Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, and am making no profit from their use, more's the pity.
Warnings: Genderbend, violence, disturbing images, references to the Holocaust, references to child abuse in this chapter. I delve into the darker implications of telepathy here, so please heed the rating – both of the fic overall and of the individual chapters.
Summary: Written for a kinkmeme prompt that wanted to see the events of the movie if Charles had been a woman. This story will also wander into psychic-bond trope territory, as well as being a shameless fix-it fic. Just so everything’s clear up front...
In the beginning, people think vulnerability will make you weak, but it does the opposite. It shows you're strong enough to care.
Charlotte knows Erik is going to kiss her perhaps five seconds before he actually moves. She's very open at the moment, telepathically speaking – deliberately overloading herself on everyone's grief so she can tolerate it later – and she can feel the decision coalescing in his mind. He thinks that if he’s going to lose her, he might as well have all of her.
It feels like extremely poor timing to be doing this in the wake of Darwin’s death and Angel’s defection, but when Erik’s lips brush over hers – gently, carefully, as if he suspects she might run away – Charlotte decides she’s going to be selfish.
She leans up into the kiss, sliding one hand up Erik’s neck and into his hair to pull him down to her, the press of their mouths becoming firmer, more self-assured. Charlotte can feel her mind stretching out for Erik’s, Erik’s thoughts a furnace-hot blast of want/need/yes/more/affection/desperation/C
Her desire and Erik’s collide and twine, merging into something higher, more desperate, and yet…they stay kissing. Deeply and chastely, soft and roughly, hard and desperate as though they’re drowning in each other, only parting for quick little gasps of air. If Charlotte had been feeling this level of desire/want/need from anyone else, they’d already be naked.
But the only hand that could really be called wandering is Erik’s left, which is tracing along the hollow of her spine as though trying to sense her bones in the same way he senses metal. His other hand is at the back of Charlotte’s neck, just two fingers and a thumb stroking through her hair in a way that makes her wonder if she’s physically capable of purring. Her own hands are busy – one in Erik’s hair and one flat against his chest, feeling the rhythm of his heart through his shirt.
It’s only kissing – just their lips meeting and breaths mingling – but it feels somehow more intimate, more frightening than anything Charlotte’s done before. Perhaps because her telepathy is unfettered; physical contact enhances it, which is why Charlotte usually shields herself as much as she can when she kisses someone or goes to bed with them, but now…
Now she can feel her mind reaching for Erik’s, brushing and retreating over and over again like waves against a beach. Each contact is light, almost shy, but the flashes of emotion she gets from Erik are close to disorienting in their strength. It’s so intense it’s almost painful – and there is pain, from Erik, pain because he believes this is temporary.
Even as he’s kissing her, even beneath the affection/attraction/finally!/Charlotte/finally! she can feel desperation and near-despair thrumming in a constant litany.
Don’t leave, don’t leave, don't leave…
And there are many layers of meaning to the word ‘leave’ for Erik, Charlotte knows. ‘Leave’ can mean her shoving him back, knocking his arms from around her and striding from the room. It can mean her turning her back on him, walking away and leaving him alone again as he’s always been. And it can mean her lying broken and bloody on the ground, it can mean her torn from him by Schmidt, dragged away against her will…
Erik has a very fatalistic view of the world. Charlotte will just have to show him that in this instance at least, he’s wrong.
Erik knew, logically, that Charlotte came from wealth, but he never expected anything like this.
This isn’t a mansion, it’s a fucking castle.
“Honestly, Charlotte, I don’t know how you survived,” he drawls. “Living in such hardship.”
He says it deliberately, trying to prompt a smile or a laugh – Charlotte has been tense and strangely closed off ever since they reached the driveway, and Erik doesn't like it, especially since he's not even sure why she's acting this way. It's made worse by the fact that he can't feel Charlotte's mental presence at all; she's been completely absent from his head ever since she got in the car.
It's not that Charlotte's always reading his mind, but Erik's got used to feeling her against the edges of his thoughts when she's in the same room – it's not intrusive, more like her telepathy is simply acknowledging that he's there. He lacks the words to describe it in any language he knows, but it feels similar to putting his hand on the case of a sun-drenched engine – warm and alive, with the soft hum of gentle activity in the background.
