she goes out and steals the king's english (gyzym) wrote,
she goes out and steals the king's english
gyzym

x-men first class fic: carpe brewski, chapter nine [erik/charles, NC-17]

Quickly, quickly, an official note: the art in this chapter (which, I apologize that I left it so large but I could not actually bear to make it smaller) is once again by the miraculous Fish, who is now officially the artist for this story, because, uh. Because I am the luckiest person ever and she agreed to be such for reasons that are entirely beyond me? SHE IS THE BEST AND YOU SHOULD ALL LOVE HER DOWN, THE END.

And, as ever, this is for postcardmystery; this story really and truly is hinged upon her existence, as without her it would be a mad, sniveling mess, and so would I.

Title: Carpe Brewski
Pairing: Erik/Charles
Rating: R (overall)/NC-17 (this chapter)
Warnings: There is a...hmm, I suppose it's primarily a socioeconomic slur...in this chapter. If that is something that might be triggering for you, please proceed with due caution or do not proceed at all. Additionally, this chapter does feature sex between two intoxicated characters--though both of them are enthusiastic participants, this is dub-con.
Author's Notes: This is a WIP, folks. You're going to want to start with Chapter One (where disclaimers, summary, etc. can be found), Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, and Chapter Eight.

Chapter Nine: The Time Has Come For Someone To Put His Foot Down (And That Foot Is Me)



The thing about the sound of glass shattering is that it's one of those noises that reroutes into some dark, primal part of you; the thing about the sound of glass shattering is that once you hear it, you can't hear anything else. Charles' body goes taut the moment the first trash can hits, the thought of danger, danger thrumming through him, and won't end up relaxing for hours.

It can't take long, Charles knows this. The time between the first can and the second can't be more than a moment; the other three cans, which neatly complete the systematic destruction of every window on the first floor, slam through one right after the other. It's a nearly instantaneous thing--for god's sake, no one even has time to scream--but time seems to slow down for Charles. From where he's standing, it takes years.

Well, he thinks, watching shards of glass inch past him through the air, so much for everything turning out alright.

The world picks up speed again, jerking back into place, as the room falls to chaos around him. People are screaming and running for the doors, and Erik has already vanished from Charles' side, his shout of shock and fury still hanging in the air. Charles catches a few quick glimpses of the rest of the room--Eyebrows and Darwin, who'd both been up on top of the table, are reaching towards each other on the floor, and Beast is dripping with beer from an unfinished bonging attempt--but he doesn't find what he's looking for, which is--

"Raven!" Charles yells, frantic, pushing people out of the way as he searches for her. "Raven, where the fuck did you--Jesus, Raven, Raven, where the fuck--"

"Here," Raven says, putting a hand on his shoulder. He turns and there she is, looking a little rattled but no worse for the wear. He pulls her into a fierce hug, gasping his relief. "I'm okay, it's--Angel and I went upstairs to, uh….well, we heard the noise and--hey, calm down, it's okay, I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah," Raven says, "really, I wasn't even in the room, it's okay, really. Are you okay? Where's Erik?"

"He," Charles says, and pulls back, glancing around. "Oh, shit, he's probably gone out to--are you sure you're alright?"

"Yes," Raven says, "go before he does something stupid. Charles, it's okay, really, you can go."

Charles takes off running towards the door; he ends up nearly knocking over Scott, who is presumably chasing after Logan. "Get the kids out of here," he yells, and, even mid-run, Scott manages to give him an unimpressed look.

"The kids?" he yells back. "We're all kids, dude, don't act like you're forty!"

"The kids who are under 21--"

"I'm under 21--"

"But you live here, it's different, we're going to have to call the--Erik!"

He screams that last word, lets it tear out of his throat with honest, furious fear, because Erik is chasing a masked figure across the frat house lawn. The guy he's pursuing is dressed entirely in black--Prats, Charles has time to think, did you honestly imagine that was going to do anything to conceal you?--and Charles doesn't much care what happens to him, actually. He made his bed and he can damn well lie in it. The trouble is that If Erik catches him, he'll kill him, and while Charles is not at this moment all that concerned for the little bastard's life, the idea of what it will do to Erik's life--

"Get back here and taking your beating like a man, you fucking coward," Erik yells, not breaking stride, and Charles picks up speed. The masked figure reaches the car already idling down the street, flings himself into the open backseat door and lifts his middle finger at Erik; he slams the door behind him and the car peels away, tires screeching on the asphalt.

Charles doesn't slow down; he knows Erik well enough to know he won't stop running.

Sure enough--"Motherfucker," Erik cries, and he's running across the lawn of the next house, taking a garden gnome like a hurdle to try and keep pace. "Get the fuck out of that car--"

"Erik!" Charles yells, almost close enough now, "Erik, please--"

"Fuck you and your fucking Zeta bullshit," Erik screams, and Charles is finally, finally a pace behind him. He launches himself forward, meaning to wrap his arms around Erik from behind and draw him up short; instead he throws them both off-balance, ends up tackling Erik gracelessly to the ground.

"Oh, fuck you, you can just get the fuck off," Erik snaps, thrashing; then Charles manages to straddle him and pin his arms down, effectively stopping him from going anyway. Erik glares up at him, struggling--but, Charles notes, not all that hard. Erik is quite a bit bigger than he is; if he was willing to hurt Charles, he could get himself free in a heartbeat. "This isn't fucking funny, Charles, let me the fuck up--"

"You think I think this is funny?" Charles snaps back, pushing down hard on Erik's arms. "My fucking sister was in the house, you can bloody well believe I'm not laughing."

"Then let me up!"

"So you can what, exactly? Chase down a car? Go break in some of the windows at the Zeta house and call it even? What?"

"So I can fucking do something," Erik yells, straining up against his grip. Charles almost falls, but doesn't quite--he digs his nails into Erik's forearms and glares down at him.

"I'll tell you what you're going to do," he says, "you're going to take a deep breath and calm the bloody fuck down, that's what you're going to do. You're going to let them go, Erik, because you have to let them go, there isn't another option here!"

"This is our house," Erik yells, "we fucking live here, they can't just--we can't just fucking let this shit stand--"

"You're right," Charles says, "you're exactly right, this is our house and we do fucking live here, which means that when someone knocks our windows in, there are people we have to call. People like our landlord and the police, Erik, this isn't some stupid prank war anymore, people could have been seriously hurt--hell, for all I know people are seriously hurt, and right now that needs to matter more to you than this bloody fucking feud!"

