus ride staring out the window.
Charles is there the next day. Erik walks out of class, Emma by his side, and he hears her snicker at the sight of Charles in the same coat and scarf.
“Boyfriend time,” she snarks, casting Erik a knowing glance. Erik knows he should turn away from Charles, leave him leaning on the wall with his coffee, grab Emma by the elbow and tell her they’re going to go study in the library. Instead he waves lamely to Emma, who heads to the Q-Center for a meeting with Logan, then turns and takes the coffee from Charles.
“This isn’t going to work,” Erik says after he takes a sip. He’s not sure if he’s referring to Charles showing up every day after class or to their entire relationship.
“I’m a hopeless romantic,” Charles shrugs. “I came back for you, Erik. I’m ready. I just didn’t realize you might not want me back. But I know we had something. I’ve dreamed of it every night since the dance. I want to try and I’m not going to give up.”
Erik blinks at Charles’ words. They’re forthright and he can sense the truth in them. Still, they lay bare the naïvety that comes with people who are used to Getting what they want. Charles cannot help but hurt him. Charles’ world is one of wealth and status, and those from his world will always win over people like Erik.
“You should find someone like you,” Erik says, pushing through the door of the art building and turning towards his bus stop. “I just think we don’t work together.”
Charles is quiet for a long moment. They walk together, neither fast nor slow, and Erik doesn’t think to check his phone and see how long before the bus arrives. He kicks at a pile of snow and shoves his hands deeper into his threadbare coat.
“I disagree, Erik. I think we work together quite well,” Charles finally says, breaking the silence. “I remember quite distinctly how well.”
Erik stops and looks at Charles, whose cheeks are flushed and whose eyes are bright. Erik remembers how it felt to kiss Charles, to run his fingers across the planes and edges of his body, to taste his skin. He remembers Charles coming apart in his arms. Yes, they worked together well in that regard. So well that the memory burns bright and strong, as if it were just yesterday.
“That’s not what I mean,” Erik says quietly, grasping for control.
“But it counts. Doesn’t it count?”
“What about all the other things, Charles?” Erik asks forcefully. “You will always be the Upper East Side. I will always be Brooklyn. Your world rules you….”
“No. I’m not accepting that Erik....”
“It will have you throw me away eventually…”
“I stood up to them, Erik. For you. For god’s sake, for myself!”
“It will always win.”
Charles looks exasperated.
“For godsake, how long will I have to pay for being born into a family I never asked for?”
Erik sighs heavily. None of this is undiscovered territory. It’s the same conflict, the same problems.
“Don’t you see there is a gulf between us that can never be crossed?”
“If it wasn’t for you, I would be nothing, Erik. Don’t you see that? You pushed me to finally see how much those people controlled me, how little I was living for myself. Can’t I be seen for myself and not always as part of them?”
Charles’ eyes are glassy with tears. His voice catches.
“Why can’t you forgive me? I need you to forgive me.”
Erik’s chest clenches tightly at Charles’ words. They are heartfelt and full of anguish. A cry for absolution.
“I’ve probably missed my bus,” Erik finally says, his voice dull with pain. They’ve reached an impasse, Charles asking for pardon from Erik, Erik unable to give it because giving it will open him up for more hurt.
“I can call my car,” Charles says, then grimaces at his words.
“That’s what I mean,” Erik says firmly. “You have cars you can call. You can turn down Harvard for Oxford. You can vacation in Europe, ski in Aspen. I go to community college. I shop at thrift stores….”
Charles stares at Erik, his face pale.
“I still love, just like anyone else, Erik. I fell in love with you. I didn’t ask for it. I never went into that bathroom at Dalton expecting it. I didn’t fuck you thinking it would break my heart. I could have stayed with Moira, gone to Harvard, taken my place in the family business. But I met you and you made me want to be different. To be myself. So I have a car I can call. So fucking what? Can you please let that go?”
Erik sighs. He gives Charles a long, thoughtful look, Charles’ words echoing over and over in his head. Can you please let that go?
“I don’t know.”
It’s the truth. Charles sags a little and Erik can barely control the urge to pull him into his arms, to soothe away the sadness he sees in the eyes that haunt his dreams. He feels some of his anger slip away, replaced by a softness for Charles.
“Charles?” Erik says softly.
“It’s better than ‘no’.”
Charles smiles a sad, hopeless smile.
“I guess so.”
“So what’s with your boyfriend?”
“Not my boyfriend.”
“Ha. I saw the way he looked at you. And I saw the way you looked at him. Total boyfriends.”
“Can we please get back to studying?”
It’s Friday and the last time Erik saw Charles was Tuesday when they arrived at their impasse. He’d looked for him the next day and the day after, but he wasn’t once waiting with coffee and that wistful smile. Erik might worry more, except finals started Monday and he needs to study. With Emma, it seems, who had shoved a thermos of hot cocoa into his hands after their last Art History class and told him they were heading to the library.
“And those sad puppy eyes of his. As if you ripped out his heart and stomped on it, Lehnsherr.”
Erik looks up from his Art History text, frowning a little.
“He looks sad?”
“Ha!” Emma yelps loud enough for people to look up from their studies. “I knew you cared.”
“I do not…” Erik protests.
“Boyfriends!” Emma trills. Erik pointedly ignores her. They are not boyfriends, lovers, or even friends with benefits. They are nothing. They both go back to studying, Emma quizzing Erik over the Impressionists, Erik getting every question right.
“So what is with you and blue-eyed baby boyfriend?”
“That has nothing to do with the Impressionists, Emma.”
Emma stares at Erik, all the while gnawing at her pencil’s eraser. Erik considers not answering then sighs and decides to throw caution to the wind.
“We fucked once.”
Well, more than once, but Emma doesn't need the details.
“Must have been quite the fuck.”
Erik feels a blush climb his cheeks.
“I guess so.”
“Then what’s the problem, Lehnsherr? Why are you giving baby boyfriend the cold shoulder?”
Erik chews on his lip for a moment as he contemplates Emma’s question. He finally settles on telling her that he and Charles are just different people. Emma snorts at his explanation.
“He fucking showed up with coffee until you chased him away. I don’t see a lot of difference there. I do see you being an idiot.”
Erik glares across the table.
“It’s complicated,” Erik starts. Emma rolls her eyes and sighs.
“My dad died when I was little,” Erik continues. Emma’s face grows serious as she listens to what Erik tells her, and he’s not sure why he’s telling someone he barely knows things this personal. “It’s been me and my mother for a long time, and my mother wants the best for me. So she sent me to this school, Dalton….”
Emma lets out a low whistle at hearing Erik went to Dalton.
“I know Dalton, sugar. More than you maybe realize.”
“I spent four years there but I was Jewish and queer and the scholarship kid, so I never fit in with those people. They had so many advantages. They had cars and vacations, could afford the best colleges, had everything, while my mother worked extra shifts, we watched our money, took the subway. At first I tried to fit in but in the end, I started to understand that even though we managed to somehow afford that school, I would never fit in. I wasn’t part of their world.”
