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For The Record

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Charles is beginning to wonder how he ever expected this roundtable to go well.

Erik’s gesticulating wildly as he talks, and Charles is in the same camera shot, so he tries to keep his face neutral, even as Erik’s tone gets closer and closer to outright disdain. “So then what’s your next step? I’d like some transparency here, Senator. Identify us, force us to register, and…?”

Senator Kelly is not in the studio but it’s obvious how red his face is, even through the live feed. Charles is frankly surprised he even agreed to appear on MSNBC, much less on Rachel Maddow’s show, but he’s pretty sure they’re rolling in ratings right about now. “For everyone’s safety. I don’t know what strange and paranoid schemes you’ve got in your head, but this is an act meant to help both humans and mutants.”

Erik actually snorts.

Charles smoothly interjects, “I think the main point is that as mutants, we already feel singled out on a daily basis. It’s obvious we’re treated as quote-unquote others, and if we decide a mutation is something we don’t wish to share, I’m not sure why the government should be privy to it.”

“This is especially relevant for you, Dr. Xavier,” Rachel notes. “You hid that you were a telepath for a long time.”

Charles is knocked slightly off balance by the sudden dive into his personal life. “Uh, yes, well, it does have negative connotations in society--”

“Which it shouldn’t,” Erik adds vehemently, unable to be out of the spotlight for more than a second. “Listen, Dr. Xavier has the power to scramble anyone’s brain. He could do it.” Charles turns a scandalized look on Erik, but he barrels on. “I could smash this entire studio to the ground with a snap of my fingers. We have the potential for great damage, but what? You’re going to punish us before we even do anything? Are you going to arrest everyone who has a gun because they might kill someone?”

Senator Kelly scoffs. “How is it punishment just to identify yourselves?”

“Because the next step is obviously you rounding us up, and--”

Charles reaches under the table and squeezes Erik’s thigh, startling him into silence. “It’s a legitimate privacy concern, Senator. That should be plain. That this information could also be used to discriminate in other areas, such as admissions and hiring processes should be fairly obvious.”

“Making mountains out of molehills,” Kelly replies dismissively. “Maybe if you all stopped protesting in the streets and acting like hooligans and thugs, we wouldn’t need to consider these measures.”

Erik looks like he’s going to combust. “Yes, of course, using our legal right to peaceful protest has spooked you. Well, we’re not going to stop. Not until you stop gunning us down in the street for looking different. I’m sorry my green-skinned comrades make you uncomfortable, Senator. I’m sure if we did it your way, you’d have us all put down, hm?” Erik pushes back his chair and motions to the studio at large. “Frankly I’m surprised I’m even given a platform this large to speak on, but it must help that I’m white and attractive. More palatable for your audiences, I suppose.”

There’s an eerie moment of silence in which Charles wants to facepalm, but he pushes through it, keeping a straight face through sheer strength of will. “I think what Mr. Lehnsherr is trying to articulate is that we are not protesting just one incident. We’re protesting against constant, systemic discrimination, which isn’t solved by one small change in a city statute or one instance of prosecution against our abusers. It’s much larger than that.”

“Thank you, Dr. Xavier,” Rachel cuts in quickly. “Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for tonight. Thank you to Senator Kelly, Erik Lehnsherr, and Dr. Charles Xavier. We’ll be right back with our 2016 presidential race projections.”

**

Charles catches up with Erik in the parking garage next door to the studio, and watches as Erik throws his bag into the back of his car and sheds his suit jacket before he speaks up.

“Erik, a suggestion, if I may.”

Erik sighs, turning to face Charles. “You’ll say it whether I want to hear it or not.”

“Exactly,” Charles replies. “So, maybe you could stop antagonizing everyone while we’re on national television?”

“Nope.” Erik leans back against his expensive red sports car and crosses his arms. “I’m not here to make anyone comfortable.”

Charles pushes a hand through his hair, but it flops right back down into his face. “Could we at least not refer to my powers as ‘scrambling people’s brains’?”

Erik laughs and reaches out, poking Charles in the forehead. “Why lie about what you can do, Professor? You’re stronger than us all.”

