A/N: As it says in the summary, this is a sequel to Assassination (It's Not For Everyone), which I had absolutely no plans to write, and now have over 16,000 words of. Go figure. Same warnings as Assassination ... (mostly sex and violence, often at the same time, and stuff about various weapons, you know the drill). Currently a WIP, but I do intend to finish it. With my track record, however, don't expect it to be any time soon. Sorry! :)
. . .
Erik's fist slams into Charles' face like an iron bar.
Stunned, but somehow managing to stay on his feet, Charles raises a hand to his jaw.
"Ow," he says, and then, plaintively, "That's not fair, I wasn't ready!"
Erik raises an eyebrow. "Oh, I'm sorry," he says sardonically. "Was I supposed to warn you? Perhaps I should have called and left a message first?"
"Good god, you're worse than Raven," Charles says, because his jaw really hurts. "And at least she never hits me when I'm not expecting it."
"It's like chess, Charles," Erik says impatiently. "You should always be several moves ahead of your opponent. You're good with a weapon," he adds fairly, and Charles brightens, only to be brought down to earth again when Erik continues with, "but you suck at hand-to-hand."
"Thank you for that," Charles says sourly. "I'd gone almost an entire hour without being insulted. I was starting to feel good about myself, but you just –"
"I'm not trying to insult you, Charles, I'm just trying to make you aware –"
"Alright, alright," Charles interrupts, because this can, and will, go on for hours if he lets it. "I get it. There are myriad ways I could meet an untimely death and I should be prepared for as many as I can. Fine. But has it occurred to you, Erik," Charles says, allowing himself what even he will admit is an annoyingly smug grin, "that this was all just a ruse, to lure you into a false sense of security?"
And then he kicks Erik in the stomach so hard Erik is knocked off his feet.
Charles watches with not a little satisfaction as Erik rolls over onto all-fours, coughing and clutching his torso and swearing loudly.
"Huh," Charles says thoughtfully, and with some surprise. "I enjoyed that more than I thought I would."
"You –" Erik starts, getting to his feet. "But you –" He's very nearly speechless. It's oddly gratifying.
"You see," Charles says lightly, "people tend to make certain assumptions about me when they meet me for the first time. I don't blame them, of course, or you," he says cheerfully, shooting Erik a quick smile. "I'm well aware that I'm not what people imagine when they hear the word 'assassin'. The fun part is teaching them that appearances can be so very deceiving and, often, quite fatal." Charles pauses for a second, head tilted in thought, and then adds, "Well, that and I'm just really lazy."
Erik stares at him for a few moments and then says, wonderingly, "How did I ever think you were nice?"
Charles is fairly certain it's meant as a compliment.
"I have no idea, and I'm positive I never –"
The rest of Charles' words are lost as Erik lunges at him. Charles manages to twist out of the way just in time and lashes out with a right hook that is only partly pre-meditated and catches Erik's jaw. Erik's head snaps back and Charles winces in sympathy.
There's a short silence; Erik reaches up to where there's a trickle of blood at the corner of his mouth. He wipes at it vaguely and stares at the bright crimson smear on his fingers. Charles has the weirdest feeling that apologising now would be extremely unwise, so he says nothing and just stands there, fists still raised defensively.
And then Erik grins at him, blood coating his teeth, and says, "Good."
Oh, fuck, Charles thinks frantically, as Erik tackles him to the ground, and the next few minutes are a confusing tangle of limbs and fists and pain, god, so much pain. Erik tries to grab him by the hair; Charles retaliates with an elbow to Erik's stomach. When Charles manages to flip them and stagger away to get his bearings, Erik trips him, and laughs when Charles face-plants into the mat.
("I hate you," Charles says, voice muffled. "I fucking hate you."
"No you don't," Erik says, smug amusement colouring his voice. Then, when Charles springs up and rushes him, his shoulder driving into Erik's chest and taking them both down again, he gasps, "Okay, maybe a little bit."
"Hate," Charles insists, and knees him in the crotch).
Eventually, after much scuffling and bruises and one or two impromptu bites ("Charles, that's cheating," Erik says, sounding positively thrilled, and then gets his own back by getting Charles in a headlock and refusing to let go), Charles somehow finds himself pinning Erik face-first to the floor, Erik's wrists clutched in one of his hands and held tightly at the small of Erik's back.
