PREVIOUSLY ON UNTITLED MOBSTER VERSE….
Charles was stirred from his sleep when he heard the scraping thump of footsteps crossing his living room. Groggily, he pried his eyes open, pillows digging into his back, and peeked his head over the arm of the couch to identify the sound. He felt exhausted, so bone-tired that he had barely been able to get through an old episode of NCIS before fatigue had dragged him under, and grateful for the day reprieve after a month of working nonstop at the clinic to try and gain business.
Charles’ heart shot up into his throat when his eyes fell on the sight of Erik roaming around his living room, pausing every now and then to fiddle with a trinket or photo. Terrified, Charles felt his joints lock up in paralysis, helpless to stop the man from fiddling amongst the nicknacks lining the living room shelves. Holding his breath and staying utterly immobile, he waited, watching as Erik slowly made his way towards the couch.
Erik’s attention flicked towards Charles, lips curling into an amused grin as he dug his hands into his suit pockets. “You didn’t bring in my payment today, Charles.”
Stiffening, Charles held Erik’s gaze as panic burned in his stomach. He tried to keep the tremor out of his voice, speaking as evenly as his sleep-laden voice would allow. “I took a day off from the clinic.”
“You still turned a profit, which - in turn - you would have brought to me… as per our agreement.” Erik reached out to pick up the framed photograph sitting on the end table, observing the image of Charles and his sister smiling at the camera. He set the photograph down crookedly. “Therefore, I had been expecting you. You made me wait for two hours, Charles.”
Charles started to sit up, a protest on his lips when he caught the spatter of red along the edges of Erik’s sleeve hem. His face felt hot, and it was a struggle to keep breathing, unable to tear his eyes from the way the dark red had sunk into the fabric of Erik’s suit, barely noticeable save for the sheen and reddish tint against dark navy.
Erik’s hand drew back from the portrait, looking expectantly at Charles. It didn’t take him long to notice that Charles was no longer watching him, and followed his gaze to the cuff of his sleeve.
Charles’ eyes snapped up to Erik’s face when the Don released an amused chuckle, face considerably paler than it had been moments before. Erik gave a tired sigh, hands rising to smooth and straighten his disheveled hair. Charles took only the barest of moments to realize that Erik looked haggard, his hair unkempt and sweat dotting the exposed line of his collarbone where his suit had been unbuttoned. For once, he wasn’t wearing a tie, and there was stubble lining his face and dark rings under his eyes that gave hint to a few sleepless nights.
“I’ve always hated the summer,” Erik mused, hands dropping as he adjusted his sleeves and wiped absently at the blood that had crusted on the edge, “Gives me these horrible nosebleeds.” Erik’s lips curled up, flashing the barest hint of teeth as he spoke.
Charles swallowed, throat dry and sticking, and he nodded jerkily. Erik seemed satisfied with the action, and stuck his hands back into his pocket to smirk down at the young doctor.
“Where are- uhm…” Charles sat up, his arms shaking from the strain and smothered fear as Erik took a step back to let Charles swing his feet onto the floor. “Your friends?”
Erik rocked back onto his heels before falling forward with a loud tap of expensive
Gucci shoes. Charles flinched at the sound, tearing a chuckle from the man before him. Erik sucked on his teeth for a moment and then inclined his head to the door. “Azazel is outside.”
“… and Logan?” Charles ventured.
Erik smothered a grin, eyes flashing with amusement and then ghosting along the room absently. “Indisposed.”
Charles sat up straighter, a distressed sound escaping him as he struggled to find his voice. “Indisposed?” He croaked, “What the blo- what do you mean by ‘indisposed’? Is he dead?!”
Erik’s attention seemed to fall everywhere before finally returning to Charles, his smirk pulling back into a full-on grin. “No.”
“So then whe-“
“Get me a cup of tea, will you?” Erik interrupted smoothly, his tone low and even, albeit amused. Charles’ mouth snapped shut, teeth clacking painfully as he swallowed his words. Erik’s eyes were striking and intense, picking apart every atom of Charles’ being as if he could see into his very soul and pluck the weakness right out of him.
Charles’ broke eye contact first, staring down at his knees and almost shaking with the effort it took to keep his breathing normal. “Of course,” he pushed himself into a stand, chest bumping with Erik’s and feeling a gust of breath brush over his temple. “Do you take sugar?”
“Two, please,” Erik murmured lowly.
Charles moved to the left, and Erik shadowed him so that their bodies knocked together again. Hesitating, Charles stepped to the right and was met with the same resistance. He looked up, eyes locking with Erik’s and scowling.
“Could I get by, please?”
Erik’s eyebrows shot up, and Charles could tell in that moment how drained the man really was. There were lines of exhaustion in the corners of his eyes, a defined crease between his brows, and patches of stubble where there should have been nothing but smooth skin. Charles took in a tempered breath through his nose, their proximity giving him the thick, humid scent of evaporated sweat and summer heat, coupled with the metallic tang of blood and gunpowder. Charles shuddered - fear like a trickle of ice dragging down his spine - and watched Erik grin and step out of the way for him.
Charles crossed his way to the kitchen, hand running tiredly through his hair and mussing it even more than his impromptu nap had. He took the time to stretch his body when he reached up to grab a cup from the pantry, biting back a yawn and almost dropping the cup when he turned to see Erik leaning against the door frame and watching his every move with detached interest.