Charles swats Erik’s hand away, frowning. “You’re hopeless.”

Erik grins with too many teeth. “You’re just realizing this now?” He shuts the backseat door with a wave of his hand. “Up for a drink?”

Charles should say yes, just as he always used to, but he can’t bring himself to do it. “Not tonight,” he says as casually as he can. “Early start tomorrow.”

Erik’s lips thin, and he looks as if he’s about to speak, and Charles can see the moment of indecision in his eyes before he decides to let it go. He gives Charles a jerky nod instead. “All right. See you around.”

Charles watches until Erik’s car disappears around the corner, the tires screeching as he takes it at high speed.

**

Charles lets out a breath the moment he’s inside the familiar space of his apartment, the comforting scent of home soothing his frayed nerves. He kicks off his shoes and meanders to his couch, dropping onto it with an oof.

Being on live TV with Erik is always stressful, but he knows they reach a large audience, and Erik’s rant from tonight will likely go viral, garnering the kind of attention they need to make a real difference. As off-putting as Erik can be, he’s immensely popular, and as Fox News’ favorite punching bag, he’s become somewhat of a liberal hero. His ability to be both charming and incredibly rude at the same time is something of an art form, Charles can admit, even if it’s utterly exhausting to make sure he stays in check.

Over all, today hadn’t been too bad.

Charles needs to be in Washington tomorrow morning, and that means his alarm will be going off at 6:00 a.m. He groans into the couch cushions, wondering when he’s going to get a break.

“When mutants have equal rights,” Erik had joked over drinks, just one time out of many they’d spent together, bantering and bonding in between their legitimate disagreements.

But the last time they’d gone out together had been different. Charles tries not to think too much about it, about how much Erik had made him laugh or about how much they’d had to drink or about where he’d woken up...

Charles’ phone vibrates, startling him from his thoughts, and he pulls it from his pocket, seeing that he’s got a text from Raven.

check out this buzzfeed article
and tell me the truth for once

Brow furrowing, Charles clicks on the link, in no way prepared for the page that pops up.

21 Reasons These Two Mutant Rights Activists Need To Stop Arguing And Start Making Out, the headline declares.

Charles scrolls in sick fascination, revealing picture after picture of him and Erik in various compromising positions.

There’s one at a charity event with the two of them chatting with their arms around each other, Charles tucked neatly against Erik’s side. There’s another at an academic conference, Erik winking at Charles while sour-faced older men look on in disapproval. The next one is a casual shot at a coffee shop as Charles hands Erik his drink with a smile.

It’s the last one that makes Charles pause, his stomach bottoming out as he stares down at his phone. It’s a picture from that night, the two of them sitting together in a booth at an expensive high-class club, Charles’ hand on Erik’s knee as he listens to Erik speak, obviously hanging on each and every word, gazing at Erik like he hung the moon.

He knows they aren’t dating, but this picture could have fooled him.

Charles takes a long, deep breath, and tells himself it’s no big deal. It’s just a silly listicle on a useless website that no one takes seriously.

He knows he shouldn’t read the comments -- he’s been on the internet for long enough to know better -- but the urge to see what people are saying is too strong. With more than a little trepidation, he scrolls down a bit further.

they’re fucking, is the first comment, along with over 2,000 likes.

Do you think debating is like foreplay for them? I bet Xavier gets a boner every time Lehnsherr calls him an idiot

figures the muties would also be fags

DREAM 3SOME!!!11!!!

Charles stops scrolling.

Another text from Raven pops up. well?

Interesting, he replies diplomatically.

when’s the wedding?

You’re hilarious, Charles types back.

no seriously, the truth please
are you guys fucking?

No, Charles types back, and he’s not lying. They’re not fucking. They fucked. And there’s a distinction because it was just once, and Charles knows it won’t ever happen again.

you’re so boring, Raven responds. early shoot tomorrow. love u night!

Charles drops the phone to the carpet and buries his face in the couch cushions, squeezing his eyes shut.