"You don't understand," Erik says, and his voice almost breaks on it. Charles starts, confused at the sound, and is stunned into stillness at the depth of emotion that's suddenly visible--Erik's eyes are bright with more than just anger, now.

"Erik," he says, softer, "Jesus, please, I'm sorry, would you just--"

"Get the fuck off me," Erik snaps, and this time when he shoves, Charles goes. Erik stands and wipes his eyes with the back of his hand, and Charles looks up at him from the ground because he doesn't know how not to. His mouth is twisted in on itself and there's a thin cut high on his cheek and he's holding himself like a taut wire, all furious, violent energy with nowhere to go. His hands are shaking like they're never going to stop.

Charles has never felt less brave, not once, not in his whole life.

After a minute, Erik lets out a feral sort of growling noise and leans down, offering Charles his hand. Charles takes it, lets himself get hauled to his feet, and tries not to look at the way Erik is visibly losing control.

"What the fuck are you all looking at?" Erik snaps, and Charles turns around to see the whole house on the lawn, staring at them. Scott's got his hand on Logan's arm; his grip is loose, presumably because Logan had been trying to do the same thing Erik was attempting, but resisted less to the concept of being stopped. They look--god, Scott and Logan, the pledges, even Raven--Charles isn't sure if he's seeing fear or pity on their faces, and if he can see it, god knows Erik can.

And then it's there, curling from the embers always burning in the pit of his stomach, singing its way up and out of his mouth. It swells within him, the sharp-stark need to step up and assemble some sort of fucking order to things, if only to stop everyone looking at Erik like that.

"Right," he says, "Logan, you're the closest thing we've got to someone with medical training, so you take a quick look at everybody, make sure there's no one who needs an actual doctor. If there is, we'll deal with it then."

Logan nods, a muscle in his throat twitching, and shakes Scott's arm off. He stalks towards the house without saying anything, but at least he seems to understand that there are more important things right now than revenge.

"Is anyone here sober enough to drive?" Charles asks, not exactly hopeful.

Angel raises her hand. "I had a beer, but it was a while ago. I got, uh, distracted."

"Um, me too," Raven says, making an apologetic sort of face at Charles. Charles can't quite bear to look at her, because the combination of the glass through the windows and the thought that he couldn't find her because she'd…she could have…it's eating at his gut, and he can't right now, he doesn't have time.

"Great," he says, "hold that thought for one second. Is anyone here sober enough to pass for sober?"

Banshee, Darwin and Eyebrows all raise their hands; Darwin makes a horrified face at Eyebrows and forcibly yanks his hand down a second later, ignoring his yowl of protest.

"Alright," Charles says, "good, then. Angel, Raven, you guys rode the bike here, yes?"

"Yeah," Raven says, "but if you need it I can go get my car--"

"No," Charles says, "I think--well, the thing is, if there's any chance you'd be willing to do us a rather large favor--and I'll owe you a beer or several for it, believe me--but, look, if I give you my car keys do you mind running Darwin and Banshee into town? The SuperMart's open 24 hours, and we just need some…oh, Christ, I don't know, some plastic or plywood or something, so that we can at least cover up the windows enough to sleep here."

"Fine with me," Raven says. "Babe?"

"Are you kidding?" Angel says. "You know I've always dreamed about plywood shopping after dark."

Charles doesn't miss the way Raven smiles at her, or the way Angel's arm tightens around her waist, just for a second. It softens some of the fury inside of him, but not much.

"I'm taking you up on those beers, by the way," Angel says, as Raven catches the keys Charles lobs at her. "Just so we're clear."

"I honestly had no intention of letting you get out of it," Charles says, and Angel grins at him, gives him a half-assed little salute before she grabs Darwin and Banshee and drags the toward the driveway.

"Now!" Charles says, looking over everyone else. He takes a moment to glance back at Erik, who's still vibrating with ill-contained anger, shoulders hunched. "The rest of you! If you are under 21--which, tragically, I believe most of you are, not that I will ever admit to having said that under any circumstances--you have five minutes before we call the police. It would be best for everyone if you were not here when they arrive, so go talk to Logan if you're afraid you've got internal bleeding and then go…I don't know. Home, I suppose, except for the pledges--and actually, you know, all the pledges should just talk to Logan as well, he'll tell you lot what to do."

Everyone nods and then looks at him expectantly; Charles stares back at them, at a loss as to what else he's supposed to say. His moment of decisive leadership has passed--now he mostly wants to get Erik away from the outside world as soon as humanly possible.

"Prof," says Beast.

"Yes?"

"Was that," Beast says, "was that…did Zeta do that?"

Charles sighs, but before he gets a chance to answer, Erik leans forward with narrowed eyes.

"Yes," he snaps, "and you wait and see, we're going to fucking prove it."

--


"Is that everything?" Nick Fury says an hour later.

He'd answered their call quickly enough--it helped that Charles had his cell phone number, the spoils of an accidental run-in at one of the local bars that none of them were ever going to talk about again--taken one look at their house, sighed, and asked where the kitchen was. Charles pointed him in the right direction, bemused, and then watched as Fury made himself a pot of coffee. He brought the whole thing with him into the living room--he didn't even asked for a mug, though Charles found him one anyway--and then told them to start at the beginning.

Now he sips his--third? fifth?--cup of coffee, and waits.

"I think so," Charles says, when nothing else seems to be forthcoming. "That's everything that happened tonight, anyway."

Erik shoots him a furious look (they'd had a whole conversation before Fury showed up about frat business and prank wars are prank wars and this is different because it's dangerous, we can't tell him about the other stuff) but Fury just raises an eyebrow and says nothing. It is, oddly, a lot more frightening than hearing him talk.

"It was the fucking Zetas," Erik bursts out finally, "I know it was, it can't have been anyone else--"

"Son, do you have any proof?"

"I don't need proof," Erik snaps, "I know it was them, it had to be them--"

"Look," Fury says, "believe me, you've got no idea how much I wish I could just arrest people because I don't like them. Do you know how much easier my life would be if I could just arrest people because I didn't like them? I have Tony's jail cell picked out, it's the one on the end so I won't be able to hear him run his mouth, I have very involved daydreams about abusing the law like that. I really, really do.

