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[personal profile] monstrousregiment
Title: Brief Lives (11/?)
Author: monstrousreg
Word count:  3421
Warnings:  POSSIBLY TRIGGERING. Mentions of domestic and sexual abuse. Violence. Read with care. 
Pairing: Erik/Charles.
Summary: Erik thinks he's going to seduce, interrogate and murder some nondescript CIA intelligence agent, and winds up biting more than
he can chew. Charles is not keen on being murdered, he doesn't favor interrogations, and he's certainly not willing to be seduced. That he's not cooperating is midly put.   

Notes:  Unbetaed, and stuff. LJ. I am begginning to hate you. So, I managed to steal borrow someone's internet for a while, so we all get an update of this. You guys, I'm pretty sure this chapter will be underwhelming after the last one. Sorry you bring you all down :(
If you've ever had a migraine (and I'm sorry for you, I feel your pain) you'll sympathise with this poor man.

He’s woken by the pain, a rippling, incandescent wave of it that tears a sob from his throat. It’s as if the bones in his skull have fractured and the pieces have rearranged in a strange order, fused together at the wrong angles. Like the swell of a wave the pain crests, falls, peaks again and disappears only to return stronger than ever.
He’s left the curtains in his bedroom open but when he tries to get up to close them, the pain is crippling, and he collapses back in the bed with a gasp, incapable even of crying out.
He thinks dimly I should have known, but even thinking demands an effort much that is quite beyond him, and soon even that stops. He curls in bed and tries not to move, tries to breathe as gently as possible.
He loses track of time completely. At some point it must be night because the light stops hurting his eyes. He attempts to rise and the dizziness brings bile to his mouth, so he flops back down and hopes the pain won’t strike again. It does.
Time, probably, continues to roll past. Erik doesn’t notice it.
Eventually the pain starts to abate, and he can breathe normally again, can open his eyes without crying out. Slowly, as it begins to fade, his body starts to relax. In the absence of the crippling pain in his skull he takes stoke of his limbs and becomes aware of how sore he is, how stiff he’s been as he tried to survive the headache. Everything hurts. His arms sting where Charles scratched him. There’s a large, darkening bruise over his ribs where he suspects Charles’ elbow might have connected, repeatedly.
As his muscles relax so naturally do his organs, and Erik has to drag himself to the bathroom to be sick. He hasn’t eaten in days—he forgot to eat again on Friday and he has no idea how long he’s been in bed, how long since he and Charles were together in the study. There’s nothing to bring up, but he dry retches miserably, until his stomach gives up completely and he slides to the floor, shivering and covered in cold sweat, weak as a babe.
That’s how Charles finds him, a minute or a day later. He slowly sits him up, helping him hold his head up, wipes a cool washcloth over his fevered face. He grabs Erik’s arm and puts it around his shoulders and then he’s carefully pulling him up, letting him lean heavily on him as he guides him to the bed.
He wraps his hand around the back of Erik’s neck and holds him gently as he lowers him to the bed, murmuring soothingly.
“What went wrong?” Erik manages to croak through his raw throat.
“Nothing,” Charles says softly, pressing a cool cloth to Erik’s face. “You did brilliant, darling. This will pass. You’ll be well soon.”
Erik allows himself to go limp, doesn’t even turns his face towards Charles when he replaces the cloth, grown warm against his heated skin. Charles is wiping another one down his long neck, and it feels absolutely marvelous. Erik forces himself to open his eyes for a brief moment, catches a glimpse of bare skin.
“Your gloves,” he rasps.
“I don’t need them anymore,” Charles sooths, carding tender fingers through Erik’s sweat-damp hair. “Not with you. Try to get some rest.”
Erik tries to protest, but his throat isn’t making any more sounds, and Charles’ mind is nudging him gently. He sleeps.
He wakes again God knows how much time later, with Charles’ hand on his shoulder and a glass of cold water at his lips. He sips, bringing up a shaky hand to wrap over Charles bare fingers. Charles insists he drains the glass, so he does, and then drops his head back to the pillow.
“What time is it?” he asks roughly. His throat still stings, but it’s much better.
“Ten AM,” Charles answers. “Of Monday.”
Erik throws an arm over his face. “I slept the entire fucking weekend away. And you let me.”
“You slept through Sunday,” Charles corrects. “You had a massive migraine from Friday night to Saturday noon, I believe, and then the migraine receded and the consequences settled in. I found you late Saturday afternoon as soon as I woke up. You were lying on the bathroom floor, do you remember?”
