?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: The Heart’s Dark Crossroads

Fandom: Xmen: First Class

Pairing: Erik/Charles

Length: c. 6k

Beta: The sublime kate_lear and the beautiful fengirl88 (and vice versa). Words can’t describe how grateful I am.

Warnings: Sex (explicit), homophobia (comparatively non-explicit)

Rating: NC17

This fic was originally written for a fic-exchange prompt by splintercat on erik_charles which asked for Erik and Charles bonding during the mutant collecting tour, getting to know each other, etc. with a request for first time sex, philosophical discussion, time period relevant detail and Charles being a nerd. The prompter concluded "I like happy endings".







The Heart’s Dark Crossroads




Part 1: Charles




Charles is a well brought-up young man, good at being liked. In school, he is popular without being conspicuous, polite without being sycophantic, good at games but not to excess. His one weakness, if you can call it weakness, the one thing that sets him apart from his peers, is his outstanding academic record. However, he is successful without being arrogant and modest without being self-abasing: the perfect gentleman.



At university, he drinks with the boys and charms the girls. Women love him, and he loves them back. He is good at persuading them into his bed and good at remaining friends in the morning.



He is, in short, despite his transatlantic childhood, the epitome of that most British of stereotypes the “good chap”. Only Raven suspects that he is a little bored – and in danger of becoming boring. Had Moira not come looking for him he would, no doubt, have married a pretty, clever wife and produced pretty, clever children – albeit with some unusual talents.



When Erik’s howl of rage and pain cuts through the water and pierces the dark recesses of his brain, this future shatters.



Nature abhors a vacuum. The vast empty chasm of Erik’s grief pulls Charles through the ship. Jumping into the water is an automatic response, a decision that he is barely conscious of making. Later, he will rationalise it as a desire to help a soul in torment. He will not yet be able to acknowledge that, like a compass swinging to north, he has found his one fixed point.



Their minds connect in the water – impossible to avoid it, even if he had wanted to. Erik is a whirling storm, wildly pouring forth a torrent of images, sounds and sensations that flow so quickly through Charles’s mind that he can barely comprehend them.



Let it go! You have to let it go!



He wraps his arms tightly around Erik’s chest and tries to project a feeling of safety, although it is as much himself as Erik who he is protecting from the whirling mental storm.



Erik breaks focus enough for Charles to drag him to the surface, a seething vortex of frustration. “You were in my mind, how were you doing that?” he asks, wild-eyed and raging, and it is all Charles can do to splutter out his answer.



When Charles says “You are not alone”, he is partly reassuring himself.



***


The CIA facility is not helpful. Pain rolls off Erik in cold blasts. His emotions are raw, his mind a tangled mess of memory, thought and feeling. Everything is too near the surface and Charles cannot dip in and out of Erik’s conscious thoughts without the risk of stumbling upon things that would normally be locked many layers down. Charles intends to protect Erik’s privacy, but he still finds it hard to avoid receiving splinters – fractured images, half-formed thoughts, sudden surges of emotion: shrapnel from the ground zero that is Erik’s mind.



He tells himself that he is desperate to stop Erik from leaving because he wants to help him, and not for any baser motive. But for the time being, all he can do is try to stay out of Erik’s head.



Erik radiates distrust and clearly believes Charles has seen more of Erik’s past in that moment of connection than he had really had time to understand. There are many things Charles could say to try to change Erik’s mind about going – don’t leave me, not when I’m just getting to know you – but to say such things would seem like too much like a demand. Charles settles for appealing to Erik’s desire for self-mastery and leaves before saying anything else, things he might regret. Even so, it is a surprise when Erik enters the office.



When Charles says “I am with Erik,” there is a momentary release of tension, a pause in the telepathic onslaught from Erik’s subconscious. Erik’s mouth twitches as if he is about to smile and Charles is so delighted that, when the time comes for them to leave, he has no compunction about tweaking the mind of the procurement officer.



Erik raises an eyebrow at the bright red Triumph sports car.



“Really, Charles? Perhaps a little conspicuous?” he murmurs.



Charles sighs and the dazed officer guides them to a black model.



“Perfect,” says Erik, and Charles is suddenly absurdly happy.



***



Erik doesn’t say much during the first couple of days on the road. Charles can barely stop talking, rattling on about Oxford – the buildings, the customs, his research, his neighbours: the oafs and aesthetes, communists and conservatives that inhabited its shady quads and quiet halls. Neither he nor Erik is yet comfortable talking about their powers directly but his, at least, has given him a profound interest in people which he has never had the opportunity to fully share before now.



Once, when he is describing the man who lived across the corridor from him in his second year (“a queer sort, collected blue-and-white china and kept trying to talk to me about Walt Whitman”), he feels Erik tense.



“What is it?” he asks. Surely there was nothing in his description to trigger Erik’s dark memories? He is tempted to reach out and pluck it from Erik’s mind, but that would be an intrusion and he knows from the shards of recollection that Erik still unconsciously projects that Erik has experienced far too many intrusions.



“Oh,” says Erik, his light tone masking an underlying intensity, “I was merely wondering if he had a groovy mutation.”



Charles blushes. Since witnessing him trying to pick up a girl in a bar in Florida, Erik has been teasing about his well-worn chat-up line.



