A/N: I've been aching to read this pairing but couldn't really find anything. If you want a rare pairing written you've got to do it yourself! I hope you all enjoy reading as much as I did writing.
About the Way Your World Can Alter
There was something wrong with him. The thought flitted through his mind, buzzing around him like a fly, though he couldn't very well swat at it or maybe crush it soundly with a rolled up newspaper like he so wanted. Darwin furrowed his brow, trying to focus on the potent smell of freshly brewed coffee instead. The steam rising from his cup curled languorously through the air and he took a deep breath. Coffee flavored heat flooded his senses and for a moment Darwin could forget slipping into the unsettling daydream that had taken hold while he'd been staring off into space. He'd nearly knocked the coffee pot over with as startled as he'd been, skin flushing hot when his conscious mind recognized the torrid mental images repeated from his subconscious while he slept last night. Waking up to wet sheets more than a week ago had been one thing, haunted as he was by hazy images laced with urgency and heat. But it was another thing entirely when recognition slowly dawned on him later of exactly who was featured in his dreams, and who continued to be featured every night and through the day.
Darwin jumped when the door to the kitchen swung open, Charles staggering through with a towering stack of boxes tilting precariously in his arms. Hesitating before the Good Samaritan in him took over, Darwin reached out to steady the boxes. His throat went dry when Charles' cheerful face peeked around a corner to beam at him. Darwin's gaze slid guiltily away from blue eyes, distracted by the beads of sweat on the telepath's forehead. Heat trickled down his spine and Darwin hastily lifted the top half of the boxes and hefted them in his arms.
"Oh, thank you Darwin!"
Charles' voice was breathy in a way that made certain parts of Darwin's anatomy tighten. He grunted in a very Erik-like fashion and waited for Charles to direct him. Apparently the telepath had ordered in foodstuffs to last a house full of growing mutants at least a week. Once they wrestled the boxes onto the counter, Charles cheerily rolled up his sleeves and began to unload them. Pasta, soup, potatoes… In the shuffle Darwin slowly backed towards the door, hoping to make his escape before Charles the telepath caught any loose thoughts that might make themselves known.
But he wasn't fast enough. Charles turned and caught him in his gaze, looking way too everything wonderful for Darwin to handle graciously right then. He ended up backing into the doorjamb with a loud smack, eliciting a concerned outburst from Charles who immediately pressed his hand to Darwin's forehead. Red lips – okay who didn't notice those – turned down and Darwin found himself the focus of a very worried Charles Xavier.
"You're burning up," he declared, stepping back with his arms akimbo. Chastising had never been Charles' strong suit, but it was true Darwin had been working too hard lately. He was a father figure to the younger mutants, maybe even more than Charles or Erik with their recruiting missions still numerous. "In bed. Now."
Darwin shut his eyes, feeling every single one of those words flying south. Then Charles' hands were on his arms, holding him steady. Timidly meeting the telepath's eyes, Darwin swooned. They were so incredibly blue and expressive.
He had friends and adopted family members; Darwin knew he was loved. It had been a different story growing up, his mutation alienating him from his mother. And though his friends and family now looked at him with love it was never because of his mutation – no one he cared about in the world knew, but for this rag-tag group of mutants he'd found himself involved with. Yet staring into Charles' eyes, washed over with the comforting mental touch that wiped his brow as sure as loving mother's hand, Darwin felt a different kind of concern.
"You've been such a help, Darwin," Charles said. "I've… I'm so sorry I've put you in the position to do more than should be asked of you. You've really been there for Alex and Angel; I'm sure they both would have left if not for you." His voice was warm and sincere. Darwin was looking at him with an unreadable expression, a strange mix of affectionguilthesitance flowing steadily off him. "Please go rest. For the few days Erik and I will be here, you should take it easy." Darwin nodded slowly and Charles let him go as the younger man wandered out of the kitchen.
It was a little worrisome that Darwin's emotions were so tightly wound, and Charles wondered if it might be exhaustion. Maybe Darwin missed his family, though Charles hadn't been aware that any blood relatives were still alive. Fingering his lips in thought, the telepath swiveled back to the boxes, eyebrows rising in eureka when he saw the tin of Dutch baking chocolate. If he recalled correctly Darwin had mentioned how much he liked hot chocolate on cold winter nights. Though it wasn't winter, maybe he could take a small comfort in having a cup. He'd been a shoulder for the others to lean on – Charles winced at that, blaming himself for leaving Darwin to carry that burden on his own, despite Moira's constant presence. Nodding resolutely to himself, Charles hurried to finish putting away the rest of the food. Erik had condemned the rest of the group to evening practice to polish up their night vision and teamwork. For the evening the mansion would be devoid of the regular chaos. Interestingly, Darwin had night vision already. Guessing the regenerating mutant would rather sit this one out; Charles decided he'd make a set of cookies and cocoa for the two of them. Something was bothering him and Charles would do his utmost to alleviate Darwin's troubles.