“Vaguely,” Erik answers wearily.
He removes his arm to take his first good look at Charles. The telepath is wearing lose jeans and a white shirt, and his hair has been allowed to dry in disorder, curling wildly around his head. A lock has fallen over his forehead, above his right eye. His arms and hands are bare. His left hand is resting on Erik’s left shoulder, light and comfortable.
Erik becomes aware of the fact he is supremely uncomfortable. He smells of dried sweat and he can still taste vomit and bile in his mouth. The sheets feel damp beneath the skin of his back. He feels clammy and sticky.
“I’m disgusting,” he mutters, sitting up with some care. Charles backs off a little to give him some room.
“A shower would be good, but I’d like to get some food in your first,” he says. “I’ve not been able to get you to eat anything. I was hoping to be able to keep you awake more than a couple of minutes this time.”
He reaches over to the nightstand and comes back with a steaming mug in his hands. Erik takes it reflexively, sniffing at it suspiciously, to Charles’ amusement.
“Milk and honey,” Charles explains. “I know you don’t like sweet things, but I didn’t want to risk anything solid on your sore stomach and I want you to have some sugar in your system if you’re going to get up.”
Erik winces, but he bravely swallows the unbearably sweet concoction and pushes the mug in Charles hand.
“I want to shower,” he says as he pushes back the sheets Charles had thrown over him. He gives the telepath a level, piercing look. “Then we talk.”
Charles shrugs and gives Erik a slight smile, “I’m not going anywhere, Erik. We’re more than brothers now. We’re more, even, than lovers. We’re… something else entirely.”
The German stares at him. He reaches out and, carefully, brushes the pad of his thumb over the swell of Charles’ cheekbone. Charles’ eyes fall closed. Delighted that he hasn’t been rejected, that Charles hasn’t even flinched, Erik bring the whole of his palm against the man’s cheek, feeling the smooth skin. He slides it down to his neck, thrilled when Charles lets his head drop back to allow more access. He feels the movement of the muscles underneath the skin as Charles swallows. Erik shifts his thumb so he frames Charles’ throat, his Adam’s apple right above the web of flesh between thumb and index.
He has to swallow against the impulse of drawing Charles in, sinking his nose in his neck and licking his skin, all that smooth pale skin he is now completely free to claim.
Reluctantly, he releases the telepath and gets out of bed. Charles looks shaken and slightly dazed—and no wonder, no one but his sister has laid a hand on him in years.
Charles sighs, “I’ll prepare something for us to eat. You might want to shave, too. You look like a caveman.”
Erik grumbles a German curse and slams close the bathroom door.
The hot water on his skin is absolutely amazing. He indulges, taking more time to shower than he usually does, rubbing is scalp in soothing circles. Having been in such amounts of pain, the lack of it is truly liberating. One never knows how wretched being ill is, until one’s just stumbled one’s way out of a bout of something truly horrid.
He shaves, brushes his teeth and dresses in slacks and a polo shirt. By the time he makes his way to the kitchen Charles is slicing tomatoes at the counter, the movements of the blade swift and sure.
Erik has seen Charles cook before. He is skilled enough, evidently comfortable with the movements of the blade, but he has never before displayed such level of dexterity. He now moves the metal as if it were attached to the nerve-endings and the tips of his fingers. As it is, indeed, attached to Erik’s.
Erik takes a moment to look him over. He doesn’t know if it’s because he’s learned to spot the differences, but it seems to him that Charles is more relaxed and yet stands straighter, as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders and is no longer crushing his spinal column.
His skin is nearly luminous, is so pale it’s almost translucent.
“All those years of long sleeves seem to have done wonders for your English complexion,” he teases as reaches around Charles to snag a piece of tomato and pop it in his mouth. “I can see the veins beneath your skin.”
Charles rolls his eyes, reaches for the lettuce and shoves it at Erik’s hands.
“Make yourself useful, yes? There’s a lad.”
Erik drops the lettuce in the sink without a single glance, and reaches instead for Charles, settling his hands comfortably in the man’s hips and turning him to face him. Charles goes easily along, putting down the knife and picking up a cloth to wipe his hands. When he drops the cloth, he seems unsure as to what to do with his now free hands.
He rests them on Erik’s forearms, light and warm, unbearably soft.
“Something else entirely, hm?” Erik asks thoughtfully, allowing his lips to curve in a fond smile. “So what are we?”
“One,” Charles says simply.
Erik hesitates momentarily, straightens so he’s towering over Charles and is able to look wearily down at him.