"But, unless you've got something for me--" and Fury pauses here, holds up a hand to stop Erik interrupting, "something solid, kid, like motive or a plate number, you are just gonna have to do what I do and have yourself a few happy fuckin' thoughts about it, you understand? Because I took an oath, I can't go around slapping cuffs on people just because some drunk-ass frat boy told me it was a good idea."

There is a long moment where silence hangs in the air. In the kitchen, where they've been doing a very bad job of pretending they're not eavesdropping, Scott and Logan have gone entirely still; Charles watches with bated breath as Erik glares at Fury, a muscle twitching in his jaw. Fury meets him stare for stare, eyes calm, and eventually Erik drops his gaze and slumps his shoulders.

"Whatever," he mutters.

"That's what I thought," Fury says. He turns to Charles and raises his eyebrows. "It might help if we had some credible witnesses. This place is pretty empty for a party, isn't it?"

"The violent projectiles put a bit of a damper on things," Charles says, as carefully as he can. "Most people went home."

"Mmhmm," Fury says. "You wouldn't happen to have hosted some underage drinking here tonight, then?"

"Of course not," Charles says.

Behind them, the front door bangs open; Charles turns in his chair and groans aloud. Every last one of the pledges--well, less Banshee and Darwin, but still more than enough--are standing behind it.

"Hey, Prof!" Pyro says, "Logan said we should get lost for an hour, but the coffeeshop kicked us out when Beast went and puked everywhere. Are the cops gone yet?"

"Get the fuck out of here," Logan roars, bursting in front the kitchen, "Jesus, you little shits, when I say get lost I mean get lost--"

He herds them back out the door, and Charles drops his head down to rest on the table and makes a defeated little noise. "Oh, god, Captain Fury, I'm really very sorry, if you could just spare us the fuss and take us to jail now, I'd appreciate it, it's been kind of a long night."

Fury sighs. "You know what, no. I'm gonna leave now, that's what's gonna happen here. Do you know why? I'll tell you why--it's because I am one merciful motherfucker, that's why. And in exchange for all of this mercy I am showing you right now, you're gonna do me a favor, aren't you?"

"Yes," Charles says, lifting his head, "yes, yes we are, name it and we'll--"

"You are going to stay the fuck here," Fury says. "I had better not hear about any kind of shit going down at the Zeta house tonight, you hear me? You kids get it into your fool heads to go out and get yourselves some revenge, you better stick it in your back pocket and sleep on it. You better sleep on it real fucking hard, because it is Saturday and I was on a goddamn date, Xavier, and if I have to come back out here and throw your asses in jail over this fraternity cocksize bullshit, not even one of your fancy monogrammed checks is gonna be enough to save your asses, we clear on that?"

"Crystal," Charles says.

"You bet your ass we are," Fury says. "And you, Lehnsherr?"

Erik doesn't answer, doesn't even look up, just mutters something unintelligible under his breath. Fury stands, stance shifting to highlight the gun at his hip, and braces his hands on the table, leaning forward until his face is about an inch from Erik's.

"You think I don't see that you're angry?" he says, voice quiet enough to be terrifying. "You think I don't get that? You think I haven't seen the kind of shit people do when they're as angry as you are right now? Because believe me, I have seen more stupid fucks waste their lives on being pissed off that you will ever even imagine, and I know that you're just waiting for me to clear out so you can get out there and join them. But you, Lehnsherr, you are going to do the smart thing and leave it. You're going to trust me to do my goddamn job and you are going to stay put, and if the only reason you're doing it is because I told you to, well, shit, that's a pretty damn good reason, isn't it? You are going to sit and stay, do you understand?"

"Yeah," Erik mutters after a tense pause. "Yeah, I understand."

"Fan-fucking-tastic," Fury says, and straightens up. "Alright, boys. I've got your official statements, and we'll keep you apprised. Try not to be more stupid than you can help and we'll get this sorted out when we can. Have a good one."

He picks up his coffee mug--which is, in actual fact, Charles' favorite mug, but he's sure as hell not going to say anything about it--and saunters out through the front door. He hasn't been gone a minute when Logan comes in through the back, the pledges at his heels.

"He gone?" Logan says.

"Yeah," Erik says, "fat lot of fucking good he was--"

"Erik, I think you should go upstairs," Charles says.

"Fuck that, we've got--"

"I said go upstairs," Charles snaps, at the end of his rope. Erik meets his eyes, furious and more than a little feral, but Charles doesn't care--he has had enough of this shit tonight, and he's not going to watch Erik dig himself further into this hole.

"What the fuck, man?" Erik growls. "What are you, sending me to my fucking room, are you my fucking father now--"

"No," Charles says, "I am your best friend and your vice president, and I am not sending you to your room, I am sending you to mine. You are obviously not in any condition to be--"

"Who the fuck are you to determine my--"

"This is not a fucking debate!" Charles yells. "You've scared the pledges enough as it is, I'm not going to stand here and watch you freak the fuck out, we have shit we have to get done."

"Fuck you," Erik says, and Charles breathes out hard through his nose, says, "Erik, please, do us both a favor. I will be up in two minutes, give me two minutes and then you can say whatever the bloody fuck you want to me, just please go upstairs."

They stare each other down for a second, and then Erik slams his chair back from the table and storms off. Charles turns to face the assembled crowd--all of whom are looking at him like he has some kind of death wish, and hey, they're not exactly wrong--and scrubs his face with the palm of his hand.

"Okay," he says, "first of all, do any of you want to go home? Because if you do, you can go right now, no one's going blame you or think less of you for it. Hands up, come on, who wants to leave?"

No one raises their hand. After a moment, Azazel clears his throat, his face set and cold with anger.

"We talked about it at the coffee place, Prof," he says quietly. "Nobody's…nobody's going anywhere."

One by one, the rest of them nod, resolve firming up in their faces. Charles takes a second, just the one, to be sharply, fiercely proud of them; then he gets himself under control and takes a deep breath.

"Alright, then," he says, "Logan, you're in charge of the pledges, Scott, you're in charge of Logan. Darwin and Banshee should be back with the shit for the windows soon--tell my sister I'll pay her back tomorrow, and then make sure she and Angel get out of here, they've done enough for us tonight.