Besides, it's not Charlotte's telepathy that's disturbing Erik, but his reaction to the absence of it. It should be natural to be alone in your head; he should be feeling at ease, revelling in his privacy...
Instead, all he can think is that his mind feels cold and silent.
So he throws a sarcastic quip, expecting Charlotte to snort, or giggle, or at least look at him. He isn't expecting Raven to step forward and insinuate herself between them, throwing a severe look his way that seems to stop just short of a glare.
“It was a hardship softened by me,” she says, her voice just a shade too defensive to be called joking.
Charlotte's arms slides around her sister, almost as though she needs some form of support. She presses a kiss to Raven's temple as the breeze tangles their hair, dark strands winding around the blonde.
The embrace lasts for only a few moments. Charlotte straightens as her sister pulls away, seemingly strengthened by that brief contact – and what could have Charlotte looking for support, in front of her own home?
Her eyes are sad and strangely wary as they gaze up at the building she insisted was 'theirs', not hers, and she looks as though she's steeling herself for something unpleasant. Then she becomes aware of Erik's gaze, and glances at him.
“We'll be safe here,” she says in a reassuring tone of voice.
Apparently Charlotte misinterpreted Erik's expression of concern, which only makes his worry deepen. How off-balance does a telepath have to be for them to misread you?
Erik has come to the conclusion that he doesn't like the mansion at all. It's far too big, with far too many entrances and vulnerable points, filled with empty rooms and furniture muffled in white cloth. Though Charlotte claims she and Raven deserted it only a few years ago, it has the cold, echoing feel of a place abandoned for decades.
The only room he actually likes is the one that seems to serve as Charlotte's study, and it's the only one that feels at all like someone has lived there. The bookcases bulge with haphazardly stacked titles, piled onto the shelf without even an approximation of organisation; a battered Robert Louis Stevenson paperback resting next to a pristine, hefty text on genetics. The walls are adorned with pictures of Charlotte and Raven, something conspicuously lacking in the other rooms and hallways. There's a chess set on a table in the corner, the pieces carved from soapstone, looking so old they're probably antiques in their own right, and there's even a fireplace.
Erik doesn't have to guess where Charlotte spent most of her time.
He's been given a room of his own – they all have – but he only stayed in it long enough to drop his suitcase in, close any open windows and analyse all the possible entry and exit points.
This place feels too open, too conspicuous, far too easy to overrun. Granted, it was built primarily as a house, not a fortress, but Erik can’t help feeling that they should board up some windows and reinforce the doors.
It’s been years since simple threats could intimidate him, but now just the memory of Frost’s words sends a shiver slowly creeping over his skin.
He wants to find out what makes you tick, little telepath.
Erik knows Schmidt’s preferred methods of ‘investigation’ all-too well. And now that he’s lost his own telepath, it’s even more likely that he’ll come for Charlotte. That he’ll attempt torture and coercion to bend her to his will, use her in the same manner he did Frost…
But he won’t get the chance, Erik tells himself. He won’t let him – if Schmidt ever touches Charlotte, it will be because Erik is dead.
He leaves his empty room for the one at the end of the hall, where Charlotte sleeps.
He still can't feel her mind, doesn't know if she's aware of his presence or not, so he raps on the door before turning the brass handle with a flicker of power. There's a reassuring amount of metal in this house; metal window frames, metal reinforcing, metal cutlery and polished metal surfaces down in the kitchen...
If Schmidt comes here, Erik can use the very building itself to stop him.
Charlotte is sitting on the window seat, knees tucked to her chest and shoulders hunched. Her bare feet and slight stature make her look almost like a child, gazing dreamily out the window, but there's tension in every line of her body. It's small, barely there, but Erik's spent his life reading people's bodies for the tells that signal when they're going to attack him or cower away, and he knows how to spot someone trying to hide.
And why would Charlotte want to hide in her own home?
He's about to ask, but then she turns to face him, and the first genuine smile Erik has seen in hours spreads across her face. “Erik!”
It's bewildering – people aren't usually happy to see him, let alone as happy as Charlotte seems to be, so much so that it wipes away her previous unease.