“Really, Erik! He was perfectly ordinary!” he protests, adding swiftly, “And a man!” as the implications of Erik’s comment catch up with him. “I don’t know what you’re suggesting!”



“I’m sure your virtue is unblemished, Charles,” says Erik, lightly.



Is it Charles’s imagination that he sounds a little disappointed?



***



They fall into a routine, driving through the days and seeking out cheap motels in the evening. Erik keeps himself exceptionally clean, showering in the morning and again after dinner. Charles is fairly sure that this is a habit born of past deprivation, but does not pry.



They discuss the following day’s plans while they eat and then play chess. Erik’s hair sticks damply to his forehead and Charles is startled to find he has an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch it.



He doesn’t, of course.



***



In Alabama, they meet a young black activist called George Sole with a talent for diverting thrown missiles. Tracking him down would be hard without Charles’s particular abilities: George is good at keeping hidden. They eventually find him at a civil rights meeting, standing to one side, at the back of the stage.



He uses his power with great subtlety. A member of the crowd flings a tin can at the speaker’s head – it misses by about two inches. Charles is excited: here is a power they can use. George is reluctant to talk at first, but soon gains confidence under Charles’s innocent enthusiasm.



“It’s not hard stopping things,” he tells them. “Only problem is making it look right.”



His degree of control is impressive but it means they have little to offer him and he is adamant that it is his duty to stay where he is.



“Dr King needs me,” he says simply, deaf to Charles’s most heart-felt pleas.



“Surely saving the world is of more importance?” Charles complains to Erik on their way back to the motel.



“We must still build a world worth saving,” Erik replies.



Charles doesn’t agree but holds his peace. Later, he tells himself, Later Erik will understand: the world is more important than any one cause.



Later, Erik will regret George’s absence, but not for Charles’s reasons. As he holds Charles’s broken body on the beach, Erik feels he would have moved heaven and earth to have made that bullet stop.



His world is lying shattered in his arms.



George’s power does not benefit Dr King for long: George dies in a tenement fire in 1966. When Erik hears the news, he realises that he still hasn’t forgiven George for not joining them.



***



Charles’s hand hovers over a knight. He likes the feel of the pieces under his fingers and hesitates over every move.



Erik is controlled and precise, not raising his hand until he knows exactly where he will place his piece. His fingers grip a bishop and move it across the board with calm efficiency.



Charles loves watching him play.




***



They fly to Los Angeles and drive to Santa Monica on the path of Toby Smelt, a man who can manipulate fire. It is a promising talent. Charles has bounced back from George’s rejection and sings rude songs along the freeway.



“I’m surprised at you, Charles,” Erik says, “I wouldn’t have thought you had time for music.”



“They’re written by a mathematician! It’s almost scientific!” says Charles, and sings the chemical elements set to the tune of ‘I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General’.



Erik tries to keep himself aloof but can’t forebear chuckling at Charles’s impassioned (if slightly tuneless) renditions of ‘The Old Dope Peddler’ and ‘Fight Fiercely Harvard’.



“…How we will celebrate our victory! 
We will invite the whole team up to tea! (How jolly!)”



“Really Charles, surely you ought to be singing ‘Fight Fiercely Oxford’,” Erik teases.



“Different sort of football,” Charles replies, airily.



“But the sentiments are the same?” says Erik, raising an eyebrow.



“Perhaps,” Charles concedes, “although the tea would be better.”



They arrive in the scorching midday heat and Charles sets about seeking out their target. But it is clear, even from his distant readings, that something is terribly wrong. They eventually find Toby lying next to the entrance of a bar. Charles tries to help him, gently touching his mind, but it is all dark and fear and confusion. Toby is back from the Korean war and, while other soldiers have managed the transition, he clearly has not. Instead he has attempted to burn away the memories with drink and hallucinogens – an unpredictable experiment, for a mutant. His mind is so severely traumatised that Charles doubts he could rebuild it, even if they had time.



That night, Charles dreams of burning flesh and screaming children. He wakes with a start to find Erik gently shaking his shoulder.



“You were projecting,” Erik says, through gritted teeth.



Charles is so profoundly grateful to be woken that he bursts into tears.



Erik seems uncertain what to do but stretches out an awkward hand towards his shoulder. Charles grasps it and Erik tenses. Charles is about to start apologising, but the bed dips as Erik shifts to lie next to him, on top of the covers. Charles feels a strong arm slide under his neck and Erik pulls him close against his chest. Charles buries his head against Erik’s pyjama top and a sense of deep peace and safety washes over him. He dozes back to sleep.



In the morning, he wakes to find Erik fully dressed and lying on the other bed, reading the volume of Rilke’s poetry that is his constant companion.



Charles feels deeply ashamed of his behaviour and considers apologising but Erik doesn’t say anything. The only sign that he remembers what has happened is his suggestion that Charles try to get some sleep in the car.



Charles wonders what Erik dreams.



***



In San Francisco they meet a girl called Chloe, with flowers in her hair – each strand ending in delicate white blooms, which sway as she walks. Scandalously, she appears to be living in a commune, surrounded by an adoring gaggle of long-haired boys and sunburnt girls who are prone to giggling. The group offers them bean-curd curry while Chloe picks out a tune on guitar and burbles on about peace and cosmic radiance.



Needless to say, she doesn’t join them.



Charles is slightly shocked at her domestic arrangements but Erik says gently, “Where’s the harm? They won’t be young forever.”