"The rest of you…look, I can't say this officially, it's obviously Erik's call as much as it's mine, more than it's mine, but as far as I'm concerned you're brothers now. You can't live this kind of thing with one another and not come out of it stronger, and after tonight, no matter what we call you, none of us are going to think of you as just pledges, alright?"

Everyone--even Logan--nods, and Charles nods back at them, slides his hands into his pockets. "Okay. Logan and Scott are going to help you guys figure out how to get this all cleaned up a little, and I'm gonna go try to keep Erik from killing anyone--"

"Good fucking luck," Scott mutters, to general agreement.

"--and I'd really rather everyone slept here tonight," Charles continues, ignoring this, "for my own peace of mind and so we have alibis if anything unfortunate should befall the Zetas this evening. Sleep on the couches, sleep on the porch, kill off the keg and sleep outside, I don't care, just don't go off on your own. Can you guys do that?"

"No problem," Iceman says, "my roommate's an asshole anyway, I'd just as soon crash here."

"Yeah," Prodigy says, "I don't really want to go through building security with glass all over me, so."

"Uh, actually, can I borrow a shirt from someone?" Beast says, looking down at himself and wincing. "It's only that I kind of, uh, puked on this one a little."

"I'll give you one of mine, kid," Logan says. "You puke on that, I'll puke on you, yeah?"

"Alright," Charles says, as Beast commences promising Logan he'll leave the shirt unscathed, "I'm going upstairs now. Anyone know what happened to the bottle of Absolut I bought last week?"

"In the freezer," Scott says. "We were gonna do shots, but we never quite got around to it. You're gonna get him drunk?"

"Do you have a better plan?" Charles says. Scott shakes his head, and Charles sighs, moving to grab the bottle out of the freezer. "Right. We'll be in my room, yell if you need anything."

He takes the stairs two at a time, steeling himself for a fight. But when he opens the door to his room, Erik's sitting on his bed, legs folded up, head resting on his knees.

Charles was expecting fury, was expecting broken lamps and holes in the wall. But Erik just looks…tired.

"Aren't you gonna ask me what's going on?" he says. His voice is bitter, but his hands are still shaking, and the set of his shoulder is just...wrong. "Isn't that what you do?"

Charles sits down next to him and sighs. "Do you want me to ask?"

"Nope," says Erik.

"Okay, then," says Charles, and hands him the bottle.

--


"'S the worst thing," Erik says, some time later. "The worst part."

He's drunk enough now that his whole face is drooping, just a little; Charles is drunk enough that he's having to manfully resist the urge to reach out and poke it. They're sitting on the floor, leaning up against Charles' bed, though Charles can't remember why that seemed like a good idea.

"What's the worst part?"

"The trash," Erik says. "Because. Trash."

"Since it smells?" Charles guesses, and Erik sighs through his nose.

"No," he says, "or, I mean, yeah, it does, that too, but like--it's what they. There were like. When I wasn't listening. Called me."

"I don't--"

"White trash," Erik bites out. "When I wasn't around to hear it. That was my like…nickname. 'S why they threw it. Brick's're easier, they wanted to like. Shaw wanted to remind me."

Charles blinks in surprise. "They called you--wait, the Zetas had a nickname for you? And it was--Christ, that's, I--what the hell?"

"I never told you," Erik says, "because I'm, I mean, I can't fucking believe I did it, I want to puke just thinking about it, because now it's like--I mean, how could I ever--"

"Wait," Charles says, "wait, Erik, slow down, I'm not--"

"Freshman year," Erik says, and suddenly he's looking at Charles, right at Charles, with a question in his eyes and a pleading sort of set to his mouth. When he starts talking again, he sounds less drunk than he did before. "You gotta understand, dude, okay, I didn't--you remember what I was like freshman year, but that was when I met you, right, it was like…it was later, and I mean I was still, in some ways I was probably even worse but like--my mom died and then I was living with my aunt and then I got here and I was like, it had been a long since I…since I…"

"Since you what?"

"Since I had time to have like," Erik stops and makes a face, twisted and bitter, like he'd rather die than keep talking. It makes something ache in Charles' chest, turns something over in his stomach. "Since I'd really had friends, okay? And so, I mean, look, I'd never thought about--I mean I thought fraternities were really fucking, like I would never have--and I was so broke, Charles, which you can't even…it's not like you get broke, which is fine, whatever, it's not your fault but like. Just. I mean, I wouldn't be here at all without scholarships anyway, but that was before I had a job and everything my mom had went into the medical bills and shit, back before she…she…so it's not like I could have afforded the dues, that's what I'm saying."

"Erik," Charles says as carefully as he can, "I'm not sure I'm following."

"I don't want you to follow!" Erik snaps. "I don't want to tell you this at all except that it's obviously--they're breaking our shit now and this is where you live too and you should, you should probably know--"

"You don't have to--"

"Yes I do," Erik yells. They both freeze, surprised at the volume; then Erik tucks his legs up to his chest, wraps his arms around them, glares down at his knees. He's folding in on himself, and Charles doesn't know what to say, what to do except sit here and watch him fall apart.

"Alright," he says, uncomfortable and terrified and--always--so hideously stupidly in love with the bastard that it's hard to even function. "I can--you can talk. I'll just, I'll listen, alright?"

Erik nods without looking up, and his voice is soft when he speaks again. "I'm not proud of it, okay, but he--they, they, we all, I mean, it was all the shit I talk about now, the brotherhood crap, only I actually mean it and they…it doesn't matter, it really doesn't, except for the part that. Like. Does."

"Erik--"

"I pledged Zeta," Erik says, spitting it out like it's costing him vital organs to do so. "Okay? I fucking pledged Zeta, I was young and stupid and you can judge me if you want to, I know I'm fucking judging me, Jesus."

"What?" Charles yelps. It's the wrong thing to say--he knows before he's even finished saying it, can see it in the expression on Erik's face--but he can't help himself. "I--I'm sorry, I don't, I'm not judging you, of course I'm not judging you, but…but what?"

"It wasn't," Erik says, and takes a long, shaky breath. "It sucked, okay? It's not like I'm fucking proud of it or anything."

"Yes, I can see that," Charles says, too boggled to keep control of his stupid mouth, too drunk to do the smart thing and shut the fuck up. "That's made itself quite apparent, I mean, you hate them, I hate them, we all--god, I knew there had to be some kind of…but I never thought…"

"Could you just fucking stop it," Erik snaps, "fuck, dude, it's bad enough without you like--shit, you think I like telling you this? You think I want to think about how fucking…ugh."