Emma smiles kindly as Erik pauses, and he knows she understands.
“Then there was Charles. He had a girlfriend but somehow we ended up fucking, and he used me, like I was someone he could have sex with and then slip away and be straight. He’s part of them, Emma. He’s rich and privileged, and people like that will always throw people like me away. He would never leave his girlfriend, never come out, never date a guy whose only future is community college. All I could ever be for him was his dirty secret....”
Erik pauses for a long moment.
“And the worst part...I fell for him.”
Erik’s voice catches with his last words. It’s the closest he’s ever come to telling someone besides Charles the truth.
Emma huffs out a dismissive laugh.
“Oh sugar. I don’t see what you see. Dirty secret? He’s been bringing you coffee. He doesn’t seem to have a girlfriend anymore. What I do see is he’s courting you,” Emma says warmly. “And you are a fucking idiot.”
Erik blinks at Emma’s words. He’s just bared his soul and her comeback is that HE is the fool?
“I mean, maybe baby boyfriend is dirty as fuck. I wouldn’t be surprised. The sweet looking ones always are. But there is no secret about how he feels about you. Head over heels if I’ve ever seen it. So your boyfriend’s got money...”
“Not my boyfriend, Emma!”
“...deal with it. Even people with money have problems, sometimes the same problems regular people have. I should know…”
Emma’s voice trails off and for a moment she looks like she’s somewhere else. She shakes her head a little then looks back at Erik.
“Anyway, you have one hell of a chip on your shoulder, Lehnsherr. The fact that he’s willing to deal with that says a lot.”
Erik’s stomach rolls a bit as Emma’s words sink in.
“So, should we go over Early Europe and Colonial Americas?”
Erik stands, still feeling queasy.
“I have to go,” he says, the words sounding stilted. Emma grins the biggest grin Erik has ever seen.
“No problem, lover boy. We can study this weekend.”
The weekend doesn’t leave Erik much time for thinking about the quagmire his personal life has become. It’s all studying, sitting with Emma in a coffee shop down the street from his apartment, pouring over their texts, drinking Americano after Americano. The one time Emma tries to bring up Charles Erik levels a glare of warning at her and Emma clamps her mouth shut.
“We should celebrate.”
“Why?” Erik growls, looking up from his book.
“We made it. Two quarters of college under our belts. We’re on our way, sugar.”
Erik glares at Emma.
“I don’t celebrate.”
“Everyone celebrates,” Emma responds, rolling her eyes. “You’ve been too grown up for too long, Lehnsherr.”
Erik returns to scanning his book, ignoring Emma’s declaration. He used to go out and have a good time, go to the clubs, hook up, but ever since Charles, he stays at home and avoids that kind of scene. Still, they will officially be on winter break and Erik can’t shake the specter of Charles from his mind. Maybe going out would be good for him. He’s still considering this on Monday when he comes out of the classroom, final done, to find Emma sitting cross-legged on the floor, grinning up at him.
“Nailed it, Lehnsherr?”
Erik smiles back, and small, triumphant smile. Yes, he nailed it. Art History is their last final and now he can relax. His mother had promised him a special dinner, and maybe they could play some board games afterwards, except there’s still the threat of Emma and her plans. Emma, who is standing up now and sidling over to loop an arm through his.
“You can come over to my place, sugar,” she says, smiling up at him. She glances past Erik and her face changes suddenly. “Or maybe you have other plans.”
Erik turns at the sound of a familiar voice and finds Charles standing in the hallway, once again holding two cups in his hands. Erik blinks and feels a sharp clench in his chest as he stares at the other boy, who is again wrapped up in a scarf, the same black wool coat, wearing a pair of fingerless gloves and a look on his face that hovers between hope and terror.
“Charles,” Erik says. Emma tightens her grip on his arm as they all stand in the hallway. “I thought you were done….”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Charles stammers, “Sharon and Kurt came back from St. Barts and she wanted me home, so I couldn’t come for a few days. I...I should have told you, but after our last conversation, I thought…” Charles’ voice trails off and a sad look comes over him for a moment, then he brightens up a little. “Anyway, I wanted to come and say congrats. And I brought coffee…”
Erik says nothing. He’s a mass of emotions, and he can’t seem to find words to respond. His heart is beating so loudly he thinks everyone must be able to hear it. His head is swimming. He opens his mouth, not sure what to say, but is interrupted by Emma.
“We’re celebrating, Rich Boy,” she says, her voice sounding slightly more clipped than usual. Erik winces at Emma’s choice of nicknames but is grateful that she didn’t call Charles ‘Baby Boyfriend’ to his face. “You should come along.”
Erik watches Charles’ eyebrows arch up in surprise. It’s obvious that he’s been talking to Emma about him. Erik’s cheeks start to flush. He feels a kick to his leg and turns to see Emma glaring at him.
“Don’t you think, Erik?”
“He might have plans....” Erik mumbles.
“I don’t!” Charles blurts put in a squeak. “I mean, Sharon and Kurt are going to Paris now. It’s just me…”
The sadness returns ever so briefly and Erik gets a glimpse of understanding of just how lonely Charles Xavier really is. How lonely he’s always been. He remembers Emma’s words, that even rich people have problems.
“...I’d love to join you, I mean, if it’s okay with you, Erik.”
Charles looks at Erik, his eyes filled with expectation. As much as Erik knows this is a mistake of momentous proportions, he can’t turn Charles away. He can’t become another person who leaves him lonely in this world. A night with friends, celebrating, drinking, is something that Charles can’t buy, no matter how much money he has. It’s something that he clearly wants. Erik takes in a shuddering breath, he feels his heart rate start to slow, the world comes back into focus.
“It’s fine.” He sees Charles visibly relax. Emma releases Erik from her grasp and heads over to Charles.
“You brought me coffee!” Emma’s voice is bright and mischievous, and Erik watches Charles smile a little. He remembers how much he likes his smile, remembers Charles in the diner smiling warmly over the rim of a chipped mug, the kind of smile that reaches all the way to the eyes.
They end up in a Brooklyn bar, all three flashing their fake IDs. It’s a dark, dankish hole in the wall but the beer is cold and the bar food tolerable. “Plus,” Emma says with a broad smile, “It's close to my place. We can crash there.”
“You have your own place?” Erik says, taking a long drink of beer then smacking his lips.
“I have for a long time.” Emma’s usual flip demeanor shifts. Her brow furrows a little. “I’ve been on my own for a while now.”
“But you’re not much older than me.”
“It’s a long story, sugar. One I don’t really want to get into.”
“Not everyone has someone like your mother,” Charles says pointedly, nodding towards Erik. “Have you met Edie? She’s fantastic. I can’t even imagine having a mother like her.”
Erik watches Charles as he talks about Edie Lehnsherr. His eyes light up, and Erik again sees something that Charles’ privilege can’t give him: family.
“She’s just my mom.”
No one seems to be listening. Another drink of beer. Erik is feeling flushed. He turns his head and the room swims a little. He reaches and grabs one of the appetizers they ordered.