Charles is surprised: normally Erik is so devoted to order and focus. He doesn’t say anything but he feels a bit put out when one of the long-haired men shyly asks Erik to dance. Erik’s amusement is obvious even though he manages to keep his refusal polite.



Later, when they are playing chess, Charles finds his gaze inexplicably drawn to a droplet of water which runs down Erik’s neck and settles in the hollow of his throat. It is surprisingly distracting, and Erik wins two games in quick succession.



***



They get profoundly drunk in Reno – or at least Charles gets drunk. Erik primly sips his glass of lager and looks disapproving as Charles tries to chat up a slim brunette. Charles’s charm and British accent seem to make up for his opening gambit. She giggles at his jokes, accepts the offered drink and asks him if he’d like to dance.



Charles is having the time of his life.



The atmosphere is warm, the girl is a good dancer and he basks in the glow of other people’s happiness. He even unconsciously starts projecting his fuzzy joy back in the room, reinforcing the pleasure of those around him.



He is so relaxed and content that he loosens his normally tight control and reaches to gently brush against Erik’s thoughts with his mind.



But Erik is gone.



Charles feels as if he has been drenched in icy water. He whirls around in confusion, desperately scouring the room for Erik. His sudden change of mood causes the whole bar to stop. People who were drinking stand in confusion, glasses half-raised to their lips. Those who were happily dancing stare at each other in surprise. The band stops playing and conversation abruptly ceases.



Charles barely notices. He garbles some excuse to the girl, who is standing stock still, looking puzzled, and runs out.



He frantically casts out with his power and there is Erik, standing on a bridge, looking down at the murky water. Charles runs towards him and, in his panic, slams into Erik’s mind.



It feels like drowning.



Images flicker through his mind: a rat running over the face of a corpse, the heft of a body in his arms, mud, fear, exhaustion, a voice repeating over and over again, “You aren’t trying – try harder.”



Charles drops to his knees.



He shouldn’t be here.



He feels Erik recoil at the intrusion, the images becoming more panicked and fragmented as Erik’s mind thrashes against him.



No! Not here! Get out!



Charles recovers himself and pulls back, scrambling to be free.



But not before he has caught sight of something bright and shining beneath the rage and pain, a glowing fragment that Erik is trying above all else to keep hidden. It is the image of himself, wrapped in Erik’s arms.



Charles opens his eyes. They are both panting hard. He stretches out his hand towards Erik but Erik whips back with a snarl, turns on his heel and runs off into the dark.



Charles leans against the concrete palisade, the upper part of which looks like a bomb has hit it, the metal railings twisted and melted into a tangled mess.



So. Erik… cares for him. His mind still recoils at the word ‘love’ but it buffets at the edges of his consciousness until he allows it to settle, solid and undeniable. He realises with a rush that he also loves Erik. The way his hair sticks up when wet, his wry smile, the little ‘tsk’ noise he makes when he is exasperated, his elegant fingers, his firm body…



His thoughts aren’t comforting.



Charles’s mutation sets him apart from other people but is comparatively easy to hide and control. If it attracts some attention, it also provides him with a means of avoiding notice – taking back memories, smoothing hostilities and erasing all trace of his presence. Caring for, no, loving Erik, is a much more complex proposition.



Charles likes to think of himself as a scientist and a man of the world. He has read the Kinsey report and is vaguely aware of the findings of the Wolfenden commission, but only from a medical perspective. Distrust, distaste or outright disgust at homosexuals is so widespread that he realises he hadn’t even really thought of such sentiments as prejudice. Even a colleague who is a sexologist once excused himself from the pub by saying, “Sorry, Charles! Got to get back to the bloody poofs!”



Charles’s own particular field of research has ensured that he is aware of speculation that homosexuality might itself be a genetic mutation, but it has always struck him as unlikely. The homosexual impulse carries no potential to breed, no evolutionary imperative. Charles’s interest in the debate over Wolfenden had therefore been from a practical and anthropological perspective – interest in whether arguments from biological determinism would prove effective in making a despised minority acceptable. He has also been afraid that true mutants, mutants like himself, might be tarred with the same brush. Public indecency is an easy accusation to make and Charles would be naïve not to realise that the majority regularly accuses minorities of having excessive or perverted sexual drives. A mutation like Raven’s might well attract such unsavoury speculation.



These debates and speculations do not connect in his mind with his own vague and unfocused appreciation of the male form. He is acutely conscious of the fact that he has little in common with those languid Oxford aesthetes who, rumour suggests, are implicated in unmentionable practices.



The undeniable fact of his love for Erik cuts into these fumbling thoughts like a scalpel. It exposes parts of himself that he has kept deeply hidden and makes him feel vulnerable. But it also brings a lot of things into perfect focus.



Erik. Of course it is Erik.



And if he stays here much longer, Erik might run off for good.



Charles scrambles unsteadily to his feet and lurches towards the motel.



***



Erik is sitting on the bed. His case is neatly packed on the floor next to him and his jacket is draped over it. He looks utterly desolate.



Charles’s heart wells with relief.



“The car keys are on the desk, next to your passport,” Erik says, not looking up.



Charles does not speak. Instead, he steps across the room and puts his hands on Erik’s shoulders.



“I don’t need your pity,” Erik says wearily and squints up at him.



