It only happened at times.
He'd be moving forward and the thought would strike him, freezing his chest mid breath. If Emma was near him there would be a half-second's panic before the solidity of his helmet would ground him. His thoughts were secret and his own so long as that remained.
He knew firsthand how easy it would be to lose that certainty: one lucky grab and all was lost.
In darker moments Erik contemplated superglue.
At most it would be a momentary flinch in a sure stride, a half-second's panic and terror and loss that would consume him if given half the chance. (If he allowed his guard to drop.)
And of course it must be self-induced. After all, he was alone in his head now, immune to trespassers. (That one instant somewhere between rage and serenity. It ached to think of it now.)
Denial had never been one of his weaknesses. Ego, yes, and a dangerous temper - these he fully embraced. He was due a few oddities of personality. Therefore Erik was forced to concede, in the solitary confinement that was his own mind, that those moments on the beach (like drowning, like feelingknowing he had to let go, like knowing there were others) were creeping into his thoughts more and more.
And while denial wasn't something that he indulged in, repression was a different matter. Repression was how one lived with uncomfortable truths, and why, since he was a boy, he would sometimes wake up screaming, strangled shouts scraping up his throat.
And so Erik repressed those moments but did not deny that they had existed. Yes, they occurred; they would not impede his mission.
He may not falter, or the humans will destroy them all.
His stride will remain even and swift, and his team will follow him into battle. It is as it should be.
(Never mind a sly smile and a teasing mind, betrayed but not surprised eyes staring up at him, that feeling of connection. Forget the warmth.)
There's work to be done.