“...taught me how to make knishes. I’m not sure if Sharon has ever made me a meal…”
Emma laughs, a dry, ironic sound.
“I know the feeling. My mom and dad were always too busy to take care of me. Parties, fundraisers for every other kid in the world except for me.”
Erik registers surprise at Emma’s words. He stares at his friend, the one who seems so independent, and so much like him, and starts to realize that he doesn’t know her at all. Erik leans back and watches Emma through narrowed eyes. Maybe she is more like Charles than he ever realized. She laughs again and leans in towards Charles.
Charles is entirely focused on Emma, listening to every word. He brushes a strand of hair from his forehead and Erik’s eyes follow the motion, his mind remembering what it had felt like to smooth his fingers across Charles’ damp forehead, to card his hand through his hair. God, he barely had that but he misses it. Too much.
Erik notices his beer is empty. So does Charles.
“Tonight's on me,” Charles says, smiling, “Sharon hasn’t cut me off yet.”
“Ah, the trust fund credit card. I miss that,” Emma sighs, sounding a bit wistful.
Someone puts music on the jukebox, a jangling eighties rock tune. Another beer appears in front of Erik. He picks up the sweating glass and takes a drink.
“Oxford taught me to appreciate a pint,” Charles yells over the music.
Erik winces at the reminder of Oxford. He frowns a little as he pictures well-heeled undergrads, a world entirely different than his. Erik slouches further back into the cracked leather of the booth and takes another long drink of his beer. Fuck everything, he thinks to himself. Fuck Charles. Fuck Emma too. He watches as Emma and Charles talk, and he knows what’s coming next. Emma chastising him for being so angry at Charles, telling him Charles isn’t so bad. The entire world seems to be telling him this, but none of them know. None of them know how impossible this is.
“Let’s dance!” Emma says suddenly. She grabs Charles by the arm and pulls him up. Charles smiles apologetically in Erik’s direction while being tugged towards the area by the jukebox, just a few feet from their table. Erik watches them and feels a pang of jealousy. It’s not like Emma is interested. Still, it should be him. It should be….
Erik stands. The room tilts. How many beers did he have?
Emma wraps her arms around Charles, leaning in with a brilliant smile. Charles takes her hand and spins her outwards. To anyone watching, they look happy, young and just a little drunk. Erik feels anger welling up. He doesn’t want to be here. Doesn’t want to watch this. He doesn’t want to care, and he can’t stop. His throat tightens. Tears prick at his eyes. Suddenly Erik can’t stay there, can’t keep sitting and watching this. Not when...not when he….
cares this much
Emma and Charles stumble back towards the table.
“Your boyfriend is a good dancer.” Emma says loudly. Charles glances towards Erik, his cheeks flushed, his eye bright and filled with something that looks like hope. Erik glares at Emma then focuses on Charles, watching as Charles’ face falls.
“I need to go,” Erik mutters to himself. He repeats it again, loudly. Emma and Charles still and Erik sees Charles’ brow knit with concern.
“My place,” Emma says, offering another smile, but this time it feels too bright, too much.
“No,” Erik starts. He wants to go home, to stalk past his mother, to find the solace of his room, and maybe then he can let all of these feelings out. Not here. Not Emma’s god damn studio.
“Sure,” Charles says, his voice sounding nervous.
“You can’t go home in this state, Lehnsherr. Come on.”
Before Erik can protest more the three of them are stumbling towards Emma's studio. The air is cold but Erik is warm, alcohol buzzing through his veins. Emma laughs, a clear, ringing sound. Her arms are around Charles’ waist. Erik stalks behind them his hands shoved into his pockets, his shoulders curved inward. He is filled with emotions that swirl around, threatening to bubble up and part of him just wants to yell at the two people he cares the most about in the world. He wants to tell them to go to hell, to turn and walk away, but he can’t. No matter Erik’s feelings, it’s Charles. It’s still Charles.
He never meant to fall for Charles. There was really never any kind of future in Erik’s mind. He could have gone on forever, fucking around. But that’s not how things worked out and ever since he saw that he could have more, his whole world has felt turned upside down. Charles Xavier was the last person he’d expected, and now everything feels too fucking complicated.
Emma’s studio is three floors up and by the time they reach it, Erik is breathing a little fast. Emma unlocks the door with a flourish of her arm.
“Home sweet home!”
Charles looks around. The studio is neat and tidy, sparsely furnished, a bed in the middle, a beat up couch to one side. He turns to Emma, smiling.
“It’s mine,” Emma says. He face falls a little and Erik wonders what happened to Emma Frost. Maybe he’ll ask her someday, but not tonight. Emma tosses her coat onto the back of the couch. Charles follows suit. Erik stands in the middle of the room feeling a little overwhelmed at everything.
“More drinks,” Emma says a little too loudly, “But first, I have to piss.”
Emma walks down the hallway and Erik hears a door open then shut. Charles flops down onto the couch with a loud sigh. Erik doesn’t move. The studio is silent for a long moment, the occasional sound of a car making its way through the snow drifting up from the street. Erik looks around, gazing at the floor, the small kitchen, the fact that Emma’s bed appears to have a hot pink bedspread. Anything to not look at Charles.
Charles’ voice startles Erik and he finally looks at the other boy. Charles looks back, his gaze serious and steady.
“I think…” Charles starts again, his voice tremoring slightly “...you should come sit over here.”
Erik stares at Charles’ hand as it's patting the cushion next to him. He won’t...he can’t…..
“I don’t think so,” Erik manages, his head still swimming.
Charles turns his head at Erik’s words, stares out of one of Emma’s grimy windows. Silence fills the void between them until Charles clears his throat a little and speaks.
“I just don’t know why you hate me so much.”
The words are almost a whisper, said under his breath, and something about them breaks something inside Erik. He feels a sob rise in his chest and he makes a strangled sound.
Erik swiftly crosses the room. He climbs onto the couch, his knees straddling Charles, his hands going to cradle Charles’ face.
How could he hate Charles?
“I can't stop thinking about you. I can't stop wanting you. I don’t hate you. I hate myself.”
Charles’ eyes stare into Erik’s, their bright blue darkened by desire. Those eyes are the last thing he sees before Erik’s head dips down and their lips meet.
He loves Charles.
There is nothing shy about the way Erik kisses Charles, no tentative question of a lover long-gone. It’s deep and wet, Erik’s tongue thrusting into Charles’ mouth, as if he belongs to him. Charles moans at the sudden intrusion, his hands scrambling to find purchase, one bracing on the couch against Erik’s sudden onslaught, the other gripping at Erik’s arm.
Everything feels hot and desperate. Erik’s head is still spinning from the alcohol, intoxicated by the lust he feels for Charles, a want that he can no longer fight. He should not be here, should have walked away, just like he’d walked away at Dalton, but Charles is kissing him back, and Erik cannot help himself. It feels so good.
Hands slip under Erik’s shirt, sliding up the warm skin of his back, pulling him closer. Erik slowly pushes Charles backwards on the couch, stretching himself along Charles' length, their bodies pressing against each other. Erik stops kissing Charles and Charles lets out a whine of protest until Erik’s mouth moves to the column of his neck, kissing his way down it, Charles panting loudly in Erik’s ear.