But I need you, Charles answers, and tentatively lifts his palm to Erik’s cheek.



Erik closes his eyes with a low sound and leans in to Charles’s hand.



Suddenly, it is all very simple.



Charles slides his other hand to cup the back of Erik’s head, drawing him in for a kiss. Their lips touch. It is like nothing Charles has ever felt before. Erik wraps his arms tightly around Charles’s waist and slides his tongue insistently forward into Charles’s mouth, almost knocking him off balance. He thrusts back, urgently, and slides his knees up on to the bed, straddling Erik’s thighs. He can hear the blood singing in Erik’s veins, feel the heat of Erik’s arousal uncoil and spread.



wantwantwant



Their thoughts seem to bleed into one another and he is not sure if the sudden rush of need is Erik’s or his own.



Erik clutches at his back and Charles thrusts his hands under Erik’s polo neck, desperate for more heat, more friction. Erik groans, his hips jerking forward. The lights in the room flash on and off, the lamp on the table twists and bends.



Charles scissors his legs behind Erik’s back and feels Erik clutch at his thighs. He is suddenly lifted as Erik pushes off the bed and backs him against a wall, their bodies still locked together. He buries his face in Erik’s neck and pushes encouragement into Erik’s mind – wantneedmore – as he gasps, “Too… many… clothes!”



Erik is impatient. Charles feels his belt buckle twist and unravel, the zip on his trousers fall, the metal buttons of his shirt bust apart and Erik’s hands, questing through fabric to cup his arse.



Yesyespleaseyesmore, Charles frantically thrusts into Erik’s mind.

Erik swings him round, laying him on his back onto the bed, and roughly pulls off the rest of Charles’s clothes. Charles catches pleaseCharlesgodplease. He reaches up to fumble with the buckle at Erik’s waist. Erik hisses in frustration and goes to move his fingers, but Charles stops him. No – me! pleasewant He eases off Erik’s shoes and yanks off his trousers and cotton briefs. Erik’s cock bobs free, hard and glorious. Erik looks away as if ashamed but Charles swarms forward and slides its tip between his lips.



The sensations are overwhelming. Erik throws back his head with a groan and Charles revels in the sight of him, the stretch of his mouth around Erik’s cock, the smell, the taste… muskysaltysmoothErikErikErik



Charles swirls his tongue and brings up a hand to cup Erik’s balls. Erik groans again and bucks his hips, his hands frantically clutching in Charles’s hair. He is trying hard not to push deeper and Charles hears him thinking wildly don’t thrust don’tthrustdon’tthrust.



Thrust if you want wantyouwanteverything, Charles replies.



Erik grips the back of his neck, and mutters through gritted teeth, “Can’t hold…Charles…”



Come for me! Charles answers and Erik lets go with a cry, flooding Charles’s mouth.



Beautiful! Charles is drunk with elation. He releases Erik’s cock and wraps his arms tightly around Erik’s waist. Erik lifts a shaking hand to Charles’s hair.



Alright areyoualright is it alright? Erik radiates anxiety.



Wonderful not alright wonderful! Charles uses all his self-control to form distinct words, while wrapping his pleasure around Erik’s mind. He feels a wave of guilt from Erik despite the reassurances and so releases Erik’s legs to smile up at him. Erik looks utterly wrecked, and stares down at him searchingly. But his thoughts are all desire: You now wantyounow!



Charles lightly plants a kiss on Erik’s softening cock, and eases himself back onto the bed.



Erik kneels and slips his hands under Charles’s thighs, lifting them over his shoulders. An image flashes through Charles’s thoughts of what Erik has in mind and he locks his ankles behind Erik’s head. Erik swallows and then gently takes Charles’s cock in his mouth and hotwetErikfuckfuckfuckfuck



Charles’s hands scrabble in the sheets and he hears himself cry out as Erik curls his fingers around the base of Charles’s cock and begins to suck. He draws Charles in deeper, wrapping his lips tightly around Charles’s length and pumping with steady strokes of his hand.



Charles gasps incoherently as the pressure builds, and the heat pools deep in his groin. His vision blurs and his control unravels under the delicate flicks of Erik’s tongue, the insistent rhythm of Erik’s tight fingers.



Can’t… can’tlastfuckErikfuck



The pleasure crests and he comes with a shout, mind and body shuddering ecstatically into Erik in a moment of perfect unity.



Erik gently puts down Charles’s thighs and slides next to him. Charles hitches up the bed and lies in an incoherent pool of contentment as Erik takes him in his arms and rolls him close, pulling Charles’s head against Erik’s chest.



“Amazing… that was… amazing” Charles manages to murmur.



Erik says nothing. He lies with his nose buried in Charles’s hair, breathing in Charles’s scent. They are still lying like that as Charles drifts off to sleep.







Part 2: Erik




Erik does not go to sleep.



Charles smells safe and warm and he lies there, listening to the soft thrum of iron in Charles’s blood.



So then.



Charles desires him.



It is more than he had expected or hoped for.



Erik is not a monk. He has had his share of men on his travels: some for information, some for distraction and a few simply because they were there. It is all very easy and a bit boring. Men, or, he amends, most of the men he has encountered are simple to manipulate: arch your eyebrows in the right way and put your hand on their cock and they are yours. It is a simple transaction, and one in which he does not invest heavily. He suspects his partners prefer it that way, but it isn’t a question that interests him much.



