Codes: Charles/Erik, implied Alex/Hank, AU
Summary: Charles hasn't spoken in twenty-two days.
Author Notes: Completed. I feel like I am reviewing my first fandoms now. Star Trek, now X-Men. I blame the universe. It's awesome. Thanks to svmadelyn and jamethiel for pre-reading and encouragement.
Warning: implied torture, mental coercion
Charles hasn't spoken in twenty-two days.
"How long?" Erik says, quiet, without even a grate of metal to compliment the two words that lock Hank's eyes to the floor, big hands clenched behind him to control the instinctive flinch. In a race between Hank's enhanced reflexes and anything metal in the room, it's never been other than a draw; Erik will test it tonight if he must, even if he prefers not to. They've lost too many for him to willingly risk even one more if it's not required. "This time."
"Twenty-six hours," Hank answers flatly, the growl beneath the voice only nearly absent. "Raven--" Erik makes a dismissive gesture; two levers tremble, an accident that's rare enough to capture what attention Hank hasn't already offered Erik willingly. "I can't overrule him. You know that."
"You can turn it off," Erik bites out, almost suiting action to words, but-- "Bring him out."
I can hear you quite well. Erik watches as the eggshell-thin eyelids flicker up, blue eyes focusing with an effort as Charles divides his attention; behind him, the readout prints on, barely slowing. Just a few more.
It's never easy meeting those eyes now; whatever looks back is a vastness without name or form. There's no word or meaning to encompass it, only a stretch of eternity, unbound and alien, something that has never wore flesh or shed blood or breathed air. Erik doesn't know how to be afraid anymore of something that has no context; to know that it's held by the strength of Charles' will, that is, that will always be, enough.
A moment passes, then another, then Charles' eyes squeeze shut, a faint sound that's like pain; Erik reaches for Charles, wrapping one hand around the thin, narrow wrist, bones too-prominent, able after all this time to sense the moment Charles is disconnected enough--as disconnected as he can willingly be--to flip the switch himself.
Charles gasps; Erik catches him before he reaches the floor, and not for the first time, wonders how anyone alive can feel this light, as ephemeral as imagination. Charles pants against his shoulder, and Erik catches a series of disjointed images smoothing into a single movie-reel strip of place and feeling--people, haggard and skeletal, bodies piled beneath grey-coated skies in preparation to burn, uniforms and shouting and the almost subliminal memory of Charles' own imposition of silence in a suburban home of bodies both uniformed and not and a frightened child huddled in the closet. They didn't get him. We have to, we have to, we have to--
It's too easy; frighteningly so, if it wasn't so familiar. Erik gives Hank the coordinates that scroll through his mind, fighting down the too-easy potential for subsuming in Charles' memory before he remembers how to be simply Charles, letting go of what he becomes in Cerebro that's not Charles Xavier at all. "Send Raven."
Hank hesitates before nodding, turning away reluctantly at Erik's stare; this is private, when Charles finds his skin again, ill-fitting and too small, when he finds his mind again, tiny and closed and silent, when he finds himself again, in Erik's Charles Xavier, who is still only a man and not the vast space that is all men and all the world entire. "It's time to go."
Charles nods uncertainly; it's more faith the words have meaning than any agreement or understanding of them. It's been too long and Charles has forgotten, again, the uses of language. You're an idiot.
He can almost feel the curve of Charles' smile as Erik eases them to their feet, taking Charles' weight as he rediscovers flesh and bone, weight and height, and most important of all things, gravity.
When Charles seems to have grasped physics once again, Erik tells the broad expanse of Hank's back, "Tell Raven I will hear her report in the morning."
Charles calls it a pre-echo; not quite words but the pre-verbal gathering of thought that the brain translates to verbal expression. Language cannot and perhaps never will capture the fine variations in meaning that are forced into the crude construct of a single spoken word, much less a sentence, but We will hear it, Erik. tells Erik that Charles has returned enough to remember the concept of speech, at least.
Do you think you will understand it? Erik frowns at himself. "Language, Charles."
Charles opens his eyes again and this time, there's nothing there but Charles Xavier, professor of genetics, Brotherhood operative and partner, telepath and mutant, and quite possibly the single most aggravating part of Erik's life.
