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Charles finds her in a bar on the Lower East Side, nervously sipping vodka and looking over her shoulder at a bull-faced man in a leather jacket, who leaned on the wall by the payphone with a toothpick in his teeth. Charles doesn’t ask her name, just her price; she names a figure in a thick Ukrainian accent, and glances back at the man by the phone.

“I’ll triple it,” Charles murmurs, putting two fingers on her chin and returning her gaze to his. “No, don’t even think of him. He has no part in this, darling.”

The man by the phone will go to the toilets in a moment; he will forget the young woman by the time he comes out, he will forget that he’s been running a tab all day and walk out without paying. What happens next, well. Who can say.

He presents her to Erik with a small flourish, Erik who is sitting in the hotel room’s only chair with a scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Erik takes her in with sharp, appraising eyes, and gestures for her to turn.

She wears red pedal pushers and matching high-heeled sandals, a bright flowered halter-top that’s a touch too small and a rabbit-fur jacket that’s too warm for the summer evening. She’s a little underfed, but her bottom is nicely curved, and her breasts sit high and firm, like peaches waiting for a bite.

“You didn’t—“ Erik says, his brow furrowing. He gestures with his cigarette.

“Don’t be absurd.” Charles rolls his eyes. “Why would I, when Benjamin Franklin is far more persuasive?”

“Mm.” Erik takes a long drag off his cigarette and stubs it out in the ashtray at his side. “What’s your name?”

“Olena,” the young woman says. She’s keeping wary eyes on Erik, on the door; she’s put her back to Charles, though, and that thought makes Erik quirk a smile at him.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing, Erik thinks, and Charles shakes his head.

You do tend toward the dramatic, love. Charles sits on the end of the bed, and toes off his shoes and socks.

“Use garazd?” Erik asks her, and she nods.

“Tak. Dobre.” Olena nods again and shrugs out of her coat; Charles can see fingerprint bruises on her upper arms. There’s a hook on the back of the door, and she hangs her coat there carefully, along with her small straw purse. She turns back to Erik, tilts her head at Charles. “He said you will watch.”

“Tak. Yes.” Erik slants his eyes at Charles, and Charles smiles with a slight nod. He was hardly going to spring it on the poor girl without warning.

“You should talk English,” Olena says, and she licks her lips. “This is America.”

“It certainly is, darling,” Charles murmurs. Land of opportunity. He rises, drops his cufflinks on the nightstand, unbuttons his shirt and lets it fall to the floor as he moves up behind her, careful to cheat a bit into her peripheral vision so that she’s not surprised when he puts his hand on her back.

Erik appears to be meeting Olena’s eyes but his mind is hooked firmly into Charles’, his inner voice clear and strong.

Take her blouse off.

“Mmm,” Charles hums, trailing his fingertips up her spine. He lifts her golden hair with one hand, unties the neck of her blouse with the other. The fabric slips down her front, and he lets her hair fall after; he uses both hands to untie the bottom of the shirt, and then casts it away.

There’s warmth in Erik’s eyes when Charles looks up over Olena’s shoulder; Charles spreads his palm over her stomach, smoothes his hand over her ribs. She takes in a breath, quick.

“All right?” he asks in her ear, and she nods. “Remember what I told you?”

“Say stop, any time.” She turns her head a little, her cheek brushing his. “I can stop and you will still pay.”

“That’s right, darling.” Charles strokes his fingertips along the waistband of her slacks. She shivers, and turns her head a bit further, her lips seeking his.

Erik makes a warning noise, even though Charles was already pulling back. “No kissing,” Erik says, his voice hard.

“Yes, okay,” Olena says, shrinking a little, and Charles spares a thought to inform Erik that he could be just a touch more polite.

To hell with polite, Erik answers, sipping his drink. He settles back in the chair, almost slouching. There is nothing polite happening here.

Charles has to agree with that assessment, he thinks, sliding his hands up her belly, up to cup her breasts. They sit like small plump birds in his palms, and he lifts them a little, displaying them for Erik’s gaze.