And then in comes Charles, pretty Charles, with his soft mouth and soft ideals and Erik has fallen before he really knew he was in danger.



Not that it is more than a passing attraction – or so he had told himself. Charles is charming, witty and a mutant but he is also smug, manipulative and naïve. Erik once described him as “An adorable lab rat”, but he cannot entirely relinquish a private fear that, one day, the experiment might turn experimenter.



He yearns to protect Charles.



Not to keep him out of danger – Charles is his own man, and will make his own choices. But to protect his freedom to make those choices, to guard him from the many dark ugly facts about humanity that Erik knows only too well. Charles isn’t an innocent but he is an optimist, and Erik knows that optimism is dangerous.



***



He tries very hard not to get in too deep. Instead, he takes pleasure in the small things – their mundane routine, Charles’s idle chatter, the way Charles’s eyes shine across the chessboard, the curve of his throat as he sips his bourbon. Ordinary things, but Erik has seldom had the luxury of the ordinary and it seduces him more profoundly and completely than any showy exoticism.



When, in Santa Monica, Charles’s nightmare wraps its tendrils around Erik’s consciousness, Erik is terrified.



Charles’s dream feeds off images from Erik’s own dark memories, reality and illusion bleeding into each other. The room recedes, the walls melt and the floor becomes cold mud beneath his feet. Barbed wire grows around the bed and a bitter wind chills him to the bone. The screams and fires which Charles dreams become acrid smoke and howls that reverberate deep in Erik’s skull – cries that seem only partly muffled by thick brick walls.



It takes all Erik’s strength to focus on the existence of another reality, the solid walls and firm floors of the cheap motel. He struggles across the room and roughly shakes Charles’s shoulder, in a desperate attempt to make it stop.



He hadn’t been prepared for the naked vulnerability of Charles’s response. Charles clutches at his hand like a drowning man and it fires Erik’s simmering flicker of attraction into a bright flame.



Erik doesn’t know what to do. The realisation that he cares desperately, that he wants this and more, wants things that he can never have is shattering.



He is not so foolish as to expect his desire to be reciprocated. Charles is beautiful, powerful, clever and utterly uninterested in men. Why, he’d even delicately pre-empted any suggestion of such intimacies by telling Erik a carefully chosen anecdote about an offer he’d received at Oxford.



“He was completely normal. And a man, Erik, I don’t know what you are implying.”



Quite.



Charles’s words are said with the clear conscience of one who was amused but not intrigued.



If, occasionally, Erik has thought he caught Charles watching him with rather more than fraternal affection, he ruthlessly chides himself for self-delusion.



Holding Charles, even through the bed covers, is extraordinary. Charles nuzzles in close, resting his head again the crook of Erik’s neck, and goes deeply to sleep. Erik can feel Charles’s hot breath on his neck. He smells so good – a warm musky smell: safety.



It takes all Erik’s self-control to disentangle himself in the morning, before Charles can wake. Erik knows shame and guilt very well and he can’t bear the thought that Charles might wake up and be ashamed to be in his arms.



He has a cold shower and pretends to read Rilke, even though the words leap and stutter on the page.



Keeping up the pretence of indifference, day after day, is a strain. Erik is touched by the sympathetic looks of the shy, serious boy in San Francisco who asks him to dance. Charles is wide-eyed and flustered: he has been looking slightly scandalised throughout their whole meeting with Chloe’s crowd. Erik wonders what Charles would look like if he accepted the offer – probably collapse in a surfeit of Britishness.



The thought amuses him.



Loving Charles hurts Erik, and watching Charles try to pick up strange girls in bars is more than he can bear.



Erik had not meant to cut himself off so completely from Charles’s mind when he trudged out to the bridge, but his pain and isolation well up, backing him into a closed corner of his mind where he feels only loosely attached to his body.



When Charles slams into his head, it is terrifying. Charles brings light and warmth but Erik does not want anyone to see his weakness and is accustomed to the cold. And then Charles pounces on the one spark, his one polished memory of joy and drags it up to the light. The thought of Charles seeing, judging – perhaps even mocking – is unbearable.



Erik runs because he cannot think what else to do.



But he can’t bring himself to leave entirely – not like that. Erik has his pride and does not want Charles to think that he ran away because he was afraid. He is not ashamed of who he is – Jew, mutant, queer – and he wants to walk out with his head held high, not skulking off like a snivelling conformist. He packs his case efficiently, puts the keys on the table and waits.



Soon it will all be over.



Charles’s face when he steps in the room is carefully composed in an expression of compassion. It is almost worse than outright mockery – Erik can picture his next words very clearly, “Sorry old chap, not my thing. Have you considered getting help? There are some very reliable cures these days.



Even when Charles touches his cheek, he does not dare to hope, merely taking the chance to treasure up one more memory before leaving.



The kiss is a complete shock.



Charles’s lips are hot and soft, his mouth is perfect and when he slides his tongue between Erik’s lips, Erik feels himself let go. It is as if Charles has thrown open windows in his mind, broken down doors and let in the light – not as an intruder but as a desperately desired guest. Erik clutches at Charles, responding with such force that it nearly knocks them over.