Charles' smile widens, and for a moment, they are those two men standing outside of CIA headquarters who just met and had known each other for the length of their lives. Charles is saying I could, but I won't, and Erik believes him. Believes in him.
"Words," Erik says, the sliding metal door opening obligingly as Charles tests balance and weight, remembering the shift of muscle and bones that are walking; it's a discovery each time, sometimes protracted and sometimes only seconds, but always a strange delight, at first a tourist discovering the customs of a newly-discovered country before reclaiming his citizenship. "Twenty-two days."
Charles hesitates, searching for context for abstracts before sighing. "I--" He pauses, grinning again at the rough, grating sound of his voice, fascinated by his own accent when his current frame of reference is only Erik's. "They are finding them too quickly. I couldn't--" wait, they have a telepath, they have to, but I can't find them, it's blank space and space isn't a word or a meaning, but a foul twisting something, like jagged, broken metal and shattered rocks and chalkboard-scrapes and bile-taste and the smell of something long rotted and rotting still, I understand Erik says, breaking his own rule when a squeal of strangling metal is added because in Charles' world, there is never too much illustration when translating something sensed in abstract to something concrete in concept. Willing?
It's not quite a hesitation; the trade they make means if Erik has little privacy, Charles spares himself even less. Probably.
They've lost too many to risk willingly, but he's always been adept at giving up what cannot be acquired. "Where?"
"I don't know." The frustration is the reason for twenty-two days, then; it's also a lesson on what leeway to permit himself and what instruction to give to Hank and Raven, what failsafes to include. Charles can see them, of course, because Erik permits himself the luxury of one warning, but only one. "I understand."
It's an uneventful journey from basement to the second floor of the mansion; Charles rediscovering his body means his body rediscovers exhaustion. Erik eases him onto the bed as consciousness fades. "Go to sleep. You're going to feel terrible when you wake up and you will deserve it."
"Of course, Erik," Charles says, sounding almost normal; there's a softness to the fading mental touch. "Tell Raven--" Do not let the child see.
Erik pauses, Charles' shoes now removed. "What did you tell them?"
There's the barest slit of blue now. "'You need not continue to breathe.'"
They're not those men who met in the churning water of the bay or the ones that argued the value of Shaw's life over a chessboard; they aren't the men that attacked that ship or the men that faced the eternal moment between explosion and fallout when Erik thought of failure and radiation death and of all the ways to die, this hadn't been how it should end, and not with this man who should have been the one to help him guide their kind into their inheritance of a world not burned beyond recognition.
Erik should have been able to kill him then, look into the eyes of the same sane evil that had destroyed his family and mutilated his life and watch Shaw's life bleed away drop by endless drop. Perhaps then, they would live in a world that wasn't a travesty of what it once was.
That is a mistaken that was corrected, of course, but far too late to slake even a portion of his own rage, and none of Charles' at all.
Raven reports at dawn, punctual as always when motivated; in this case, the boy is more responsive than expected, the bodies disposed of and house destroyed; it won't hide what they have done, but it will delay discovery for long enough for Hank to locate the government records and destroy what they can, keep the identity of one more mutant safe. Moira will complete the erasure, but contact will wait for Charles to relay the instructions.
"Twenty-two days. You're the only one here who can stop him."
"I wasn't here." She pauses. "I couldn't be here the entire time. We don't have enough people to--"
"We'll have to make this be enough." He's not certain if his anger is at himself or at her or perhaps at them both when Raven is correct; they don't have enough, not to defend themselves, not to rescue their own kind from the men hunting them like animals, certainly not enough to control Charles's unleashed desperation to find them all, every one, we can't leave one for them, not after not after those they liberated from 'training facilities' that sometimes had little of a mind left at all.
There should be more horror, Erik thinks, in that those are the easiest, with so little left that Charles and Emma can simply scrape the remainder away and permit them to start anew, wide-eyed children for whom the world is brand new and their cause the only thing they will ever know.
"Erik--" she pauses, biting her lip uncertainly, eyes flickering to the stairs and the man sleeping upstairs. "Is he--when I took him out yesterday, he recognized me. I thought he'd sleep--"
"I'm sure he gave it due consideration until he was sure you were away." He knew their schedules.
