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[FIC] "The Case of the Missing Dirigible, or a Romance of Chance Meetings," a gift for ratcreature

Title: The Case of the Missing Dirigible, or a Romance of Chance Meetings
Author: sakana
A Gift For: ratcreature
Characters/Pairings: Charles/Erik, minor implied Raven/Irene Adler (comics cannon)
Rating: Mature: Consent issues, cultural imperialism, D/s themes, mind-control sex
Length: 6,462
Summary: Erik needs an airship and a reason to trust.

--------------------------

Paris, December 1850

The gas lamps of the Boulevard Diderot transformed the sculpted facades and cobblestones of the Bercy Station into evenly-spaced islands of light in the pre-dawn darkness. Crewmen, porters, the occasional early passenger, and other station men passed through the bright patches and intervening gloom with no attention for the night. Their breath puffed visibly through the frigid air to mingle with the steam from the trains, and Erik took a moment to enjoy the way the clouds rose into the air. They traveled in columns, lit by the searchlights pouring from behind the clock tower, and curled around the smooth lines of a landing dirigible before disappearing into the sky. Breathing cold air deep into his lungs, he grinned, teeth sharp and white in the dusk.

Even on a mission, he was too practical a man to ignore beauty where he found it.

The great clock wound its hands to show five to six, their weight pulling at Erik’s thoughts, and he strode forward. Up the steps, through the decoratively arched doorway, skirting the wide marble expanse of the lobby and heading for the airship platforms. His walk was purposeful but unhurried, just as much a disguise as his fur-lined aviator hat, goggles, woolen scarf and leather jacket. Nobody looked twice at a foreign pilot in a city like Paris, and no one noticed he wasn’t what he seemed.

The iron stairway seemed to hum under his boots as he ascended to the catwalk crossing the tracks to the wind-swept dirigible platforms. He couldn’t help but caress the metal hand-rail as he passed, reaching out to feel the glorious domes, towers and steam engines of the station, knowing that soon he would be out of range of anything but the hollow frame of the Manchester. Paris was a gorgeous city, but one that he refused to regret leaving.

If he succeeded, the ship would be a new beginning.

She hung low in the air slightly above the three-stories Platform Four. Her lines were solid, not a warship nor a racing vessel but a mid-size cargo carrier, stolid and workmanlike. Her envelope and hull were painted a medium blue-gray, inoffensive and easy to hide in the clouds. She could carry heavy loads over land and sea alike, and the merchant vessel, once he’d given her a new name and papers, would be welcome at many ports. She could be a home or the bridge to one, and for this reason he’d chosen the Manchester over dozens of ships.

Once on the platform, cold gusts poured against Erik, battering uselessly against his jacket but stinging his eyes. He ignored it, strode up the gangway into the open cargo hold, and from a yard away grabbed the two longshoremen by their belt buckles, tossing them out the hatch with a sharp gesture. Another man, one of the ship’s two pilots, trained his side arm on the intruder and swallowed.

“Don’t come any closer. Get out now and I won’t shoot you.”

Erik ignored him and calmly started up the narrow stairs to the rest of the ship. The crewman pulled the trigger, producing only a small, almost apologetic click. Eyes wide in disbelief, he tried again and again. Erik still hadn’t turned around.

“Finished?” he asked over his shoulder. Only the sound of the crewman shakily fumbling at his pistol answered him. “I’ll make it easier on you,” he said conversationally, and pushed the confounded man out of the ship and down the gangway by the buttons on his coat. He turned before the hatch had finished slamming shut.

As his footsteps echoed through the hold a length of chain pulled free from the coils securing crates to the wall. It flew up and into his waiting hand as he jogged up the stairs.

The next deck was little more than a narrow corridor with hatches to the engine room and one of three heads. Electric bulbs in cages shed a stark light over Erik as he quietly swept each room for the nine crew listed on the ship’s charter. Finding none he returned to the stairs and continued up, pistol and chain at the ready.

At the top of the stairs were three crewmen shuffling sleepily towards their cabins. “I’m stealing your ship,” Erik calmly told their blinks of confusion and dropped jaws. “You’re supposed to try to stop me.” The men were silent for long seconds as Erik continued to climb, only beginning to shout as he reached the main deck.

