ninemoons42 writes: medium rare
The house is cool and it settles around him, corners creaking in the drafty night - but then, that is what he is swathed in his layers for - Dr Charles Xavier takes no chances, however, and he meticulously reknots the tie on his robe before he faces the sudden blast of icy air coming from his refrigerator; it’s the best-quality appliance he can find, which is just as well considering how perishable his consumables can be: fruits and vegetables and organic free-range eggs and full-cream milk and all that marbled red, and he smiles when he turns away to regard his guest: “A midnight snack, Erik?”
"I’ll have indigestion if I eat and I’ll fall down dead if I don’t," Erik says, and if his voice trembles around the whispers that seem to come straight from the all-too-shaken depths of his soul Charles very kindly does not show any outward reaction - though inside he savors the fear that comes off Erik in waves, the sweet desperation, like capered salt delicately sprinkled into a handmade hollandaise sauce - "And, and," Erik continues, "I don’t want to think, and I only want to feel."
"Food can provide feeling," Charles murmurs, and he doesn’t hesitate when he selects the short ribs - Jacob’s ladder, and the irony is not lost on him considering who is waiting to be fed, perhaps not so patiently, on the other side of the kitchen island - nor does he slow down as he carefully butterflies the meat off the bones, soft shrieking song of his knife moving through the succulent flesh, so reminiscent of the sharp saw he’d used to obtain the cut in the first place - "You will not need to wait long for this," Charles says, and heats his skillet to red-hot.
Erik twitches and looks everywhere, and Charles knows the man is looking at his hands as he goes about his tasks: large onions, sliced and peeled to be rapidly charred and sweetened in the transcendent heat; tomatoes rid of the seeds and the juice, dressed with balsamic - and then the bread, crusty and speckled with poppy seed; he murmurs, “Condiments if you want to help, they’re on the rack next to you,” and he in turn watches Erik’s movements, still jerking with the double pain of adrenaline comedown and shock.
"Looks good," Erik says, and he pushes his glasses up his nose and reaches, perhaps a little too eagerly, for the first plate of beautifully seared beef, sweet savory earthy smoke lingering in the interstices between the two of them, and Charles eyes his wrists and hands and his too-broad but too-thin shoulders, and thinks about coaxing feeling and flavor into him, thinks about the blood pooling just beneath the skin, insistent life, painful and galling and tangy on the tongue like a well-made agrodolce sauce, and he smiles a secretive little smile and picks up his knife so he can taste the meat on his plate.