He’ll never forget it. Sex with Erik had been more passionate and intense than anything he’d ever experienced in his life. He’d been held down, surrounded, filled, and kissed within an inch of his life, enough that his lips were red and puffy even the next day. He’d come so hard he’d nearly blacked out, and Erik had held him through it all, kissing Charles’ cheeks and forehead until he’d stopped trembling, and Charles had thought--

Doesn’t matter.

He’d woken up the next morning, and turned to find Erik blinking his eyes open as well, and Charles had said, “Hey, you.”

And Erik had just stared at him, completely blank-faced, as if he had no idea what Charles was doing naked in his bed.

Charles isn’t proud of what he did next, of knocking Erik back into sleep with a burst of his powers and fleeing the apartment as quickly as he could.

It’s been three weeks, and they haven’t mentioned it. Friends sleep with friends all the time, he rationalizes, and if Erik’s not going to talk about, Charles sure as hell isn’t going to be the one to bring it up. He’s just glad it’s okay between them, and that their friendship has gone back to what it was like before.

He sighs into the fabric of the couch, and not for the first time, wonders if Erik Lehnsherr was put on this Earth for the sole purpose of making Charles’ life more difficult.

**

Charles isn’t expecting the reporters standing outside of his apartment the next morning, and flashbulbs are going off and there’s a mic in his face before he knows what’s happening.

“Dr. Xavier, are you and Erik Lehnsherr in a romantic relationship?”

“What did you think of the BuzzFeed article that’s exploded across the internet?”

“How long have you and Lehnsherr been together?”

Another camera flash makes Charles wince, and he answers without much thought, “Erik and I are just friends.”

“You’re on a first name basis then?”

“Many of those pictures were very intimate--”

Charles tries not to let his distress show, keeping his game face on. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a flight to catch.” He tries to walk quickly enough to look like he’s late for something important but not so quickly that he looks like he’s fleeing.

**

Friends, Charles? comes the text right before Charles is boarding his flight to Washington. I’m touched.

Charles rolls his eyes, uncaring that Erik can’t see it. It’ll die down by tomorrow. Our official response is “no comment.”

How about “fuck off”?

Charles doesn’t even bother answering.

The problem is, it doesn’t die down. More pictures surface, taken by people who have spotted Charles and Erik out and about over the years, and some of these are even more damning, one in a nightclub with Erik’s hand placed possessively on Charles’ lower back.

The story crosses over from gossip mags and TMZ to real news networks, and suddenly Charles is greeted by his own face on the Today Show, followed by a 15 minute segment scrutinizing his rather lackluster love life. Erik’s is far more colorful, literally, as he seems to date those with visible mutations.

“They’re both single now… or I guess they would be, if they weren’t dating each other,” Kathie Lee gushes to Hoda, most of their wine already gone.

He can’t go anywhere near his twitter feed. It’s gone from social justice and mutant issues to a constant barrage of inappropriate questions, more than a few inquiring after the size of Erik’s dick, “for the record.”

One tweet declares them the mutant Brangelina and next thing he knows they’re on the cover of OK! Magazine, walking side by side with the bizarre name “Cherik” printed across them in bright pink letters.

Mutant Romeo and Juliet: Are these two radically different activists finding a truce in the bedroom? asks the New York Times, and Charles wants to scream. So much for the country’s most reputable newspaper.

**

Two weeks have passed since the BuzzFeed article exploded and Charles feels thoroughly wrung out, not a drop of energy left, but it’s a Saturday and he needs to be at the MRF’s charity gala. He pulls on a tuxedo, pastes on his polite society face, and resolves to make the best of it.

He’s chatting with Ororo and Jean about school curriculums when Erik walks into the ballroom and a hush runs through the crowd. Erik, being Erik, ignores it of course, heading straight for the bar as if the whole room isn’t tracking his movements. He’s joined by Emma Frost and slowly but surely conversation begins to pick back up again, but Charles doesn’t need telepathy to know that everyone is a bit on edge, hoping to see something happen between the new mutant it-couple.