“Some of the things I saw, Charles—we’re going to have to talk about them.”
Charles winces, looking away uncomfortably.
“That’s what he does,” Erik says quietly, but doesn’t move to stop Charles as the man pulls away from him, swallowing and looking out the window. “He twists you against yourself and then—“
“Yes,” Charles interrupts sharply. “I am quite aware how Shaw does his magic, thank you.”
Erik pauses.
“You can’t hide from me now, Charles. I know everything about you. You know that, so why are you dodging me?”
Charles grips the edge of the countertop so tightly his knuckles go white. He grits his teeth, the muscles on his jaw tense. He cuts his eyes at Erik as he narrows them, brows pulling together—oh. This is the first time, but it won’t be the last. That gesture is Erik’s, an always-there mannerism he picked up from—
“My father used to do that,” he says faintly.
Charles blinks. “Our—oh. Yes. Your father. Mathias Lehnsherr. Right. You’re right, he did. You got it from him and… as did I. He raised me, too, now.”
There’s a long moment of silence.
“But you had your own father,” Erik says carefully, because Charles looks beautiful in the sunlight and his eyes are clear and vivid blue, but his mind feels broken. He can feel it, like a link, like a chain, a chord attached to his own mind, much more stable, firmer.
“I hardly remember him,” Charles explained. “Your father was such an impressive presence in your mind, he superseded all of my own memories of my own father. Mathias is much stronger in my memories than Francis.”
“Those are not your memories, surely you must see that,” Erik is weary, growing quickly concerned. Charles looks fine but he sounds unhinged. Something must have gone wrong.
No, dearest, Charles reaches slowly over and grabs Erik’s hand. Your mind is my mind, now.
Erik watches, as the knife that lays forgotten on the table, wet with tomato juice, rights itself to its edge, then up to its tip, and hovers quietly and perfectly balanced on the air, above the countertops, spinning idle and slow.
Erik can feel it. He can feel it and he understands what is doing, how it’s doing it, can feel it doing it because it’s something he can do—only it isn’t him that is doing it.
“How?” he whispers.
This is why you need time to adjust, Charles says gently, raises his hand and allows the knife to settle peacefully into his palm. We’re one, Erik—I’m a metal-bender and you, my dear, are a telepath.
Erik sways dizzily. Just as he is thinking he must sit Charles is pushing him down into a chair, grabbing the back of his neck and pushing it down so he bends over. He hyperventilates. Charles fetches him a glass of water and insists he drinks it. He manages one swallow before his throat closes and he chokes.
“I can’t—Charles, I can’t possibly handle other people’s minds,” he says desperately, clutching the geneticist’s arm urgently. “I can hardly manage my own—“
“You’re handling mine remarkably well,” Charles soothes, kneeling down at his side and laying his hands atop Erik’s right thigh. “But be calm. My gift isn’t like yours, and your mind isn’t architectured like mine. While I might someday be able to command metal at the same level you can, you will never be able to accommodate wide long-range telepathy. Your telepathy will most likely manifest in touch-telepathy, perhaps quiet deep, but only through contact. We’ll learn to control that.”
Erik swallows with some difficulty, “But if you’ll be able to command metal, why…?”
“Telepathy manifests at a young age for a reason,” Charles explains. “It must necessarily begin functioning at a time when the individual’s mind is still forming, is flexible and pliable and adaptable. A grown man’s mind is s rigid place by nature, even those of the free, open minded people, and can only very rarely learn to accommodate the minds of others.”
“Yet you said I’m handling yours.”
“It’s a feedback loop, Erik,” Charles is earnest and calm, patient. “Your mind is very militarized, very strict, disciplined and rigid. My mind is the exact opposite. I am using your mind to anchor myself, creating the architecture of my thought patterns based on the groundworks of yours. You are a remarkably resilient creature—but your mind is not prepared to make room for another one’s. That ability comes from my mind—something you are picking up from me. Your mind will stretch enough to fit us both, but not an inch further without training, so I cannot unleash my gift upon you because it would kill you.”
“But you can unleash my gift on yourself,” Erik bends his head to rub at his temples, and realizes a second after doing it that he’s never done it before. Charles does, though, and often enough that he recognizes the gesture as the sign of a coming headache.
Charles laughs quietly and pulls his right hand down to rest against Erik’s knee, squeezing comfortingly.
“Your gift is a physical one. I’m not saying it’s weaker or easier than mine, only that it’s different. Nor is it the first time I have controlled someone else’ gift—thought those times I was not as close to that person as we are now.”