"I'm going to kick his ass."
That sentiment he can agree with wholeheartedly.
She joins him at the table then, aware the worst of the anger has passed; he cannot blame her for what he can't do himself. There are too few of them and far too much to do; the amount of work won't lessen, but they can't afford the only telepath who can consistently use Cerebro to be damaged--Erik won't let Charles lose himself in there and one day never bother to return.
Pushing her chair over, Raven leans against his shoulder with a sigh; she's as exhausted as any of them and there's little sleep. "Emma can take over for a while. Hank's been adjusting it for her; if he can have a few uninterrupted days--"
"He'll get several weeks," Erik answers absently and feels her relax. She should sleep; their list is endless and they've barely scratched the surface of the highest priority. Those in the facilities they raid are sometimes the luckiest, allowing them a measure of time to prepare; the ones captured and their initial assessment unfortunate are sometimes terminated in their own homes. "You should rest."
"Can I see Charles?" She lifts her head hopefully. "I haven't woken him up since we were kids; even now, he doesn't read me as foreign."
That's been tested; the entire wing was reinforced with a Faraday cage to lessen the pressure of too many minds in the confines of the house and Charles refused to live his life in the higher security of the lower levels. It's an imperfect solution, but with the additional access restriction to that wing, Charles can sleep without even the potential of accidental trespass. No one can open the doors but Erik.
It's been eighteen hours; Erik nods, just as relieved to leave before the others awaken. Emma can relay any instructions required, and the ten hours Erik permitted himself have only taken the sharpest edge from the habitual exhaustion. "You could use some downtime," Raven says as they pass two of the newer arrivals, still bewildered from their sudden change in status from fugitive to Brotherhood inductee. Erik doesn't need to be a telepath to sense their fear of him; he has no interest in changing that. Betrayal is always possible, and some even believe it a necessity, as if being hunted like dogs will end if only the Brotherhood would cease its efforts.
Raven only lingers long enough to verify Charles still breathes before seeing herself out with a "Downtime. Sleep. You know he'll figure it out," which is true and would be far more annoying if he weren't still so tired. He spares a measure of blame to himself; this is the longest he's been away and Charles has no limits left that Erik didn't create for him, that Raven doesn't enforce. Crawling into bed, he tries to remember if there's anything he has left to do, and--
There's not is the sleepy response, memories of dream-blood and dream-death by the thousands, their voices screaming out their agony chasing Charles to the surface. "We have him," Erik murmurs, and Charles uncurls; Erik's always, always surprised by how Charles relaxes at the first touch, the skim of fingers over too-prominent cheekbones and brushing away the wetness coating the black smudges beneath haunted blue eyes.
Licking his lips, Charles says, "How long was I…" and Erik answers "Twenty-two days," because Charles never remembers. It's another sin on an ever-growing list, another unanswered crime, another debt owed them, not just the mutants slaughtered and penned and destroyed in the CIA's laboratories and clinics; it's this moment hovering between sleep and waking when Charles whispers, "I don't--I don’t remember," and Erik answers Charles Xavier. You are Charles Xavier and Charles breathes, "Yes, right." I forgot.
Erik should have been able to block the radiation faster, understood more of the potential of what he could do, before feeling Charles' touch and murmur, I think, you can, try to, and was able to spare their tiny group to only watch the world begin to burn. Perhaps then, Charles wouldn't have had to listen to the screams of thousands, hundreds of thousands, as they died in agony, unable to lock out the overwhelming singularity of feeling that shattered every defense he had ever learned.
Should, could, would, the conditional words that are crude constructions to reflect the potential of a different world, where there was no nightmarish journey to the basement of the mansion to huddle behind the barriers created by Charles' stepfather against the possibility of nuclear world with the four terrified remains of their team, an unconscious telepath and six weeks that were forever, unable to ascertain whether he would ever wake up.
And two more where Charles did nothing but scream within the Faraday chamber Hank built in the brief, sickened silences when the sedatives gave them time to think at all.
It was fourteen weeks before the first CIA operatives came, armed with Moira's unwilling knowledge and their own hubris; they listened to them searching for the entrance to the lower levels and killed them as they discovered it. The second group came better prepared for what they thought they would find, but not enough, after all, for one of those they would face.