“What do you think?” she asks, making a gesture with her hand that seems to encompass all of the mansion and the surrounding grounds. “It can be a bit draughty, I know, but I think it will do nicely.”
In the fact of her enthusiasm, Erik can't do anything but nod. As much as he might dislike the feel of this place, he has to concede that as a training camp for mutants, it certainly has everything they could want – open space, equipment, and above all, isolation.
Charlotte smiles again, as though his nod is the most rousing endorsement she's ever received. She moves close, winding her arms around his neck and standing on tiptoe to kiss him. Just like that – no glance for permission, no wariness or hesitation. Charlotte wants to kiss him, so she does, as fearless and daring as ever.
Erik likes that about her – that she doesn't shy or flinch from him, that she could see him strangling Frost and still have no compunctions about invading his personal space. He likes it so much that the kiss he suspects was meant to stay brief and chaste turns into much more as he bends his head and hitches his arm around her waist, pulling her firmly against his body.
He's learning that Charlotte makes the most delicious noises when she's being kissed – little gasps and moans, some that seem to arrow straight to his cock. She holds onto Erik as desperately as she did when she dragged him from the ocean, and he's acutely aware of the curve of her back beneath his hands, the soft whisper of her hair against his cheek, the weight of her breasts against his chest, the sweet pressure of her fingers on the nape of his neck.
Something opens against his mind like a flower unfurling, brushing but not penetrating. Erik, can I?
It's not like Charlotte to be so timid. He wants to ask why she's been so closed, so wary since they came to this mansion that should be her home – that should be the one place she can relax – but for now he can feel Charlotte's mind after hours of deprivation, so those questions are shunted aside for a later time. He wants to somehow grab her mind and drag it into his, and she obviously picks up on the thought because she's suddenly there.
It's like being in a cold, dark room of concrete (and Erik has personal, intimate experience of what that's like) and suddenly stepping out into a bright spring day, the sky cloudless and the sun gentle. Erik has noticed he tends to think of Charlotte's telepathy in terms of sunlight, but that's the closest approximation he can make. Warm yet insubstantial, without pressure or pain as it spreads across skin.
He can feel her amusement at his simile, along with her pleasure and satisfaction and bone-deep contentment, as though she would be happy to do nothing but kiss him for the rest of their lives.
She's earnest and optimistic and beautiful, and it will be devastating when she leaves.
Sometimes Charlotte wishes Erik weren't so pessimistic. She wouldn't change anything about him, of course she wouldn't, but it's difficult to keep kissing him when she can feel the way his mind whispers that this won't last. She can feel his resignation, his conviction that she'll leave eventually, and it makes her want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him.
She settles for kissing him deeper and harder, pressing herself against him in the futile hope that if she just gets close enough Erik will understand, will finally accept that she's not going anywhere.
A knock on the door makes them jump apart, and Charlotte wonders if it's automatic to react like a guilty teenager when you're on the verge of being caught making out in your childhood bedroom. At least Erik reacted similarly to the threat of discovery, though his comes from an instinctive need to hide what he values, to conceal where he's vulnerable.
“Charlotte, dinner!” Raven calls through the door, and departs without waiting for an answer.
You didn't know she was there, Erik surmises, and Charlotte can feel his wry amusement along with a flash of what her face looks like now, lips swollen and cheeks flushed.
My attention was otherwise engaged, she admits. We should go down – Hank said he'd cook.
He claims cooking is merely chemistry – the right ingredients combined in the right ways.
In Charlotte's previous experience, shared mealtimes were stilted and uncomfortable, fraught with reprimands about the correct posture and which utensil she should be using. But this dinner was more reminiscent of her lunches with Raven; loud and uncoordinated, full of demands to 'pass the potatoes this way' and 'stop hogging the casserole, Sean'. They eat at the small table in the kitchen, rather than the sweeping dining hall, and Charlotte knows there's an irrepressible grin adorning her face throughout the entire meal.
They're happy here – they're actually happy. They're going to stay, and maybe this mansion will finally become the home it never really was, could never truly be while her mother dwelt here.