Ninety seconds later, five crewmen struggled as the length of chain dragged them into one of the ship’s emergency air rafts, Erik throwing them in with a gesture. The men watched in astonishment as links of the chain opened and then closed themselves on the boat’s fixtures.

He leaned over the side and contemplated the platform below. The ship’s tether was wrapped securely around a massive iron tie, and normally required a strong man to unwind it before the dirigible could take off. Reaching a hand out, fingers splayed wide, Erik concentrated, and after a moment the cold iron softened and pulled itself flat under the coiled hemp. Without her anchor Manchester rose immediately into the wind, and her thief smiled.

Returning to the closed decks, he climbed to the galley deck of the ship, prowling the electric-lit steel corridors for the other two crewmen. Turning a corner he was surprised by a fist to the stomach. He doubled over with a grunt, narrowly avoided a knee to the head by substituting his shoulder and grabbed the man’s fist as he struck again, sinking down to the floor and using his attacker’s momentum against him. The crewman tumbled over Erik’s shoulder, crashed into his unfortunate crewmate, and took the magnetokinetic’s boot to his temple. Both men found themselves subject to the same treatment as the other crew, though this time with a detached piece of railing.

As he was loading the second man into the air raft, a shot rang out. The bullet spun harmlessly in the air behind Erik. More followed, each as ineffectual as the last, and as Erik turned around he saw the man who must be the captain tossing a pistol aside before grabbing a length of rope and advancing.

He was an older man, well-built, a touch of gray in his dark hair. He showed no fear, even when Erik pinned his arms and pulled him forward with the ribboned remains of a tin bucket. The man went quietly until within a few yards of the thief. Erik tensed as the captain suddenly leaped forward and tried to land a kick, only pushing the man back at the last moment.

“Admirable,” he said as he stepped back and herded the captain into the raft from a longer distance. “Very few men continue to fight me once they see what I can do.”

“A distinction,” the captain said ruefully, sitting awkwardly among his crew, “that I’d prefer to forgo.”

Erik shrugged, released the deck clamps, and kicked the raft into the air. He watched it sink slowly towards the ribbon of the Seine below, the land and river beginning to brighten in the winter dawn. Paris was a glitter of lamplight to the west, brighter now than the fading stars.
Erik pulled the tether rope up the deck, looped it neatly, and then climbed to the bridge.

As he entered, he paused in pleased surprise, a smile moving across his face. The control room of the ship he planned to re-christen the Artemis was unexpectedly lovely.

It was above all the other decks, and he could see the curved belly of the ship’s envelope through great, arched windows. In their graceful frames the panes angled downwards to view the land as well as the sky. The first rays of dawn spilled into the room, glinting off the polished wood and brass flight instruments lining the lower walls, evidence of the care with which they were kept. In the fore of the room on a low platform was the ship’s wheel. Like the rest of the room it was brass-accented walnut, made to look like that of a wooden sailing ship. Spanning over it all was a dome of dark blue dotted with constellations of light. The Star Map was projected from a perforated sphere of metal, housed like a gyroscope on a pedestal in the center of the room.

Erik stepped to the ship’s Navigation Engine. After taking the ship’s position from the star map, he input the coordinates and checked the current time on the ship’s chronometer. Then he found the latitude and longitude of his destination in the Coordinates Index, adjusted the settings on the Engine, and turned the crank. In a few moments it fed him the precise direction and an estimated journey length--three days.

Erik strode to the wheel and eased it starboard.

The Manchester smoothly moved to a more southerly course, the Star Map and shadows in the bridge turning with it. After a few moments he was flying southwest. Glancing at the wind indicator, Erik adjusted trajectory to compensate.

Once he’d established course, he felt down into the steam engine of the ship, pulled levers and turned wheels until the Manchester’s propeller kicked in.

For the next two hours the thief scanned the skies with eyes, Proximity Indicators, and magnetic sense. As the thrill of his escape faded, weariness overtook him. He’d hardly slept in the past two days, using almost every moment to plan. He gave one last scan of the area and engaged the clamp to fix the wheel in place, certain that he would sense any approaching aircraft, even in his sleep.