“Erik, god....” Charles whispers, “I’ve missed this. Missed you. Finally....”
The word stops everything. Erik stills. Charles freezes. Neither of them move.
He just can’t.
“No,” Erik says against Charles’ neck. He lifts his head and looks at the other boy who is looking back at him with an aching sadness, as if he knows how impossible this situation is. Erik’s heart pounds, his breath is still coming in pants, his dick aches as he stares down at Charles. Erik rolls himself off Charles and they end up sitting side by side, inches apart but separated by what feels like an impassable chasm.
“I don’t know what to do,” Charles whispers desperately, staring at the floor. “Tell me, Erik. Tell me what to do.”
Erik’s heart cracks with Charles’ words, fine lines running across its surface, threatening to shatter it into a million pieces.
“...You will never trust me that my world won’t hurt you, and I just don’t know how to show you that I’m more than that. I’ve tried. I can’t keep trying.”
“Charles,” Erik gasps.
“No. Let me say this. You’ve changed me, Erik. You’ve pushed me to finally become free, to live my life for myself. Ironically, I’m still trapped, but now I’m trapped by you and your hatred of where I come from. You told me once to figure it out. I need you to do the same for me.”
Erik swallows. His throat feels tight, choked with tears that will not come. Charles stands up. He bends down and places a soft kiss on the top of Erik’s head. Erik squeezes his eyes shut.
The door to the studio opens and shuts, and Charles is gone. Only then does Erik open his eyes.
When Emma finally comes back from the bathroom, Erik is sitting alone on the couch, staring at nothing.
“I thought I’d leave you two alone, and maybe you would figure things out…” Emma says as she walks into the room She looks around, confused. “Charles?”.
Erik looks up at her, and finally the tears he’s been holding back since the bar start to flow, hot and stinging. He feels a surge of shame. Emma rushes over to the couch, sits down and slowly Erik lets his head fall into her lap. Her hand strokes his hair as the tears continue to flow.
“Oh, sugar,” Emma whispers, “I am so sorry.”
“Something needs to change, boy chick .”
Erik is sitting at the kitchen table, his breakfast untouched in front of him; a bagel from his the neighborhood bakery slathered with cream cheese and layered with thin slices of lox, red onion and tomato. It’s his favorite but Erik can’t eat. He isn’t hungry. He hasn’t been for days, ever since he cried his heart out on Emma’s lap, her hand gently stroking his hair. Edie is sitting across from him, her dark, curly hair pulled under a scarf, her eyes serious. Erik glances up at her words, his face haggard. Edie frowns a little and Erik knows she’s looking at the dark circles under his eyes. He had poked at them when he’d rolled out of bed that morning, staring into the dingy bathroom mirror that never seems to come clean. They are physical evidence of the fact that he can’t sleep. Not since that night. Not since….
“It’s my fault, Erik.”
Erik stares at his mom, absorbing her words. She swallows and looks nervous. He opens his mouth to tell her that it’s not her fault. She has nothing to do with him falling in love with the wrong person, and she cannot mend the chasm between him and Charles. There is nothing that can be done….
“Your father. Jakob. He was the love of my life, you know. We were together from when we were, well, maybe just a bit younger than you and Charles…”
Edie’s voice catches. Erik stares at her and his chest clenches at the pain he sees on his mother’s face. He cannot help but blurt out his protest.
“Ma. He’s not...we’re not….”
Erik’s voice trails off as Edie levels a glare at Erik. Erik clamps his mouth shut and mutters ‘go on’.
“You were so young when he got the diagnosis, and I was out of my mind. I could not lose my husband, my whole life. It wasn’t just him. It was our family, our future. It had been the three of us and suddenly there was this threat that it wouldn’t always be that way. So I hoped. I prayed.”
Edie pauses. Her eyes cloud over with pain that Erik has never seen in his mother. He reaches out and puts his hand on hers, staring for a long moment at how alike their hands are, both square with long fingers. He squeezes her hand, holding onto his mother, anchoring himself to her.
“You don’t have to…”
Edie’s eyes narrow. She frowns at his words.
“I do, Erik. Because this, whatever is going on, it’s my fault. You don’t even know. So I need to tell you. Even if…” she pauses and takes in a deep, shaking breath, then continues. “Even if it hurts.”
They are both quiet for a long moment, Erik thinking about what his mother has said, as she gathers herself. Finally she starts again, her voice wavering but still strong.
“I couldn’t lose him, Erik. I hope you never experience that, my love. I hope wherever you go, whoever you are with, that they are not taken from you like Jakob was taken from me. So I did my best to not lose him, even though the cancer was eating him up. Every time we went to the doctor, it was worse. Every medication he took made him sick. But I kept telling myself that the world would not be so cruel to take this man from me. I believed that up until the moment he took his last breath. I had to. But I forgot one thing. I forgot about you.”
“I know you love Charles, Erik. I know you won’t let yourself be with him…”
“And I know why….”
“We’re from different worlds.”
“It can’t work…”
“Erik.” Edie’s voice is full of warning.
“Ma!” Erik looks at his mother and he realizes his cheeks are wet. This hurts too much. Can she just give him her motherly advice and move on, because nothing dulls the pain. “Please…”
“I did this to you. I never allowed myself to accept that Jakob was going to leave us because I could not think of a life without him, so I told myself that he wasn’t going to die. Worse than that, I told YOU the same. You were a child, and I never prepared you for the fact that your father was going to leave us. Then he did.”
Erik chokes back a sob and he lets through a memory he rarely allows himself. It’s Shiva. Edie is dressed in black, sitting in a straight backed chair. Her hands are holding a white handkerchief, folding it over and over again, and Erik is lying under a sofa on his belly watching the motions of her fingers as they fold and flatten that piece of cloth, mesmerized by the motion. That is his memory of his father’s death. Not sorrow. Not loss. Just his mother, sitting in that chair and that handkerchief being folded over and over. Tears prick at his eyes.
“You’ve always been so guarded. Your whole life. You don’t let anyone in, and I know...oh, darling I know that it’s because your father died. The most important person in your life was there one day then he left, and I never told you it was coming. I just left you alone, a little kid, and that wasn’t okay. I was trying to keep my family together, my heart together, and by doing that I taught you that the people you love will leave you.”
Edie lets out a sob, a deep, heart wrenching sound full of despair and regret. Erik can’t stand to sit across from his mother anymore. He stands up, crosses to where she sits, her hands flat on the table, her face wet with tears. Erik leans over, dipping his head to rest his cheek on the top of her head, the fabric of her scarf against his cheek, his arms going around her shoulders. She shudders at his touch and sobs again.
“I’m sorry.” Edie blurts out. “I just loved him, Erik. I didn’t want to lose him. Not then. Not now.”
They stay like that, mother and son, mourning a loss that feels old and new at the same time. Erik holds onto Edie as if she’s his port in the storm, letting the deep abiding love he feels for his mother flow from him as she sobs in his arms. After what feels like a long time, Edie’s sobs slow and she looks up at Erik, her eyes soft and shining.