Charles floats from group to group, stopping to chat with Moira about her new position at the CIA before being swept up into conversation with Hank about the next steps for the non-discrimination act they’re still trying to push through the conservative House. The whole time, however, there’s a niggling in the back of his mind, an awareness of Erik that’s impossible to shake, and at every moment, Charles knows just where he is in the room.

Charles excuses himself to get another drink, hoping a bit more alcohol will calm his shot nerves. He thanks the bartender when his new glass of wine is in his hand, but he senses the pressure of the room’s attention, and he knows Erik is behind him without even having to check for that bright, familiar mind.

He turns, giving Erik a small, friendly smile. Erik’s in a slim-fitted tux which is a bit unfair considering that he’s already a ten and the tux adds at least another two points.

“Cheers,” Erik says, clinking his glass against Charles’.

All eyes are on them, openly waiting for something to happen, and Charles finds it all a bit ridiculous.

“What do they think is going to happen?” Charles says to Erik, keeping his voice low. “We’re going to fuck right here in the ballroom up against this bar?”

Erik raises an eyebrow. “Would you like to?”

Charles nearly chokes on his wine. “Erik--”

“No, that was in poor taste.” Erik looks down at his wine. “I’m sorry.”

Charles frowns. Did Erik Lehnsherr just apologize to him? For making a joke? What the hell?

“Let’s go somewhere,” Charles blurts.

Both of Erik’s brows shoot up this time. “Go... somewhere?”

“To talk,” Charles clarifies. “We need to talk.”

“Right,” Erik says with a nod. “Let’s talk. I have a room here for tonight.” Charles opens his mouth to accept but Erik’s already barreling on. “I meant just for talking, of course. I just figured somewhere private would be better--”

“Yes.” Charles reaches out to pat Erik on the arm, but the nearby sound of a picture being taken makes him withdraw it. He downs the rest of his wine in two quick gulps. “Good idea. Let’s go.”

**

The room is one of the expensive ones on the upper floors, handsomely furnished and with a large window that gives them a breathtaking view of the bright city lights. Charles takes a seat on the kingsized bed, bouncing on it a little to test the comfort. Erik watches obviously amused before grabbing a bottle of water from the mini-bar and tossing it to Charles.

Charles fumbles but manages to catch it. “Thanks.”

Erik nods, taking another one for himself and moving to the desk right across from where Charles is seated and leaning back against it, half-sitting, half-standing.

“So,” Charles starts, “I thought the rumors would die down, but we might need to address them after all.”

Erik shrugs. “Frankly, I think it’s great. I haven’t had this many reporters calling me for comment since I did that nude protest in college.”

Charles looks away, his face heating. He might have looked up those pictures. And they might be saved on his hard drive, and he’s not exactly proud of that, but he can’t bear to delete them either. “Ah, yes, well. It’s kind of getting in the way of everyday life.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Erik frowns. “What do you think we should say?”

“Maybe we could just go out there, on the record, and make an official statement to confirm that we are in fact not dating, and that we are both very much single.”

Erik opens his water bottle and takes a drink. “You think that’ll actually work? Won’t they just assume we’re lying?”

Now Charles is frowning too. “Good point.”

Erik sets the water aside, his eyes focused down on where it sits on the desk. “I could tell them I’m dating someone else. Emma or someone.”

Even knowing it’s a lie, the thought of Erik with someone else makes Charles’ heart clench, but he keeps his voice steady. “That might help.”

After a moment, Erik says, “Honestly, I don’t really want to do that."

“Understandable,” Charles replies, relieved despite himself. His throat feels unbearably dry and he twists the cap from his own water bottle to take a sip. “That would make it hard for you to date other people. Plus, who knows if Emma would even agree.”

Erik taps his fingers on his thigh. “Or we could…we could just confirm the rumors. Say we’re dating, pretend we are, and let it all die down. We won’t be that interesting for that long.”

Charles’ grip on his bottle tightens. That’s what he wants of course. To tell the world that he’s dating Erik, that Erik is his. To be able to take Erik’s hand when they’re out in public and press chaste kisses to his stubbly cheek--

But it’s not going to be for real. And as tempting as it is to take whatever bit of Erik he can get, pretending to be with him would be even more painful than never having him at all.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he says.