Erik’s passion frightens him – he wants and needs too much. But Charles is there, meeting want with want, need with need. Not merely trusting him to be gentle but showing him that he need not be. Erik realises he has pushed Charles back against a wall and is helplessly rutting against him but Charles is eager, frantically projecting his want and need, only slowing Erik’s urgent pace to tell him they are wearing far too many clothes.



The sight of Charles naked is breath-taking.



Erik wants to sink to his knees, rub his face along Charles’s thighs, drink in the musky smell of Charles’s groin, and take Charles’s beautiful hard cock into his mouth. Charles, however, has other ideas.



Charles eases off Erik's shoes and socks and fumbles with his trousers and thin cotton briefs. Erik suddenly feels vulnerable. He is very conscious of his erection, now exposed to view, and is unsure of how Charles will react to his naked body.



When Charles wraps his perfect mouth around Erik’s cock, it is all Erik can do not to come straight away. He throws his head back and groans, and Charles responds by taking him in deeper, wrapping his lips around tighter and gripping the base of Erik’s shaft with his hand.



Erik very badly wants to lose control completely, to relentlessly fuck Charles’s sinfully hot mouth, pounding into Charles until everything stops. But the thought of hurting Charles terrifies him. Even so, the sight of Charles’s mussed hair, the way Charles’s hand gently cups his balls with infinite care, the perfect heat, the wet, tight grip of Charles’s lips…



“Can’t hold… Charles…”



“Come for me!”



Charles’s words are welcome and benediction. Erik lets go with a high pitched cry. Even here, in the moment of release, Charles does not leave Erik but instead pours his own warmth and pleasure into Erik’s mind.



It is intoxicating.



As the sensations ebb away, his anxiety returns – has he gone too far? Is Charles alright?



Wonderful not alright wonderful!” Charles sounds blissful.



When Erik kneels between Charles’s thighs, it is almost in reverence.



He eases Charles’s thighs over his shoulders, revelling in the way Charles groans and shuts his eyes, wrapping his legs tightly around Erik’s neck.



Charles’s cock is hot and heavy in Erik’s mouth, his hands twist in the sheets, his eyelashes flutter.



Erik thinks, “Beautiful! So fantastically beautiful!” He feels Charles’s pleasure spike and soar, and then it is Charles who is coming.



Afterwards, they lie tangled together on the bed. Erik wraps his body round Charles as if to shield him from harm. Charles does not object but settles in closer. His head rests on Erik’s chest and his breath tickles slightly as it evens and relaxes into sleep.



Erik basks in Charles’s warmth, his solid weight and sense of trust that lets Charles rest so easily in his arms.







Part 3 Erik and Charles




Erik wakes before Charles and lies looking down at him. He looks utterly debauched – his cheeks flushed and his hair wild. He is beautiful, thinks Erik, Whatever happens next, I will have had this. He gently places a kiss on Charles’s forehead.



Charles’s eyelids flicker and he opens his eyes.



Erik is propped up on one arm, looking down at him.



“Nrggh!” Charles says, appreciatively: speech before coffee would be indecent. He reaches out an arm experimentally and flops it over Erik.



Erik relaxes. The corner of his mouth twitches. Charles is clearly not shocked to find Erik in his bed. In fact, he makes a protesting sound when Erik tries to get up, wrapping his limbs round Erik’s body and clinging to him like a particularly affectionate sloth.



“Easy, mein Schatz, easy! I must go and get coffee!”



Erik did not intend to call Charles ‘my treasure’ but the words feel surprisingly natural. Charles does not object.



Coffee? Charles echoes, hopefully, adding an image of a steaming mug with just the right amount of milk.



Erik laughs. “Of course,” he says, disentangling himself. He puts on his trousers and polo neck and walks, barefoot, to reception.



“That was some crazy weather last night,” says the girl on the desk, as she spoons coffee into the filter. “Blew out half the lights and pulled down a couple of pylons.”



Erik tries hard not to look smug but can’t quite keep the swagger out of his step as he walks back to the room.



Charles has closed his eyes so Erik sets the mug down by the side of the bed and leans over to kiss the back of Charles’s neck.



“Here,” he says.



Charles grunts happily but doesn’t move. Erik runs a gentle hand over his back before heading to the bathroom for a shower.



The tepid water wakes him up, pinpricks of cold that sharpen his focus. He turns up the temperature and smoothes soap over his chest, allowing himself to bask a moment under the rivulets of warmth.



Charles, it seems, is a man of surprises. Erik doesn’t normally stick around for the morning after the night before but he was prepared for a number of reactions – shame, guilt, denial, fear… He was certainly not expecting to be pinned to the bed by a happy and sleepy octopus.



The thought of Charles pinning him to the bed in other ways sends a bolt of heat straight to his cock.



Charles is beautiful but he is also strong and demanding: qualities which Erik has always found attractive. Erik doesn’t normally let men fuck him – he doesn’t like the illusion of losing control – but he feels that perhaps with Charles, he might enjoy it.



He pictures Charles gripped between his thighs, pushing slowly into him, his eyes closed in concentration. The vision is intoxicating. Charles would hiss and growl against him, the tendons in his neck taut with the effort of holding back.



Erik would enjoy making him lose control.



He curls his hand around his cock and begins to stroke.



***


Charles snakes a hand out of the bedclothes and retrieves the coffee.