Charles had woken up.
Charles, Charles Xavier, Dr. Charles Xavier; it's a nearly subliminal chant, so familiar Erik almost catches himself murmuring the words before reason asserts itself.
"You can't do that again," Erik says without opening his eyes. He doesn't know what to call the feeling that backs that certainty; fear's too simple, too easy a word for that churning nothingness that emerges whenever he considers the potential of taking Charles' body from Cerebro but never again the man. "Even lab rats have periods of respite; the better to evaluate the results of the experiment."
Charles lets out a breath. "If I can save them--"
"I can justify the loss of Cerebro," Erik answers flatly. "I'm sure Hank can rebuild it, though it will doubtless take time to locate the materials required." It's a statement of fact, one Charles will recognize.
Charles lifts his head; he's entirely Charles now, and something in Erik eases to see it. Before any argument can be marshaled, Erik kisses him, slow and warm and relieved because they don't know what they're doing, not really, not with Cerebro or the mutants they find or the way they've chosen to fight back. Erik's never felt so young as he does when he watches them train in the tunnels beneath the mansion, on the grounds surrounding the house; when he leads them on brutal raids that sometimes are no more than the smallest release of the rage that lives beneath his skin; when the mutants they come to save are only burned bodies or mindless husks.
I missed you. He's not sure which one of them thought it, but it doesn't matter; the sentiment is never other than true.
When he eases away, Charles smiles, and his mind is quiet; the screaming is silenced, at least for a while. "You have students waiting for your deathless wisdom," Erik murmurs. "And perhaps more fireproofing of the training room. Really, what will they think when they see the scorch marks?"
"That we need a second training room," Charles answers thoughtfully. "I think we should--" A startling growl interrupts him; Charles laughs, pushing himself onto his knees. "--get something to eat. I believe I'm hungry."
"I think Alex is on kitchen duty," Erik answers provocatively as Charles stretches, unself-conscious and gorgeous, the afternoon sun red-gold across the bared skin of shoulders and spilling down his back. Too thin, the press of bone clear beneath pale skin; Erik alters tentative plans for the next week to include a daily run, drag Charles into natural light and leave him there until he at least approaches a darker shade of pale; perhaps Raven is right about downtime. They haven't had it in months and they have dozens of new recruits who need more than simple instruction on what they can do; what they are, what they will be, what the Brotherhood will achieve for them all.
"Ah, speech time," Charles says, amused. Slipping out of bed, Charles stumbles slightly, still acquainting himself with movement that isn't restricted to what goes on in his mind. "I need a shower, if you'll--"
"Wait, yes, I usually do." Erik toys with joining him, but it's an unaccustomed luxury to lie in bed without purpose, to wallow in the simple animal pleasure of relaxing in body-warm sheets and sense the contented background hum of Charles' mind.
Eventually, he rises to dress as Charles emerges, wet and comfortable, finally, in the skin he reacquainted himself with during the shower; pushing him against the wall, Erik acquaints himself with the familiar planes of Charles' body and the taste of his mouth. "You also have a lecture at Oxford soon," he says when he permits Charles to pull away for a laughing breath. "And if I remember correctly, you still require sustenance." Not looking down, he lifts up Charles' arm, running his fingers down until he feels the slight swell of too-warm flesh at the crease of his elbow. "Who had the brilliant idea of using an IV, Charles?"
Charles tilts his head. "I assume avoiding dehydration was the goal." He pauses, mind briefly shielded; Erik tightens his hold until Charles' eyes flicker to his. "I understand the risk."
"So do I."
Charles' expression doesn't change; Erik doesn't like it, and he likes even less that Charles is shut down like this. It's too close to that last week before he finally awakened entirely, when even the screaming had ceased and Erik sat by his bed while Hank murmured electrical impulse neutralization and brain death, as if anything in science could possibly apply to such an impossible mind.
"You…do understand the concept of compromise?" Charles says finally, leaning back against the wall, relaxed again, amused and resigned at once. "Can't use Cerebro, can't go in the field--"
"You're the only person who has any idea how to train…" Erik breaks off, sensing the growing amusement. "Perhaps not."