“I love you, Ma.” Erik says, his voice hoarse.
“I love you too,” Edie responds. “You are my life. And you are so unhappy. It hurts me.”
Edie pulls away from Erik a little and he stands, his arms going to his sides. She wipes at her eyes and smiles up at her son. She gets a look on her face, the one that Erik knows is usually followed by a pinch on his cheek, an exclamation about how big and grown-up he is. Instead she sniffs a little and says….
Erik frowns. “We’re Jewish, Ma.”
“No, Erik. I know we’re Jewish. I means, it’s Christmas. No one should be alone on Christmas.”
Erik says nothing. He knows what she’s saying and who she’s talking about. Erik’s heart starts to pound and his chest clenches.
Charles. Charles is alone for Christmas.
“I’m making dinner this afternoon. You can help me take it to him. But this...this moping around, acting like you don’t deserve anyone, that you don’t deserve love. It has to stop . It’s time to stop. You love him, Erik. I can see that. It’s time to stop running away from that.”
Erik nods. Something inside him starts to loosen, something that’s been keeping him bound up and unable to reach out. He thinks of Charles, the way his smile reaches his eyes, this sound of his laugh. He should say ‘no’ to his mother, but he can’t. Because she’s right. It’s not that Charles is from another world. It’s not that their worlds can’t meet, or that they can’t find a way. This is about him, about Erik being afraid that loving someone means they will hurt you. Emma tried to tell him this and Erik ignored her. Charles has been trying to tell him too. But it was his mother, her regret, her courage to face her mistakes, that has helped Erik see that it’s been him all along.
“Okay.” Erik says, wiping at his eyes. He offers his mother a sad, tentative smile. “Anyway, you know how much Charles likes your cooking.”
Edie smiles back. She stands up and straightens her apron.
“Time to cook, then!”
Any fears Erik has about seeing Charles again wash away when the elevator doors open and Erik sees him standing in the foyer of one of the largest apartments he’s ever seen. Charles greets Erik and his mother with a smile, his eyes bright, his cheeks flushed. He is polite and congenial, almost as if it was entirely expected to have his ex-lover and his mother drop by on Christmas, their arms laden with foods. Then Erik sees Charles glance his way, his eyes questioning, his brow slightly furrowed, as if he is actually not sure what to make of all of this. Before Erik can offer a small smile of reassurance, the look is gone, and Charles is back to making polite conversation with Edie as she sets her various dishes on the counter in the kitchen that is larger than their living room and bedrooms combined.
“We just didn’t want you to be alone,” Edie says, busying herself by taking plastic wrap and tin foil off the dishes. “It’s Christmas, after all.”
“Yes,” Charles says warmly, “It’s Christmas.”
Edie has made brisket, and kugel, and she roots around the kitchen until she finds a pan for the latkes. Charles stands uneasily at the end of the kitchen island until Edie straightens, a heavy pan in her hand, and tells him to shoo. Charles acquiesces, scooting out of the kitchen, and when Erik lingers, Edie gives him a hard look and tells him, ‘you too’, which is why he ends up standing in the middle of a large living room with a spectacular view of the city. Erik stares out the windows, and it reminds him of another night, standing in that hotel, feeling out of place just before Charles had bounced on the bed.
“You’re here,” Charles’ voice startles Erik. He turns to find the other boy standing behind him, a smile on his face that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Instead, in his eyes is a question.
“Ma thought you might like company….” Erik starts, feeling acutely aware that he’s not telling the entire truth.
“Oh,” Charles’ face falls. Erik feels his heart start to pound.
“...and I wanted to see you.”
As the words fall into the space between them, Erik knows they are true. He wanted to see Charles. He’s wanted to see Charles since the day he showed up with that coffee outside class, wanted to stand before him with nothing between them. Now he can.
“Oh!” Charles says again, and this time the word is sharp and full of surprise. He does not smile but his eyes spark with something that looks like hope just as Erik starts to feel something that feels like hope well up in his chest.
Maybe it’s okay to hope.
Maybe this can work.
Charles moves to sit on one of the couches that dominate the room. Erik glances at him then carefully moves to sit across from him, his hands twisting in his lap. He feels strangely open and vulnerable, like he’s on a first date.
They’ve never had a first date or anything close. They’ve never had anything normal. They have a lost weekend, a dirty fuck and too much heartbreak.
“I think I’ve figured it out.”
He watches Charles’ eyebrows arch in surprise.
“You do?” Charles answers. “And what did you figure out?”
“I…” Erik starts, then pauses, taking in a deep breath. “I think I want this.”
Erik nods, feeling his eyes start to fill with tears. He nods ‘yes’ just as Edie pokes her head into the room.
“Dinner!’ Edie announces. Charles jumps up from where he’s sitting, wipes his hands on his pants nervously, then offers Edie a smile before he clears his throat and says ‘jolly good’ in a louder than usual voice. Erik says nothing. His throat is tight, his heart pounds, and he is grateful for the interruption.
Edie has set three places in the looming dining room, carefully arranging fine bone china and sparkling crystal goblets. She’s made herself at home in the massive penthouse. Dishes of hot food sit on the table and as Erik slides a chair out, Charles exclaims, ‘just a moment’ and disappears into the kitchen only to emerge a few minutes later with a bottle of wine in his hand.
“One of Kurt’s prized bottles.” Charles says with a smirk.
“Charles!” Edie says sharply.
“For a special occasion.” Charles glances at Erik and offers him a small secret smile. Erik feels his heart leap. “I think this counts.”
“Okay.” Edie sighs.
“Plus I leave before he and Sharon get back. Not much they can do to me in Oxford….”
Charles trails off and Erik feels a slight twinge of pain at the reminder that no matter what he wants, nothing can change the fact that he and Charles are literally oceans apart. He quickly pushes that thought away. Tonight is about tonight. Charles opens the wine and pours some into the glass in front of Erik.
It’s a good meal. It’s the kind of meal Erik has grown up with. He knows this menu. It’s the traditional Hanukkah dinner his mother serves every year, and part of him aches to see a menorah fully lit at the table too. His mother’s brisket is tender the latkes are crisp, topped with sour cream and applesauce. The meal feels like home, despite the fact that Erik and Edie are so far from home they might as well be in a different country.
Charles eats every bit with gusto and gratitude, telling Edie that he’s never had a meal so good. His compliments are genuine and Erik believes Charles tells the truth. The wine is the best Erik has ever tasted, and when his glass is almost empty, Charles fills it again, until Erik is feeling relaxed, warm and strangely happy. They talk during dinner: Charles about school, Edie about growing up in Germany. Erik stays quiet as he watches the two most important people in his life share their stories.
Edie tells Charles how food is important to her, to her Jewish heritage.
“People have made latkes for centuries. It is a way we stay together.”
“Erik once told me he’s an atheist Jew.” Charles says just before putting another bit of latke into his mouth. Edie huffs out a laugh.