The knock on his door startled him out of his dozing thoughts. Darwin felt Charles lightly brush his mind, resulting in an all-too pleasant tingle down his spine. Stumbling over to the door, he wrenched it open to find Charles carrying a tray of steaming mugs and cookies. He sniffed experimentally, distracted by the familiar and wonderful smell of home-made cocoa. Confusion bubbled up onto his lips; he was sure everyone else had gone out on Erik's crazy stealth training. While he lay on his bed he'd heard Sean's ear-splitting shriek at least twice, then the low rumble of Erik chewing him out; most likely for how entirely not stealthy screaming was. Darwin had assumed Charles would go with them at least to supervise and prevent any Erik-inflicted homicides. But here he was, dressed in a cardigan Darwin hadn't seen before, the cream cable-knit making his skin look peachy and flushed in the subdued light. The worn thermal shirt the telepath had on underneath was adorned with tiny white plastic buttons, stark against the muddy gray fabric. Darwin noticed them because they were undone, baring Charles' throat. He snapped to attention when Charles chuckled and asked if Darwin wanted to join him in the den.
Following Charles down the hall, listening to him chatter about how wonderful it was that they were all back in the house together and how well training was going. Darwin found it hard to pay too much attention with Charles' ass right in front of him. He was wearing thin sweatpants, an obviously well-loved pair. The globes of his ass bounced enticingly beneath the fabric and Darwin felt himself flush with colorful shame. And of course Charles turned to ask if he was all right. The telepath had told all of them he wouldn't pry but that he might catch the faintest edge of their emotion should it be powerful enough.
"If you'd rather-"
"No," he blurted, cutting Charles off. The half of him wailing that this was a bad idea wasn't quite as loud as the side that reminded him he and Charles were alone in the mansion. Even if it was just talking, just looking. Maybe being with Charles one on one could help him clear his head and possibly rid himself of this infatuation. Taking the tray from Charles, Darwin let out a long exhale when their fingers brushed. Of course Charles didn't sense anything amiss (Darwin figured he was still stalwartly not prying into thoughts and capping the projection of emotions). It seemed unfair to ask Charles to do that though, in his opinion. Despite the things he most certainly wanted to keep a secret, depriving Charles of his natural senses was cruel when Raven was walking around naked and Erik never actually had to use his hands for anything. Realizing that he was standing awkwardly while Charles had already seated himself comfortably on the posh velvet couch Darwin dropped down to sit. The tray rattled slightly and Charles motioned to the low table. Usually hosting a chessboard, tonight it was empty.
He stirred the hot chocolate, humming appreciatively at the creamy fragrance. The spoon was dark with thick chocolate as he set them aside on napkins, proudly presenting Darwin with his mug. "I shook it up in a jigger," Charles said. "I'm sure Sean is convinced I have a drinking problem now, but I think you'll like it."
Accepting the steaming mug gratefully, Darwin raised it to his lips and took a careful sip. Hot and rich silken chocolate cream filled his mouth. Before he even realized it, Darwin moaned slightly. He stiffened when Charles chuckled, blue eyes twinkling as he drank from his own cup.
"I take it that it passes?" the telepath teased.
Darwin snorted, rolling his shoulders to ease some of the tension. "Just like mom used to make-" he froze. Oh god. In no way did he want to affiliate Charles with his mother. Not only because that was just wrong, but his mother also wasn't a very nice person. And Charles was nice. Really, really nice and wonderful. And handsome. And badass, no matter what anyone else said-
"Darwin, I'm so sorry. I should have let you sleep." Frowning, Charles pressed his hand to Darwin's head again. He pursed his lips as heat practically radiated off Darwin's dark skin.
"W-wha- no!" he stuttered, flinching back from Charles' touch, which sparked a trail of prickling heat along his spine. "I'm just out of it right now, just a lot on my mind," he added guiltily.