“Lovely,” Erik murmurs.

“Shoes,” Charles suggests, grazing his lips over Olena’s shoulder. Her mind is wide open to him, projecting a mix of confusion and arousal, apprehension cresting and receding as she struggles to make sense of this, so unlike any other job she’s ever taken.

She has to lean down to unbuckle her shoes, and Charles takes the initiative to cup her arse, to pull her back against his hips. She straightens, kicking the sandals away and settles back against Charles front with a soft sound when his erection presses firmly against her.

Good, Erik thinks, blinking slowly. The rest, Charles.

“Let’s show him what you’ve got, eh?” Charles whispers in her ear. Her hair smells like the bar, stale cigarettes and vodka, but underneath it is a cleaner, sweeter smell. He knows she’s safe, he dipped far enough into her head to be sure, and he knows that every night despite her pimp’s argument she takes a long bath and scrubs with Ivory soap. He pushes his nose behind her ear, flicks his tongue against the lobe as he lowers her zipper.

She makes another little noise, but she shivers back against him again, cups her own breasts this time and shows them to Erik. He nods, and rubs his thumb over his lips.

Charles pushes her slacks down, her sharp hipbones catching the material, and there’s nothing underneath, no knickers, just more smooth pale skin, here and there marked black and blue, and a thatch of dark blonde hair.

You know what to do, Erik thinks. He puts his drink down, and lights another cigarette.

Oh, I think I’d rather hear you say it.

Erik gives Charles another long, lazy assessment as Olena steps out of her slacks, as Charles pets low on her belly and her breathing comes a little more quick.

Finger her, Erik thinks finally, taking a deep drag off his cigarette. Show me.

It doesn’t take much to maneuver her to the end of the bed, to settle her on his lap, anchored by an arm around her waist. She tips her head back onto Charles’ shoulder, she’s clever, she’s coming to understand what this is. She braces her palms on his thighs, throws one leg up over Charles’ knee, and Erik practically purrs.

Now do it.

Charles licks his first two fingers and slips them between the soft, damp lips of her cunt; she jerks in his grip and he shushes her, presses kisses into the curve of her neck. Her nails dig into his thigh when he repeats the motion, stroking up, down, gathering wetness as he goes.

You’re playing, Erik accuses.

Of course I am, Charles returns, dipping his fingertips into the mouth of her cunt, making her arch and moan. Are you not enjoying yourself, darling? He draws back, circles the girl’s clit, firm pressure for a moment before curving back down, inside, deep this time. He feels her gasp, feels her clench around his fingers, hears her soft cry when he takes it away.

Erik crushes out his cigarette with more force than necessary, the ashtray bending slightly as he does. Do it, he repeats.

“Shh,” Charles says, more to Erik than to Olena, but she nods and bites her lip when Charles pushes his fingers back into her cunt.

He brings her off hard, fast, because that’s what Erik wants; Charles opens his mind in two directions as he touches her, absorbing her pleasure, channeling it to Erik, letting it flow through him without it touching him. He distantly hears Olena cry out; for all that she’s the one writhing on his lap, she’s at the far end of his awareness. He’s far more interested in the choked sound Erik makes, the eloquent shudder of Erik’s body, the spasm of his hands on the arms of the chair.

Charles opens his eyes, looks across the room. Erik is still hard in his trousers, his cheekbones shining with sweat. Erik pushes his hair back from his forehead, meets Charles’ eyes.

Strip.

It’s really an amazing feat of control for someone with no natural telepathic ability, that Erik is able to speak so clearly to Charles’ mind when most would only be able to project a riot of emotion and sensation, tangled half-thoughts and impressions. Like poor Olena, panting with her face turned into Charles’ neck; the few clear words he can make out he can’t translate, the rest is a pulsing knot of pleasure, and wonder.

She’d never had an orgasm, Charles confides. He shifts her gently to the bed, drops a kiss on her collarbone, another on the curve of her breast before standing to shuck off his undershirt.