“Yeah,” Erik replies. “I shouldn’t have suggested it.”

“It’s fine.” Charles tries for a smile, but it’s weak. “I mean, we don’t really have a lot of options.”

“Yeah, I know, but I just asked you to fake date me,” Erik says wryly, obviously trying to lighten the mood. “I think TMZ has gotten inside my head.”

Charles plays along, forcing out a laugh. Erik watches him mutely, his gaze intense and more than a bit intimidating.

“I can’t do this,” Erik blurts, shaking his head as he pushes off from the desk. “I can’t keep pretending we’re fine.” Startled, Charles blinks up at him, watching as he walks to the window and stares out at the city lights. “We’re not going to talk about it, are we?”

Charles’ pulse picks up immediately. He knows just what Erik means, but he’d thought they were never going to mention it, and he’s in no way prepared for this. “I’m not sure there’s much to say.”

Erik turns back to him, and he looks… hurt. It’s a face Charles doesn’t associate with Erik at all. “So I’m never going to know what I did wrong then.”

Charles stands from the bed on unsteady legs. “Wrong?”

Erik motions jerkily to Charles. “To make you run.”

“I didn’t run--” Charles cuts off at Erik’s withering look. “Um,” he tries. “You didn’t want me there, so I made it easy on both of us.”

“I brought you home and had sex with you,” Erik says shortly. “What about that hints that I don’t want you there?”

And now Charles is getting annoyed too, his fist clenching. "I'm not the one who didn't even realize who he was sleeping with! You could have at least pretended you weren't so confused to see me in your bed! How nice to be another one of your countless conquests!"

“Of course I knew it was you!” Erik shoots back. “I thought you were a dream, not a conquest! Excuse me for being shocked to finally wake up next to the man I’ve been in love with for years!”

“That’s no excuse for--” Charles snaps before Erik’s words finally sink in and he cuts off abruptly, freezing. Blood rushes through his ears. “What?”

Erik’s staring at him wide-eyed. “You didn’t know.” He runs a hand through his perfect hair, messing it up. “How could you not know? You have two PhDs and you’re a literal mind reader, and you didn’t know.”

“You…” Charles stumbles over his words. “Me…?”

“I love you, you idiot,” Erik says, all exasperation and fondness, and the words hit Charles like a blow to the chest. “I’ve loved you for a long time.” Erik turns back to the night view, his shoulders slumping. “I’m just sorry you don’t feel the same.”

Charles’ heart is trying to beat its way past his ribs and god, he wants to hear Erik say those words again. “Erik,” he says, but Erik doesn’t move, stubbornly facing away, and that won’t do. He takes Erik’s shoulder and gently spins him around, but Erik’s still keeping his eyes averted, so Charles cups his cheeks, turning his head so that Erik can’t look anywhere but straight at him.

Erik finally gives in, and he allows his eyes to rove over Charles’ face greedily, as if trying to commit every last bit of it to memory, and Charles’ heart breaks as he realizes that even now, Erik’s thinking that Charles is about to reject him, that this is the last time Charles will ever let him get this close.

“Erik, I want you to listen very carefully to me.” Charles says. “There’s been some sort of misundersta--”

“You don’t need to explain anything to me, Charles. You don’t have to apologize either. I know people can’t fake feelings--”

“Erik--”

“--and they shouldn’t, and you’re my best friend and that’s--”

“Listen to me--”

“--more than enough for me and I just--”

“Erik!”

“--want things to go back to--”

Charles grabs Erik’s lapels and drags him down into a kiss, shutting him up with his lips. Erik is still for a moment, startled, but then his hands come up, sliding into Charles’ hair and cupping the back of his head, deepening the kiss.

It’s enough to make Charles’ knees go weak, the way Erik kisses him like he can’t decide if Charles is something he wants to savor slowly or devour in one bite. It’s soft and sweet and then deep and hard, and there’s a yearning in each brush of his tongue and lips.

