The first time it happened, Charles was sipping at his Earl Grey in the kitchen at the mansion.
The perfectly hot liquid had moistened his lower lip, and he had sucked it into his mouth with a satisfied, unconscious whimper. It was delicious, after all.
That’s when he heard it, though not through his ears.
It was his voice, his moan, but louder, drawn out and broken.
It echoed inside his skull for a few moments, a dirty, endless loop, then stopped abruptly as if it was never there.
Charles chocked on his drink.
Erik was still at the other end of the table, hidden behind the paper stretched out in his hands, but the spoon in front of him was visibly shaking. There was no one else in the kitchen.
“Erik?”, Charles asked, astonished. “Is something the matter?”
One of Erik’s hands leapt forward and squashed the spoon on the hard surface to make it stop trembling. “Absolutely not”, he answered, voice raw and face still hidden. “Just a little headache.”
“I see”, said Charles, puzzled. He glanced in Erik’s direction one last time and a tentative smirk curved his lips.
The second time, they were playing chess.
It had been a hot, sticky day, and the humidity of the evening had crawled its way through the windows of the study. Charles could feel the neck of his shirt getting stuck to his heated skin and the sweat pooling in the hollow of his throat. Looking down at his glass he noticed with a disappointed huff that the ice in his scotch had long since melted.
Erik, obviously, was as perfect-looking as ever. Seemingly unbothered by the hot air, he sat on the leather armchair hugged by his turtleneck and with his long legs crossed; his steely eyes were fixed on the chessboard.
Charles huffed again, squirmed on his own chair and decided he had had enough. He put the glass down on the coffee table and tried to slip out of his cardigan. It got stuck in the hem of his shirt and dragged it for an inch or two. His head was still covered by the fabric when he felt it. He froze.
It wasn’t a moan this time, or a sound, but an image so vivid it could have been a feeling.
The tip of a tongue stroking oh so slowly the skin around a navel in increasingly tight circles and leaving a wet trail in its wake. A puff of breath, hot and stuttering, warming a pale stomach covered in goosebumps. An open-mouthed kiss.
Charles clenched involuntarily his abdomen and shivered. He freed himself with one last tug at the cardigan and glanced at Erik just in time to see him looking away and back to the chessboard. His sharp cheekbones were slightly reddened by something that could have been easily mistaken for heath.
It had been Charles’ fault, to be honest.
He had thought no one would be up so early in the morning, therefore he’d considered locking the bathroom door an unnecessary precaution. He had obviously failed to consider Erik’s morning runs.
He only had time to recognise the presence of another awake mind behind the door when it was yanked open. Charles heard it bump softly against the wall. He only heard it because his eyes were trailed elsewhere. Namely, on Erik’s broad chest and slim waist. His already thin t-shirt had been made even more see-through by the dampness of his skin, and damn. Was he frustratingly stunning.
And Charles was not. Not on a daily basis, and especially not now, with only a pair of loose joggers on and a mop of drenched hair watering everything in its surroundings.
At first, he didn’t realise.
His nostrils filled up suddenly with the thick, aromatic perfume of the expensive body wash Raven had gifted him. But the fragrance was warmer, somehow, wet, and lingered in the air carried by the steam of his hot bath. It was heady, it flooded his senses and left him quite dizzy.
It was only when an image hit him with the force of a truck that he understood.
Fingers running tentatively through wet, dark strands, uncovering an arched throat. The thin skin under a jaw pulsating steadily with the artery beneath. Then a nose, warming its way slowly up a white neck covered in sparkling droplets of water and burying himself in the short hair right behind an ear. A faint inhalation and a trembling sigh. Thin lips enveloping a soft earlobe and tugging.
“Oh”, Erik said in the realm of reality, still on the threshold. His grip on the door handle was quite intense, if the whiteness of his knuckles was any indication.
“Indeed”, said Charles, folding his arms in a vain attempt at covering his quickly-reddening chest. He could feel his face burning up. “Let me just…”. He grabbed the first available towel to cover his bare chest and fled the bathroom. He flattened himself against the door and mercifully managed not to touch any part of Erik: he didn’t know what he would have done, otherwise.
The fourth time, it had to do with his lips.
Charles didn’t jump, even though Erik had been catlike quiet: he had felt his mind approaching from his bedroom on the first floor, restless and iron-flavoured. So neatly organized, so focused.
Touching his mind was like putting on glasses after being forced to stare at a fuzzy world all day, like wiping clean a rained-on windscreen. Charles took another spoonful of chocolate cake and chewed on it carefully.
“When it is too quiet out there,” he finally said, waving the spoon in the vague direction of the empty kitchen around them. “It is a bit too noisy in here.” He tapped on his temple and shrugged.
Erik nodded once, thoughtful. A flick of his wrist was enough to move the kettle from its shelf to the burner. “Tea?”
“I thought you didn’t care for tea”, Charles observed.
“I don’t,” said Erik, and turned on the stove. “But you do.”
He propped his joggers-clad hip against the counter and watched silently as Charles picked at the cake. His grey eyes followed intently the brushing of his fingers against the metal of the spoon.
“Where does that even come from?” Erik asked, hinting with his chin at the emptying plate.
“Is that any good?”
Charles swallowed another bite, puckered and then thinned his lips. “It could have done with another fifteen minutes in the oven, perhaps.”
Erik snorted and tilted his head.
“What?” inquired Charles, narrowing his eyes at his friend’s amused smile.
“You have a bit of chocolate on…” Erik touched his lips with the tip of his index finger.
“Oh.” Charles frowned and drew the tip of his tongue on the plump part of his lower lip to clean the chocolate off. With one last curl he caught the crumbles on the corner of his mouth and smiled triumphantly.