The captain’s cabin was just one deck below the bridge. Half the size of the control center, it was far more spacious than the crew’s quarters. A table and two swivel-chairs were built into the floor below a set of windows looking out on the the slowly-passing countryside. A large bunk, heaped with tangled bedclothes, hugged the inner wall. Decorated storage compartments lined the upper walls and the space under the bunk. Three modestly-sized built-in frames displayed two old maps and a Van Gogh landscape print. A bookshelf with glass doors sat along the wall opposite the windows, and in the corner was the door to the captain’s private washroom.

Erik closed the hatch behind him, letting his shoulders slump as he kicked off his boots. Padding to the washroom, he stripped to the waist, noting the livid bruises across his ribs and shoulder. Once he’d scrubbed his face and dabbed some of the captain’s liniment on the tender flesh, he shuffled back into the cabin.

The room darkened considerably once he’d pulled the metal shutters closed across the windows. He yawned, gingerly stretched out his injured shoulder, and dropped to the mattress.

He landed on something rather more warm and solid than he expected.

Jumping back up, he landed in a crouch facing the bunk, his knife called to his hand as his pulse raced. In the dim light the lump on the bed shifted and gave a sleepy, questioning “Mm?” as Erik formulated and discarded half a dozen courses of action. He was really only sure about one thing.

The captain’s bunk was not, in fact, unoccupied.

Growling, Erik lunged forward and yanked the bedclothes back, weapon ready. He found himself with his knife to the throat of a youth, whose startled blue eyes locked onto his. The air between them seemed electrified: the moment before lightening struck.

“Who are you? Why are you here?”

The questions snapped from Erik with the crispness of an interrogation. The boy swallowed and rested his fingers gently on Erik’s wrist.

“Ah, I’d appreciate it if you’d move the knife,” he said politely, as if he wasn’t in mortal danger.

Erik held the weapon steady and heated the edge enough to be perceptible. “Answer my questions.”

“My name is Charles Xavier,” the stranger said. “And I’ll answer the second question when you explain what you’re doing on board.”

Erik frowned, about to point out Charles’ poor negotiating position, when the pale softness of his skin caught Erik’s gaze. Without consulting him, his eyes followed the graceful lines of the boy’s throat to his bare collarbones, the planes of his chest, and the angles of his hip bones before he realized that Charles was completely naked.

Understanding and desire hit Erik at the same time. He stood in one fluid motion, throwing the knife just over the youth’s head to embed itself in the wood paneling behind the bunk. With a wave of his hand, he opened the window shutters, bathing them both in painfully bright sunlight.

He watched through watering eyes as Charles gathered the sheets around his waist and sat up. Once his vision adjusted, Erik saw that the other was older than he’d first guessed--perhaps only a few years younger than himself. Red eyes and a pained grimace said he’d overindulged last night, and a few love bites on his throat and hip proclaimed his other enjoyments.

“Well, that answers that question,” he mused. “Though I didn’t think pilots brought their catamites on board, even the captains.”

Charles snorted a laugh, then winced at the pain of movement. “Typically, they don’t. He didn’t decide to take me to bed until we’d crossed the Channel.”

Erik sat down in one of the chairs, forcing the other to face the light directly if he wanted to look at him. “So it was pleasure on your part, rather than business? Or did he throw in additional... incentives?” He was in no way trying to deflect attention from his own interest in Charles.

The hungover man glared. “Moral judgements, coming from the man who stole the ship. That’s rich.”

Erik shrugged as cooly as possible. Perhaps he’d get out of this without making a complete fool of himself.

“Anyway, how did you do that all by yourself?” Charles frowned in thought.

Erik’s expression became guarded. “How do you know I did it alone?”

For a moment Charles ignored him, then looked up to stare, barely restraining his excitement. “You opened the shutter without touching it.”

A strange sensation brushed against Erik’s senses, like a whisper he couldn’t hear but only felt. A huge grin bloomed on Charles’ face.

I’m like you! he heard in his head. It was accompanied by a sense of exultation.