"I'm sorry," Charles says, "it's just--I'm just surprised, that's all. I can't even--I mean, I went to a Zeta rush party freshman year, I certainly can't--"

"You went to a Zeta party?" Erik says, eyes focusing suddenly. "Which one?"

"Dunno," Charles says, "long time ago, wasn't it? Probably…I'm sure it was first semester, at their house. There was some kind of pong tournament going on, I think, but that doesn't really narrow it down."

Erik tips his head back against the bed and laughs a little. "Yeah, it does--shit, I was there. You probably walked right past me, I was--that was when I, you probably wouldn't have--you know what, nevermind."

"Shit, that's weird," Charles says. He's sure he's missing something here, some vital piece of what Erik's telling him, some clue, but he can't--maybe if he'd met Erik there, that night, things would have-- "That we were both…before we knew each other, I mean."

"You've got no idea," Erik says. "I mean, really, you've just got--not at all. Not even a little. Where'd the vodka go?"

"Here," Charles says, fishing it out from under his thigh. He uncaps the bottle and passes it over, and Erik takes a swig, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "What happened, then? If you pledged, you must have--you can't have hated them then, and you're--you ended up here, so--"

Erik shrugs and curls forward again, casts his eyes down. "Yeah, there's that. They turned out to be--I don't want to talk about it, and it doesn't really matter, except that that's why he won't. Shaw, I mean, he won't stop, I know he won't, I only ended up meeting you that night with the, uh, puking or whatever because I was leaving the--that was the night that they--it's stupid, doesn't matter. But I know it just fucking kills him, that I turned out to be…and he's such a bastard, he can't just let me have it, he has to fucking prove that he, I don't know. That he won, or whatever. He's not going to quit, and I can't, and I guess I just…thought you should know."

"Fuck him," Charles says, tone conversational, surprising himself. Erik shrugs again, a slight shift of his shoulders, and doesn't look up.

"Those shoes I ruined," he says, "you should send him a bill or something. His fault I was so drunk, anyway."

"Or a thank-you note," Charles says, before he can think better of it. Erik's gaze snaps up at once, too sharp for how much he's had to drink.

"The fuck do you mean, a thank-you note?"

Charles…god, Charles wants to lie to him, feels the desire to cover himself up itching in his fingers, in his bones. Charles wants to tell him anything except the truth, but he figures he probably owes Erik at least that much, in the face of all the honesty he's been given tonight.

"Well," he says, "I mean, it turned out…pretty well for me, didn't it? A pair of shoes for a best friend, I'd make that trade again."

"Yeah?" Erik says, and he sounds so unsure, looks so utterly hopeful, so honestly surprised, that the part of Charles that's been buckling all this time finally splinters and snaps.

He's known for years, of course--known since that night watching Cash Cab, nineteen and stupid with it, that this would happen someday. He's known for years that he'd eventually reach the tipping point, that his supply of self control would run out, that he'd no longer be able to contain himself. He'd just hoped he'd be able to hide from it, or, alternately, to delay it until he and Erik were feeble octogenarians with failing memories, at which point it would be less likely to ruin his life.

But it's here, it's right now, there's no helping it, and Charles leans in and presses his mouth to Erik's before he can get up and run from the room. It's a chaste, quick kiss, barely more than a brush of lips against lips, or at least it would be, if Charles could find it in him to pull back. He's surprised to find that he can't--he's long since past worrying that Erik will haul off and punch him for this, knows that for all his faults Erik isn't the kind of guy to have some sort of big heterosexual freak-out and refuse to speak to him for the rest of their lives. It's just…the minute Charles moves, Erik will be free to open his mouth, and then they'll have to have the conversation Charles has been dreading for the better part of three years. He'll have to listen as Erik says all the right things, as he explains as gently as he can that he loves Charles, but not like that, that he wishes it were different but he can't help who he is, that Charles is a great guy but they're bros and that's all they'll ever be. He'll have to smile and nod as Erik tells him a hundred things he already knows, have to pretend his heart isn't torn ragged and raw like a flag in the wind, have to live with the memory of it, the weight of a hopelessness he's finally, finally confirmed.

So he sits there, mouth against Erik's, face screwed up and frozen and probably speaking volumes as to his desperate, pathetic need to hold off the inevitable for as long as he can--

--and then Erik makes a noise, this shocked, hungry sort of sound, and pushes forward.



Charles gasps into the kiss, helpless to do anything else, and Erik opens his mouth against Charles', reeling him in. A hand sinks into Charles' hair and drags him closer, and the panic-borne paralysis that had been gripping Charles dissipates; he shifts up and over, flicks his tongue against Erik's lower lip. He grabs Erik's arm, more to assure himself of the reality of this than anything else, and groans from the back of his throat, and Erik works his lips with frantic, desperate abandon, like he's trying to devour Charles from the outside in. It's wet and messy and perfect, and Charles is floating, drowning in it before his thoughts jerk and stutter back to life, and he pushes Erik away.

"But you're," he says, finding it hard to maintain focus when Erik is staring at his mouth like that, "you're--I--toast! You're toast!"

"Yeah-huh," Erik says, and then he blinks, furrows his brow, and pulls his gaze from Charles' lips. "Wait, what?"

"Straight," Charles corrects, "I'm sorry, it's just--drunk or…or surprised but you're definitely, I mean, and I have a, a have a--"

"A what?" Erik says. He's grinning now, a wild, uninhibited thing, the kind of grin that makes Charles' heartbeat pick up in his chest.

"A penis!" Charles says, waving his hands.

Erik groans. "Oh, fuck, I just thought it would be hilarious to hear you actually say--I didn't expect it to--aw, fuck, say it again."

"Penis?" Charles says; Erik shudders and drags him forward into another kiss, and Charles can't actually muster any objection to that. He puts a hand on the back of Erik's neck and kisses him like's trying to win something, dropping his head to the side, and he's running his tongue against the chapped expanse of Erik's lip before he remembers himself.

"No," he says, pulling back again,"no, no, wait, you don't--you don't like penis, that is my whole point, you are--I don't have any--you're straight, aren't you?"

"Later, totally a good conversation for--for later, put a pin right in it or whatever, c'mere," Erik says, and Charles is lost in a third kiss for a long moment before he finally gains the mental prowess to yank himself away and put a few feet of space between them.