The telepath perked up. "Talking about things can help, Darwin," he assured him. "I said before; I'm here for you." He squeezed Darwin's arm, smiling with a swell of warmth and support. But that didn't seem to bring any comfort to Darwin. The young man's gaze shuttered and Charles blinked at him, unable to ignore the sweep of discomfort coming off him. "Darwin," he murmured, brow furrowed and tone relaying outright worry. "You know that I respect the boundaries of your thoughts; but it doesn't take a telepath to notice that something is troubling you." Expression softening, Charles resisted the urge to place a hand on Darwin's shoulder. When he was limited with his power, he felt the need for physical contact. "Erik and I will be on the road again soon, and I don't want to leave you feeling…" He trailed off and offered the other man a self-deprecating smile. "I don't know how you're feeling, and I'd like to do anything I can to help."
He knew Charles didn't mean anything sensual by it, but Darwin had to swallow down a dry throat, taking a deep swig of the hot chocolate that hit him like a solid punch to his chest. And then because someone in the universe hated him, he choked on the over rich drink, pitching forward. Immediately Charles was clapping him on the back, beginning to rub slow wide circles over his shoulders. Charles' other hand was gingerly taking the mug and pushing the tray away. Their thighs were pressed together, Charles fit tightly against his side. He was bleeding trepidation through Darwin's mind, unintentionally but no less palpable. Something in Darwin's chest tightened. Charles was so close, hand gone from circles to resting in the middle of his back. He knew that Charles was waiting for him to ask for help, ready to do anything. That knowledge made Darwin feel awful, like he was taking advantage of Charles. At the same time, he was swamped with Charles' sincere care and affection. But did Charles see Darwin as one of his charges or, because he was older, maybe because he'd been the one taking the other mutants under his wing, did Charles see him more like he saw Erik? Could Charles even see him as someone he could be with? These thoughts swarmed at the forefront of his mind and suddenly Charles' concern melted into surface confusion and Darwin realized he'd projected. Directly into the telepath's mental web. Suddenly he felt very much like a fly.
"Darwin," Charles started slowly. Then he deflated, and their closeness became suddenly quite apparent. But Charles couldn't bring himself to put space between them when Darwin was looking at him with such a broken expression. Shame, anxiety; Charles felt all of it, mixing in with his own affections for Darwin and his gratitude. The play of the lamplight cast half of the mutant's face in shadow, his dark eyes shifting with indecision. His tongue swiped over his bottom lip and Charles' gaze caught on the movement. The outpouring of Darwin's attraction without a filter was a tangible force of sensation. Biting his lip, Charles hesitantly let his fingers trail over the other man's ear and Darwin shivered. He started slightly when Darwin's hand encircled his fingers and gently tugged them down. They stayed that way and Charles raised his eyes and found Darwin's shadowed gaze regarding him with something akin to confusion and traces of disappointment. Charles felt chastised and pulled his hand out of Darwin's grip.
The first time he and Erik had met Darwin, Charles noticed how handsome he was. His wit and natural laid-back trust of people had charmed the telepath. But he'd never let those seeds of temptation grow. Granted, Darwin wasn't like the others; he was older, wiser. Yet Charles didn't know if he could separate the sense of paternal responsibility, something he even had for Erik, though on a much lesser level. Was that insulting to Darwin? Instead of voicing these thoughts Charles lost his regular social grace and blurted, "Don't leave."
Blinking, Darwin shook his head slowly. "I don't want to. I-" he hesitated. "I thought you'd want me to. If you… found out."
"I wasn't lying before," Charles reminded him, "Without you I feel like this-" he waved his hand helplessly, "Whatever we have going here wouldn't have held together until now." Because he knew it was a question, Charles took a deep breath and said, "You're important, Darwin, to us."
Darwin was staring at his feet, trying not to breathe in Charles' scent too deeply. "And what about to you?"
He opened his mouth, the words stoppered when Darwin looked at him with a shade of challenge underlying his expression. This bravery was a defense mechanism, and Charles sighed. "Of course you're important to me too," he assured him, rubbing a hand over his face. "Allow me just a moment to… let this sink in."
"Look, man," Darwin mumbled, "I didn't mean to drop this bomb. I should just leave before this gets weird."