“What?” Erik shook his head, disoriented by the shared emotion.

“You control metal. I’m a telepath. We’re both different, special. Oh, this is marvelous!” The revelation lifted Charles and he began to pace the cabin, sheet trailing back and forth. Erik’s gaze followed.

“I knew it. I knew it couldn’t just be me. But I’m nearly thirty,” he turned, and Erik licked his lips as his eyes slid down the curve of Charles’ spine, “and I was beginning to think that I was alone.” He turned again to face Erik. “Have you met others?”

The older man shook his head slightly, bringing his eyes up to Charles’ face. “Two others. Rumors of more.”

“Really! Do tell me about them! Where were they from?” The telepath sat down in the other chair across from Erik, still a mass of barely-contained energy. Smiling at his excitement, Erik sifted through his memories for an answer. He felt the odd silent whisper again.

“What are you doing?” he frowned. “Are you in my head?”

Charles blinked. “How extraordinary! No one’s ever noticed before. I wonder how you’re doing it?”

“Damn if I know,” Erik glared, defenses raised. “What are you doing, reading my memories? Stop.”

A look of profound disappointment washed over the telepath’s face. “You’ve a beautiful mind, Erik,” he murmured, unconcerned that he’d never asked for the other’s name. “It’s a shame to keep it locked away.” Still, the silent whisper faded. Erik’s resolve wobbled, pulled by something in the other man.

They talked for another hour, trading stories about the other mutants, as Charles had christened them, they’d met or heard about. Another hour was spend explaining their powers to each other. Despite his misgivings, Erik found himself excited by the prospect of meeting more and more people like himself. It was, after all, the main reason behind his theft of the Manchester.

As much as he wanted to--he’d never felt such a strong connection so soon after meeting someone--he didn’t completely trust Charles just yet.

Rubbing his eyes, Erik fought off a yawn as he waved the shutters closed again. “I’m going to sleep,” he said as he lowered himself onto the bed. “Feel free to do what you like except change course. I’ll know if you do.”

Charles said nothing. In the sudden dimness he was a silhouette, but somehow intense in his stillness. “I assure you, Erik,” he said, voice low, “Our course is the last thing on my mind.” As he stood, he let the sheet slide to the floor.

Erik stopped breathing. Stripes of sunlight traveled down Charles’ bare skin as he took the few steps to the bed, tantalizing more than they revealed and dragging the magnetokinetic’s gaze with them. His eyes adjusted and his breath grew ragged at the sight of Charles’ bare arousal.

He knew he should say something, or look away, but he was unable to do either. A nagging voice in the back of his head was asking him pointedly if it was only the animal hunger that was stripping him of his self-control.

The wave of heat sweeping over him drowned it out rather effectively.

“I’ve been feeling your desire since you first saw me,” Charles murmured. Without a hint of shame he straddled Erik’s lap, obliterating any thoughts the other was trying to entertain, both men gasping when his naked erection rubbed against the hard line concealed by Erik’s trousers. “You’re incredible, Erik,” the naked man breathed into his ear. “You don’t know how beautiful you are.” Lithe, pale arms wrapped around his neck, and then Charles was kissing him, hot, wet and intoxicating. Erik’s resolve lasted the barest moment, and then he dragged the telepath down into bed with him.

They were a tangle of limbs, a glory of hands on bare skin, and then the silent touch to Erik’s mind returned, a litany now rather than a whisper. Yes yes yes please, touch me there like that like that, god, beautiful, want you want you want you need you like this, always like this, Erik. An ecstatic warmth radiated from the man in his arms, suffusing him with pleasure. He’d never wanted drink or opium or women the way he wanted to dive into Charles.

Gritting his teeth, he thought hard about his mission, his mother, all the reasons why he was doing this in the first place, all the reasons why letting the telepath into his mind was a bad idea. After a moment he had enough will to grab Charles’s shoulder and hold him still.

“Get out.” His voice was ragged and he swallowed, tried again. “Get out of my head.”