Erik is a man of surprises. Charles is pretty sure that lazy mornings with gentle kisses and hot beverages aren’t a normal part of Erik’s repertoire but he has risen to the occasion magnificently. Most of the time, Erik gives the impression of being aloof from such human considerations, taking his morning shower and packing his few belongings with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine.



The thought of a well-oiled Erik is really rather pleasant.



Erik has always been scrupulous about keeping his body covered and while his tops leave little to the imagination, the elegant lines of his muscles are infinitely preferable. Charles has not thought of himself as particularly focused on physical appearance but Erik’s body entrances him. He wants to know it inside and out – to map every contour, chart each mark, each dip, each crevice, lose himself in the touch, taste, smell of Erik.



Some of those marks have no business being there, he thinks, frowning.



Erik’s past is written on his body in a thousand subtle ways – old scars, healed fractures, past privations. Erik’s mind and body have been occupied territory and Charles still wants to help Erik reclaim this lost ground.



But that is for the future. For now, Charles realises, he just wants Erik – surprising, frustrating and infinitely beautiful.



Erik comes through from the shower, looking damp and slightly flushed. He sits down on the bed and smiles.



“So? You are awake at last?” he asks, absently resting his hand on Charles’s back.



Charles curls himself around Erik and captures Erik’s hand in his own.



“I was thinking,” Charles says carefully, “that the CIA would be most disappointed if we made them look foolish.”



Erik freezes and Charles rushes to correct himself, No, my love! Not that! I would never give you up! You are mine!



He moves his hand on top of Erik’s, lacing their fingers, and hurries on, “What I meant was, it seems only polite to, ah, take our time over the mission. To relax a bit. If we return too quickly, they might think finding mutants was easy. And I’m sure that would embarrass them.”



He looks up at Erik with innocent blue eyes.



“In fact, I think we really ought to spend some more of their excellent budget and… perhaps have a week off? Or two? Just out of politeness.”



His thumb traces a circle on Erik’s wrist.



Erik breaks into a smile. “Charles,” he says, gravely, “It seems we have a duty to perform.”







Author’s Notes: The title is taken from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Sonnets to Orpheus: I.3”. “The Chemical Elements”, “Fight Fiercely Harvard” and “The Old Dope Peddler” are all songs by the mathematician Tom Lehrer. An eternal debt of gratitude and quite possibly my soul is owed to my betas. Thanks also to kalypso_v for this awesome icon - and for giving the fic a final polish, after posting!

Comments

( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
kalypso_v
Sep. 13th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
Bowled over by this.

I love the hints of Charles as a metal responding to Erik's magnet - the compass image at their first meeting, and Erik's consciousness of the thrum of iron in Charles's blood.

And the meeting on the bridge that's as forceful as the original meeting under water - Charles taking Erik by surprise again with his sudden arrival in his mind (and he does it a third time back in the motel).

And the way that, once Charles finally gets there, he's so open to Erik - "Not merely trusting him to be gentle but showing him that he need not be".

And I really like the whole episode with George: his skilled appliance of his power, his certainty that he's in the right job already, and the regret for his absence when he was so much needed - to save Charles (and through him Erik) or to save King.

Wonderful not alright wonderful!
ginbitch
Sep. 14th, 2011 09:06 am (UTC)
Wow! I'm bowled over by your response!

You picked up on so many of _my_ favourite things - one of the things I enjoyed most was playing with the doubling and thesis-antithesis-synthesis which the structure provides for (and the potential for communication and misscommunication which it offers). Finding ways of bringing back images (sometimes with a slightly different slant) and moments (but from a different perspective) was one of the great pleasures of writing it. The lines about Charles as metal were some of the ones I was most proud of, so I'm particularly glad you picked up on them!

And then there's George, who was one of those characters who comes forth fully formed, with his own story arc. I found I was very interested in the mutants who _don't _ join them and their reasons. I tried to write George as someone with a quiet dignity, who has taught himself all the self-control he needs and who respects Charles's campaign but isn't overly impressed by it. I'm really glad you though it worked!

Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It means an lot to me. I'm just so glad you liked the story!

<3 <3 <3
cylin
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:28 am (UTC)
Oh my God, I'm crying. I'm actually crying. I can't even really see the keyboard. This has never happened before. This was so, so beautiful. I'm crying. God.

I'll leave a more cohrent comment, when I can. Gosh.
ginbitch
Sep. 14th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
*hugs you*

I am so glad you liked it! I love these two so much...

<3 <3 <3
marysutherland
Sep. 15th, 2011 07:37 am (UTC)
You know what I thought about the film. All I can say is that this fic goes a long way to justifying the existence of XMFC, that it's inspired you to produce a story of such high quality. This is what XMFC ought to have had in it, and didn't. Any story that makes me like Charles has to be good, and here it's the blend of the personal and political that does it, with Charles starting to see the certainties of his life and the correctness of his prejudices crumble away. I particularly liked his prior reflections on not wanting to associate mutants with gay people, which sounded very true (and accompanied by a moment of care about Raven, which was nice). And of course you're right about him loving Tom Lehrer.

That's just one example of your very clever use of period detail, like a Korean War veteran. And George is wonderful, a brilliant and poignant way of filling in the gap of the lack of black mutants in the final group. Especially how the implication of his power to stop missiles connects Erik's thoughts back to him after the end of the film.