Panting, Charles leans forward slightly. "How was that?" he asks, surprised and slightly dizzy. He probably shouldn't have tried to head-butt Erik, but it was that or get punched in the face again, and Charles' vanity had refused to go down that road a second time.
"Well," Erik says, turning his head so he can look at Charles out the corner of his eye. "That didn't completely suck."
Charles blinks. "Oh, fuck you," he retorts. Really, the least Erik could do is admit when he's –
"I think you'd like to," Erik says, far too calmly for a man who's just had his arse thoroughly kicked, and –
- wait. What?
It's only then that Charles realises he's hard and gently rocking his hips against Erik for the friction. Well. That's mildly embarrassing.
"I –" he starts to protest, and then thinks about it, really thinks about it, and shuts up.
They haven't actually tried it that way yet, not because either of them has issues about it – considering the plethora of other issues they have, this comes as something of a shock to them both – but because Charles has just enjoyed being fucked into the mattress (and the floor, and the wall, and the kitchen table …) every night, and Erik had presumably enjoyed being the one doing the fucking.
But he thinks about it now, in glorious detail – of being buried deep in Erik, all that tight heat surrounding his cock, of Erik gasping out his name and being completely undone as Charles pushes into him. Of doing that, and more, with Erik, who is one of the few people that Charles completely trusts and who has the kind of faith in him that no one besides Raven has ever had in Charles …
He swallows hard. "I think you might be right," he says weakly.
"Really," Erik snorts, and shuffles around under Charles until he's lying on his back. Charles bites his lip as he releases Erik's wrists, and tries very hard not to press Erik into the floor and just rub off on him there and then. "You don't sound very sure." He places both hands behind his head and smirks up at Charles, the very picture of self-satisfied arrogance, and Charles wants to do so many filthy things to him he can't decide which to do first.
"Bastard," he mutters. Erik laughs and slides one hand along the inside of Charles' thigh. "Mmph. Oh, you bastard," he breathes as Erik cups him through the front of his sweatpants.
"So I've been told," Erik agrees blithely. "It's worked out well for me, don't you think?"
Charles draws in a breath as Erik lightly walks his fingers over the hard outline of his cock. "I'm not sure how you expect me to answer that question when you keep doing –" Erik twists his fingers a certain way and Charles' words descend into a whimper "- that," he finishes hoarsely. Charles is almost positive he shouldn't be this close to an orgasm after they've essentially beat the hell out of each other.
"Well, I'll make it easy for you, then," Erik says, in that dangerously soft voice that makes Charles think of those knives Erik favours so much – sharply seductive but capable of tearing a man to pieces in no short order. The comparison makes Charles shiver. "Do you want to fuck me: yes or no?"
In answer, Charles slowly stretches out along Erik's body. He curls one hand into the fabric of Erik's t-shirt and the other around Erik's neck, and pushes their hips together, not at all surprised to find Erik is just as hard as he is.
"I think that's definitely a yes, don't you?" he whispers hotly in Erik's ear, and feels a little glow of satisfaction when Erik inhales sharply and turns his head to devour Charles' mouth with his own.
Charles lets this go on for a few minutes, distracted by the prickle of Erik's stubble and the way his hands dwarf the curve of Charles' hips, and then he tears himself away and climbs to his feet. As he attempts to straighten his clothes - so he doesn't look too much like he's about to have incredible, athletic sex, just in case Raven happens to catch them on the way from the gym to the bed room – he glances down to find Erik staring at him, incredulous and slightly betrayed.
Grinning, Charles offers him a hand up. "Just remember," he says. "You're not the only bastard in this relationship."
"Duly noted," Erik says dryly, and gets to his feet.
. . .
He practically drags Charles through the mansion by the hand, muttering "- utter cocktease, I swear to god, you're gonna regret it, I'm going to rock your world –" which should sound ridiculous, Charles knows, except for how it's kind of stupidly arousing instead.
Although … "You sound like Raven," Charles comments mildly.
Erik glances back at him, before barging through a side door and pulling Charles after him. "Well, if you're determined to spend so much time at that godforsaken university lab of yours," he says, coming to a set of stairs and taking them two at a time, "you have to be prepared for the consequences. Mystique and I," he adds loftily, and Charles wonders for the hundredth time why Erik doesn't just call her Raven, "have bonded."
