Contender

An X-men: First Class oneshot

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The X-men characters are the property of Marvel Comics, but at least this fic is mine! I adore this song, and you should, too. So read, review, and enjoy!

oOoOoOo

"And you fight like a little contender
A broken heart you can never surrender
A thousand kisses, return to sender

('Cuz you're never gonna beat me)"

Fenech-Soler, "Contender"

oOoOoOo

"Good night, Charles," Moira said quietly as they wrapped up their little nightcap.

Charles nodded to her and leaned back in the recliner in the sitting room. His eyes were tired. He shouldn't have stayed up so late speaking with her about their upcoming mission. Stress was never a good thing before bed.

He stared up at the ceiling, trying to make his mind blank when someone's thoughts caught his attention as blaringly as an air horn. Charles hated that; when he was tired, he couldn't always block out the noise of the minds around him, and Raven's was as loud as ever.

She wasn't in any danger, but she… Charles sat up, alert. What was she doing in Erik's room? This is…awkward, the telepath thought as he watched through Raven's eyes. They were speaking, but Charles felt it wrong of him to completely intrude on their conversation. Though he was curious as to why Raven looked at Erik with a hint of…longing…?

Charles frowned. Hadn't Raven and Hank been sharing something special? Besides, Charles got the feeling that Erik didn't like girls.

He blinked. Young girls, he mentally corrected, his face red for no reason.

His mind's eye watched Erik near Raven anyway, and Charles didn't know what he felt when Erik pressed his lips against her blue ones. All he knew was that he didn't like it, that he had to get out of Raven's head.

Hormone-driven bastard, Charles groused to himself as he headed to his room. He'd managed to leave Raven as Raven had exited Erik's room. But there'd been no reason for her to be there to begin with. Erik really shouldn't have touched the young woman Charles had regarded as his younger sister all these years. Yes, Erik shouldn't have enticed Raven. That was wrong of him.

But Charles wasn't quite sure why.

oOoOoOo

Over the next few days, Charles stayed out of Raven's and Erik's minds, but he didn't get the feeling that the two had continued anything past that night.

Charles had nearly settled on the idea that Raven had been throwing herself at Erik, and he felt better with that thought in mind. After all, they just wouldn't work together. Kind of like Moira and Charles himself. Moira was sweet and kind, but her relationship with Charles was only friendly, occasionally business, but only friendly. Charles didn't have much of anyone in mind at the moment, even. Why should he? They had a job to do…and a chance to prove themselves as mutants, as humans.

"You're going to have premature wrinkles," a smooth voice said beside Charles.

The telepath jumped a bit and turned to see Erik's amused expression. "Can I help you, Erik?"

Erik watched Charles, neither of them turning back to look at the green hillside or the satellite that Erik had managed to control a while ago. He leaned both hands on the stone railing and deeply inhaled. "No, I was going to ask if I could help you."

"I'm fine."

"Bullshit, Charles." Erik leaned on his fist and continued to stare at his friend. "I can read you like an open book."

Charles' shoulders slackened and he half-grinned. "You're quite frank."

"I hate people who toe around topics. They annoy me."

"Do I annoy you then?"

Erik held no hesitation: "Never."

Charles looked away then and cleared his throat. "I'm just thinking about our plans. I mean, going off to prevent World War Three…"

"You said it yourself: this is good we're doing. Somebody has to do it Charles."

"…"

"You're wondering a little why that somebody has to be us."

"…perhaps."

Erik shook his head and put an arm around Charles' shoulders. "So even little Charlie worries."

"Don't call me that. And I'm not worrying."

"You must be. Otherwise you never would've sniped at me just now." Erik snickered when Charles failed to make a retort; yeah, Erik had won that one. "Charles, you were the one telling me that we'll be able to fight. You were the one that wanted to train. You were the one that supplied the spacious mansion. Maybe you ought to cut yourself some slack."

"Like you did a few nights ago?" Charles murmured under his breath.

"What did you say?"

The professor sighed. "It's nothing."

"No, I heard you mutter something about 'a few nights ago.' What do you mean?"