“I’m getting mixed signals,” Erik says breathlessly into the kiss.

Charles smiles against Erik’s lips and draws back far enough to look him in the eye. “A friend once taught me that there’s a time for diplomacy and a time for direct action, and the direct action seemed more appropriate in this case.”

Erik’s hold on Charles tightens, one of his hands sliding down Charles back and stopping at the curve right above his ass. “He’s a smart guy. You should listen to him.”

“I know,” Charles says, stroking Erik’s cheek with his thumb and taking a breath. “I messed up, Erik. I misunderstood and I’m sorry.”

Erik presses a quick kiss to Charles lips, as if he just can’t resist. “You love me too,” he says with no small amount of wonder, and there’s a slight redness around his eyes that Charles knows he can never mention.

“Now who’s the mind reader?” Charles jokes, but he’s blushing fiercely, and it’s Erik who pulls him into the kiss this time, taking control and dominating it, growing in confidence as he explores Charles’ mouth.

Charles doesn’t even realize they’re moving until the bed hits the back of his thighs, and as he falls back on to it, he pulls Erik down with him. They land a bit hard but recover quickly, locking lips again and sharing kisses flavored with expensive wine and more than a little desperation.

Charles yanks Erik’s bow tie off, eager to get at his neck, and curses his clumsy hands as they fumble on Erik’s buttons. He finally gets his lips on Erik’s skin, and Erik’s hand is already up his shirt, and god, it’s hot and perfect, and needing Erik to know just how much he loves it, he sends his want directly into Erik’s mind.

Erik stiffens immediately, breaking the kiss and catching Charles hands, pinning them to the bed. He looks down at Charles, pupils blown and lips wet, hard and hot everywhere their bodies are in contact.

“You know I love your powers,” he says. “But I need you to promise me something. Promise me you’ll never use them on me like you did that morning again.” His hands tighten their grip on Charles’. “Never again without my permission, Charles.”

Charles feels the strangest combination of aroused and wretched as he stares up at Erik. “I promise. I promise you I won’t. I’m so sorry--”

Erik’s already moving, closing the distance to give Charles a lingering kiss. “I know.” Another kiss. “And I forgive you.” Charles isn’t sure he’s earned it yet, but Erik’s kissing him and everything in the world feels right, so he pushes the doubt aside, trying to communicate his sincerity through touch instead. He whines involuntarily when Erik’s lips leave his, trailing soft kisses along Charles’ cheek until he reaches Charles’ ear. “Though I think there’s something else you still need to tell me? I want to hear you say it.”

Charles opens his mouth to answer, but Erik rolls his hips and Charles arches up to meet him, his words turning into a helpless moan instead.

“Erik,” Charles manages, panting, “you’re playing dirty.” Erik laughs against Charles’ ear and the warm air caressing sensitive skin makes Charles shiver. Trying to gather his wits, he pushes at Erik’s shoulders until Erik’s once again hovering above him, looking down at him with his grey-green eyes. Erik’s objectively gorgeous, and always has been, but Charles has never found him more stunning than he looks right now, disheveled and debauched by Charles’ own hands.

This man loves me, Charles thinks giddily, uncaring that his telepathy is leaking everywhere, and it’s easier than he thought it would be to look Erik in the eye and say the words he’d never thought he’d have a chance to say.

“I love you.”

Erik smiles at him, that handsome toothy grin, and kisses Charles again, pressing his smiles against Charles’ skin until he’s eagerly moaning instead.

**

Charles wakes the next morning, momentarily confused when he cracks his eyes open to see an unfamiliar room. It all comes back to him, though, and with the ache in his backside, there’s no question that it wasn’t a dream. He can feel Erik’s mind, awake and alert, and he rolls over to face Erik, finding him propped up on one hand and gazing down at Charles.

Charles suddenly feels incredibly shy. “Hey, you,” he tries, and for a moment he wants to snatch those words back, the same ones that he used that morning he just wants to forget--

But Erik smiles and leans down to give Charles a kiss on the nose. “Hey, yourself.”

And just like that his hesitation vanishes, and the last vestiges of doubt from that morning all those weeks ago are completely swept away. It’s real, and he can have this-- he can have Erik and Erik’s love, and it’s not just sex or a drunken mistake or some media ploy. He feels an overwhelming burst of affection and loops his arms around Erik’s neck, pulling him into a real kiss, morning breath and all.

They have a lot of missed time to make up for after all.

After, they’re in the bathroom, Charles in the shower while Erik shaves hands-free in front of the mirror, reaching up every few seconds to wipe away the steam from the glass, the towel hanging low around his hips sliding down a bit each time. It would be easier for him to shave out in the room where there’s no steam to get in the way, and they obviously both know this, but Charles certainly isn’t going to object to Erik’s closeness, and honestly, he likes having Erik in his sights, especially when he’s mostly naked.

“You know,” Charles says as he rinses shampoo from his hair, voice slightly raised to win over the noise of the shower. “For two grown men who basically talk for a living, we’re not very good at communicating.”

Erik’s carefully navigating the side of his jaw. “We figured it out eventually.”

“Yes, but you yelled your love confession at me,” Charles says, grinning like a fool. “You angrily told me you love me. Erik, you have to admit that’s funny.”

Erik frowns as he moves onto his chin. “It didn’t feel very funny at the time, but you’re right. Fox News would have a field day.” He lowers his razor to the counter, rolling his shoulders back and adopting a stiff stance and a fairly good newscaster voice. “Dangerous, Jewish, mutant agitator with a scandalous history of disturbing the peace, underage drinking, and one time getting a B- in US history class, has screamed a gay love confession at an unsuspecting wealthy, white, Christian victim.”

Charles laughs so hard he nearly drops the soap. “I’ve had enough of the media for the rest of my life, but I’d love to see Megyn Kelly’s face while she’s reporting on that one.” Erik doesn’t answer, and Charles realizes it’s because he’s watching Charles hungrily as he soaps his chest, and he fondly rolls his eyes. “Get in here. Let’s have some more gay sex in honor of Megyn Kelly.”

“Ugh,” Erik says. “Stop saying her name. I’m losing my erection.” Charles laughs even harder and drags Erik into the shower with him, throwing Erik’s now very wet towel onto the bathroom floor with a plop.

**

As they’re checking out, the clerk informs them that there’s a whole gaggle of paparazzi and press outside. Charles isn’t pleased by this news but he’s also not surprised. He and Erik had left the gala last night together and never returned, after all.

And here they are now, in rumpled tuxedos with still slightly damp hair, ready to exit one of the city’s most posh hotels for the most public walk of shame ever.

“There’s a side door,” the clerk offers. “It’s more private, and we could have a car brought around for you.”

The offer is tempting. Charles would love to be able to sneak off and hide out in his apartment all day, cuddling with Erik and pretending the world doesn’t exist. It’s also entirely impractical. The media’s been a third wheel in this relationship for weeks, and even if they dodge them today, they won’t be able to do it forever.

“Thank you,” Charles says sincerely. “But it won’t be necessary.”

She gives them a nod and encouraging smile. “Good luck.”

They make their way across the lobby, pausing when they catch sight of the photographers milling around outside. There’re more than Charles thought there would be, and he takes a deep breath, wiping his slightly sweaty palms on his pants. Erik’s watching him with open amusement, looking completely nonplussed himself.

“Yes, how nice for you, being able to stay so calm.”

Erik shrugs. “I just don’t give a damn what they think. Never have and never will.”

“I know, and while I love that about you, we do have to handle this with some finesse, of which you possess very little. So remember to keep quiet and leave the talking to me.”

“Bossy,” Erik says, and Charles narrows his eyes at him. Erik holds up his hands in surrender. “I’ll be good. I might not care what they think, but I do care what you think.”

“Right,” Charles says, hoping the flush on his face will fade before they get outside into the fray. “I--uh, thank you.”

“Ready to face the world then?” Erik asks.

Charles takes a deep breath and reaches for Erik’s hand, deliberately lacing their fingers together before smiling up at him. “Now I am.”

Erik gives his hand a firm squeeze, and they step out into the flashing lights together.

**

Two months later, Charles is in bed reading. Erik’s dozed off beside him, his head resting heavily on Charles’ shoulder, and his tablet lying forgotten on his chest where it moves up and down with his even breaths. He’s been traveling a lot lately, and in fact just arrived home from California today, heading straight from the airport to Charles’ apartment instead of his own. Charles’ phone buzzes with a text and he gingerly picks it up, making sure not to disturb Erik with his movements. It’s Raven’s name on the screen.

tone it down already
you’re almost 30 for godsake

And below that, there’s a link to a BuzzFeed article. Charles clicks on it, wondering what the hell she’s found now, but a laugh escapes him when he sees the headline.

11 Reasons We Regret Getting This Mutant Couple Together

It’s another list of pictures of him and Erik, but this time he’s grinning as he scrolls, uncovering more and more moments of them together being rather disgustingly happy and handsy. There’s one of Erik embracing him from behind, resting his head on Charles’ shoulder as they wait in line for coffee. There’s another of Charles about to climb in a taxi, standing on tip-toe to kiss Erik’s cheek, the curb exaggerating their height difference. There’s even one of them full on making out, hair and clothes askew, and Charles tries to figure out just where this was, confused for a moment before he realizes it was snapped at Raven’s birthday party two weeks ago and must have been taken by a guest.

There’re more, all pictures of PDA that Charles thinks he should be more shy about, but maybe Erik’s rubbing off on him in more ways than one because he doesn’t care one bit.

Fox News and The Church of Humanity can spit vitriol about them all they want, but the majority of the country either doesn’t care about them or supports them. The reveal of their relationship had grabbed headlines for more than a month, and it had been overwhelming, a whirlwind of unwanted opinions and commentary, but also an outpouring of love and congratulations. Thankfully, they’ve gradually been downgraded from the most in-demand couple to just another pair of celebrities to chase around town. Some are saying Erik’s lost street cred by falling for a naive integrationist. Others are saying Charles has lowered his own respectability by associating with an agitator.

Still more are saying that as a team, they’re going to be unstoppable. Charles thinks that group’s probably right.

Besides, the cause has always been the most important, and if they have to answer a few intrusive on the record questions about their relationship to the nosy press, Charles doesn’t mind as long as it keeps getting them the exposure they need to help mutants.

“What are you laughing about?” Erik asks, his voice gravelly from sleep as he lifts his head from Charles’ shoulder.

“Sorry to wake you,” Charles says. “Take a look at this.” He hands Erik the phone, and watches Erik go from sleepy to alert, a smug smile spreading across his face as he scrolls. Charles snorts as Erik saves a picture of himself sneakily groping Charles’ ass in a book store.

“How the hell did someone even get a picture of that?” Erik wonders, and Charles shrugs.

“Everyone’s got a phone with a camera. There’s really no escape from prying eyes.”

“Did you read the comments?” Erik asks. “I know they’re always shitty but…”

“No,” Charles answers, and he shifts until he’s resting on Erik’s shoulder this time, and it’s easy for both of them to see the screen.

we’ve created a monster, says the first comment, which isn’t too bad, but then Erik scrolls further.

OMFG enough with the PDA, we get it, you’re fucking!

#relationship goals

i want to call Lehnsherr daddy

mutations make you gay! there’s science to prove it!

Congratulations on the sex.

STILL MY DREAM THREESOME!!!!

Erik pitches the phone across the bed and it lands with a bounce near the footboard.

“Hey!” Charles protests, sitting up to retrieve it, but Erik grabs him, playfully wrestling him to the bed and pinning his wrists.

“I was planning on taking it easy tonight,” he says with a smirk, his comfortable weight pressing down on Charles, “but I can’t let the internet down.”

“I thought you didn’t care about the inter--” Charles starts, but Erik cuts him off with a kiss, and Charles forgets about BuzzFeed completely, focusing instead on the softness of Erik’s lips against his and the warm contentment radiating from his mind.