And maybe Charlotte will be able to walk through the halls without expecting to catch stray thoughts of 'freak' and 'abomination' and painful, bleeding indifference to her existence.
Raven's smiling at her, clearly aware of the source of Charlotte's joy, and on impulse, she gives her sister a conspiratorial wink. Raven smirks and nudges Charlotte's calf underneath the table with her bare foot, the physical contact enough to let a small trickle of affection leak through Charlotte's shields.
Charlotte knows Raven doesn't like her mind being read without permission, and to know that her sister is prepared to forgo her desire for privacy to reassure her, even if only for a moment, makes contentment glow warmly through her chest. Raven knows why Charlotte dislikes this place, why they both do, but that touch tells her that Raven's hoping for the same thing she is – for this to become a place of warmth and welcome, rather than silence and rejection.
At the end of the meal, Raven declares that Alex and Sean have to do the washing up by virtue of having eaten the most. They try to protest, saying that Hank has eaten just as much as they did, but apparently Hank gets out of washing up because he cooked the meal.
Charlotte just can't stop grinning, and the muscles in her face are beginning to hurt. She glances at Erik – who is surveying the domestic scene with an expression of bemusement, as though he isn't quite sure how to react to it – and reaches out to tug at his sleeve, feeling daring and slightly naughty in a way she hasn't felt in years.
“Chess?” she asks innocently, sure that her eyes are practically dancing in invitation.
Erik smirks, and Raven's cheeks pinch down as though trying to hide a smile. She puts a finger to her temple, the gesture that tells Charlotte she has something to say that won't be spoken aloud. Thus prompted, Charlotte's focuses on Raven's mind – being careful to pick up surface thoughts only – and she feels her sister's knowing amusement.
Chess, huh? Is that what they're calling it now?
Charlotte can feel herself flushing, and knows it's all the answer Raven needs. Sometimes Charlotte wonders how Raven can make her blush with just some tame insinuation, when usually she can pick up on the most explicit of fantasies without so much as raising an eyebrow. Maybe it's because Raven's her sister, and thus will forever have the power to embarrass her.
Still, the embarrassment fades quickly as she and Erik move towards her room, pointedly not touching, as though afraid they're going to simply leap on each other at the slightest provocation.
Although, given how long it's been since Charlotte's had sex, this is probably a legitimate concern.
Erik's want/need/desire/lust/affection are thrumming against her mind, and a small, treacherous part of Charlotte wants to dive right in and make herself at home, but she can't. Given the way sex tends to destroy her control, it's usually best if she just keeps entirely out of her partner's mind. So she works to build the shields that will keep her out of Erik's head.
It always feels disorienting – like closing her eyes or stopping up her ears. She feels off-balance, cut off from an entire sense when she does this, when she turns her telepathy inward, but it's the only way to ensure she feels nothing. And if it sometimes makes her a little dizzy, sometimes gives her a headache...well, everything comes at a price.
This kind of shield never holds for long anyway. It's as though her own telepathy destroys them, her urge to reach out to the minds around her too automatic and reflexive to really be contained for any length of time.
The door to her room swings open without either of them touching it, and locks behind them just as swiftly. Charlotte laughs – she can't help it; Erik's brilliant, he really is – and she grabs hold of his jacket to both pull him close and tug it off.
Maybe they're moving too fast, but this whole relationship has been 'too fast' by any normal standard. Charlotte knew Erik's life story before they'd even spoken, she considered him a friend before she'd even known him for an hour, and it already feels as though she's been in love with him for months rather than weeks.
She only opens three buttons of her shirt before she loses patience and simply pulls it over her head. One of the buttons snags on Charlotte's hair and she hisses under her breath, tugging the rest of her head free of the material as she honestly considers just ripping the tangled strands out.
But Erik's hands rise to cover her own, and his eyes are amused as he gently frees her hair from the clutch of the button. Feeling herself flushing with a touch of embarrassment, Charlotte busies herself with tugging at Erik's turtleneck. Erik raises his arms obediently at her prodding, and as soon as his chest is bare Charlotte just has to slide closer and explore.