"Like I said, it's nothing," the telepath stubbornly answered, turning away from Erik.

"Don't walk away from me," the taller man griped, catching up to Charles easily with his long legs. "Charles, I mean it. What are you talking about, 'a few nights ago'?"

Erik's incessant needling made Charles burst. "You, Raven, that—that—"

Realization dawned on the metal magician's face. "That was nothing, Charles."

"So now you get to say 'nothing'?" Charles felt bad, turning the tables like this. He disliked conflict of any sort, but sometimes…Erik got under his skin.

Erik licked his lips while carefully choosing his reply. "It…was a little schoolgirl crush, I'd say."

"You kissed her."

Erik paused, halting Charles with a hand on his arm. "How do you know?"

Charles' face grew warm. "Raven, she—her mind unconsciously called out to me, so I saw much of what happened, but I wasn't eavesdropping, I swear."

His friend took a few deep breaths and nodded. "Good. But just understand that there's nothing between us."

"All right, all right."

"As long as you know that…" Erik pursed his lips, walking slightly closer to Charles. He let a quiet moment pass between them. "Mind finishing our walk around your estate?"

"I'd enjoy that, yes."

oOoOoOo

That's what it was. Any moment they were in the same room, regardless of the others being there as well, it turned to all hints and double entendres. It was amusing, infuriating, fun, horrible, lovely, and insane all at once. It got to the point where Charles' body automatically reacted whenever he and Erik crossed paths, oftentimes forcing an uncharacteristic and healthy blush to bloom across Charles' young face.

But Erik… Charles inwardly groaned. The metal magician probably thought his blushing was, ugh, cute.

And it didn't help that Charles' dreams became plagued by his dangerous thoughts. He'd fall asleep, thinking of Erik being glad at having cleared up the Raven misunderstanding, and then Charles' mind would wander to the night he'd seen through Raven's eyes, but Erik wasn't even coming at her anymore. No, instead he recognized his companion was Charles and came at him with an even hungrier look in his eyes, crashing their mouths together and forgetting everything else around them, while being thankful for the sturdy, soundproof walls of the Xavier mansion.

When these dreams happened, Charles would wake up at some point with a jolt, sweaty and shaking. And hating that he'd woken up.

But as the time drew near for their team to leave, Charles considered many things, chiefly Erik's quest for Sebastian Shaw's blood. Erik felt he needed to exact revenge, and Charles worried that Erik's desire for vengeance got in the way of their friendship alone. It would be worse if it got in the way of their awkward, pseudo-romance.

Erik wouldn't stop watching him during dinner that night, though. Charles politely ignored him, but even the others were starting to take notice. Eventually, the professor excused himself early from the table and retreated to his room.

Given twenty or so minutes, Erik slipped inside, not bothering to knock. He shut the door behind him—a little harder than needed—and found Charles sitting at his desk.

Charles groaned. "Erik, just—"

"No, I won't. I told you I hate people who toe around topics, and I hate myself for beating around the bush and letting you let me fall into this game of cat-and-canary."

"You said I'd never annoy you," the smaller man quipped.

"Yes, but I didn't say you didn't drive me insane." Erik took a step further into the room. "Don't shut me out, friend."

Charles paused. "That's the best title to have, though, isn't it? 'Friend'?"

Erik shook with quiet anger. Charles locked eyes with him and didn't break his gaze until he saw, out of the corner of his eye, his metal possessions levitating above their resting places.

"Erik," Charles warned.

"Sorry," the metal magician breathed, releasing the items from his power. "Sorry. I just..."

The telepath stood and hesitated to move closer. If they got too close, there would be no telling what would happen. "It's all right."

Erik took a breath and rubbed a hand over his face. "You're unique, Charles."

"You are, too. We're both mutants with powers meant only for us."

"I meant that only you get under my skin sometimes."

Charles swallowed past the lump in his throat. Funny how that same thought had occurred to him about Erik… "I guess that's just what we do to each other," he said, hating that his voice was breathy and not under his control.