You are a great humanitarian. Erik resettles in his chair, still not touching himself. He bolts the remains of his scotch, eyes raking over Charles’ body as Charles finishes undressing, tossing his trousers and pants at Erik’s feet.

I took you in, didn’t I? He lifts his chin in challenge, presenting his body to Erik the way he had done with Olena’s, cupping his cock and giving it a leisurely stroke.

Erik’s eyelashes dip, the corner of his mouth turning up in a smirk. I believe it remains to be seen who rescued whom.

Charles nearly laughs, as it is he grins wide enough to hurt, shaking his head. “Oh, darling,” he says, and Olena pushes up on her elbows, watching them both with heavy-lidded eyes.

On with it, Erik prompts, his face shuttering again when Olena looks at him. He swipes his thumb over his lip again, looks at her with careful assessment. “He’s going to fuck you,” Erik says clearly, and the girl nods.

“Okay,” she says, hitching herself further up the bed. She holds out her hand to Charles, and this smile is for her.

“Okay,” he echoes, and Erik’s voice in his head agrees.

Yes.

Charles enjoys fucking women, he likes their bodies and their smells and their tastes, he likes it because it’s a transaction where everyone walks away feeling as though they’ve won, and that’s quite rare in this world. Mutual satisfaction, please and be pleased. He’s good at it, the way he’s good at anything he puts his mind to, because it never once occurred to him that he would not be.

Fucking men was the same, before; a bit trite and shallow, if he’s being honest, less common but with the same goal in mind, pleasure, satisfaction. Now, now it’s difficult and sometimes it’s overwhelming and it’s always, always, a rush, like Benzedrine in his blood. It can’t really be about satisfaction, because satisfaction implies that there’s such a thing as enough.

There’s never enough Erik. There never will be.

Olena twists on the bed, trails her hands up the insides of her thighs. She’s looking at Charles with hungry eyes, projecting desire that’s wholly unfamiliar to her, her confusion wrapping like cotton wool around the sharp angles of her longing.

Erik’s breath hitches in the silence when Charles kneels up between her legs, hooking his right hand behind her left knee; he’s pulling her open for Erik to see, her smooth flat belly and the blonde curls of her sex, gone dark with her slickness. There are more bruises, like the ones on her arms, on her hips, high up inside her thighs. Charles nudges the thought gently into her head: You don’t have to. After tonight. You can walk away.

She turns her head and watches Erik, lashes fluttering, teeth scraping her lip, while Charles works his cock into her cunt. She’s tight around his thickness, hips hitching up to take him deeper; Charles watches the wet lips of her cunt, flushed deep rose with arousal, part around him, and he can’t suppress the trembling sigh that escapes him.

Tell me, Erik demands, then stops. No, no, show me. Charles.

Erik says show but this time he means share, not just the visual, Erik can see well enough from his vantage in the chair; and not just the pleasure, but all of it, the sensation, the experience. The sleek drag of her cunt on his cock, the fluttering muscles in her thighs where they press against his hips. The salty taste of his sweat on his lip, the bite of her nails in his back.

Charles.

“You’re so good,” Charles says in a low voice, rocking harder into her, lifting her arse off the mattress with each shove. She claws at him, moans when he thumbs her clit, and he smiles, blinking back the sweat from his eyes. “So good, so lovely, you’re everything, darling, you’re everything I wanted.”

If she believes the words are for her, it’s no harm done.

He can feel Erik through their bond, feel Erik getting close as he himself does, still he drags it out, pulling Olena back, pulling Erik back, every time they get to the edge. She starts to cry, frustrated and over-stimulated, sobbing something that feels like please.

Please, Erik thinks, and Charles looks, he braces himself on one hand and looks to see Erik’s hooded eyes, mouth red from his own teeth, hands clenched into fists; he sees the minute pitch of Erik’s hips, and it’s one thing to know, to feel Erik’s body so tense, there on the precipice, and it’s another to see it, to see Erik draw in a ragged breath and his mouth shape the word:

Please.