Eyes dark with hunger, Charles raised Erik’s hand and took the first two fingers into his mouth. You want me, he thought as he sucked, You want my mind in yours as much as you want to have my body, if not more. One of his hands started dragging slowly down Erik’s chest. Let us please each other. There’s no shame in it, nothing unnatural. So many people feel this way. He let the burning tide of his desire sweep over them both again.

Erik’s mind pushed the touch away as he heaved Charles onto the floor. The litany stopped, leaving him alone in his head again. He instantly missed it and hated himself a little for that.

“Are you so accustomed to getting what you want that you don’t understand ‘no’?” He grabbed a sheet and threw it over his would-be lover’s legs as he flung open the hatch. “Either get out or stop pretending you care about my wishes.”

Blinking, Charles stood, sheet bundled in one hand. “Erik, be reasonable,” he began, then stopped at the other’s glare and hot spike of anger. He sighed and turned to the door. “I’ll go.” Erik said nothing.

As soon as Charles cleared the threshold, the hatch slammed shut. Erik fused the lock shut before collapsing. He didn’t know how much good it would do, but if he was going to become the telepath’s puppet, he’d damned well make him work for it.

--------------------------

Camino, California, July 1851

Fiddle music, raucous laughter, and the smell of stale beer permeated everything. The tavern bustled with prospectors on their way to or from the mountains, and yet Erik sat alone in a corner table, nursing a glass of almost caustic homebrew. The strength of it was its sole virtue, but the only one that mattered to him at the moment. It had been a long day.

Another rumor had led him here, across an ocean and a continent, to look for more of his kind. In his months of searching he had found three. Only one had come with him. The unnaturally strong railroad worker he’d spoken to today had made it abundantly clear that he would not be the second.

It was almost better when they turned out to be nothing but a rumor. Then, he didn’t have to worry about what they might do, how they would use their knowledge of his haven’s existence.

He didn’t have to feel like he’d been turned away by a brother.

So he retreated to the rough and anonymous company of a tavern and its throat-searing spirits. Late that night he’d collapse in his cabin on the Artemis, and the next day he’d begin the search anew.

He was looking for the barmaid for a top-off when Xavier walked in. Hat in one hand and jacket slung over one arm, his pristine white shirtsleeves shone like a beacon in a drinking establishment full of rough men with dirty jobs. His entire bearing was far too refined and merry for such a place, and Erik would have wondered what in nine hells he was doing there if he had had any thought left to spare. The lines of the telepath’s lithe shoulders under linen, his boyish grin, his wide eyes--all of it hit Erik like a steam engine.

He’d hoped to forget his attraction to the other man, not even allowing himself to bring Charles’ image to mind when taking himself in hand. In the half year since he’d unceremoniously sent him floating to earth in an escape raft, the dreams had become fewer and farther between, giving him some hope of freedom.

Mouth twisting in a wry smile, Erik shook his head. If anything, his pulse was racing faster, his breath more ragged, the fire in his blood hotter than it had ever been. Lifting his cup he drank deeply, welcoming the burn.

Before sitting down or even reaching the bar, the telepath saw him, a pleased look of surprise on his face. Jaw clenching, Erik’s own expression turned to iron. Bracing himself, he watched grimly as the crowd obligingly stepped aside to let the newcomer pass.

“Erik! I didn’t think I’d see you again.”

Sitting stiffly, the magnetokinetic glowered. If I’d known you’d be here, I’d have left immediately.

After a moment, Charles pursed his lips and shook his head. It was impossible to tell if he’d heard Erik’s thoughts or had simply read his face.

“I see,” he said, resting graceful fingertips on the back of an empty chair. “Will you allow me to sit with you for a moment?”

“Doesn’t matter to me where you sit in here.” He pretended to search for the barmaid again. From the corner of his eye he could see Charles smile as if he’d been graciously invited.

Once seated, his expression turned serious. After a moment of staring at his hands resting clasped on the table, he cleared his throat and ran a hand through his hair.

“I’d like to apologize for my behavior the last time we saw each other.” His voice was pained. “It was brutish of me to try to make your choices for you.”

Erik eyed him critically over his glass. Nothing in Xavier’s voice betrayed a lie, but of course he could never be sure.

