Charles opens the door. Erik could feel the pressure on the knob and the turning of cogs before the it ever opened.
He doesn’t look at Charles when he steps into the room. He makes no move to set aside his knife.
“Erik.” Charles says and it’s a half whisper.
Erik imagines that Charles wets his lips, that his eyes are shimmering, that he’s about to walk back out the door again and never come back.
Instead, this is what Charles does:
He repeats, “Erik.” and closes the door behind him and walks up to the bed and crawls across it and lays his head on Erik’s shoulder and wraps his arms around his waist.
And Erik stiffens in his arms and holds his breath.
Charles mouths the words, “Put down the knife Erik.” onto his back and he hears them in his head.
When he doesn’t, Charles moves his hand from Erik’s waist to his hand and takes it away from him. He sets it down on the side of the bed and he places his arm back around him. He says, “Come back.” and waits for an answer.
Erik breathes out and closes his eyes but doesn’t say anything.
Erik opens his eyes and turns his head so he could look at Charles. Charles with his blue, blue eyes and too giving heart and love. Erik closes his eyes again.
Charles’ hand go from Erik’s waist to his forearms and run soothing lines down them, careful of the deep, red lines. His fingers stop on the numbers. Erik hears not an excuse but, “He didn’t know.” then the correction, “He doesn’t know.” There’s a kiss to his temple, then, “Not if you don’t want them to.”
He says, “Sorry.” and Erik wants to say it’s not your place it’s not your’s but doesn’t say anything. He’s sure Charles heard him anyway.
Charles pulls off and away from Erik and walks in front of him. He kneels down so that he’s eye level with him and he holds Erik’s face in his hands. He says, “Open you eyes.” so Erik does, then he says, “Come back.” with a soft kiss to his cheek and he pulls away from Erik again and walks out the door.
Hours later, Erik comes back, clad in long sleeves and long trousers and sunglasses that cover his red rimmed eyes.
He finds Alex in the West Wing’s rec room. He sits him down in the sitting room away from everyone. He tells Alex about camps in Germany and in Austria and in Poland and others and how there was always hunger hunger hunger death and - his voice cracks and he stops. He takes a deep breath and tells him never to use that word again in any regard.
When he’s done, Alex’s head is down and his hands are shaking. He says, “Sorry.” quietly and Erik nods - not quite forgiveness - and Alex walks out of the room and down to the bunker. Erik walks out and goes to Charles’ room where he lies on Charles’ bed until he comes up.
And when he does, he says, “You came back.” softly and walks to the insuite bathroom and comes out a few minutes later with a salve. He takes off Erik’s shirt and trousers slowly and doesn’t say anything. He dips his fingertips into the salve then rubs it into Erik’s skin where the cuts are the deepest. When he’s done, he sets the salve on the bedside table and holds Erik in his arms and whispers into his ear, “It won’t hurt this badly in the morning. It will heal.” and kisses his temple again.