Erik first thought that Charles Xavier's power was amazing. He's now beginning to understand that it's obviously the natural evolution for a man who doesn't stop talking and will do anything to find a way to keep going when his mouth is otherwise occupied.
He doesn't mind, which is a bit shocking, given Erik's tolerance of other people is usually minimal. Something about Charles is bearable, however. Almost...enjoyable.
He notices, of course, when Charles' speech becomes even more scattered and eventually peters out all together. They sitting in a government car, being shuttled to the motel where the CIA is keeping Charles and his sister, and when Erik glances over at Charles, his eyes are closed and he's slowly slumping sideways and--
And on to Erik's shoulder. Charles is sleeping on Erik's shoulder. Charles, who seems like he belongs somewhere plush and expensive and pampered, is perfectly at ease curled up on Erik. On a killer. On a monster.
"Charles," he snaps. His desire to keep Charles away from him wins out over his hesitance to wake the sleeping man.
Charles sits up abruptly, blinking. The street lamps whip by highlighting the color of his eyes in each pass.
"Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry," Charles says. "Did I fall asleep on you?"
"Yes," Erik says.
"I apologize, my friend," Charles says. "It's been a busy week. You know, on Wednesday, I was in Oxford, receiving my second PhD. Yesterday I travelled all day and today we were in Virginia not six hours ago."
Erik already knows all of this. Charles mentioned it all during his (lengthy) introduction.
"You shouldn't let your guard down," Erik says.
"Pardon?" Charles asks.
"Falling asleep around strangers," Erik says. Around the government he thinks and knows that it was loud enough and direct enough for Charles to hear it when he frowns.
Fascinating. He'll have to explore that further.
Except, no. He won't be sticking around long enough to learn any more about Charles' mutation. He's going to learn everything he can about Schmidt and disappear before the United States government learns anything more about him. He doesn't care if Charles lets his guard down because he doesn't care if anyone takes advantage of Charles Xavier.
And with his big blue eyes and companionable nature, and easy trust, someone's going to take advantage of him. It would be simple for it to be Erik, for Erik to earn Charles' trust--hell, he has it already. It would be easy to bend Charles, to learn everything he knows, everything Charles is willing to give, and then leave him here.
He won't, though. He's not sure why.
"You're hardly a stranger," Charles says, apparently oblivious to Erik's growing discomfort. He pats Erik's arm and his hand lingers. "I've been inside your mind, you know. I know you."
That's obviously untrue, if Charles can still manage to nod off on Erik's shoulder. But Erik lets him keep that illusion and doesn't speak again until they arrive at the motel.
It's entirely possible that Charles is going to fry his own brain in his skull.
"That's ridiculous, Erik," Charles says, but he can barely keep the fatigue out of his voice and he can't seem to walk in a straight line. "It's just exhausting. It's not going to cause a health problem, I promise."
"Exhaustion is a health problem," Erik mutters, and he takes Charles' arm, propping him up and leading him down the hallway towards the lounge they've been using to play chess. Not that Charles will be able to keep his eyes open for chess.
"I'll be fine," Charles mutters. "I'm just tired. My thought process is as sharp as always and I'll beat you handily."
He can't even fault Charles for picking up his thoughts; he doesn't think Charles even notices he's doing it.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Charles says. He closes his eyes and covers them with the hand that Erik isn't using to guide him down the hall. "It warps my boundaries a bit. Cerebro does, I mean."
That's an understatement. Cerebro turns Charles' powers into...into....
Well. Something unstoppable. Something too enormous to describe. Something terrifying and something that's undeniably attract--
Erik helps Charles sit down on the sofa in the lounge and watches him skeptically.
"I should take you right to bed," he says.
He doesn't blush. There's no reason to blush. It was a very direct statement--Charles is tired, Charles should sleep. There's no reason to read anything into it.
"I'll be fine," Charles says. "Just give me a moment to come back to myself. Set up the board."
The table sits atop metal legs, an awful, modern thing that they've situated between two arm chairs. It's easy enough to levitate it over to the couch and even, with a flick of his hand, re-form the legs until it sits lower to the ground so it's easily accessible to them. He turns to Charles, just slightly smug, proud every time he manages to to perform a task fluidly without calling up the rage that usually fuels him.
Charles, however, has his eyes closed and his breathing's evened out. Charles is sleeping, curled on his side with his head pillowed against Erik's hip. Erik didn't even feel him move.
He knows he should wake Charles up, but it would be awful to lose all that power if Charles' brain overloaded Instead, he gently extricates himself from the sofa and leaves Charles sleeping.
Well, leaves him for the armchair. There's a copy of Charles' thesis sitting on the table next to it. Erik's been meaning to read a bit more of it anyway and it's really just common sense to do so where he can keep an eye on Charles. Just in case.
It's not that Charles is a bad driver, not in Erik's opinion, but he's easily distracted and has a problem keeping his eyes on the road. It's the sort of problem that makes other drivers a bit antsy, and after their second near miss, Charles had admitted that perhaps it would be better if Erik drove for a spell.