"Let's work on that?" Charles eases up for another kiss, then pulls away. "Starving," he says, barely pausing for Erik to gather himself enough to remember to slide the door open. "Why are you permitting Alex in the kitchen? If this is punishment, what precisely did our children do to deserve it?"
"He's becoming--" Erik trails off as they reach the final door. "More proficient."
"Of course. Sean, stop. Shouldn't you be in class?" Charles descends the stairs two at a time, throwing the question toward the foot where Sean's frozen half-turned for a quick escape. Guiltily, he glance at Erik. "Training is after you finish your homework," Charles murmurs, brushing long fingers over his shoulder. "Run along now."
Sean does, looking newly determined toward academic excellence. "And that," Erik murmurs in Charles' ear, "is what happens when left to their own devices without--"
"Am I the bad parent now?" Charles asks as they emerge into the kitchen. "Leave," he says absently to the few students lingering in the room as he opens the refrigerator; Erik belatedly eases open the door, reminded that Charles in the midst of hunger can sometimes be too literal with instructions for their unfamiliar minds. These students, at least, haven't been here long enough to adapt. "Damn," he murmurs, glancing at Erik from behind the refrigerator door. "Did I--"
"They'll learn or suffer broken noses," Erik answers comfortingly, watching Charles methodically stack the ingredients for what he already knows will be a small mountain of sandwiches. "We do have an infirmary."
"Comforting," Charles says, adding, You're right. I was in too long this time. It won't happen again, because Charles was raised not to speak through a mouthful of cheese. Erik settles at the table, opening a drawer and hunting for the shape of a knife; without looking, Charles catches it mid-air and spreads out the bread. Would you like…
"Yes." That was an easier concession than he'd expected. It's almost inspiring. "You aren't replaceable, Charles--"
We have Emma.
Erik pushes the drawer shut, wood splintering as the metal crushes itself beneath the wheels. Charles finishes assembling the fifth sandwich without any indication that he noticed. "Don't."
Stacking everything on a plate, Charles comes back to the table, glancing at the door as it starts to open. "Go away," he says softly, sitting down and reaching for a sandwich. "I apologize," he says, looking at Erik. "If Hank wishes to begin final adjustments for Emma to use Cerebro, I won't object. But she does not have my range or--"
"She can't overwrite; you've explained it. That is not, however, what I meant."
Charles looks away, devoting himself to his sandwich; the single-minded focus Charles' body sometimes demands is always strangely fascinating to watch, experiencing the faint echo of it with just enough strength to follow suit. It's well into the third sandwich before Charles finally sits back, the hollow ache eased away sufficiently for him to split his attention. "Erik--"
Erik doesn't look at him.
"I can protect you--protect everyone--when I'm in Cerebro." Charles tilts his head. "Or I could come with you physically."
"We both can't be away."
"Raven's here." Charles smiles. I can take care of myself, you are aware.
Erik thinks of their last mission. "One bullet--" he hears himself say, then stops short, feeling Charles' confidence like it's his own.
That part, then, I'll leave to you.
Erik hesitates, then nods slowly, glancing at the empty plate. "You should--"
"Later," Charles says, standing up and, being Charles, taking the plate to the sink. "Show me what I've missed."
Even Erik couldn't have stopped this.
The sheer numbers were against them, rushing bodies and confusion, something hitting him solidly in the shoulder, Alex shouting something and it was all bodies and too many bullets to concentrate on more than simple defense, keeping them alive despite whatever the fuck they're--"
Erik couldn't move, couldn't feel the pain in his shoulder, feel anything but--
What are they--what are they doing?
Erik gasped a breath, collapsing back on the floor. Staring up at the ceiling, he reached up and touched the slick wetness at his houlder, new blood, sluggish; it was a flesh wound, barely a graze. "Charles," he breathed, and abruptly, Charles eased him up, bracing him against his body, smelling of clean scrubs and antiseptic and metal lingering from the sensors on his head and the IV he'd jerked from his own arm, blood still tacky-wet down one bruised arm.
Is that--that who I am?
The sense of Charles was overwhelming; every other time he'd felt Charles in his mind, it had been a singular, solid presence. This was undiluted chaos; all unwilling, Erik's mind flashed through Hank's warnings and then, in an act of pure will, he discarded them all. None of it was true. This was Charles, entire. He'd accept nothing less. Charles.