It didn’t help that a traitorous part of himself wanted to believe the telepath’s change of heart so badly.

“It was brutish,” he agreed, eyes cold. “I hope, for your lovers’ sakes, it’s not something you repeat.”

Xavier’s face fell the slightest bit before he opened his mouth to speak, paused, and thought better of it.

The maid finally came, and Erik got his top-off. Charles tried to order something fancy the bar couldn’t dream of having on hand. In the end, he settled for a mug of old beer.

They drank in silence for a moment. Erik was unsurprised when Xavier broke it.

“I take it you’ve been searching for others of our kind?” the younger man inquired politely.

Erik snorted. “Didn’t you know the moment you saw me?”

To his surprise, a small, almost sad smile turned up the corner of Charles’ mouth. “I haven’t touched your mind in six months, my friend.”

Hope rushed in uninvited. Damn him. Him and his clever mouth. Erik savagely pushed down the surge of hunger that welled up inside. Damn me for wanting him.

“So,” he drew out, an artificial mask of bland interest on his face, “What brings you out to the wild west?”

The other man seemed to brighten. “I’m researching the Indian schools.” He leaned forward. Erik’s stomach began to sink. “I think it could really be beneficial to bring the model elsewhere. There are so many people who could benefit from a civilized education!” He spread his hands wide, progress and knowledge and possibilities practically dripping from his gestures. He was almost alight with his dreams, and Erik found himself wishing that he could see the man’s fire burn for something pure.

He was halfway to the door before he realized he was moving. Luckily he’d reflexively grabbed his Stetson, and he’d never removed the duster. His long stride had propelled him several blocks before Charles caught up with him.

“What the devil has gotten into you?” he complained, pulling on his coat and gloves. “I thought you’d at least let me say goodbye.”

Erik swung around to plant himself directly in front of the other man, a shaking finger punctuating the scant inches between them. His voice was dangerously low.

“You’re worse than I thought,” he bit out. “Can you see nothing wrong in forcing children to give up their language and religion?” With one long, contemptuous glare, he turned and was stalking off again. “You’re a tyrant, Xavier, a well-mannered, civilized tyrant.” Passing the edge of the town, he felt the Artemis just ahead and gently lowered her ladder.

He didn’t look back.

--------------------------

Oxford, December 1852

A light snow sifted down on the cobblestones, hedges, and inhabitants of the English town. As he passed an excessively charming stone church filled with distressingly cheerful parishioners, Erik pulled his scarf up around his ears and shrugged deeper into his greatcoat. Beside him, Irene quirked an amused smile.

As they continued up the lane, Erik sighed, the white cloud of breath trailing behind him. Irene had appeared right in front of him in London, informing him with complete confidence that she’d known he would be there, she knew what he could do to metal, and she’d quite like to join him on his endeavor, and they should swing by Oxford on their way out of the country to meet another two mutants she’d seen in a vision.

There was no trickery to her claims--she could only have known what she did if her visions were real. And yet, it had been three days in Oxford, and they had yet to locate the two others. Erik was about to suggest they move on the next day when they turned a corner and found themselves facing another strolling couple just leaving a pub, the sound of their laughter dancing along the street.

For a moment Erik paid them no mind, but in the next heartbeat he stopped short at almost the same time as Irene tightened her grip on his arm. The man of the other couple pulled up short a heartbeat later. It seemed like time had frozen between them.

Several breaths passed before Irene broke the silence.

“Hello, dears,” she smiled. “Won’t you join us for dinner?”

They stared at each other in astonishment for a moment more, and then Charles laughed.

--------------------------

The dining room of the Artemis was a contradiction of decoration--the finely-wrought windows, ceiling and walls only highlighting the roughness of the tables and benches. The four mutants occupied the table nearest the window, the meal secondary to the company. Erik found himself constantly astonished by Miss Darkholme’s gift and azure skin.

They talked for several hours, discussing everything from their own lives, to Erik’s plans, to politics, to the latest scientific discoveries. Charles was very excited about something to do with peas.

In a moment of quiet, Erik fixed Charles with a calculating gaze. “I wanted to clarify something.” He took a drink. The telepath gave him a politely inquiring expression.