You combine this more political side of the fic very well with the growing relationship between Erik and Charles, cleverly exploring the tensions between their control of their powers and letting go into emotion: the trail of twisted metal left behind by Erik, and Charles having to work out how far to intrude into Erik's mind. I especially enjoyed the scene where Charles disrupts an entire bar with his confusion, and then gets that sudden image of Erik holding him. And the switch between perspectives in the morning after scene, as they're starting to realise how things have changed, is done very well.

One minor typo I spotted: Erik drinking 'larger' in Reno.
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
I am utterly blown away by this comment! Thank you very much!

I am so glad you felt this slightly redeemed the film - not least because many of your criticisms were justified. Charles _is_ prissy and smug and complacently patronising - at least at the start of the film (even if his control of his powers may not be as perfect as he thinks...). In some ways, he has much further to come as a character than Erik, who is traumatised but who knows who he is. I think that's probably what made me start to wonder how on earth Charles would cope with the vast and uncomfortable fact of being gay in the hostile context of the early 1960s. Researching the period detail on this one - working out what he might have read, seen or thought - was one of the great pleasures of writing this and I'm so glad you thought it worked. I suspect I wrote a lot of my own coming out into this story and I'm glad you didn't think that it felt clunky.

I am particularly glad that you liked George - and that you felt he offered an acceptiable alternative to the film's questionable treatment of black characters. I found myself wondering a lot about the mutants who _didn't_ join Charles and Erik - and their motivations. This is a 'verse in which the personal and political collide on such an epic scale, and in such multifaceted ways - there's lots of aspects of that to explore beyond what was given on screen.

But most of all, I'm delighted you though that the writing worked - the highest possible praise, especially from you! Thank you very much!

*glows*

<3 <3 <3



fengirl88
Sep. 15th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
I agree with marysutherland that it is exactly what the film needed. it is my great good fortune that this was the first XMFC fic I read, and it's been my headcanon ever since, to the extent that I have to remind myself periodically that this wasn't in the film...

*applauds wildly and adds to memories*
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! *blushes*

This fic benefited so much from you and Kate joining me in this fandom - and kicking my arse with your beataing sticks!

I am eternally grateful!

<3 <3 <3
(no subject) - fengirl88 - Sep. 19th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm delighted that you liked it!

<3
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - ginbitch - Sep. 18th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
blind_author
Sep. 18th, 2011 08:57 am (UTC)
I love this! It has just the right combination of sweet and adorable with touches of angst (Erik's musings on George's power and how he'll regret not having him there in the future, for example). I have a soft spot in my heart for pining!fics, and there's just enough of that here to make it so much better when they finally do fall into bed together.

Also, I love Charles thinking about a possible genetic basis for homosexuality - it just seems like something he'd do.
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks honey!

<3

It's hard not to have pining with these two around! I also secretly loved combining Charles's scientist-y ways with his personal identity crisis...

Really glad you liked it!
redconverse
Sep. 18th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
This was lovely.
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

<3
crow821
Sep. 18th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
So much love for this. You write them so beautifully, perfectly in character. <3
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
That is the nicest compliment - thank you very much!

I'm really glad you liked it!

<3
raincitygirl
Sep. 18th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! So glad you liked it!

Thank you very much!

<3
lurker_of_note
Sep. 18th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
This was a glorious piece.

I'm having a little trouble trying to express how much enjoyed the imagery of metal/Charles interacting with Erik, the hints of this era (George protecting MLK was a great touch), Erik being comfortable with Charles taking his idea of control (will you explore this in a sequel?) and I know there's more but I can't think clearly now...
ginbitch
Sep. 18th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
Aww..shucks...*blushes*

Thank you very much! I have at least two sequels planned, and I hope one of them will explore that further! But I write very slowly, so it may take a little while.

Really glad you enjoyed this - thanks so much for commenting!

<3
lilacsigil
Sep. 19th, 2011 04:14 am (UTC)
I love this! The sense of time and place is subtle but constantly present, and their two very different personalities playing against each other is beautifully shown in the different sections.

I especially liked seeing how other mutants were dealing with completely different issues - civil rights, war-related PTSD - and Erik's very personal, unjust anger against George.
ginbitch
Sep. 19th, 2011 11:52 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad you liked it!

With 'save the world' storylines, I often find myself thinking 'ah yes, but everyone else's life goes on regardless'. It was really interesting exploring some of those alternative narratives through the lens of the other mutants. I'm so glad you felt it worked!

<3
danegen
Sep. 20th, 2011 05:31 am (UTC)
Absolutely marvelous!
ginbitch
Sep. 21st, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!

<3
poor_medea
Sep. 20th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
This was fantastic--an excellent character study of both of them!
ginbitch
Sep. 21st, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
Really glad you liked it and that you thought it worked! Thank you very much for commenting!

<3
mistyzeo
Sep. 23rd, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
This is just delightful! I love angsty!Erik who knows what he is and who he wants but just can't make himself get it. Yum.
ginbitch
Sep. 24th, 2011 02:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Really glad you liked it!

<3
dreamoutloud2
Sep. 24th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC)
Oooh, this was lovely! I was almost a bit sad when it ended. I could read chapters after chapters of this story. Wonderful!
ginbitch
Sep. 24th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I have two sequels in the pipeline, but I'm a slow writer so it may take a while! Delighted you liked this one, though.

<3
(no subject) - dreamoutloud2 - Sep. 24th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )