"I worry about you, Charles,"
Charles, far too distracted by his read of the morning paper, didn’t notice the entry of another person into his kitchen until Erik spoke. He lifted his head, turning his gaze and peering at Erik over the rim of his glasses.
Erik, stretching up into the back of the cabinet for a clean set of mugs, grinned at Charles. “I think I’ve seen fathers in the fifties dress with more flare than you,” he teased, jeans riding dangerously low on his hips and making Charles scoff and turn away before he gave into the desire to see how deeply he could dig his fingers against the slim curve of them.
Erik, chuckling, set the mugs down as he rummaged around for the sugar to add to his tea.
"I wear what feels comfortable." Charles murmured, redirecting his gaze onto the morning paper. His previously snug layers of clothing were suddenly tight, constricting on his shoulders and chest while Erik crossed the kitchen to grab the milk.
"Excellent reasoning, Charles." Erik responded, though his voice was low and sounded as if he’d spoken more to himself than anything.
"Says the man who finds comfort in exposing his body for all the world to see." Charles grumbled under his breath, flicking the paper when it started to crease in the middle and the corners curled. Erik laughed, bringing over a mug and setting it before Charles.
"Are you sure you wouldn’t feel the same?” Erik asked, a tiny curl of a smirk in the corners of his lips. His pale eyes raked along any part of Charles that he could see, and Charles shifted in his seat, wary of the sudden attention. Erik sat down, leaning an elbow on the table and sipping his tea.
"I wonder what kind of body you’re hiding under there, Xavier," Erik muttered into his drink with a hooded, mischievous glint in his gaze.
Charles tensed, tongue flickering out to wet his lips as he shook his head and ignored the tea that Erik had given him. “Honestly, Erik, you just came down from Raven’s room. Have some class.”
Erik laughed, looking confused and shrugging. “I like to think I’m quite classy, actually.” Lifting his mug, Erik stuck out his pinky finger in salute to Charles before taking a sip. “Cheers, and all that.”
Charles, exhaling an exasperated sigh, turned away from Erik. “I’m sorry, but you have about as much class as a sixteen year old trying to prove he isn’t a virgin.”
Erik snorted, choking on a lungful of tea and bringing a hand up to swipe his knuckles across his drenched nose and lips. Chuckling, Erik shook his head and gave Charles a fond smile.
"Would it be more acceptable to bow and kiss the back of your hand?" Erik’s hand slid across the table, long fingers trapping Charles’ in a gentle grip and trying to tug Charles’ arm towards himself. Charles resisted with a scowl, setting the newspaper on the table irritably.
"Erik, stop that!" Charles hissed as Erik finally wrangled his hand close enough to press a bristly and chapped kiss to Charles’ knuckles.
"My darling Xavier!” He crowed with a smirk, diving in for a better kiss against the back of Charles’ hand. The brush of a two-day beard against his skin was enough for Charles to wrench his arm back so forcefully that his fingers smacked into his own chest.
"I think you’re forgetting which Xavier you’re talking to!" Charles snapped, seizing his newspaper from off the table with a flick of his wrists. Erik looked taken aback, gaping momentarily as Charles tried to calm his nerves with a slow, precursory sip from his mug. The second the tea splashed onto his tongue, Charles had to stop from looking surprised at how Erik had apparently known exactly how Charles took his tea, and instead avoided eye contact as Raven thundered down the stairs in her waitress uniform.
Erik stood, grabbing Raven as she hurried by and dragging her into a giant bear hug. Raven shrieked, squirming against his chest and shoving him back. “Good God, Erik, put a shirt on before your nipples poke someone’s eye out - especially mine!” Raven cried, lifting a hand and pinching Erik’s right nipple, hard, between her fingers and giving it a twist.
Erik hissed, shoving Raven back and cupping a hand against his breast tenderly. “Raven!” He cried, feigning hurt. Raven rolled her eyes, grabbing a plain bagel and Charles’ cup of tea from his hands.
"Honestly, Raven, if you wore that skirt any shorter, you could get on the cheerleading team." Erik teased, reaching out to flick the back of her skirt up and reveal a flash of bright blue panties. Raven shrieked, whirling around and slapping Erik in the face with the bottom of her bagel.
Erik laughed, chomping a good hunk of the bagel and chewing it smugly. Charles ignored the burning in his chest, blaming more the bit of spice he’d added to his eggs that morning, and not the kindling of jealousy. Raven practically inhaled half of the pasty and swallowed down most of Charles’ tea before she hurried back up the stairs to finish getting ready for work.
Silence fell upon the small apartment kitchen and Charles gave a forlorn look at the bottom of his tea mug. Erik huffed out a laugh, grabbing the cup out of Charles’ hands and going to make another one.
Charles watched him quietly, eyes raking down shifting muscles of Erik’s back. He had a smattering of freckles here and Charles couldn’t help his eyes from lingering at the two puckers just at Erik’s tailbone.
Erik turned, and Charles flicked his eyes back up to take the tea from him with a nod.
Erik sat, drinking his own mug and not bothering to hide the way he watched Charles with a blatant look of amused interest. Charles got halfway through a column about a new subway system before he sighed and put his newspaper down.
"Is there something you wanted to tell me, Erik? Or is staring creepishly at a person just one of your many lonely hobbies?"
Erik set his mug down, index finger tracing the rim idly. “Perhaps I just find you an interesting subject,” he said evasively, looking torn between confidence and hesitance.
Charles tapped the top of his newspaper, expecting more words. Erik shrugged.