"Really?" Charles asks, amused and, it has to be said, intrigued.
"Hell yeah. We're BFFs now, didn't you know?" says another voice.
Erik and Charles come to a halt just twenty feet from Charles' bedroom and turn to see Raven behind them at the end of the hall.
"We do each other's hair and watch bad rom-coms together," Raven goes on, smirking.
"We don't," Erik tells Charles immediately. "I have no idea what she's talking about."
"Aw, come on, don't be like that, Erik," Raven says, mock-disappointed. "We shared something special, I don't know why you have to be so –"
"Please stop talking," Erik begs her, while Charles laughs so hard he has to cling to Erik's shoulder to keep himself standing.
"Okay, okay," Raven says, lifting her hands in surrender. "Someone clearly can't handle being in touch with his feminine side."
"Oh, don't you even –" Erik starts to argue, and though Charles is kind of reluctant to interrupt them – they look like they're having enormous amounts of fun – for the sake of Charles' sanity (not to mention his sex life) he has to stop them now, or this will go on all night.
"Alright, children," he says over their voices, and then smiles as they both glare at him. "Don't make me send you to your rooms."
"Sorry, Dad," Raven mutters. Then a wicked grin curves her mouth as she says, "Hey, Erik, does that make you the mo –"
"Finish that sentence and I will kill you," Erik says, baring his teeth.
"Aaand that's enough of that," Charles intervenes, eager to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. "Raven, dear, was there something you wanted? Only Erik and I have, ah, things to do and –"
Still snickering, Raven says, "Nah, it was just –" She stops mid-sentence and stares at them like she's seeing them for the first time. "Wait, why are you covered in bruises?"
"We were – sparring," Charles says quickly. He feels Erik's hand twitch uncomfortably in his. Raven's gaze zeroes in on the action and realisation dawns.
"Oh my – you two were just about to – and you let me stand here and –" She breaks off and stares at them for so long that Charles starts to get edgy.
"What?" he says, slightly defensively.
"Hmm? Oh, nothing." Raven shakes her head suddenly, as though to dislodge whatever she's thinking. "It's just slightly disturbing to realise that kicking the crap out of each other is foreplay for you two."
Charles can feel his face go bright red and has the urge to go bang his head off the nearest wall. Erik mutters, "Jesus Christ," under his breath and palms his face with his free hand, and Raven looks at them like she can't decide whether this is hilarious or excruciatingly embarrassing.
Apparently opting for the latter she says, carefully, "I just wanted to talk to you about this whole 'someone's out to kill you' thing. I've been on a job the past few days, I haven't had chance to tell you what I know, so –"
"Alright, well, why don't you –"
"Look, I'll just tell you now, and then you guys can go do – whatever it is you do, I'm not judging," Raven adds quickly, with a shadow of a grin. "Seriously, whatever you're into, it's none of my business –"
"Would you be terribly upset if I jumped out the nearest window?" Erik says to Charles in mortification.
"We're on the second floor, it would only maim you," Charles says. "Although it'd still be much less painful than having this conversation."
Raven lets out a snort of laughter. "Assholes," she says affectionately. "If you weren't so fucking adorable, the pair of you, I'd kick you in the balls for that. Anyway," she goes on, apparently done with what, were this anyone else, would be considered sentiment, "do you want to know who this jerk-off is, or what?"
"Do tell," Charles says, trying to muster up enough interest. It's not that finding out who and why someone has it out for him and Erik isn't important; it is, it's very important, Charles is getting sick of being stuck in the mansion every night. It's just that when he weighs the knowledge against sex with Erik … well. Sex wins every time, obviously, he's not dead.
"Okay," Raven starts, and then goes into a long-winded explanation of how she managed to get their would-be assailant's name, because it wasn't easy, you know, she had to go through at least half of her contacts, then she tried MacTaggert, ("- because she's Police Commissioner, I mean, if she doesn't know something she's doing it wrong, right?"), even going to the Black Widow, ("- that lady scares the shit out of me, I don't mind saying –"), before finally going to the White Queen ("- and that was a treat, let me tell you, she's still pissed at Erik by the way, I know, I know, quelle surprise, but –") …
And so on.
Ten minutes later and she's showing no sign of getting to the damn point already. Charles glances at Erik, whose face has completely glazed over, and sighs (in his head, where Raven can't hear him).