Erik gazed at him and observed him a minute longer. He strode over to Charles, who was rooted to the spot, and lightly placed a hand on the back of Charles' neck. He bent down some to lean his forehead against the telepath's. "I don't think that's the only thing we do to each other," Erik whispered, a sound like a shout in Charles' too-quiet room.

Charles swore he meant to back away, but instead he found his mouth against Erik's, just like in his dreams. Despite his knowledge of the brain and feelings and perception, Charles still managed to be surprised at how much better the real thing tasted, was. Erik appeared smooth, looked rough when using his powers, but he was the fragile one taking the telepath in his arms. Surely his experiences had taught him to treasure the good things he had in his life.

The professor hoped he would be treasured, too. And when Erik gave him a nod to poke around in his head, Charles found…he already was.

oOoOoOo

The next few mornings and nights were too short, truth be told. Charles rather liked waking up with a warm person against his back or chest, and it was better that it was Erik. Not only had he liked him more than anyone else he'd ever met, but Charles just trusted Erik. The younger mutants were still a little wary of Erik because of his cold demeanor, but Charles found it wasn't that he trusted Erik because he rooted around in his mind. He trusted Erik because he didn't have to root around in his mind. It was a delightful, new experience, for Charles—honestly—hadn't ever even given Raven that much credit.

Of course, this new feeling had little chance to grow, as the next thing Charles knew, he and everyone else were sporting new suits made by Hank. He admired Erik's profile with the yellow and the blue.

"Even a waif like you makes this look good," Erik intoned quietly to him as they inspected the jet Hank had built.

Charles snorted and rolled his eyes—a habit he appeared to have picked up from Erik—and waited for take-off. Once they were airborne and speeding off to their destination, they reviewed how they were going to tackle keeping the Caspartina from starting a fresh war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

"We'll need you to handle Shaw's sub," Charles told Eric.

Erik's eyes widened. "Something that big…? Charles, that satellite was one thing, but—"

Charles shook his head. "You're our only chance. Once we find it…" He thought. How could they find something under water?

"We'd need sonar," Moira said from her station near the newly-furry-and-blue Hank.

It clicked in both Charles' and Erik's mind. The team charged Sean with using his Banshee sound waves to dive and locate Shaw. "After that, we'll leave it up to Erik," Charles stated. He and Banshee left their seats and, when the chance was right, Banshee exited the jet for the water. Charles stood near the opening, bent over to try to follow Sean a little with his eyes before Hank closed the jet back up.

I'm appreciating the view, Charles heard in his mind. He glimpsed behind him to see Erik with an insufferable smirk on his face.

Focus on our plan, please, Erik, the professor pushed with an audible sigh of exasperation.

They circled in the jet a few times, waiting for Sean to contact Charles. The telepath focused on Banshee's mind, and soon enough Sean gave them the okay for Erik to make his move. Again, Hank lowered the jet, but he and Moira released the wheels this time. Erik grasped onto one leg of the craft with one arm. How's that for focus? the metal magician spoke to Charles mentally.

"Just do it like last time, with the satellite," Charles encouraged. "You can do it, Erik, I know you can."

Erik said nothing but held his free hand out, zeroing in on the hunk of metal deep below the ocean's surface. He gave it a gentle tug and then locked on his powers. Sweat broke out on his brow as the jet circled and slowed with the weight of the object in Erik's pull.

"Be careful!" Charles yelled as Erik partially buckled against the wheel leg.

"I'm being careful!" Erik spat back, trying not to break his concentration. He grunted under the stress, his temple pulsing painfully as the submarine rose out of the water, rivulets cascading off its sides. He chanced a breath when he saw Caspartina on the side. But that breath slackened his grip on the jet's leg, and he stumbled to regain his composure.

"Erik!" Charles shouted. His heart stopped when Erik slipped around the leg. Charles scrambled to the opening, ignoring Raven's and Moira's shouts at him to stay back. He held his arm out. "Erik, grab my hand!"

Erik shook his head, but he had no choice as they came under fire from Riptide's hurricanes. Moira forced the jet's legs up, and Charles caught Erik just in time to avoid the door crushing him.