"No," he says, putting up a hand to stop Erik following him. "No, not for later, we have to--we have to, to right now, okay, because you are, you are drunk and I am drunk and I can't, alright, Erik, I'm sorry but I can't be--if this is just you being drunk it will…it will…"

"It'll what?" Erik says, eyes wide, and Charles digs his nails into his palms and takes a deep, shuddering breath, finds a kernel of courage somewhere deep within him and rides it forward.

"It will kill me," he says. "Is that what you--it would, I'd never be able to--it's been too long, I've wanted it too long, I can't just--it's not just right now for me, and I need to know if you're, if this is just--because I, me and you, it's. You're. If we're going to do this then you should know that I…I mean it. And if you don't then we can, we can stop and you can go and we can pretend that we this didn't, that it never…but if we do then, uh. I. I need you to. To mean it."

Erik doesn't say anything, just stares at him, mouth slightly parted and spit-slick still, already slightly swollen with exertion. There's a long, terrible second where Charles thinks it's all over, where he braces himself for the hideous impact of Erik's disinterest, where the loss rushes over his skin like a flash flood, leaving him soaked with humiliation and shaking, world-weary.

But then Erik smiles, smiles like the whole world's opened up for him, and just like that, Charles can breathe again.

"I mean it," he says. "I, uh. I've meant it for awhile."

"Oh," says Charles. Then, because he can't actually help himself: "Really?"

Erik puts a hand on the back of his neck, and there's something almost shy about it, something young and stunned and so, so honest. "Yeah, really. I just didn't think you'd ever, uh. Mean it back?"

"That," Charles says faintly, "that's the most idiotic thing I've ever heard," and then they're both moving again, mouths crashing together.

It's far and away not the first time Charles has kissed someone. There was Steve, of course, but there were others too, little blips of action in a long, lonely landscape of pining. It's not even the first time Charles has kissed someone with the clear intent of going much, much further--he'd thought he knew, having been around the block more than a few times, what this felt like, what it was. But Charles has never kissed anyone the way he's kissing Erik now, sharp and soft at once, so desperately urgent that he can barely breathe. His hands are fisted in Erik's t-shirt and Erik's hand is tangled in his hair and Charles wants to touch, wants to bring every inch of him so close that he burns to nothing from the heat of it.

He moves his head, slides his mouth over to trace the line of Erik's jaw, to suck at the hollow of his throat, and Erik slides a hand up under Charles' button down in response. Calloused fingers skate over the skin of Charles' stomach and he bites down, almost-gently, on Erik's collarbone--Erik growls and yanks him back up by the hair, sinks his tongue into Charles' mouth with a fierce, breathless sort of focus. Charles scrambles closer, balancing himself with a knee between Erik's thighs, and Erik shifts too; a moment later he's fumbling at Charles' buttons, one hand sliding down to cup his ass.

"Jesus fuck you fucking asshole," he gasps, all in one breath, "do you have to dress like you're Fort fucking Knox--"

"Tower of London," Charles manages, mostly because he can't help himself, and Erik huffs out a choked, exasperated laugh.

"You motherfucker," he says, "I'm trashed and there are buttons and you're, you stupid--fucking--I mean seriously do you know how many times I've like, but I never thought, I mean, buttons."

"You make no sense," Charles says, "just, no sense, I don't--"

"I want under here," Erik says, and tugs on the shirt for good measure. This succeeds only in bringing Charles close enough to kiss him again; he grinds forward, just a little, just enough to make Erik groan and tighten the grip on his ass.

Then he attempts to pull Erik's t-shirt off. This succeeds in trapping one of Erik's arms in folds on folds of fabric, which sets them both off laughing hard enough that they fall away from each other; Charles' whole body is shaking with it, and Erik's hand is flapping out uselessly from the vice-grip of his sleeve, which doesn't exactly help either of them calm down.

"Okay," Charles says, when he can breathe again, "okay, so maybe we should--"

"Free me?" Erik says, still laughing.

Charles nods and leans over, tugs Erik's shirt over his head; he reaches down for the buttons of his own shirt then, and hesitates, overcome suddenly with how--with how this is actually happening, right here, right now, Jesus Christ. When he looks up, Erik's not laughing anymore; he's staring at Charles with rapt, shocked attention, like it's just hit him, too.

"You should," Erik says, nodding at the place where Charles' fingers are hovering over the buttons. "I mean, I. I want you to."

"Alright," Charles says. He doesn't break their gaze, just works his way down his shirtfront, one by one until they're all undone. "Should we, uh. I mean. Would you like to…maybe the bed?"

"Yeah," Erik says. They both clamber unsteadily to their feet and move to sit down at the edge of the bed, and somehow--Charles is really, really unsure how--everything is quiet and too heavy to bear, now. Erik is looking down at the ground, is looking away from him, and Charles feels like he's moving through water, every twitch of a muscle reverberating out through the room. What if he's gotten it wrong, what if he manages to cock it up, what if it's weird, what if--

"Uh," Erik says, still staring at the ground, "dude, sorry, I think I kinda knocked the vodka over."

"Christ," Charles says, overcome with a very familiar wash of exasperation and affection, "get over here already, will you?"

Erik tilts his head, grins at Charles with a lazy sort of mischief in his eyes.

"Make me," he says.

Charles grabs Erik by both wrists, pinning them lightly down against the sheets, and leans forward until Erik has to lean back. He smiles a hair's breadth from Erik's mouth, shifts into a straddle as Erik swings his long legs up and under his own, and presses down a little just for the sake of it.

"You're impossible," he murmurs, and Erik says, "Least I'm not a tease," and Charles is laughing as he closes the distance, chests meeting when their mouths do.

It doesn't take him long to release Erik's wrists, not with all this new skin suddenly available for the touch. Charles runs his palms along the lines of Erik's pectorals, traces his hipbones, lingers over the knot of tissue that he knows marks the spot where Erik's appendix came out in middle school. It's strange, knowing someone's body this well and not knowing it at all--Charles has been casting covert looks for years, has been listening for even longer. He could tell the story behind every scar, is intimately acquainted with the workout that wrought each muscle, and still his fingertips stutter over Erik's ribcage, eager to chart and remember.