"Raven," he tries, raising a finger.
"- nobody seems to know a damn thing about the guy, the most I could get was his name and the fact that he's a humongous douchebag, which, yeah, I figured –"
"Raven," Charles says, a little bit louder.
"- what kind of asshole just goes around trying to kill off people he doesn't know – uh, besides us, obviously, probably should've thought about that one before I said it –"
"Oh, for – Raven!" Charles shouts.
"What?" she shouts back, annoyed at him interrupting her flow.
"Will you just tell us the man's bloody name?" Charles snaps, fed up.
"I was getting to that, jeez," Raven replies haughtily, giving him the evil eye. When Charles just looks at her pointedly, she sighs and adds, "Shaw, his name is Shaw."
"What," Erik says flatly.
"Doesn't ring any bells," Charles says breezily, not taking any real notice.
"Sebastian Shaw?" Erik asks, suddenly tense.
"Yeah," Raven frowns. "Wait – do you know this guy?" She looks disgruntled, probably irritated that all her research was for nothing, Charles thinks, amused.
A second later, and the humour drains out of him – because Erik rips his hand out of Charles' and takes off up the hall to the room that has been his since he walked into the mansion.
Charles and Raven stare at each other, stunned.
"What in the hell was that?" Raven says into the silence.
. . .
Charles goes after him, of course, and it's only partly out of curiosity. Erik says so little about his past, after all; it's hard not to wonder what secrets he's keeping, although Charles would never ask outright.
Erik is standing in the middle of the room, head bowed and shoulders so tense they're hunched up under his ears. When Charles slowly approaches him – feeling like it's a terrible idea but, as always, not letting that stop him – he sees that Erik is clutching a small, wood-handled knife in his hands. It looks wholly unremarkable, not like the razor-sharp Bowie knife Erik uses most often, the one that sits in his hand like a natural extension of his arm, so Charles can't even begin to guess why Erik is holding it with a strange sort of reverence.
"Erik," he says softly. "What –"
But Erik interrupts him. "Charles," he says, and it would be pleasant if not for the way Erik's knuckles whiten around the knife handle. "I realise this concept may be unfamiliar to you, but I am not in the mood to talk."
Charles recoils at this; the last word is spat out with such disgust that it's like a physical blow. "Oh," he says quietly.
Erik looks at him sharply. He's furious, Charles sees, getting more than the constant aura of suppressed rage that surrounds Erik even when he's doing completely innocuous things – taking a shower, for example, or reading. Hell, Charles has even seen him attack a slice of toast like it had done him a great personal wrong before. But this … this is more than that, and Charles feels perfectly justified in his worry.
"Stop staring at me like you're trying to read my mind, Charles," Erik snaps at him, after a few minutes. "I'm not in the mood for your mind games, either."
"Fine," Charles says coolly, starting to get angry himself. He turns on his heel, ready to leave, when Erik sighs and grabs his arm.
"I'm sorry," he says. He suddenly sounds exhausted, and Charles instantly forgives him. "I just – I'd like some time alone. Okay?" he adds cautiously, like Charles might refuse. (He won't).
Charles reaches up to where Erik's hand is curled around his elbow and gives it a gentle squeeze. "Of course," he says immediately. "I'll be in the east wing study if you need me."
Erik nods as he lets go of Charles' arm, and when Charles glances back, he's gone back to staring at the knife again.
. . .
An hour later finds him playing a half-hearted game of chess with Raven, who took one look at his face after he'd spoken to Erik and suggested it (out of pity, she tells him, but Charles recognises it for he comforting gesture it's meant to be). Two hours later and he's pacing the study floor restlessly in between moves.
At three hours, Raven throws a rook at his head. "Just go talk to him, for Christ's sake," she says exasperatedly. "Seriously, if you're not in his room preparing to fuck him blind within the next ten minutes, I'll go in there and do it myself."
Charles stares at her. She makes a move to get up, and he hurries to the door.
The thing with Raven is, she might actually do it.
. . .
Erik's room is empty when Charles gets there.
It feels like it's been empty for some time, and the few personal belongings Erik had brought with him – the knife, a German coin, about a dozen turtlenecks, all black – are gone.
Charles stands in the doorway for a long time, and then he turns and goes into his own room.