It felt like forever, like an instant, like the passage of a single breath; Charles coalesced, vague with acid-bitter edges that Erik thought might be the remains of the sedatives; confusion from all the minds around them--
Then quiet them, and Charles did; Erik felt Charles' relaxation at the lack of pressure. Erik opened his eyes on a room of motionless bodies, guns raised against them, Alex still half-collapsed against Sean's side, Hank half-ready to leap, Raven crouched for another attack--it was unreal and impossible and Erik had wondered what Charles could do when pushed and never felt quite ready to risk knowing with certainty when he could not be sure he would always be this man's ally. That, however, was no longer an issue between them.
"Charles," Erik said, touching Charles' face, high cheekbones sharp enough to cut beneath colorless skin fine as parchment Charles smiled slowly, the blankness receding from the hollowed, black-ringed eyes. "It is good to see you again."
"I remember--" Charles frowned. "The beach--there was--" The smile faded, the chaos rising, and somewhere distant, Erik heard the screaming begin again, thousands, millions of voices releasing terror and fear and pain. Charles. Stay with me.
He wasn't sure what to call this--it was like reaching, like holding onto something not quite material enough to grasp, like the feel of metal when he touched for it, the shape of it, but nothing like it. Charles. They're here to kill us. You can't leave again.
Startled, Charles looked up, focusing, perhaps for the first time, on what he had done; Erik watched as he scanned them, attention sharpening. "Why? We helped them--"
"They blame us for Shaw," Erik answered, sitting up, hissing when he tried to brace himself on the wrong arm. Charles' eyes flickered back to him, down to the bloody shoulder, then reached up and touched his own cheek, fingers coming back flecked in drying blood. There was a fast, expert rummage through his memory, the last weeks, the last months, fighting off the last group only feet from Charles' door, they want to kill us, Charles repeated, shocked, staring at them, and Erik felt the lightning quick sort through the massed minds, the third hand hatred from them like an open, rotting wound. They won't stop.
Erik took a deep breath; the screaming is rising again. "Charles--" Charles!
He sensed how hard it was for Charles to focus through that; not just the memories, but these men, their sick disgust at mutants; the men at the CIA had never hidden their dislike and fear, but then, Erik suspected Charles' own defenses had filtered it by instinct. There were no filters left for Charles right now; gritting his teeth, Erik got to his feet, stumbling until Charles belatedly caught him, hissing at the flare of pain from Erik's shoulder. The blue eyes fixed on the men in the room, spilling from the emergency stairs, from the half-open elevator that two bodies held ajar, their guns pointed toward them, and there was death waiting at the next volley of bullets; even Erik wasn't sure he could stop them all.
Erik licked his lips. "Tell them to place their guns against their heads." We can't let them go, Charles.
Charles wavered. They're--
They'll be back. You can erase their minds this time, but what about the next? And the next? It won't stop, Charles. It won’t ever stop. Not until we're dead. Every one of us.
Charles blinked, eyes glazed over. Then, softly, "You're pointing your weapon at the wrong target."
Erik watched as the guns slowly moved, arms raising, barrels pressed beneath vulnerable chins. Erik had a brief moment of thanks that he and the others weren't armed with guns, there'd been no time; reaching out, he locked each gun in place one by one until he could feel every bullet and could guide them exactly where they must go. Then, "Now, Charles." We don’t have a choice.
Charles nodded slowly at Erik's utter certainty, at everything Erik projected to him, every bitter, blood-soaked memory, every attack, every second that had passed from the moment Shaw destroyed even the hope of something less than full scale war.
"I meant the--" Charles laughs when Erik locks their door, tumbling Charles onto their bed. "I meant the students, you ass."
"I have a perfectly good memory," Erik answers, one knee planted on the edge of the bed between Charles legs and kissing him. Look and see.