“The Xavier Foundation--that’s yours, isn’t it?”

The other man nodded. “Yes.”

Something shifted inside Erik, like a joint he hadn’t known was dislocated finally popping back into its socket. He found his own voice unusually warm.

“I thought so. It was...heartening to learn that you oppose the Indian schools now.”

Disgust twisted Charles’ face. “You were right. I investigated them, as I was planning to...They tried to hide much of what they were doing. I couldn’t let them continue on like that.”

They all sat silent for a moment. A knot of emotion tangled Erik’s throat.

Raven yawned, a sly glance at Irene escaping Charles’ notice. “All right, gentlemen, I’m going to retire. Shall we, Miss Adler?”

Erik shook his head as the telepath escorted the ladies to the tidiest crew cabin--it was hardly necessary with only them on board, and he had a suspicion about Miss Darkholme’s intentions. Refusing to sit tensely in the galley, he took his brandy and climbed to the bridge.

At night, the Star Map was even more beautiful. Through the great windows he could see a few of the real stars aligned with the artificial ones. He stood leaning back against the aft railing from where he could see everything.

A shadow fell across the doorway. Charles closed the hatch behind himself and came to stand next to Erik.

“I always thought she was a beautiful ship,” he murmured.

Erik smiled. “The best.”

They stood silently for a long moment. Erik could feel the bones of the Artemis all around them, the distant pull of the town below. He had the impression--unsure if it was real or imagined--that he could feel the warm tingle of the iron in Charles’ blood.

“Erik,” the telepath began softly. “Thank you for inviting us here.” His hand drew slow circles over the railing near his companion’s elbow. Even in the dark, Erik felt the pull of the telepath’s body like the ocean feels the moon.

“I would like clarification myself,” Charles continued. Warm fingertips rested on Erik’s arm, driving his pulse a little higher. “Why did you wait for me here?” His eyes were wide and dark, drinking in what little light there was in the room. Erik couldn’t look away.

“It’s my favorite place on the ship.”

Xavier chuckled. “And the reason why you’re waiting for me at all?” His fingers began to pull slowly down the other’s arm.

Erik pushed himself away from the railing and turned to stand face to face with Charles. For the hundredth time he marveled at how such a compelling figure could fit into Xavier’s slight frame.

“I needed to know you could be trusted.” His own fingers closed around Charles’ upper arm, warm through the fabric. “Now I can choose.” Stepping closer, he found himself fascinated by the curl of the telepath’s ear. “Read me, Charles, I can’t say it.”

Gentle fingers curled into Erik’s hair, and then a silent humming brushed at his mind. He fisted his hands in the other man’s shirt, pulling him closer, letting himself feel all the heat and hunger and blind need he’d been harboring for two years, willing the other to feel it.

Charles sucked in a ragged breath, eyes blazing, and pulled Erik down into a devouring kiss. He gave himself up to it, letting his lips and tongue speak his desperation, moaning into the telepath’s mouth as nails raked down his back. The tiny plink of their cufflinks hitting the floor elicited a laugh from Charles even as he worked his fingers into Erik’s waistband, yanking his shirt free.

“If I were you,” he murmured playfully, unbuttoning Erik’s shirt and dragging his mouth down after the widening opening, “I’d make sure all of my clothes fastened with metal.”

“Never been a concern,” Erik breathed, utterly wrecked by the sight of the other man undressing him. The silent humming was back, stronger this time, tinged with hunger and joy. Charles paused, his hand hovering over the bulge in Erik’s trousers, a serious intensity burning in his gaze.

“Erik.” He swallowed, holding himself very still. “Soon I won’t be able to hold myself back. I’ll be in your mind and only through great effort will I be able to stop. I don’t want to--” Erik hauled him up to cover his mouth with his own, his own litany pulsing through both of them--Yes! Yes yes yes wanted you for so long, so long, god, Charles, please, want all of you, want you inside, so warm, beautiful, please--

Heat and light came flooding in, filling all the spaces in Erik’s thoughts and it was so sweet, so good. Images, sensations, desires filled his head, some things he’d wanted and some he’d never dreamed of. Moaning into the kiss, he pulled Charles close, their hips grinding together. The glorious friction reverberated through them both, leaving them both gasping.