Charles’ face quickly turned into a frown and he shook his head. “Unbelievable,” he muttered irritably, drinking his tea and then pushing himself up and out of his chair.
"What is?" Erik asked, confusion painted all over his face. Charles folded his newspaper, tucking it under his arm so that he could grab his mug and journal.
"I expected better of you when I met you, Erik." Charles tucked his crossword pen behind his ear, sipping his tea as he headed towards the living room. Erik got up abruptly, following after Charles.
"What the hell does that mean?" Erik barked incredulously, catching up easily and grabbing the edge of Charles’ cardigan. Charles froze, scowling at Erik over his shoulder.
"I never took you for a slag, Erik. I hope you realize when Raven finds out how much of a flirt you really are, that she’ll never forgive you - and neither will I."
Erik dropped his hand, looking gobsmacked and eyes wide like Charles had just slapped him. He struggled to find a response, expression flickering from surprise, to confusion, to hurt, and then anger. Charles held his ground, trying desperately to stop himself from taking those words back. Just because Erik was funny, charismatic, affectionate and devastatingly gorgeous, did not mean that he could play with Raven or Charles’ hearts.
Erik stepped back, his back going tight and expression tight.
"Right," Erik said stiffly, sneering a smile at Charles. "I’ll keep your opinion of me in mind, then."
Turning on his heel, Erik stomped upstairs to Raven’s room. Charles let out the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding and headed for the couch so he could finish reading the paper and catch up on the week’s stocks.
The sound of voices came from upstairs, tones loud as Raven and Erik argued for a moment and Erik thundered down the stairs not minutes later. The front door slammed and Charles sighed, compressing his guilt into a tiny, tiny ball and sticking it somewhere in the back of his mind.
It only worked for the minute and a half Raven took to stomp all the way into the living room and shoot Charles a furious stare.
"You called Erik a slag?” Raven cried, “What the fuck is wrong with you? I can’t believe you would be such an ass!" Raven lunged forward, hair flying as she grabbed one of the couch pillows and slapped it across Charles’ face. Charles yelped, his glasses crushing into his eyes and fumbling to try and catch the pillow as Raven continued to shriek.
"If you didn’t want to date him, then tell him NO! Don’t call him a whore! Jesus, Charles!"
Charles wrenched the pillow from Raven’s hand just in time to see that she’s grabbed the other couch pillow, catching him in the throat with it and making him choke. “You’re the first guy he likes in years, and what do you do? You call him a slut!”
"Raven!" Charles wailed, curling up into a ball as his sister continued her relentless assault, "I was only doing it to protect you!"
Raven stopped, heaving for air and her hair in utter disarray. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Charles uncurled, holdings one hand out imploringly while he fixed his spectacles with the other. “I know he’s probably convinced you that an open relationship is okay, or that he’s faithful, but both things will get you hurt! He’s a flirt, Raven! He’s tried to get into my pants at least three times this week!”
Raven stared for a long, painful moment as she looked at Charles like he’d ripped his shirt off and started partyboy dancing against the television.
Charles sat up, taking his glasses off and cleaning them on the edge of his cardigan. “Your boyfriend, Raven,” he clarified, perching his glasses on his nose and giving his sister a knowing look.
"Erik?" Raven shrieked in surprise, "You think Erik is my boyfriend?”
"Well, fuck buddy-"
"Erik’s GAY, Charles!" Raven cried, lunging for one of the couch pillows again and missing when Charles bodily leapt onto them to stop her. "He’s just getting out his pent up affections on me because you won’t give him the time of day!”
Charles looked up at Raven, face pinched into a look of stupefied confusion. “He’s gay? B-but, you were all….” Charles waved his hand around, hoping the wild gestures would finish his sentence for him.
"Charles, he’s not my boyfriend, he’s just the fag to my hag. The fag your stupid ass just called a whore.”
"Oh my god."
"Yes, ‘oh my god’, Charles. You’re the only guy he’s liked in years and it took me four months to get to his point, and you fuck it up by being a dumbass!"
Charles pressed his hands to his face, falling back against the couch and releasing a wailing moan of , “oh my goooddddd! Raven! I called Erik a slag!”
Raven socked him in the stomach with the pillow. “You also turned him down colder than an ice bitch in the middle of winter! I’ve seen prostitutes with more class than you!”
"Oh my god. Raven, I called Erik a slag!”
Raven sighed, handing over the pillow so that Charles could properly shove it onto his face and try to smother himself out of sheer mortification.
"If it makes you feel any better, he left the keys to his apartment here, so I’m sure he’ll be back by later today."
Charles shot up, pillow falling onto his thighs. “I’ve got to work, though! What if he comes and picks them up while we’re gone?!”
Raven went for the pillow and Charles threw it over her head and across the room for precautionary measures.
"Take the spare key out from the pot by the door and he’ll wait until we get home, then! Go stalk him at work! Sleep outside his door! You couldn’t possibly ruin this anymore than you already have, anyway!"
"Raven, why are you being so cruel to me?!" Charles whined, wiping his face under his glasses, "I couldn’t possibly feel much worse than I do now."
Raven didn’t look like she felt particularly sorry for him, because she flicked her hair out of her face and shot him a dirty look. “You’d better fix this, Charles,” she warned, “because I am not above putting itching powder in all of your boxers and making the entire faculty thing you’ve got the clap.”
Charles didn’t honestly think he could blame her for doing it if he was unable to fix what he’d done.