Tough little baby telepath who’s seen and overheard far too many things in his life, who’s cornered into helping fellow mutant Det. Erik Lehnsherr solve…
It takes Charles almost two weeks to realize that Lehnsherr’s attracted to him, which just makes it that much more of a shock when he figures it out.
It’s not as though people have exactly been throwing themselves at Charles - a scrawny teenage mutant geek is nobody’s idea of a real catch - but he does have some experience, enough that he knows what it’s like when somebody finds him appealing that way. It’s the kind of thought that people don’t really hide; between the strength of the thought and the awareness that it’s about him, it’s practically impossible for Charles not to pick up, even if he’s mostly trying to give people their privacy. And there are times Charles would rather not know, whether it’s a girl he thinks of as his best friend or a random stranger on the train.
But Lehnsherr - Charles doesn’t know if he’s more talented than Charles had expected at shielding, or if he’s just very skilled at compartmentalization, but either way, Charles is stunned by the discovery. This is probably why he reacts the way he does.
It’s not a big thought, anyway, just a tiny passing one. It’s early in the morning, and they’re sitting in Lehnsherr’s car, and as always he’s refused to put the heat on. Charles has his hands wrapped around his styrofoam cup of coffee, and he’s just taken a long swallow, and when he lowers the cup Lehnsherr is looking at him, and he catches it, the brief whisper of Lehnsherr’s musings about Charles’s mouth.
What gets Charles is that he can tell it’s not a new thought. It’s familiar, smooth around the edges like it’s been handled regularly. That’s what makes Charles react the way he does, gasping and very nearly dropping his coffee into his own lap.
“If you burn yourself, we’re not leaving the stakeout to take you to the hospital,” Lehnsherr says, tone scalding as the coffee Charles has nearly spilled everywhere.
Charles ignores Lehnsherr’s irascibility with the ease of nearly a month’s practice. He watches, instead, as that thought—red, gorgeous, soft, want-to-touch-kiss-fuck—slides away like a bubble in oil, subsumed in the straight-ahead thrum of Lehnsherr’s thoughts on the case. If he wants to, he can trace the fine spiderwebs of association from that thought to the images behind it (Charles talking, Charles smiling, Charles frowning, Charles half-asleep and breathing softly), to the memory of the first time Lehnsherr had focused on Charles’s mouth as a thing to be desired, to the more complicated interplay of sense-memory and imagination and id-driven want that creates anticipation.
That way lies madness, though, Charles is pretty sure. Lehnsherr seems the sort of person who desires only in safe, secret spaces. Charles and their partnership are neither safe nor private. And—Charles is absolutely convinced of this—Lehnsherr would not take kindly to having his mind read with the same disregard for privacy rights he tells Charles to show to the suspects they follow.
He lets the thought dissolve, unacknowledged, back into Lehnsherr’s subconscious, and says, with the haughtiness that he knows gets Lehnsherr’s hackles up, “If I’m writhing in pain from second-degree burns I’ll hardly be able to keep monitoring our maybe-suspect. He might, I don’t know, flee the jurisdiction after ten years, and then where will you be?”
“Just be more careful,” Lehnsherr growls, more warning than advice, but something like ruefulness touches the corners of his mouth.
It shouldn’t make any difference - it doesn’t make any difference. Lehnsherr is still the same person. He’s still a jerky robot with “work” taking up all the space that most people use up in things like “feelings” or “social skills.” It might be annoying that Charles can’t figure out how to unflip this switch that means he notices Lehnsherr now, all the time, in that way, but that’s all it is: an annoyance. It’s not a big deal. Charles may be young, but he’s not a kid, and certainly not the naive and immature brat Lehnsherr seems to take him for.
So it doesn’t matter, if Lehnsherr has pretty eyes or really big hands or broad shoulders and slim hips. And if Charles maybe tosses one off once in a while, imagining leaning over and going down on him in the driver’s seat of the car, or Lehnsherr pushing him up against the wall in a dark alleyway-
Well. Nobody knows better than Charles does how little thoughts are worth. It’s what people do that really counts.
And at any rate, what they have—whatever it is—works.