Setting the cup on the counter, Charles grabbed the pot from his automated brewer (it doubled as a coffee maker, should he need the extra caffeine) and filled it up enough for two cups.
“Do you expect me to go to the clinic and open the safe for your money?” Charles asked softly, grabbing the tea packets and placing them in the filter. It was a struggle not to drop anything, hands shaking while his mind went through a myriad of possible scenarios that would end up with him penniless or dead in the trunk of a car somewhere.
“Perhaps.” Erik said, eyes watching Charles cross the room to retrieve the sugar container from atop the refrigerator. Charles grabbed the top of the door, trying to pull himself higher, but Hank had been the last to use the sugar when he’d come over for coffee that afternoon, and now it was too far out of his reach. Charles knew what was going to happen the second his fingers knocked the sugar out of his reach, and tried not to jump out of his skin when Erik walked up behind him and caged his body against the fridge.
“You shouldn’t put essential items out of reach like that,” Erik teased, his chest slotting up against Charles’ back as he reached for the sugar, one hand falling to Charles’ hip for balance. Charles pressed his forehead against the cool metal of the freezer door, arm falling to his side limply while Erik retrieved the sugar and stepped back slowly.
Charles turned, taking the sugar from Erik’s loose hold and trying not to look at the pleased smirk that had become permanently attached to the Don’s face. “Hank was the one who put it away,” he muttered, walking back over to the tea maker and setting the sugar down beside the two mugs.
“Your coworker comes here?” Erik asked, a sharpness belying something more than his usual indifference.
Charles turned, leaning against the counter as he rubbed his right eye. “Hank is a friend, first and foremost, and a coworker second.”
Erik’s rigid stance relaxed only minutely, mulling over Charles’ words as the other man turned to check on the tea. The indicator light flashed, letting him know that their drinks were ready and he set about pouring Erik and himself a cup each.
“Is Logan hospitalized?” Charles asked evenly, setting Erik’s cup to the side and then pouring his own. He had to remember to remain calm - no matter what the outcome of his insolence resulted in. If Erik had gotten one of his own men killed, it couldn’t possibly bode well for Charles’ own welfare. He was terrified at the idea of angering Erik, but if the man could waltz right into his home as if he owned it, Charles doubted he was safe either way.
“Does Hank come into your bed as well as your home?” Erik retorted, barely a waver in his pitch. Charles poured the appropriate amount of sugar into each of their cups.
“If you were going for subtle with that change of subject, you missed the mark. Cream?” The spoon clacked when Charles stirred the sugar in, and Erik chuckled.
“No, and I could say the same for you.” Erik took his mug when Charles handed it over, taking a cursory sip while he watched Charles tap his spoon on the edge of his own cup and set it in the sink. “It would be wise not to ask those sorts of questions if you want to keep yourself out of this business.”
Charles turned around, lifting his tea and drinking deeply from it. It was an effort to remind himself that this Erik was not the one he knew from high school. This Erik wasn’t the same Erik who would show up to class with bruises and a scowl, or hide his way through gym. This wasn’t the same Erik that would stare at Charles with wide, disbelieving eyes when he was handed half of Charles’ lunch. This Erik didn’t have a father who made threats to any member of the student body who dared talk to his son.
This Erik was the one who had murdered his own father and taken over his business. This Erik was the man with enough power to destroy everything Charles held dear with just a simple phone call.
Charles licked his lips, catching a sudden burst of sweet sugar that must have clung to the rim of the cup and then stuck to his mouth. “I’m a doctor. Is your friend in the hospital, or not?”
Erik grinned, sampling another swig of the tea and then rising one eyebrow just the tiniest bit. “You would only ask those sort of questions if you cared about what I do,” he pointed out. Charles scowled, fingers wrapped around the warm mug of his tea as he shook his head.
“I could care less about your profession, I only asked if you had gotten that bodyguard of yours ki-“
Charles choked on his words when Erik stepped up into his space and plucked his cup straight from his hands, setting both of them on the counter. He felt trapped, cornered between the cabinets and Erik’s body. His heart gave a painful lurch, thundering against his chest and sending his nerves alight with panic and the slightest coil of desire.
Erik’s hand rose, fingertips ghosting along the outline of Charles’ jaw with barely a hint of pressure before pinching his chin between a thumb and forefinger. “Have dinner with me,” Erik murmured, thumb brushing the outline of Charles’ lower lip. Charles shook, lungs aching with the need to breathe as each agonizing second passed. He stared up at Erik, but the Don’s focus was on his bottom lip as he teased it with the bad of his thumb.
“We can discuss the finer aspects of things,” Erik finished, allowing his hand to slowly fall away and his eyes to return to Charles’.
“Okay,” Charles croaked, once he had found his voice and swallowed enough saliva to wet his dry throat.
Grinning was an action that nearly lit up Erik’s entire face, though it looked more wicked than anything. “I’ll come for you at eight, then?”
Erik stepped back and Charles could finally, finally breathe as he watched the man look more smug than a cat who’d caught the canary. “Thank you for the tea, Charles. I’ll see you tonight.”
Erik left before Charles could even think to bid the man goodbye. It took another long moment before Charles was able to process everything, and he slid down the cabinets until he was sitting on the floor and struggling to stay calm.