Erik doesn't mind. He likes driving. It's expected, perhaps, but he enjoys being so easily in control of that much metal.
Charles does his part by navigating and chattering happily about his childhood and his studies, but America is vast and the roads are seemingly endless. The hours stretch on and the silences that pepper Charles' stories become longer and longer. The road is laid out straight ahead and the map goes back into the glove compartment.
Erik's almost expecting it. If he's learned one thing about Charles (and he's learned countless things about Charles, really, he could write the book on Charles Xavier, but in a different way than he could write the book on Klaus Schmidt. The Charles book would be funny and warm and as rambling as his stories and as welcoming as his eyes.), it's that Charles Xavier can and will fall asleep anywhere.
Charles eventually stops talking all together, choosing instead to peer out the windshield through heavy-lidded eyes. He won't let himself fall asleep, though. His head dips forward, tantalizingly close to Erik's shoulder, and then snaps up again, his eyes struggling to stay open.
Erik watches out of the corner of his eye and holds his breath and tells himself over and over again that he doesn't actually want this.
When Charles' head finally hits his shoulder, he counts to ten, long and slow, before he allows himself to let out a long, tense breath.
He doesn't know why he's tense. It's ridiculous. There's nothing to be tense about, except that Charles' hair is brushing against the open neck of Erik's shirt and he's warm and the way he smiles at Erik makes Erik want to take him apart, but only if he can put him back together and he's never done that before, there's no way he can be trusted to put something back in working order, he can only be depended on to destroy and--
And Charles is staring up at him with those wide, blue eyes.
"You're thinking very loudly," Charles says. His voice wobbles a bit. His mouth is very close to Erik's mouth.
"Sorry," Erik says. He should look away, he should shake Charles off.
Instead, he crashes the car.
It's a long walk to the closest motel, a long and awkward walk. Charles keeps smiling at him, a little nervous around the edges, but for once in his damned life he doesn't say anything.
Erik swallows his own words. They're mostly questions and he tries not to ask a question if there's a chance he won't like the answer.
They explain their situation to the clerk at the motel and he has a good chuckle and calls the nearest mechanic after securing them a room for the night.
They eat dinner at the diner across the street in a silence that follows them back to their room.
The door closes and Charles turns around so quickly he nearly cracks his head against Erik's jaw. Before Erik can ask him what's wrong, Charles is kissing him.
That is, perhaps, a bit of a misnomer. It would imply Erik isn't kissing back just as fervently, if not more so.
Charles is beautiful and eager. His arms and shoulders and back are covered with freckles. When he blushes, it bleeds down his neck and across his chest. His skin turns rosy where Erik nips it and his hips fit perfectly in Erik's hands. His mouth is filthy and talented, his hands are reverent, and he comes whimpering Erik's name and clinging to him as if he's been wanting this just as much as Erik has.
Afterwards, he falls asleep on Erik's shoulder as his fingers pet Erik's chest and explore the muscles of his abdomen. Erik memorizes the way Charles relaxes in sleep, the way his eyelashes rest against his cheekbones, the way his mouth is curled up into a self-satisfied smile. Instead of watching over him, Erik merely watches him.
He doesn't sleep for a long time.
They've been in Chicago two days and they've hardly slept. Charles would like to blame it on more pleasurable activities, but the truth is they've barely been back to their hotel, running around after the two young mutants they were hoping to recruit. His eyes feel gritty and he's been nauseated all morning, an awkward side-effect of lack of sleep that Raven used to tease him about. They finally managed to track down one youngster right after the other and were met with two firm rejections.
Forty-eight hours of non-stop searching and they don't even have anything to show for it. It would be frustrating--it is a bit frustrating and he knows Erik will have quite a bit to say on the matter once they're alone--if it hadn't been such great fun to dash around the city with Erik on his heels.
He feels Erik nudge his shoulder. Charles turns to him, hoping to share a smile or a look, something warm to hold him over until they get back to their hotel and Charles can kiss him the way he'd like, but the nudge wasn't tapping his shoulder to get his attention.
Erik is asleep.
They're on a bus, in public, surrounded by strangers, and Erik is asleep with his head on Charles' shoulder.
He's still balled up, of course, arms crossed and expression stern and set even in sleep. There's a tension to him that's frequently present when he sleeps, even once they've fucked, even when Charles promises Erik can relax, there's nothing out to get them tonight. He's a hair's breadth from being alert, but the point is he's not.
Something that could be panic or could be joy is suddenly balled up in Charles' throat, thick and wet and and twisting as he tries to swallow against it. He wants to gather Erik against his chest, pet his hair, murmur Oh, my darling, don't you see? You're not alone, you'll never be alone again. He wants to tell him, You don't always have to take care of everything, you can be taken care of too, I want to take care of you. He wants to cocoon Erik in a protective bubble where he'll always be this calm and this trusting, where Charles will always be able to look after him.
They're on a bus, though, surrounded by people in the middle of the day.
He leans against Erik, just a touch, and moves his head so Erik's hair is brushing against his neck. He smiles to himself, and then stays perfectly still.
Erik sleeps uninterrupted the rest of the way to the hotel.