“Look,” Charles says, adopting the bluntness to which Lehnsherr seems capable of responding, “The victim was much, much closer with her cousin than with her brother. He never mentioned Lewis Mayfair, but the cousin’s mind was practically shouting his name when we were reinterviewing her.”
“Because she had an affair with Mayfair and it ended badly,” Lehnsherr says with the strained patience Charles has learned to ignore by now. “Mayfair told her husband, he divorced her, and Monica Gray was left with nothing in the settlement.”
Mostly, anyway. Charles takes one deep breath for patience. “No. Monica Gray knew Mayfair was capable of murder. He pulled a knife on her when she wanted to end their relationship, told her that he’d end her first before allowing her to walk out. And,” he continues before Lehnsherr can interrupt with his skepticism, “that is concrete memory. She remembers that incident as fact. If she’s faking it, she’s stronger than I am.”
The look he gives Lehnsherr forestalls any comment on his strength. Instead, Charles nearly shudders as a wave of Lehnsherr’s interest and—no other word for it—lust rolls over him, triggered by the mention of Charles’s power, loosed so quickly Lehnsherr’s quick he’s a kid-we’ve interviewed her three times-ignorant-rich-too smart of his own good can’t rein it back in time. Charles’s body wants, badly, to respond to it. His mind knows what a terrible idea that is, however easy it would be to wrap himself up in Lehnsherr and take and give what they both want.
There’s a specific moment, one of the times when the arrest doesn’t go off well. Charles doesn’t blame himself for not seeing how the perp was going to react, because there was no way he could have known; the man didn’t know himself what he was going to do, not until the very moment he did it.
But there’s a gun, and he’s shooting at Lehnsherr, and something in Charles’s vision blurs a little. The man freezes, completely still in mid-movement, artificial and terrifying - and then, after a moment, falls down to the ground unconscious, like a puppet whose strings have all just been cut.
Lehnsherr is fine, of course. Guns and bullets are made of metal, which is Lehnsherr’s bloody mutation, as Charles is perfectly well aware. He wasn’t really in any danger at all.
Lehnsherr kneels by the perp’s body, checking his pulse briefly, and then looks up at Charles appraisingly. “I didn’t know you could do that.”
Charles is still standing in the same place, shaking a little and trying to hide it. “I never have before,” he says. There’s something in Lehnsherr’s eyes he doesn’t recognize, and he has too many scruples to search it out, especially now, but it’s frightening and thrilling all at once.
The ride back to the station means close quarters with Lehnsherr for twenty minutes. Charles has never felt caged by another person’s mind, but in the small space of the car Lehnsherr’s thoughts press up against him, palpable and unignorable. Shielding only blocks out the wordless tumble of Lehnsherr’s short-term memory, replaying Mayfair freezing and then collapsing; Charles still feels it as pressure, like something rubbing up against a numbed limb.
He doesn’t have much of a chance to think about it, though, once Moira starts lecturing him on the extra paperwork he’s given her. His consulting work depends on the full disclosure of his abilities, and Moira’s torn between gratitude for them bringing Mayfair in and having to come up with a way to hide the fact that Charles can make people just… stop.
“Just lie low for a bit,” Moira says. The smile she offers him is strained but still friendly. She doesn’t fear him—or, at least, doesn’t anymore. Charles is grateful for the fact that he’s short, young, and harmless-looking; people tend to see the body first and only, and discount anything that doesn’t fit their impressions of him. “You’re dismissed, Xavier. Good work.”
Charles tugs his scarf around his neck and heads out, figuring that he can, maybe, get some sleep for the first time in three weeks.
Or, at least, he figures this until Lehnsherr’s thoughts curl around him, pulling him like a current. He’s standing braced against his car, staring attentively at the doors—at, Charles realizes, the watch on his wrist. Lehnsherr’s ability runs practiced fingers over it, tugging on the metal.
Female, 28, librarian, writer, reader. My main obsession is X-Men First Class, but this blog also sees a good bit of Supernatural, Avengers, Harry Potter, Sherlock, and whatever I think is cool along the way. You can find my fanfic on AO3 here.
I hear very contradictory accounts of Brian Xavier. I know there was the Black Womb project in at least one continuity…
Aaaahh, I love the smell of fandom policing in the guise of social activism in the morning.
Writing is hard sometimes