Erik is standing alone on a narrow country lane, slowly drowning.
To call this 'rain' would be rather an understatement. 'Monsoon' might be the more accurate description, except that Erik actually experienced monsoon season in Calcutta once, and it's not a phenomenon he's likely to forget. But this is the sort of leaden, windy rain that falls from the sky in bucketfuls rather than drops, and it swiftly transforms the lane into a morass of mud and gravel. Erik curses and ducks under the branches of an ancient oak for the scant protection it provides. It doesn't help.
This was not in the design for this session, and there's no way they can do a trial run of the Essex extraction in this weather. What a fucking waste of time. He hunches his shoulders and grits his teeth, seething.
It doesn't take long before he spots Charles, dashing across the muddy landscape toward him, completely sodden. "What, did you decide to drink a gallon of water before going under?" Erik demands.
Charles grins, rain streaking down his cheeks and clinging to his eyelashes. His hair is plastered to his head, which is not even the slightest bit endearing. Not at all. "Not exactly," Charles says, sounding entirely too cheerful for a drowned rat. "Come on, there's a cottage just down the lane."
"Not in Moira's architecture, there's not," Erik retorts, beginning to grow suspicious. "What did you--"
"Necessity is the mother of invention," Charles says, waving a hand airily. "Or would you rather wait out the storm out here?"
Erik hates the rain. He mutters under his breath, but follows Charles anyway, as always. "We can't do anything in this," he grumbles, turning up his collar in a futile attempt to stem the water trickling down the back of his neck. "This is your dream, Charles, and I'll have you know I'm holding you personally accountable."
"As well you should," Charles says blithely, darting ahead before Erik has a chance to respond. "Here we are!"
There is indeed a cottage along the banks of the river that used to be a road, thatched roof and all. Erik despises it with all his heart. Until he gets inside, where he discovers a room that's unnaturally warm and clean, with a fire crackling in the hearth and thick woolen rugs and, oh god, a fucking teapot shrieking on the stove.
"How domestic," he remarks, wrinkling his nose. This is definitely a figment of Charles's imagination, not his. The tea gives it away, if nothing else.
But it is dry, and the rain sounds oddly soothing as it lashes against the windowpanes.
Charles is already shrugging out of his sodden jacket, leaving it in a dripping heap on the flagstones by the door. He runs a hand through his hair, which leaves it sticking up every which way. Erik doesn't laugh at him. Much.
"Oh, shut up," Charles huffs, but he's smirking as he plops down onto a large, overstuffed couch. He kicks off his muddy shoes with a satisfied sigh. "Well, we definitely can't refine the maze on the Essex grounds in this weather. What a pity."
Erik narrows his eyes. "You don't sound terribly surprised."
"Between this extraction and your work tracking Hellfire and my...projects, I haven't seen you for more than ten minutes at a time in weeks except when we're both sleeping or on the clock." Charles twists his lips in a wry smile. "So if those are my only options -- well, why not?"
He has a point, not that Erik's in the mood to concede it. "So you're wasting all this time--"
"We still have nine days until the Essex job," Charles points out. "Moira's just futzing around now because she doesn't want to admit she finalized the architecture days ago, and we have plenty of time to refine every last bloody detail of the extraction. And if you want to be technical about it, I'm only wasting fifteen minutes." He lifts one eyebrow. "I didn't realize it would be such a trial for you."
Erik shakes his head, pinching the bridge of his nose. He feels like he's been in constant motion for months -- they're so fucking close to getting a substantial lead on Hellfire -- on Shaw -- but the fucking idiots who run the CIA's dream program keep foisting these stupid fucking short-term extractions on them, which eat away more and more time, and by the time Erik gets to their flat at night he's generally so exhausted he barely manages to stumble into bed to grab what little real sleep he can....
So Charles has dreamed him up a warm cottage on a rainy day. Of course he has.
"Charles Xavier, playing truant," Erik sighs, giving in. He tosses his own jacket on the floor beside Charles's. It's just a dream, who the fuck cares. "I thought I'd never see the day."
"What's the point of being an adult if you can't act very childishly on occasion?" Charles beams up at him. "I know for a fact that Raven sometimes has ice cream for dinner."
"Perish the thought. You've tracked mud all across these lovely rugs."
"So have you. And my trousers are still soaked, ugh." Charles glances down at the spreading damp on the upholstery and shrugs. "Theoretically, this is all in my mind. I could will it dry."
"Theoretically, you could will the rain to stop so that we could get some work done, too."
"True. Too bad I'm feeling particularly weak-willed today. Come here."
Erik does, pausing only to toe off his own boots in the middle of the rug. He hovers over Charles, bracing himself with one hand on the arm of the couch, just close enough to feel the warmth of Charles's body splayed under his without actually touching. "How long until the kick?"
Charles looks entirely too smug, sprawling back against the cushions decadently. Erik finds himself momentarily distracted by the pale, tempting line of his neck, the curve of his jaw, the soft, sensitive spot just below his ear. "Three hours down here," Charles says, with just the faintest hitch in his breath. "Or a little less now, I suppose. You did take some convincing."
Utterly against his will, Erik can feel the beginnings of a smile tugging insistently at the edges of his mouth. "I'm not naturally inclined toward indolence, Charles. So how do you propose we pass the time?"
"Oh, I don't know," Charles says. He snakes an arm about Erik's waist and draws him down to the cushions. His mouth is warm and tastes of rain, and Erik can feel the curve of Charles's smile against his lips. "I'm sure we'll dream something up."