Charles drops the lines he’s been holding tight, feels Olena jerk under him, sees her mouth open in an O as she shakes; he feels Erik’s body snap like a bowstring, the heady rush of ecstasy, of breaking that is also completion. He feels himself staggering against the woman beneath him, unsure in the end what sensations belong to him, which to them, but it doesn’t matter. He shakes and he gasps and he lets go.

He is dimly aware of pulling back, of rolling away from her; he closes his eyes for a moment, closes his mind just long enough to regain some sense of self again. When he opens them, Erik is stripping out of his clothes, down to his t-shirt and shorts. Charles sits up, shifts to prop himself on the unused pillows.

Olena is lying as he left her, her breaths still shallow and quick; she is toying with a lock of her own hair with a distracted expression. Erik crosses to them, stands in front of Olena for a moment with a considering look, then drops to his knees.

He pulls her down to the edge of the bed, pulls her legs up over his shoulders; she makes a startled noise at first, then another, deeper sound when Erik licks into her cunt.

Charles curls around a pillow, tips his sweaty cheek against the cool wood of the headboard, and watches Erik lazily licking Charles’ come out of her, a blissful expression on his face. She pushes at Erik’s head, says something that probably means no, too much, but Erik only grins, drags his tongue over her clit until she collapses back to the bed with a cry.

Erik licks his lips, and drops gentle kisses on each of her bruises, not just the ones on her legs, and this time when she pushes him away he goes.

“Go ahead,” Erik says, standing up and touching her ankle. “Use the shower.” She gives them both a shaky smile and rises on equally unsteady legs, gathers her clothes and goes into the bathroom. Charles watches the door for a moment, and almost doesn’t notice Erik settling beside him, lit cigarette in hand.

Charles takes the cigarette despite Erik’s half-hearted protest, inhales deeply and exhales with a rapturous sigh. Erik’s teeth graze his shoulder, and Charles turns his head, lips already parted; the kiss tastes like cunt and come and nicotine.

“Will you take it from her?” Erik wonders, and Charles considers, savoring the cigarette while they listen to the shower run.

“Some,” he decides. He cups his palm over Erik’s knee, stroking a scar there with his thumb. “A fond memory of a man who was kind, that’s enough to leave, isn’t it? Some travelling money. Some suggestion, perhaps, of where to go.”

“And what, pray tell, will she do for money once whatever you leave on the nightstand is gone?” Erik’s voice is fond, and not a little disdainful. He nips Charles’ shoulder again, and steals his cigarette back for the last few drags.

“Anything’s better than this,” Charles defends, frowning. “Erik, I can’t just. We can’t just… leave it like this.” He shakes his head, turns again to meet Erik’s eyes.

Erik’s gaze is impassive, his thoughts shadowed in disapproval. “We can. We did this because we can, and she came here, of her own free will. Should she not leave the same way?”

Charles rubs at his temple, and Erik catches his wrist. “Don’t.”

“I wasn’t, truly.” Charles shakes his head again. “Erik, please.”

Erik blinks, and it is quite astonishing how easily he drops his defenses back into place, how he goes from wide open for the touch of Charles’ mind to locked and barred, razor wire strung around the barriers. He could walk through it, shatter all those fortifications with a mere tap, but Charles Xavier keeps his promises.

“You can’t save everyone,” Erik murmurs at last. “Not everyone will thank you for it.”

“If I did it for the thanks, you’d have drowned.” Charles risks the joke, and Erik rewards him with a bite on the ear.

When the girl Olena emerges from the bathroom she’ll find five hundred dollar bills tucked in her purse, and an urge to go back to the flat she shares with four other girls, pack her things, and take a train to… somewhere. She will wonder a bit about the rich Englishman that hired her, wonder why he left without saying goodbye after having been so good to her; she will sit on the end of the bed and cry for a while before going on her way.

In a room down the hall Charles wraps his arms around Erik from behind, tugging him back against his chest, and thinks I can save you. I can. I can.