The moment she traces a curious hand over his collarbone and down across a nipple, Charlotte feels a twinge of pain in her temples. Her telepathy is instinctively seeking a way to connect with Erik, and coming up hard against her blockade. What she feels when she overreaches herself in this way is similar to a tension headache – the only way her body knows how to translate the strain is discomfort, pain being the all-purpose 'stop that right now' signal.
But she's become used to mild headaches during sex, so it's easy to ignore it in favour of leaning up to draw Erik into a kiss. She can feel Erik's erection against her belly, and the knowledge that Erik's getting hard from this – just a kiss with her shirt off – makes her shiver.
Erik's hands settle at her hips, broad thumbs rubbing at the arch of her ilium as her bra clasp opens and her belt unbuckles seemingly of their own accord. Those wonderful hands slide up her back – Erik's clearly intending to pull her bra off with his fingers, rather than his powers – but his progress suddenly stutters, his hands halting for a moment before they begin to drift from their path, tracing horizontal and diagonal lines across her skin...
Tracing Charlotte's scars.
She stiffens as Erik breaks the kiss, the hands on her back suddenly pulling her forward so Erik can look over her shoulder, can confirm with his eyes what his fingertips are telling him.
Charlotte usually covers her scars, projects the illusion of smooth skin when needed, but...
She places her hands against the irregular patchwork of scars on Erik’s chest, running her fingers over the fibrous tissue. She follows the lines cut by Shaw's scalpel, the barbed wire of the camp fence, the switches and straps that Shaw used as discipline. She lays her hand over the tattoo that adorns his forearm.
She's seen Erik's scars. It seems only fair that he see hers.
“Charlotte...” There's an undercurrent of something dangerous in Erik's voice and Charlotte closes her eyes, breathing deep and shaking her head.
“Erik...not now, please.”
As a mood-killer, it's very effective, so Charlotte tilts her head up and kisses Erik again, trying to resurrect it. As she'd half-expected, his arousal has faded somewhat – clearly, the thought of her in pain is quite distressing to Erik – but as she flicks her tongue into his mouth she can feel him getting harder.
She feels a slight tug on the metal button of her trousers, an instant before they drop to the floor. Charlotte shoves her underwear down to join them and steps out of the pile of cloth, kicking it aside before she looks up at Erik again.
He's staring at her, of course he is, but not in the hungry, lustful way Charlotte's accustomed to in these situations.
Erik's staring at her with an expression close to reverence, as though he wants to imprint her on his mind forever.
“Perfektion,” he breathes, his voice a hoarse rasp.
Then he looks surprised, like he didn't actually realise he was speaking aloud. The expression on his face is far more endearing that it has any right to be, and Charlotte finds herself regaining her boldness.
“Hardly,” she says with a wry grin, her fingers sliding over his belt buckle, just a breath away from touching his cock. “And I'd like you out of your pants now.”
His eyes go dark, and yes, there's the lust she was expecting, and it gives her a jolt of satisfaction to know that she's the one making him feel that. She sets to work on his belt, intending to get him naked as quickly as possible, but Erik distracts her – cupping her breast in one hand as though testing the weight of it, his thumb tracing circles around the hard, flushed nipple as he bends to apply lips and teeth and tongue to her neck – and it ends up taking her three and half minutes just to unzip his trousers.
But at least then she can work her hand around his cock and get some of her own back. Erik jerks at the first firm stroke, his finger and thumb tightening spasmodically around her nipple, and the hint of pinching pain along with the wash of pleasure makes Charlotte gasp and arch.
Whereas before Erik seemed content to take it slow and languid, now he practically tears the remainder of his clothes off and clutches her to him as though worried she'll slip away. Now their kisses are wild and devouring, hands gripping at each other so tightly they'll leave delicious bruises. She can feel Erik's fingers slide down her back to cup her buttocks, then he honest-to-god lifts her off her feet.
Charlotte squeaks in surprise, automatically clutching at Erik's shoulders even as her thighs rise to grip his hips. His cock slips between her legs and rubs against her, a slow wet slide that has Charlotte grateful she isn't relying on her own legs for support and Erik making a guttural, inarticulate noise in his throat.
She rather admires the fact that he manages to stay on his feet as he walks them both backwards, towards the bed.
Oh, yes, bed, Charlotte thinks, half-dazed. That would be better than the middle of the floor.