"You said you weren't going to leave," Charles exclaimed, a blush sparking when Darwin jumped at the volume of his voice. "Sorry, I just - it's not weird." Now he withdrew, putting a little space between them. The lack of Darwin's warmth was noticeable and Charles had to clench his fists together in his lap to focus. Laughing breathily, he admitted, "I've thought of… fraternization. Raven's got her eye on Hank, after all…" He trailed off beneath Darwin's skeptically arched eyebrow. "But… us." He paused. "I've been so wrapped up in everything that I've thought of nothing else but the mission." Shrugging, Charles leaned against the back of the couch, wearing a casual façade like a shroud.
Maybe he wasn't a telepath, but Darwin could read body language. He'd survived as a kid reading his mother's shoulders, the twitch of her brow. Now he read Charles. This was nothing like how he'd imagined Charles reacting. He'd expected... to be patronized, or maybe sent away. Instead he saw Charles regarding him with new eyes. And he looked back, refusing to give in to the crushing embarrassment. Charles wasn't laughing at him, or angry. Biting his lip had left the Englishman's skin dark red, Charles' cheeks flushed and his eyes a dark gleaming blue in the golden light of the den. Charles shifted on the couch, his eyes flickering over Darwin's face and suddenly Darwin saw what Charles saw, realizing the telepath was allowing him a peek into his own perspective. A brush of handsome echoed distantly in his mind, and Darwin couldn't hide the shy smile that Charles mirrored with pleasure. Tentatively, he thought with purpose, You can look... see what I see.
Charles pursed his lips, eyes sparkling. Are you sure?
I like you, Darwin stated, watching the alluring effect as Charles' lips parted. Maybe it's the cocoa talking but- He grinned as the tinkling reverberation of mental laughter played over his consciousness. The telepath wiggled his fingers in a ridiculous request for final permission and rested them against his temple with an easy grin. That made Darwin's heart skip. Charles really was beautiful.
You flatter me, Charles coyly thought as his body angled closer to Darwin. His eyes rolled shut as in reply warm fondness encircled him. The awareness of Darwin's feelings became sharper, and Charles saw when the mutant first noticed Charles and lingered on him. How later he'd been entranced by Charles in ways the others just didn't measure up to. But then there was the doubt and guilt that followed the increasing attraction. Charles' touch, his smile, his care. Blood heating at the surface of his skin, Charles pushed back at Darwin with his own impressions. He showed Darwin the appeal of his broad shoulders, his wry humor, the way he'd gently encourage his peers. He could feel Darwin react in surprise.
When he opened his eyes, Darwin realized he'd slid over the seat of the couch until he felt Charles' weight against him. The angle of the telepath's body brought their faces close, and Darwin bit his lip when blue eyes slowly opened and found his gaze. There was heat there, a hesitant excitement. Boldly he cupped the side of Charles' face and the telepath sighed, lashes hooding his pretty eyes modestly. Glancing down at the telepath's mouth, Darwin mentally whispered, Can I touch you?
Yes, was the reply.
He stopped a breadth away from touching Charles' lips and the older mutant made a soft sound of disappointment. Grinning, Darwin let Charles squirm for a second before catching him, hand guiding his head into a careful angle to open the red mouth into his kiss. The rich taste of chocolate coated their lips, both men pressing close and unable to hold back their smiles of amusement as each respectively murmured, "Good."
Charles was breathing harder, his hand smoothing over Darwin's chest to curl over his strong shoulders and anchor there. Darwin wrapped an arm across Charles' lower back and pulled him flush to his front, inhaling the gasp of surprise Charles gave when Darwin sucked on his tongue. Fingernails dug into the back of his neck and Darwin broke their kiss with a hiss of arousal. He drew back, staring down in hazy appreciation of Charles' gorgeous state of dishevelment. The telepath's pupils were dilated, his mouth open to pant softly in a way that almost hurt Darwin it was so sexy.
"This makes me look very bad," Charles mumbled, running a nervous hand through his hair before returning it to Darwin's neck, pushing forward with a graceful arch of his body. He was nearly in Darwin's lap. "It's just... your thoughts are rather potent."
A lick of fear ran up his spine. "But you want this?" Darwin asked seriously, "I mean, it's fast, so I don't-"
"Oh, no no no," Charles rushed, "This is… this is…" he stopped. And now Charles looked guilty. "It's fast," he breathed, voice crushed. Neither of them moved away, or any closer. Charles was lightly tracing the arch of Darwin's eyebrow. "Oh god," he sighed, "This is going to be extremely complicated, I'm afraid."
Darwin narrowed his eyes. Whether or not Charles intended, Darwin gleaned enough to guess, "Because Erik's already filled the position of 'daddy', right?"