Erik's own hands settle low on Charles' hips, pushing down just enough to keep them grinding, easy, together. Charles (miraculously, as drunk as he is) could almost come just from that, the friction there and the stunning knowledge of what's behind it. The sticky trail of kisses Erik's leaving along his jawline, the not-quite-gentle way he nips at Charles' ear, isn't helping matters much; Charles gasps and mouths frantically at the nearest part of Erik, which turns out to be--

"Dude, please tell me you did not bite my hair," Erik says, but his voice is so rough that Charles is going to count it as a win. "There's probably glass and shit in there, and also, seriously, what?"

"Tactical misfire," Charles gasps, "you're not exactly making it easy to focus here."

"Shit, look at you with the military strategy," Erik says, and then, with a sort of experimental curiosity, scrapes his teeth lightly across one of Charles' nipples. Charles groans with his entire body, shuddering and clenching his legs around Erik, and Erik huffs out something that's half-laugh, half-gasp.

"Fuck, Charles," he says, and does it again and again, until Charles is so hard he can't think, he can't breathe, he can't--

"I want to," he says, reaching down to fumble at Erik's fly, "like, right now, I've had--I mean, oh, god, Erik, I've wanted to for--"

"Yeah?" Erik says.

It sounds…surprised. Erik goes still as he says it, and Charles blinks and peers down at him. It takes a second to locate it--it's hard not to fixate on the bruised lips, the reddened skin on his throat that'll be a hickey in the morning--but Charles focuses his mind, and it's there. Erik's mouth is turned down at the corner and his eyes are wide and unsure and Christ, he's just as nervous as Charles is. Probably more nervous, really; Charles isn't sure he's even been with a guy before, is almost positive he hasn't, and he thinks of that moment on the beach, of tonight on the lawn, of all those times he's had the rare privilege of seeing Erik with his guard down.

"Erik," Charles says, finally free to let everything he means slip into his voice, "just so we're clear, the amount of time I've spent imagining sucking you off…really doesn't bear thinking about."

Erik makes a choked, raw noise, and Charles half-smiles at him, undoes his flies, tugs gracelessly at his boxers until they slide down. The line of Erik's cock--thick and cut, slightly shorter than Charles had imagined in his wilder fantasies and that much hotter for it--is unbearably tempting, and Charles doesn't waste any time in sliding low and pulling it into his mouth.

It's--Charles has a bit thing about sucking cock, has always enjoyed it a little more than he's maybe supposed to. And this is Erik, the same Erik who's been dominating Charles' dirtier thoughts for years now--this is Erik whose thighs are parted under Charles' fingers, Erik who's making low, helpless noises. Charles feels a little thrill run down the back of his spine just at the taste of him, at the feel of his size and shape under Charles' tongue, and then another when Erik curls a hand loosely into Charles' hair.

He sucks hard, once, twice, pulls back enough to flick his tongue against Erik's head and moves down again, and the noises Erik's making are like nothing Charles has ever heard before. He slides a hand forward, curls a loose fist around the base of Erik's cock, and Erik's whole body jerks; he bucks up without warning, cock scraping the back of Charles' throat. Charles breathes hard and takes it greedily, widening his jaw to accommodate it, but Erik stills at once.

"S-sorry," he gasps, "sorry, sorry, I didn't mean--I just kinda, just, it's really good, I couldn't stop, fuck, sorry, that had to--"

Charles could, in theory, explain to Erik that he doesn't need to apologize, that Charles can take it--hell, would actually love to take it--considerably harder and faster than that. He could explain, but that would involve freeing up his mouth, and he's rather loathe to do that at the moment.

He pushes himself down low instead, pulling Erik in until his cock is in the same position it was a moment ago, and rubs a thumb soothingly across Erik's thigh.

"Ohfuck," Erik hisses, and Charles would smile if he wasn't otherwise occupied. "Okay, you have to--stop me if I, I mean, you--okay."

Charles nods, just slightly, not enough to upset the delicate balance of things. He pulls back a little bit to give Erik room to move, and then--Erik bucks up and up into him, gasping invectives and fisting both hands in his hair.

It's not the roughest blowjob Charles has even given, but it's not gentle either, not by a long shot. Erik's whole body moves with every thrust, and his thighs are trembling under Charles' hands, and Charles pulls him in as deep as he can, contact-high at the fullness of it. He's so hard he doesn't know what to do with himself, finds himself rutting against the mattress without meaning to, and Erik's sweating and swearing and oh, god, Charles never wants it to stop.

"Fuck," Erik gasps, thready, too soon, "ohfuck I'm really--dude, I'm sorry but I, I, Charles, I'm drunk and I can't, I'm gonna, you should…you should like, like, god, unless you want to--"

Charles, distantly, thinks it's a good thing he knows Erik so well, or that would have been entirely unintelligible. He also thinks, considerably less distantly, that he has no intention of being deprived of the opportunity to swallow, so he just moves one hand free of Erik's thighs and makes an easy, beckoning gesture.

"Motherfuck," Erik hisses, "oh, fuck, does that mean what--I don't like, speak Advanced Gay yet, okay, I can't--your secret fucking signals or whatever, you better mean what I think you mean, Charles, fuck."

Rather than responding, Charles lifts his gaze to meet Erik's. He raises an eyebrow, just the one, and sucks so hard his cheeks hollow; Erik gasps, chokes, and comes like a shot, his whole body spasming with it. Charles waits him out, swallowing it down with easy grace, running his fingers over Erik's thighs and stomach until he calms a little; then he pulls off, wiping the edge of his mouth with his thumb. He stares at Erik's crotch for a second, eyes lidded, trying to decide if he should button him up or take his pants off the rest of the way. He decides he's too drunk to decide, in the end, and crawls up to the top of the bed instead.

"God," Erik says on a shaky exhale, "Jesus fuck, Charles." He's flushed, almost blushing, which is so weird and incredible that Charles kind of wants to stare at it and maybe--maybe--take a picture.

He doesn't get the chance, because Erik moves, mashing his face into Charles' shoulder. "Okay," he says, "okay, I'm gonna--I mean, you and me, we're totally gonna, I'm not just going to like blue ball you or anything I just, fucking hell, just, a minute, okay, Charles, Jesus."

"Take as long as you like," Charles says easily, so ridiculously proud of himself he's almost bursting with it. "In all honesty, you could blue ball me--I mean, I'd prefer if you didn't, of course, all things considered, but, Christ, Erik, you can't possibly…the amount of time I've spent thinking of it and then to have you just…and even now, really, I'm, you're quite. Ah. I should probably stop talking, yes?"