“Oh, boychick,” she says, looking fondly at Erik. “You’re Jewish through and through. It’s not all about belief. It’s about culture. Tradition.” Her gaze moves from Erik to Charles. “If my son doesn’t want to carry on our traditions, maybe you will, Charles. I can teach you how how to cook this meal.”
Erik blushes and looks down at his plate, but not before he catches Charles’ beaming smile.
“I would like that.”
When the meal is done, Charles excuses himself and goes upstairs. Erik piles their plates and takes them into the kitchen, carefully rinsing them in the sink then placing them into the shining modern dishwasher. He thinks about their small apartment, about the countertop machine his mother makes do with. His mother wraps up the food, placing leftovers into a container for Charles.
“I like him,” Edie says, glancing over at Erik. Erik ignores Edie, suddenly becoming preoccupied with a bit of food on one of the plates. Edie sighs as she realizes her son is not going to respond. She puts the last container in the fridge, shuts it then turns to Erik.
“I’m going home, ketsele. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Erik sputters a little and almost drops the plate. He manages to set it down carefully then turns to look at his mother, who is smiling at him.
“I like him,” Edie says again, her voice firm, determined to make her son hear her. “And you’re not a child, Erik. You can live your life how you want, and I think you want to be here tonight, not at home with your mother. Just use protection. All those nights of you going to those clubs, all I could do was hope I’d raised you right…”
“Ma!” Erik exclaims, his face feeling hot and he imagines he must be bright red. “How did you know?”
“Does it matter?” Edie asks. She wipes her hands on a towel, walks up to where Erik is still standing by the sink and wraps her arms around him. “You were so small once, ketsele. I could hold you in one arm. Now you are taller than me. I want you to be happy, and Erik, tonight you look happier than I’ve seen you in a very long time. Figure it out, my sweet boy. Figure it out.”
Edie leaves and Erik finishes the dishes, going over what his mother has said in his mind again and again. When he is done, he closes the dishwasher, then bends down and peers at the myriad of buttons and options available, trying to figure out which one he should push. He’s still contemplating the cycle he should choose when he hears the sound of a throat clearing. Erik straightens to find Charles Xavier standing in the doorway. He has changed from trousers into soft pants and a t-shirt and he looks at Erik with a softness that makes Erik ache for everything they have lost. He can’t believe he’s here, that this is happening.
“Went home,” Erik says, his voice sounding stilted. He feels self-conscious and awkward, unsure what to do next.
“But you didn’t.” Charles arches an eyebrow. He frowns a little at this development.
“No,” Erik mutters, turning his attention back to the dishwasher and finally deciding which cycle he should use. He straightens up again to find the doorway empty. Erik frowns a little then walks back towards the living room only to find Charles standing at the floor to ceiling windows, staring out at the lights of the city. This time it’s Erik who clears his throat. Charles turns towards him and Erik sees that his eyes are shining with tears. Charles vulnerability topples whatever has been holding Erik back and suddenly he feels raw and exposed, left with only the truth.
“It should have been me,” Erik says softly, stepping closer to where Charles stands. “At the dance, the one where you had that horrible Myra….”
“Yes - Moira - wrapped around you.”
Erik steps closer. Charles does not move. He watches Erik with careful eyes.
“You hurt me.”
“I was confused.” Charles’ voice cracks with emotion.
“It should have been me.”
“I fixed it.”
“I know. God, I know. And I acted like that didn’t count.”
Erik realizes his eyelashes are wet. Charles stares at him, his gaze deep and sincere. They are inches apart now. Erik reaches out with both hands, hooking his fingers into waistband of Charles pants. He doesn’t do anything more, just stands there, his fingers pressed against Charles’ hipbones, and somehow they are both swaying towards each other, driven by some force they don’t entirely understand.
“It can be you now,” Charles whispers, “I want it to be you. I always have.”
With those words all of the bindings and ties that have been holding Erik back finally unravel, and something that feels like a deep, aching pain travels through him. All the grief and heartbreak since meeting Charles, no longer held back, surges forward and Erik dips his head and sobs against Charles’ mouth just before it opens for him.
The touch of his lips to Charles’ is cathartic. It sweeps away all of Erik’s fears, banishes that inner voice that tells him in the darkness of night that it can’t work, they are too different, their worlds are too far apart. It's all pushed aside, not for a future, but to have something right now.
To have this.
Oxford is still there. Brooklyn is still there, but as his mouth moves against Charles’, as Charles melts into him, moaning between kisses, Erik doesn’t care. Charles is here now. Now is what Erik finally wants. This. This is what counts.
Charles’ hands slide up and down Erik’s back, rubbing random patterns on the thin fabric of his t-shirt until they somehow slip under, finding Erik’s bare skin. Erik reacts like it’s an electric shock, jerking against Charles’ touch, kissing him even more desperately. He holds onto Charles as the world spins around them, and slowly, step by step, they walk backwards until Charles is pressed against the cold glass window and Erik’s weight is pressed solidly against him. Charles’ hands slide out from Erik’s shirt and down to grip his buttocks, pulling his hips forward, pressing his almost entirely painfully aching hard dick into Charles’, making Erik hiss out a long ‘yesssss’ against Charles’ mouth.
The feel of Charles against him is something Erik knows almost on a cellular level. His body responds from a deep muscle memory and Erik realizes he is home.
“Take me to bed,” Erik whispers as Charles mouths along his jawline. Not a quick fuck against the window or on the couch. Bed. Erik tips his head back and Charles moves his attention to the exposed column of Erik's neck, biting a line of kisses down it until he buries his face in the curve of Erik’s clavicle.
“Yes,” Charles whispers against Erik’s shoulder, his breath dampening the fabric of Erik’s t-shirt, his shoulders rising and falling with every inhalation and exhalation.
They should talk. They should figure all this out. Instead Erik steps backwards, taking his weight off Charles and Charles takes Erik’s hand in his, holding onto him tightly, as if he is afraid to let go. Erik is afraid to let go as well, as if losing that connection means he will lose everything. Charles leads Erik out of the living room, up the curving staircase and down a hallway of doors until he reaches one. Charles opens it then steps through into a bedroom that’s larger than Erik’s living room. Erik might look around, try to get an understanding of who Charles is by looking at the posters on the wall, glancing through the books that line the bookcase. Instead he lets Charles push him backwards until the backs of his legs hit the edge of the bed. Erik sits down as Charles comes to stand above him, releasing Erik’s hand so he can bring both his hands to Erik’s face, cradling it, staring down into Erik’s eyes for a long moment before his head dips and they are kissing again, their mouths greedy for each other.