It's almost reflexive to reach out, to share that thought with Erik, but she won't let herself.
Erik bends over the bed, lowering them both to the sheets with an impressive display of muscle control. For a moment, they remain still, Charlotte savouring Erik's weight on top of her, then he pulls back and...just looks at her. Hungry and slightly disbelieving, as though he can't quite credit that this is actually happening, but there's awe in there as well, and Charlotte desperately wants to slip into his mind to understand.
Erik blinks and his brow furrows, one hand raising to brush Charlotte's hair away from her face. “What's wrong?”
They're finally naked, finally about to do what Charlotte's been fantasising about for weeks, and he's asking what's wrong? Some of her incomprehension must show on her face, because Erik taps gently at his own temple.
“I can't feel you at all.”
“Oh.” Hot and wonderfully shivery with anticipation, Charlotte's voice sounds weak and thready. “My telepathy isn't very controlled during sex, so it's easier to just shield completely.”
She thinks that will be the end of it, but the creases in Erik's face only deepen. “I thought you said that was difficult.”
Charlotte shrugs, unwilling to confirm it and toying with the idea of just shoving Erik's hand onto her breast and forgoing talking for the rest of the night.
“Charlotte...” She might not be reading his mind right now, but Erik's frustration and poorly-hidden concern come through loud and clear in his voice.
“Well, sometimes I get mild headaches – but they're nothing, really.”
Erik doesn't look at all mollified. “Stop it.”
“Stop what?” Charlotte suspects she knows what he means, but he can't be serious, can he?
A frission of unease shivers through her, and she can't stop herself from tensing. “That's a very bad idea.”
“Why?” And god damn Erik for looking so unconcerned about the fact that they're naked and he's discussing letting her into his head when she's...like that.
“I'd be...I'd be completely out of control.” It's hard to admit that, when she's fought for control all her life. “I could hurt you.”
The truth is, she has no idea what she could do; she's never actively used her telepathy while having sex before. There was always some minor leakage, of course – a penchant for simultaneous orgasms – but that's exactly what it was, minor. Never enough to glean anything from their thoughts, never enough to let them see hers, only flashes of sensation that could be dismissed as the heat of the moment, if they were ever remembered at all.
Erik looks sceptical. “Have you ever hurt someone with your telepathy?”
Charlotte closes her eyes – she can't lie to him, not about this, but she can refuse to see the judgement in his eyes – and nods.
Charlotte doesn't actually have an answer to that. She likes to tell herself it was accidental, that she didn't mean to, but...
But she had been frightened, so frightened, and she'd just wanted Cain to let her go, to stop touching her...
“I don't know,” she whispers.
There's silence as Erik digests this, and Charlotte half-expects him to get up, to leave, because what rational person wants anything to do with someone who could hurt them, who could change them, in a moment of inattention?
But Erik never takes the sensible option. “What were they doing?”
Charlotte is so surprised her eyes open to find Erik's face only a few inches away, his face smooth but with a hint of anger at the edges.
She swallows, and shakes her head. “It's not important. The important thing is that I lost control, and hurt them. Quite badly.”
“Were they hurting you?” Erik asks, in the carefully level voice of someone exercising immense control over themselves.
“...yes,” Charlotte admits reluctantly, tasting shame in the back her throat. “But I don't see why that's relevant.”
Erik looks exasperated. “Because you were defending yourself, Charlotte! They hurt you, so you hurt them, as you should. But your power...are you usually altering people's minds effortlessly?”
“No,” Charlotte concedes. “But-”
“Your nature is the farthest thing from violent I've ever seen,” Erik says quietly. “The only way you'd hurt me is if I were hurting you, in which case I'd deserve it.”
Charlotte can feel herself wavering, like an amateur trying to walk the highwire. She should remain strong, focused, with her telepathy locked safely away, but she wants to be in Erik's mind so badly...
“You won't hurt me, Charlotte,” he says quietly. “I trust you.”
She should stay strong, but she's never been able to resist Erik.
So Charlotte takes a deep breath, and her shields come down.
Thanks so much to my beta, ginbitch, who helps me out even when she's phenomenally busy!