When he looked up, Erik was gazing at his face so intensely that Charles felt like his skin could be peeled off his bones by the heat boiling in his eyes.
This time, when he felt a thought that wasn’t his own invading his mind, he knew it wasn’t accidental.
It was the rich, thick flavour of chocolate, drenched in longing and painful regret, tinted with the warmth and smoothness of lips.
Charles raised his shields and locked his mind away.
Erik looked startled as if a door had been slammed in his face. He turned around and rested his forehead against the kitchen cabinet. His back was a tense, unforgiving line.
“Not this time, Erik,” murmured Charles. “No more fantasies, no more…”
“I thought you liked it this way.” Erik snorted, harsh and self-derogatory. “A dirty secret swept under the rug in the back of your mind, to be forgotten the moment I was out of your sight.”
Charles stood up so abruptly from the chair that it almost flipped over. “Don’t you dare presume what I want when you never even bothered to ask.”
Erik turned around and his face was scrunched up in rage, his eyes aflame. “What exactly did you want me to say to you? And what for? To be rejected? Or worse, to be indulged out of pity just to make my mind stop screaming for you?”
Every piece of metal in the kitchen was shaking, drawers and doors slamming and lamps flickering. “It was just a joke to you, wasn’t it?” Erik accused, fists clenched at his sides, eyes dark. “The smiles, and the glances, and the touches. Everything you did clawed at me from the inside, it must have been so easy for you-”
“Easy?” Charles snarled, blood pulsing in his ears. He opened his mind and pushed everything out.
It was a flooding of images and sensations, of cruel tugging at his chest and soft touches on bare forearms. It was clean-shaven skin stretched on an unrelenting jaw, broad shoulders sinfully torturing tight shirts and sweat running down a pale neck. Unspoken words that clogged his throat and thin lips shaping hushed promises of a different future. It was pain, goosebumps under long, curling fingers and sharp eyes filtering an extraordinary, powerful mind. It was agony with rare flashes of hope, as red as blood, as smooth as skin. But above all was a blinding, biting hunger, deepened by every ounce of desire leaked from Erik’s thoughts. It never slept, it never subsided, it made his stomach growl and his skin boil.
Charles closed his mind again after mere seconds, like a window that one shuts to keep the roaring tempest out. He was suddenly very tired. “It has most certainly not been easy, my friend.”
Erik was staring at him slack-jawed, hands outstretched and trembling. His eyes were feverish and moved relentlessly on Charles’ face, looking for something.
“Now,” spelled Charles. “Ask me.”
Erik froze. Charles moved around the table cautiously, as if approaching a wild animal. He took a few steps in his direction and repeated firmly. “Ask me, Erik.”
Erik shut his eyes and tightened his jaw. He made to turn away again, but Charles caught his arm with his hand and held him there. “No more hiding”, he said. At that, Erik opened his stormy eyes and fixed them on his face. He swallowed. “Do you want me?”, he asked, voice hoarse.
Erik shivered, and his next word was a whisper. “Why?”
Charles steeled himself. “Because I lov-”.
He never got to finish, though.
Erik broke free from Charles’ grip and locked his arm on his lower back to drag him forward and press him against the hot, firm line of his own body. His other hand found its place in Charles’ hair and pulled at them until he had his mouth exactly where he wanted it: under his own.
His movements had been so frenzied that they had tumbled against the kitchen counter, sharp angles digging in their flesh. It was uncoordinated, it was warm and thrilling, and Charles could feel the blood rushing in his ears and his heart thumping against Erik’s chest. His own fingers dug in the thin skin of Erik’s flanks under the shirt, short nails leaving marks. When they finally separated, Charles couldn’t let go of Erik’s slim torso. He left a trail of open-mouthed kisses from the juncture of his shoulder to the back of his ear, along one thick tendon, and felt him squirming with an unsafe dose of delight. “About those fantasies…” he breathed against his sensitive skin. “Are there more where they came from?”
Erik’s chest shook with laughter and his arms tightened around Charles’ body. “Many more.”
Erik stiffened and gasped.
“Mr. Lehnsherr,” Agent Douchebag Number 1 asked, bored. “Something to add?”
Thompson, Charles stage whispered in his head. His name is Thompson. Erik growled in response.
He pulled sharply at the agent’s buckle for good measure and glowered in his direction. “No.” he said, curtly. “Please, Charles, do continue.”
Charles resumed his useless and perfectly defective report about Cerebro’s improvements, which, unfortunately for Erik, engaged only a slim percentage of his brain.
Erik squirmed on the office chair and cleared his throat.
Charles, he warned, remove your hands from there.
But my hands are up here, replied Charles happily, wriggling his fingers in front of the agents.
Your mind hand, then. Said Erik behind clenched teeth.
Smug satisfaction invaded his brain. Oh, mused Charles. You mean from here.
Erik felt something invisible crawling its way up his leg. The sensation of a nail scraping the fabric of his trousers, then of a palm massaging his inner thigh.
Is it, Erik panted, some kind of payback?
Charles huffed indignantly. Of course not.
Erik’s brain blacked out when blunt teeth pricked the delicate skin of his Adam’s apple. He had to physically restrain himself from arching his neck toward an invisible, hot mouth. But this is.
The metal table in front of them groaned painfully. The agents sat around it jumped.
Careful. Warm puffs of breath tickled Erik’s ear, followed by the tip of a tongue.
Charles’s mirthful laugh echoed in his skull, and Erik couldn’t help but smile in turn. You’re such a bastard.
Want me to stop?
Never, answered Erik, and heated the pen in Charles’ breast pocket.