Erik loves kissing. He loves kissing Charles. He can’t get enough, opening his mouth, tongues glancing off each other. Erik’s head is bent back, his neck extended and it’s uncomfortable, but he cannot complain. Their kisses are hard, merciless, and they leave Erik’s head spinning. Suddenly Charles stops and Erik leans forward, chasing his mouth with a whine until he realizes that Charles has only paused so he can pull off his t-shirt, tossing it on the floor in a careless heap, his fingers clumsily moving to slide his pants down his hips. Erik watches him through heavy lids, everything about him feeling slow and thick, until he thinks about what is to come and that maybe he should be taking off his clothes too. He grabs the hem of his t-shirt and starts to pull it up and over his head only to have Charles’ hands push his away and he feels the edges of Charles’ hands brush up the skin of his torso, the contact hot and stinging, and Erik lets out a low, humming moan. Charles pulls the shirt over Erik’s head and when the fabric is pulled away and their eyes meet, Charles pauses and looks at Erik, a long, wandering glance, pupils blown wide from desire, lips parted, and that look makes Erik’s breath catch.
“Hi,” Charles whispers, still staring at Erik, and suddenly everything slows and it’s just the two of them. Erik and Charles. “You’re here.”
“I am,” Erik says, his voice hoarse. He stares back at Charles and sees moisture forming at the edges of his eyes. Something clenches tightly in Erik’s chest, an undefined feeling, and just as he opens his mouth to say something - although he’s not entirely sure what - Charles suddenly dips his head and laps a tongue over one of Erik’s nipples. Whatever Erik was going to say slips away as he lets out an exclamation at the swipe of Charles’ tongue, which makes Charles focus even more on the tight, sensitive bud, his hands going to Erik’s chest as he pushes him gently backwards. Then end up perpendicular on the bed, Charles straddling Erik’s hips as he greedily moves to his other nipple, sucking and nipping, and Erik arches up towards him, wanting more. Charles’ hands slide downward, tracing across the fine hairs of Erik’s stomach until they land on the fastener for his jeans.
Erik freezes. He feels a tremble run through the muscles of his abdomen and his thighs quiver. Charles lifts his head and his hands still.
His name is a request, asking for permission. Erik wants to nod, to stare down at Charles and tell him to do what he wants. Except…
“I haven't ,” Erik says, his already hot cheeks flushing. He feels embarrassed that he even hesitates. He wants to excuse his awkwardness, his eagerness.
Charles’ eyes grow wide. “You haven’t?” he rasps out, looking confused about what Erik is trying to tell him.
Erik does not want to explain, to lay bare the aftermath of Charles Xavier. He glances to one side. The duvet muffles his answer.
“Not in a while.”
Charles doesn’t move. His face shifts from confusion to understanding as he hovers above Erik, his fingers resting lightly on the waistband of Erik’s jeans. Charles stares down thoughtfully, biting at his lip, and his brow furrows a bit.
Erik screws his eyes shut, and suddenly he feels more vulnerable than he ever has before. He opens them to look up at Charles, whose eyes are soft and kind.
“You. Not since you.”
And never like this. Sex had been an escape, and then Charles came along, and it became something else. Something Erik could no longer do for distraction. It became about everything he thought he could never have, about connection and intimacy, about everything Erik had been pushing away. And now he lays stretched out before Charles, and he feels their roles have reversed, and it is now Erik that looks to Charles for guidance.
Charles’ mouth clamps shut. He is quiet for a long moment. Then he opens his mouth, but nothing comes out, as if he can’t find the words. Erik wants to look away, to turn his head and relieve some of the shame that is starting to course through him. What a fool he is, waiting for someone he didn’t think he could ever have. Yet, he did. And here they are.
“Oh Erik,” Charles breathes. “Oh, Erik.” he says again, and the way he says Erik’s name makes something inside Erik spill over. Tears prick at his eyes as he stares up at the other boy, waiting, but not sure what he’s waiting for. Condemnation? Absolution?
Charles bend down and places a kiss on Erik’s forehead, a soft, touch of lips. A tear drips onto Erik’s cheek. It’s not his.
Another kiss on his cheek.
One on his jawline.
Erik strains up towards Charles. Their lips meet. It’s not like the other kisses. Charles kisses him slowly, softly, as if he never wants it to end. It’s not a kiss leading to something. It’s something in itself. They kiss again and again, the urgency of a few moments ago slipping away, and Erik might be content to let this go on for a long while, but Charles is writhing against him, pressing into him, and his thigh brushes against Erik’s straining cock. Erik gasps at the touch and the urgency comes crashing back in. Charles must be feeling it too, because he stops kissing Erik and his hands return to working the fastener on his jeans. Erik's fingers join him, and it’s not long before he’s shimmied himself out of his jeans and boxers and they are both naked, sliding up against each other, chest against chest, legs tangling.
Erik has missed this. How can he miss something he barely had in the first place? He might linger on that thought except Charles is making his way down Erik’s chest, alternating kisses with quick tastes of Erik’s burning skin. He pauses at the jut of Erik’s hip and nuzzles his cheek against it. Erik bucks a little, staring down at the top of Charles’ head, at the expanse of freckles illuminated by the table lamp. His cock is wet and aching and Charles is so near, just inches away. Erik fists the cool cotton sheets. He bucks his hips again and let's out a breathy moan.
Will Charles know what he is asking for? Have there been others? How many times has Charles kissed another boy since Erik? Sucked another boy’s cock?
Charles slides Erik’s cock into his hot mouth and there is no room left for jealousy in Erik’s head as his brain becomes muddled with lust. He tips his head back as Charles sucks at him, eyes wide open, staring up at the ceiling. Erik’s hips thrust shallowly, his hand goes to grip Charles’ hair, the muscles in his abdomen start to flutter and Erik can feel that he is about to come. He hasn't had sex for almost a year, he’s nineteen, and any semblance of control over his body flew out the window the moment Charles went down on him. As much as he craves release, he does not want this to be a quick and dirty blow job. He wants more.
Erik’s hands go to push feebly at Charles shoulders. Charles freezes at their touch. Erik’s cock slips from his mouth as he raises his head to stare up at Erik, and Erik bites back a whine of protest. Because Charles is looking at him with pain on his eyes.
“I want to see you.”
Erik would explain more, he would tell Charles that what he said the night of the dance, the night they parted, has not changed. He loves him. He wants to touch him, to stare into his eyes, to watch pleasure wash over both of them. This is not the club. This is not a quick fuck. This is something else.
But the words feel too heavy and Erik is stupid with arousal, and all he can tell Charles is that he wants to see him. He sees relief wash over Charles with those words, and the slender young man who has grown more muscled in their time apart, ranges over him, dipping his head to capture Erik's mouth in a bruising kiss. The room is quiet except for the sound of their kisses and soft moans. Erik hooks his legs over the back of Charles’ legs, pulling him closer until his weight is fully on him and he can fully feel Charles’ hard dick sliding against his, a perfectly imperfect drag of skin against skin. Erik tilts his head upwards, burying his face into the damp skin of Charles’ shoulder as everything threatens to break. He is on the edge, and it takes a few thrusts against each other before Erik is clawing at Charles back, his abdomen tightening, his cock spurting thick, warm come between them. It is only then that Charles finally calls out his name, his face strained, eyes closed, and Erik makes himself watch as Charles comes with a shout.