Thank you for the offer, Charles answers absently as Erik unbuttons his shirt, that incredible mind a singular focus, all on Erik. It's drugging, addictive, impossible to give up from that moment beneath the mansion, surrounded by the bodies of two hundred men that died because Charles told them to. He remembers Raven's shock and understanding, Hank's sick horror, Alex's pragmatic acceptance, Sean's simple agreement; they drew the line at overwriting their own people when it isn't required, but perhaps Hank--
He will accept, even if he cannot condone. As long as Alex is here, he will be, too. Charles fingers slide down his cheek. Perhaps you should turn your attention--
You always have my undivided attention.
He does; he has Charles', always, in Cerebro when he's on a mission, a warm presence that shares everything he does; this is better, warm flesh beneath his hands and Charles' brilliant mind wound through his in ways that will last until they both die, because apart they could fight this war to a stalemate, but together, they'll own the world. He can guide Charles' mind away from the screams of the dead that haunt him, forcing them fainter beneath the weight of his presence, give Charles the focus to help him bring this world to its knees for their pleasure, save their kind from the humans who would dare try to hunt them to extinction.
"Of course not," Erik murmurs against Charles' throat, tasting the iron of Charles' blood rising beneath the thin skin, feeling the faint hum of trace metals beneath it, pushing himself up on one hand long enough for Charles to slide his trousers off and away, the material rough compared to smooth, clean skin, leaving the outline of his teeth in red-purple on one sharp hipbone and the impossibly soft skin of his thighs, Charles' fingers tightening in his hair and Erik, please.
"I should make you beg," Erik breathes, smiling at the faint alarm before pinning his hips to the bed and sucking his cock. I should make you beg, Charles. Until you forget that you're Charles Xavier and remember only that you're mine.
It is not too much to ask; he's never had anything to call his own before Charles. They'll share the world between them, a world where their kind will rule (gracious, perhaps, they can be gracious in victory once humans know their place) but Charles is his and his alone, jealously guarded and owned. He listens to Charles' broken moans in voice and mind, sensing the shock of pleasure when Erik opens him slow and methodical and malicious in his care, the echo of it thrumming through his body until it's near overload, too much to process and stay sane.
There's only heat and Charles' pleas that aren't words, the slurred want diamond sharp, then Charles' pulling him in for a kiss as Erik pushes inside him, tight heat and relief and more, Erik, please.
"Beautiful," Erik pants against Charles' mouth; twenty-two days since he left and Charles went into Cerebro, too long, far too long; Charles left alone to try and save a life, every life, to compensate, perhaps, for all those lives that Shaw had stolen on that quiet beach. His death hadn't begun to pay the debt, but those three days were perhaps the initial payment for the radioactive burn of the southern coastline, the people that now hunt them, the war that they were not yet ready to fight but were forced to begin, but never for what now lived in Charles mind, the screaming, bloody death of millions. Erik could have killed him for that alone, waiting only until after Charles skinned his mind of everything, memory by blood-soaked memory, until even thought was stripped away and nothing was left but a shell that knew just enough to scream as the coin sank into his brain and took what remained in him of life. It wasn't enough. Nothing could ever be enough.
Charles' thighs tighten on his hips, head tilted back into the mess of blankets and sheets, gasping "Erik, please" and Erik, I need--harder, can't you--harder, please-- as Erik plants one hand in the mattress and stops holding back anything from the one man who can handle everything he is, has been, and will become.
Charles comes in a electric shock of sensation that Erik can feel hum down his own spine; it's only seconds before Erik follows, surrounded in the echoed pleasure between them, the tangle of fierce satisfaction and rushing pleasure bordering on pain and too good to last nearly as long as it does. It's impossible to lose any contact; Erik has just enough awareness to ease slowly from Charles' body, collapsing in a sweating, panting sprawl with him and breathe them, sweat and sex, wallow in the euphoric wonder of what they are together.
The screaming has stopped, at least for now; it takes longer every time for it to return. One day, Erik will bury all of it, until there's nothing left that isn't Erik's alone.
"So," Charles says, husky and rough, and Erik shivers at the sound of it; he can't possibly be ready again so quickly, but his body makes an effort. "Too long, definitely." Perhaps the temptation would be less if your absences were of shorter duration.
"Perhaps," Erik murmurs, easing up to look at Charles, flushed and still panting, red-swollen mouth and unfocused eyes, "you should come with me."
Charles smiles into the slow kiss. Outstanding.
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