"No," Erik says, so quietly that Charles almost misses it. He leans back and looks at Charles like he's never seen him before, face still soft and slack with orgasm. When he presses in, catches Charles' mouth in his, it's strange--it's like a question, almost, so hesitant that it's barely there are all.

Charles bites at his lower lip, drawing it in smooth and easy, and puts a hand to the back of Erik's neck. And Erik--it's like Charles breaks some kind of floodgate, because Erik pushes up into the kiss, flips them so Charles is flat on his back, grinds down against his crotch with blind, furious passion.

"You have to tell me," he says, when Charles is breathing too hard just from that to hold a kiss, "you have to tell me if this--I don't know what you want, I just want it to be, I want you to like it--"

"Of course--I fucking--like it," Charles manages, catching his breath. "Really, you could--anything, Erik, please--"

"Okay," Erik says, almost whispers, "okay."

He slides a hand into Charles' pants, tightens his fingers into a loose fist around Charles' cock.

"Yeah?" he says.

Charles considers responding, but he's not actually sure he can form sentences right now, so he just tips his head back against the pillow and groans. Erik leans down and sucks lightly at the curve of Charles' neck; when Charles grinds up into his hand, rakes his fingers down Erik's back, he can feel Erik smiling.

"Bloody fuck," he manages, and closes his eyes. The world narrows down to a pinpoint, the friction of Erik's hand on his dick, the warm heat of his fingers. It chafes a little, the pressure of it, bare skin on bare skin, but Charles is--shit, Charles likes it, wants to come just like this, in his pants from a hand-job like a teenager, Erik's breath in his ear.

"Oh," Erik says, sounding suddenly like the cocky bastard he's always been, "oh, yeah, you like this, don't you? I'm good at this, fuck, listen to you, look at you, Charles, god, your face, you should make that face all the fucking time, you know that? That's an awesome fucking face for me, I swear to god I'm the fastest fucking learner you'll ever meet if it means you make that face again, I'm gonna--oh, yeah, c'mon, fuck, I can feel you getting closer, I never thought this would--fuck, Charles, open your eyes, I wanna see your face when come, c'mon."

"Savoring--it," Charles chokes out, twisting his hips a little and driving himself up.

"Selfish," Erik murmurs, teasing now. "You wanna be a bastard about it, hey, I can be a bastard too, I can stop right now, open your eyes."

"Erik," Charles whines, desperate and breathless and so close it hurts, and Erik leans down, his lips ghosting over Charles' for a half second before he pulls away again.

"Do me a favor," he whispers, and Charles gives in and opens his eyes, wide, wide.

Erik's hovering over him, sweat glistening on his forehead, eyes dark with purpose. His hair is everywhere, hanging down over his eyes, his cheeks are covered in a high, dark blush, and his smile would be a smirk if it weren't for the warmth behind it. It's--Jesus, it's nothing like Charles pictured it and so much better, like every dream he's ever had rolled together and cut with reality, and he tries and fails to catch his breath, can't imagine ever looking away.

"Knew that'd be worth it," Erik says, and Charles comes with no warning at all, so hard and so fast it surprises even him. It's just--it's just Erik, isn't it, with his pants half-open and his cock hanging loose, his hand on Charles' dick, smiling at him with swollen lips and telling him it was--Charles can't help it, has never once been able to help it, and he bites down on Erik's shoulder and rides it through, choking out nonsense syllables that mean nothing at all.

For a long second, the world goes white and impossible, too bright and visceral for Charles to bear. Then he blinks back to himself and Erik's sitting up, laughing softly to himself.

"Look what you did to my hand," he says, waving it in Charles' face, and Charles has a long, shaky aftershock moment at the sight of it, his come streaked across Erik's fingers. When his body has come to the inevitable conclusion that no, actually, he cannot physically come again, he takes a deep breath and half-smiles.

"Think you did that, actually," he says, voice hoarse, and Erik grins.

"Fuck yes I did," he says, "and look at you, that totally did something for you or something. Kinky little fuck."

"Mmm," Charles says, and it's all calm and perfect for a second. Then--because these things never last--Erik wipes his hand on the side of Charles' bed.

"Oi!" says Charles, "Erik, oh my god, I just washed these, that's disgusting--"

"See, I totally thought that's what you were going to do when it was on my hand," Erik says, "but no, that was hot but this is gross, you are so weird."

"In the morning you're doing my laundry," Charles says weakly, and Erik laughs, flops down next to him, and traces his finger in a long line down Charles' stomach.

"Think I might be able to get out of it," he says, voice all suggestion, and Charles groans.

"Oh, god, what have I done?"

"Created a monster," Erik says cheerfully, putting his hands behind his head.

"You were already a monster, I can list at least ten monstrous things you've done this week--"

"Flatterer."

"Bastard."

"Mmm," Erik says, "least I pull my weight."

Charles can't think of a single argument to that, so he just focuses on catching his breath, on the sound of Erik doing the same thing next to him. There's a moment where they're not touching and Charles is suddenly, hideously afraid that's it's going to get awkward, but then his fingers find Erik's hipbone, and any tension that might have been there breaks easily around them. They shift, both kicking out of their pants, and curl towards one another without saying a word; Charles tucks an arm across Erik's stomach, presses his cheek to Erik's chest, and Erik yawns and lets a hand rest almost tentatively on Charles' thigh.

"Any of the guys catch us like this--" he starts, and Charles laughs.

"It's a small bed," he says. "That's my story, and I intend to stick to it."

"Totally small," Erik agrees, yawning. "Smallest bed ever, that's--that's a good cover, we're totally the like. Manliest dudes ever or some shit, fuck, I'm tired."

"Mmm," Charles agrees. "In the morning we gotta--the landlord, right, and like--"

"Potatoes," Erik says, "and coffee. We should…I mean, water now, probably, except I don't--"

"Yeah, no moving."

"No moving," Erik repeats. "Hangover's gonna be a bitch, though."

"Worth it," Charles says, before he can help himself, muffled into the curve of Erik's neck.

"Yeah," Erik agrees, quiet, and Charles feels warmth swell uncontrollably in his chest as he closes his eyes.
Tags: bros being bros, carpe brewski, erik/charles, x-men: dat ass
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