"Hang on!" Hank bellowed. But that was meaningless to say, as the hurricanes brought both their jet and Shaw's boat down, for Erik had lost his control of the ship. Both vehicles went barreling towards the shore, and the jet's passengers were tugged and thrown around like rag dolls.

"Charles!" Erik panicked, catching the professor and using his powers to pin Charles to the floor, acting as the smaller man's shield.

The crash was expected but rougher than originally thought. Once things had settled, Charles dared to move, nudging Erik above him. "Th…thank you…Erik."

Erik nodded. "Mmm." He winced and blinked the stars from his eyes.

"I guess we're even now—I saved your life, and now you've saved mine."

The metal magician frowned and barely brushed his lips against his. "Nein. I'd risk my life for you, Charles."

Charles' face flushed with color, and he was at a loss for words as they checked on everyone else. Seeing as there were no major injuries, Banshee, Havok, Mystique, and Beast left to battle Shaw's cronies outside.

"Time to find Shaw," Erik said with a kind of dark glee in his tone.

"Don't kill him," Charles reminded his friend.

Erik grinned, and it really looked as though he was about to break out laughing at some very funny joke Charles had said. But there was no joking here. "Only since you asked so nicely, I'll consider it." And he headed outside to the sub.

"Erik. Erik! Erik, I mean it!" Charles panted, his worry resurfacing as he watched Erik's fading form. He maintained a mental connection with the other mutant until Erik reached the main yet hidden belly of the boat.

That was when panic set in.

oOoOoOo

"It's been ten minutes."

Moira cursed under her breath as she tried fixing their communication lines. "Charles, please stop pacing!"

The telepath bit his bottom lip, brushing a lock of his sepia hair out of his eyes. "I can't. I can't penetrate Shaw's sanctuary… We have no idea what's happening in there right now!" Charles exploded, throwing his arms up in the air whilst facing the CIA agent.

"And pacing won't fix anything," Moira pointed out curtly.

"… It helps my mental state."

Moira sighed. "Just breathe. Erik will be all right. He's been on his own for a long time, hasn't he?"

Charles frowned, as she had a point.

Moira softened her expression. "You're worried since this is the first time he's ever found someone to trust…and he could stop trusting you at any point."

"Perhaps."

"Come on, Charles. Erik won't run away from your bond." She smiled.

Charles nodded. "I'd hope not—Wait! Erik, are you there?" He touched his fingers to his temple and found Erik's presence. Erik, where are you?

Can't—ungh—chat right now, Charles! Erik telepathically bellowed.

Well, whatever it is you're doing, keep it up! I can hear you again.

Yes, well, isn't that lovely?

Charles watched the sub hopefully.

"He's fine, isn't he?"

Charles glanced over his shoulder at Moira. "Oh. I…don't really know. But I've contacted him again!" he said, somewhat cheerfully.

Moira paused in her activities. "You're not going to see much from here, Charles."

"What?"

Moira waved at him in a shooing motion. "Go. See if you can help him. ...go after him."

Charles blushed. "But I—we need to—"

"I can take care of things here," she said. She looked up at the professor. "But you need to go after him. You can't let him go. He's the only one that brings out the rest of your emotions, Charles. That's a good thing."

The look in her eyes was so earnest and commanding that Charles couldn't say no. He gave her a thankful nod and faced the opening. It was bright outside, and even brighter when he went to chase after the one thing—person—he wanted to protect more than anything else on this dangerous first (and maybe last) mission.

He'd just gotten him. He wasn't about to let him free.

oOoOoOo

I LOVE the song "Contender" by Fenech-Soler. It's full of passion and the fieriness that Charlerik possesses. I know this was a rather fast-paced story and I didn't end it at the end of the movie, but this is fanfiction. ;] Also, I actually tried giving them more time together at the Xavier estate—in the movie, they were only training for about a week! :+

I have several other Charlerik fics & drabbles up, with more to come, including other pairings and a multi-chapter Charlerik. So please leave a review and check out my other stories, thanks!

-mew-tsubaki :3