Erik gets a sudden idea, head snapping up to stare at Charles.
“Can you shape-shift?”
Charles smiles, “No. What I share with Raven and what I share with you are different things. One of a kind, both, impossible to compare.”
Erik struggles to bend his head around the whole subject.
“But won’t it all make you think like me?
“Well, at the beginning perhaps, but mostly I am using you as a comparison chart. Surprisingly, you do know the difference between right and wrong and when something is too far, too insane, too twisted. Most of the time you discard it and do what you think you need to do, but you do know the difference. I can work my way up from that.”
Erik looks at him incredulously.
“We’re well and truly fucked.”
Charles laughs so hard he has to press his forehead to Erik’s thigh, frank, open peals of clear laughter flooding the kitchen like the golden sunlight. Certainly equally warming. Erik smiles despite himself and wraps his hand around the back of Charles’ neck, rubbing softly, loving the easy companionship that’s bloomed between them.
It was easy, then, to tangle his fingers in the finger at the back of Charles’ head and tug up as he bends down and--
 Charles’ lips are soft and sweet, full against his own thin ones. Erik knows his own mouth is not his most attractive trait, but Charles has the mouth of a woman, gracefully shaped, dark red and full. Erik has wanted to kiss him for a long time, so he takes his time, unhurriedly brushing his lips over the other man’s, tugging one and then the other one between his own, simply enjoying the softness and the taste.
Charles’ hand has tightened on Erik’s knee, almost reflexively. Erik feels an arrow of arousal that he quickly curbs, when he feels Charles hesitate minutely. They’ve kept the kiss chaste enough, so Erik’s still perfectly decent when he finally decides to pull back, pressing one last, lingering kiss to Charles’ bottom lip.
He cards his fingers through Charles’ rich dark hair. Pressing down on the scalp and getting a pleased hum in response.
“That’s nice,” Charles says softly. He squeezes Erik’s knee gently once, and opens his eyes, and Erik can tell he’s going to say one of those things he sometimes says—giving out truths drop by drop, even if Erik’s already bore witness to the vast ocean of his pain.
“You’re the first person I’ve truly ever wanted to have for a lover.”
“Hm,” Erik smiles. “But you’re scared.”
He doesn’t know where the words come from, but he knows it’s the truth. So does Charles.
Charles sighs. “I’ve never had heterosexual sex, you know. I’ve only ever been with one man—and he liked to make it hurt.”
“We’ll take it slow,” Erik shrugs. “There’s no rush. The enemy of fear is familiarity, and familiarity can only be achieved through exploration. We’ve time, anyway, don’t we?”
Charles seems suddenly uneasy, pulling away so that Erik’s hand leaves his hair.
“A lot of time,” he says, wearily looking up at the other man. Erik sees where this is going and surges forward and down, gripping Charles’ hair again and crushing their lips together with such startling fierceness that Charles literally squeals, an undignified sound he’s never done before and that amuses Erik to no end.
He pulls back and gives Charles one of his grins full of teeth and compromised of too many sharp angles. It reads more like a threat than anything else, and Charles grows still.
“I hope you weren’t about to imply you won’t expect me to be exclusive,” he says silkily, tightening his grip on Charles’ hair possessively. “Because I might understand that to mean you wouldn’t mind me not being exclusive. And I do hope you’ll mind—because I will mind very much, indeed, very much so, if you’re not.”
“There’s no one out there for me but you,” Charles replies, his open frankness nearly undoing Erik. It seems to the German that Charles has adapted to the honest nature of their new bond much more quickly than Erik, and is not struggling with its implications or meaning the way Erik himself is. Perhaps because, just as Charles has said, his mind is better prepared to embrace such a link.
Erik wants to say, ‘I wouldn’t let you have anyone else’ and ‘I don’t need anyone else either’, but instead he sighs and says, “It’ll get better. We’ll work it out.”
Charles shifts, grabs Erik’s hand and tangles their fingers together, all the while looking, fascinated, as their skins touch. Charles’ hands are long-fingered and fine-boned, the hands of a piano player, elegant and graceful and lilywhite pale. Erik’s are broad and wide, larger, tanned from being in the sun and calloused from the grip of throwing knives and pistols, his fingers long and square-tipped.
The telepath looks at them, awed. Erik smiles, then grins when Charles shyly bring their hands up to his mouth and kisses the back of Erik’s, nearly a brush of lips, chaste and innocent and heart-warming.
“Yes,” Charles says, contemplative. “I suppose we will.”
Chapter 12
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December 2011

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