"For god sakes," he groaned, flopping back against the couch with a hand over his eyes. "That's a horrible way to put it."
"But accurate," he reasoned morosely. Charles peeked out at him from under his hand and pouted. Darwin couldn't help it, he laughed. "So that makes me the stepdad?" A thought wriggled in and he flippantly dropped, "Is Erik the… daddy?"
Charles sat up, looking affronted. "Darwin," he snapped waspishly. Scowling, he crooked a finger at the younger man. "I'm quite positive that it was your tongue down my throat just a minute ago."
"But," Darwin defended, "That doesn't mean that the guy doesn't have urges. You know. For you."
"Like your urges," surmised Charles glibly, quirking an eyebrow. "I'm sure I'm not that enticing."
"Man, do you know what you look like?" he said seriously, face cracking when Charles snorted with laughter.
"Why don't you tell me," he flirted, laying a hand on Darwin's chest and moving a finger beneath the collar of his V-neck t-shirt. A bubble of juvenile glee was lifting inside of him. Darwin was so handsome. And the rush of sincere attraction he'd felt earlier, reading the feelings Darwin had for him reignited the initial attraction he'd had in the taxi. When the three of them – he, Erik, and Darwin – had arrived at CIA headquarters, Erik had been ruthless in his taunts about Charles' prolonged staring while Darwin stretched and worked the kinks out of his back. And then he had been swept up in the frantic search for more mutants as well as convincing Erik to stay, and Raven's budding frustration with her appearance. No to mention Hank's hankering – oh, he should stop – for his sister.
Though the tiny fleck of British prudishness all but extinct after his sex-as-therapy stint at Oxford may have protested, Charles thought it was quite time for him to enjoy himself again. And Darwin; he liked Darwin. The man's calm optimism, his natural tendency to care for those around him and - Charles smirked into the kiss Darwin placed on his mouth – the fact that his body was gorgeous didn't hurt either. He was appreciating it now, running his hands over the shapely muscle flexing as Darwin wrapped his arms around his middle to pull him up into his lap.
Then the door clicked open.
"Like sister, like brother," Erik commented drily, frozen in the doorway. "I was going to say Raven's been busy, but it must run in the family."
Charles squawked like some sort of surprised bird and fell right out of Darwin's lap. The mutant was able to catch him, but was unable to keep the telepath from scrambling out of his embrace with a beet-red face.
"E-erik!" he choked out, "Doors are meant to be knocked-"
"I did," he said wryly, giving Darwin a frightening grin. "Maybe you were being too loud, Charles, and you couldn't hear it."
Puffing up indignantly, Charles straightened out his shirt with aggressive movements, glaring at Erik the entire time. Darwin looked between the two of them helplessly.
"Did you need something?" Charles articulated stiffly.
"Everyone's accounted for," Erik drawled, amusement dancing in his eyes. "Sean may claim to have been scarred for life, but I think it'll put hair on his chest." Crossing his arms and leaning against the doorjamb, gaze drifting slowly back and forth from Charles to Darwin, Erik continued, "Raven kidnapped Hank and if anyone has been scarred in my humble opinion it's him." He was openly smirking now, speaking slowly with an overly relaxed cadence he knew would grate on Charles' nerves. "Alex and Angel did very well. And no limbs were lost."
"Good," he said in a clipped tone. "Now if you don't mind, Erik, Darwin and I need to-"
"You certainly do," murmured Erik, glancing pointedly between Charles' legs. "Good night Charles. Darwin."
"Night, man," Darwin returned weakly.
As soon as Erik left, Charles whirled on Darwin. "I'm so sorry," he gushed. "Erik just – I-" Deflating, Charles looked pleadingly at Darwin. "He's going to call me a cradle robber."
"You do realize that's… stupid, right?"
"Yes," Charles greed reluctantly, "Yes, it is."
"You still need convincing," he said matter-of-factly. Charles frowned, but then he caught on, lips curling around the fingers that reached out to meander across his mouth. "I'll show you how adult I am," Darwin hinted, a little breathless when Charles lowered his eyes coyly and sucked wetly on his finger. "Okay, that's a yes."
"Definitely yes," husked Charles. He reached out to the rest of the house and placed a very strong suggestion that everyone should go to bed, and pointedly ignored Erik's mental snort. Then he crawled back into Darwin's lap. "Convince me."
A/N: Maybe Erik will join them later…