Charles collapses against Erik, heavy and pliant, lying still for a long moment, legs tangled with Erik’s, their chests heaving with exertion. Then, in a sudden movement that makes Erik frown, Charles pushes away, rolling off Erik and moving to sit on the edge of the bed, his back towards Erik. Erik watches him with wary eyes, tracing the line of his broadening shoulders. He takes in the red marks of his fingers on Charles’ skin, the muscles in Charles’ back. Everything about Charles says he is older, and the boy who had gleefully bounced on the bed at the Waldorf Astoria is gone. Erik feels a sharp stab of regret for all they’ve lost.
“I…” Charles says hoarsely, “I’m going to shower.” There is a sharpness to his words, but Erik does not notice. He watches Charles stand, watches his ass as he walks towards what must be his private bathroom. Erik lies back on the soft duvet and closes his eyes. He would crawl under the covers but he is sweaty and smells of semen, so he stays where he is. He replays what just happened, feeling flushed at the very recent memory of Charles rubbing against him, Charles’ hard cock, Charles breathy moans. His flaccid dick perks up, twitching at the memory, and Erik wonders how long before they can fuck again. He is so lost in his thoughts that he doesn’t notice Charles has returned until his voice startles him.
“You’re not dressed.”
Erik jumps a little. His eyes fly open to find Charles standing at the end of the bed, his hair damp, chest bare, a white towel wrapped around his waist. Erik swallows. He looks good. More than good.
“Should I be?” Erik is confused.
“Don’t you need to go home? Isn’t Edie expecting you?”
Charles is looking at him with guarded eyes, his mouth a tight line. He does not look like someone who just had great sex with the’s in love with the boy he’s been pining for. He looks afraid. Erik’s eyes widen as he realizes that despite his confessions, Charles expects him to walk away. That’s why he sat on the edge of the bed instead of lying next to Erik until their breathing was in time. That’s why he stood up and showered instead of letting Erik card his hand through that chestnut hair and trace his fingertips across every smattering of freckles. He was giving Erik time to exit.
He still doesn't believe this is real.
“She said she’d see me in the morning.”
Charles stares at Erik. They are both quiet for what feels like a just too long of a pause, and Erik starts to feel uncomfortable, as if he should slide off the bed and profess his love, fill in the space between them with words that can mean something or might mean nothing. He doesn’t. Instead he sits with the silence and he waits. Charles’ mouth opens and closes again. He wipes at his eyes, and Erik suspects if he looked closely he would see tears. Finally he speaks, his voice sounding strangled.
“So, you’re staying.”
Erik nods. He doesn’t need to say anything. Charles knows the answer. He’s staying. Tonight. Tomorrow. Maybe longer. But at least for now.
“You’re staying.” Charles says again, this time with a small smile. He climbs onto the bed, ignoring that his towel has slipped off, crawling on top off Erik until their faces are mere inches apart. Erik stares into Charles’ eyes and Charles stares back, his gaze soft and full of emotion, eyes shining with tears.
“I’m staying.” Erik whispers just before their mouths crash together in a bruising kiss.
The end! Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting. You are the best.
Erik knows the voice that calls out behind him. He could turn but instead he strides ahead, ignoring Emma Frost until she bounds up next to him.
“You said you would call me over break.”
Erik glances over at his friend. Her hair is freshly cropped and newly dyed, an almost white-blonde, the kind of blonde that some people get from their extended vacation in the Bahamas and Emma Frost gets from bottle. Her hands are on her hips and she is glaring at him.
“I was busy,” Erik grunts, ignoring Emma’s elbow that jabs into his ribs.
“What the FUCK, Lehnsherr?!” Emma exclaims. He turns to see her staring at the side of his neck and he knows that she’s looking at the purplish bruise Charles had left a few days ago, sucking his way down Erik’s neck as he fucked into him. Erik blushes, not because he’s been discovered but at the memory.
Emma pokes at the bruise with a finger. Erik shirks away from her, feeling strangely private.
“Fuck off, Frost.”
“Baby boyfriend,” Emma sighs, rolling her eyes. “And you didn’t TELL me. You two finally figured it out.”
“Maybe,” Erik mutters, not really wanting to talk about it. Was it just two days ago he’d been standing in the airport, Charles wrapped around him, his cheek resting on Erik’s chest? Charles had told him he didn’t have to go. He could drop out of Oxford. Erik had ended that with a firm, ‘no’. Charles Xavier is destined for greatness. Erik will not stand in his way. He loves him too much to do that.
“My program is six years after undergrad,” Charles had said, looking up at Erik. “It’s not easy, Erik. What if things change?”
Erik had told him that they might. But they might not.
“We found each other already,” he had whispered into Charles’ hair, savoring the smell of his shampoo. “We can again.”
“So, long distance boyfriends,” Emma’s voice breaks through Erik’s memories. He turns to look at her again.
“Not my boyfriend, Emma.” Erik growls. At that moment his phone makes a ‘plink’ sound. Erik glances at it to see a picture of Charles with the covers tucked up to his chin and a genetics book open in front of him.
Sleepy. Missing you.
Erik can't help but smile. Erik is heading to class. Charles is going to sleep. An ocean separates them. Erik’s heart aches a little at the distance.
“Um, boyfriends!” Emma exclaims and Erik realizes she is looking at his phone.
“It’s okay. I hooked up with some chick anyway. Betsy. She has this hot school teacher vibe going. AND a tongue stud. That stud on my clit, holy fuck….”
Emma cocks her head and offers Erik a smile.
“Ah, you’re listening after all, Lehnsherr. Hey, do we have any classes together this quarter?”
“Welding?” Erik asks.
“Photography,” Emma sighs. “Oh wait, are you taking geometry?”
“Good, we can study together.”
Emma turns towards the Q-Center.
“Want to grab a coffee and go watch Logan flirt with the transfers who don’t know what an ass he is yet?”
Coffee. Charles. Erik remembers Charles standing with those coffees in his hands. Suddenly he misses him. He glances at his phone but no new texts have arrived. He feels Emma’s elbow dig into his ribs.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Lehnsherr. I don’t know which version of you I dislike more, the brooding angry one or the brooding lovesick one! He’ll be back in the spring.”
“What if he can’t get away?” Erik asks. He can’t say more. He doesn’t want to give voice to his fears. What if Oxford is more intriguing than Erik? What if Charles meets someone? What if he’s been right all along? They are too far apart.
Emma laughs. It’s a short, sharp sound. Almost a guffaw, as if Erik said something funny. Erik glances at her, feeling annoyed.
“He’ll be back. I can’t imagine anything will keep him away. Plus baby boyfriend loves your mother's cooking. He’s not going anywhere. Now, coffee. Mocking Logan. Have a little fun? I mean, I could call Betsy for a quickie if you’re going to be this annoying, Lehnsherr. Gawd, that tongue stud!”
“Shut the FUCK up Frost. Let’s go.”
Erik smiles. Emma smiles back. She loops an arm through his and they make their way towards the Q-Center. Erik sees that the snow has melted a little. There are some patches where the ground is actually bare. The sun is shining. Charles may be in Oxford but they are no longer apart in every other way. Just the ocean, Erik tells himself. Just the ocean. And maybe someday not even that.