Stepping back, Charles stripped Erik of his shirt, tossing it to the floor. Before he’d stood up completely Erik was sucking on his pulse, his fingers fumbling with his buttons. Charles groaned and tangled his fingers in his lover’s hair again. Suddenly an alien dexterity seemed to possess his hands, and in a moment Charles’ shirt was on the floor too.

Was that--did you guide my hands? Erik was wondering, half-dazed, and drunk with Charles’ skin. He nosed his way across the telepath’s chest, leaving hot, open-mouthed kisses in his wake.

Yes. You were having trouble.

Hands coming to rest in the curve of Charles’ spine, Erik weathered a new flare of desire, trembling with the force of it. He listened as both their pulses raced faster.

“I know it’s frightening,” Charles reassured him. “I don’t think any less of you for it.” He swallowed. “In fact it’s intoxicating.” He lifted Erik’s chin with a finger, looking him in the eye. I want all of you.

Electricity seemed to travel between them, and then Erik was raking his teeth down Charles’ throat, eager and guided as if a hand were pressing down on the back of his neck. He had a moment of panic, but the compulsion was gently unyielding, and the fear washed away in a flood of pleasure and a strange sense of peace. He felt Charles’ own hot lust bubbling through them both and smiled.

Greedy, hot little noises followed his mouth down his lover’s chest, each one winding the telepath tighter and tighter. Soon Erik reached his lover’s narrow hips, trousers stretched tight over his arousal, and in a fluid motion Erik’s knees folded beneath him. With a hand fisted in Erik’s hair Charles seemed to devour him with a look.

Without even needing to see his hands, Erik opened he lover’s trousers, returning his stare the entire time. For a wonderfully confused moment he was also able to see himself kneeling alongside Charles’ flushed erection. They licked their lips simultaneously.

“Please.” Erik’s voice was rough with need. Charles nodded. He didn’t have to ask what he meant.

Both men moaning, Charles opened Erik’s mouth and slid himself inside. Erik’s own cock grew even harder at the contact, wild electricity coursing through every molecule. He clung to Charles’ hips as he swallowed him deeper and then pulled back, swallowed and sucked again and again. His lips and tongue obeyed perfectly, tools for Charles to draw exquisite pleasure from himself.

It was too perfect for Erik, too. His jaw didn’t ache even as Charles drew them both out longer and longer; his throat never clenched uncomfortably. His untouched cock throbbed in beautiful torture.

“Erik,” Charles breathed, low and ragged as he pulled Erik back and forth on his cock. “God. You’re incandescent.”

Erik sent him a wave of ecstasy, whole being thrumming like a violin under Charles’ control. He had already forgotten what it was like to be alone in his head. The mental connection was so intense that it took him a moment to realize that Charles had comannded his hand to peel away his own trousers and wrap itself around his straining cock.

Neither of them could last long like that. Erik suspected that the only reason he’d lasted as long as he had was Charles somehow preventing his climax. The idea was enough to leave them both moaning.

Erik’s mouth began working faster and opening deeper. Charles was crying out incoherently, Erik mindless with need, and then the telepath let go.

Erik’s mind flew apart into a million pieces, lost in a burst of fire.

When he came back to himself, he was lying on the floor, head resting on Charles’ stomach, the other man’s hand stroking his neck slowly. He could still feel the warmth of his mind, but now without tension, a single lamp to the bonfire of before.

“I think it might hurt if I left all at once.” Charles’s voice was warm honey.

“I don’t mind.” His own voice was a languid whisper. “I didn’t think...”

“I wasn’t expecting it either, to be honest,” the telepath smiled. “A most welcome surprise, I assure you.”

They both lay quiet, their breathing slowing into sleep. In the morning they would have a mess to clean and a Star Map to recalibrate, but neither of them were thinking of that. As he drifted off, Erik smiled.

He hadn’t slept beside anyone in years.
Tags: author: sakana, fic, gift for: ratcreature, rating: nc17
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