When Charles glances blearily at the clock it's three am and Tony is trying to surreptitiously crawl into the bed. At least he's considerate; Charles ponders, as Tony avoids nudging the unmoving legs, and instead wriggles in until his cheek is pressed against Charles' chest, sniffling wetly into his sleep shirt.
"Bad dream?" Charles murmurs, and Tony nods, mumbling something nonsensical. "Would you like to talk about it?"
"You'll laugh," Tony says, rubbing at his tear-stained cheeks.
"I won’t. I promise."
Tony squirms. He flushes and ducks his head, tugging at the bedspread nervously. "I dreamt I always lived here and Mr Lehnsherr lived here too and - and maybe mom was still alive?" The last part is said in such a confused way that Charles' heart clenches, tucking Tony's head under his chin and breathing in that sweet-talc smell.
"See, it was stupid," Tony mumbles.
Charles smiles wryly. "Not at all. In fact, it's something I've dreamt, also."
Tony pulls back, just enough, nose to nose. "Really?"
They curl up, and go to sleep.
It’s when Tony falls asleep in his lap that Erik knows he's done for.
Really, he should have seen it coming. Tony is a tenacious boy, quite open with his love, and he'd given it to Erik with no reserve, no hesitation - only with great trust; the kind of trust that only a child can give.
Truthfully, it's hard not to love a child like Tony.
His mind works in ways so mysterious that only Hank can keep up with him. Erik isn't sure if it's a part of Tony's mutation or something entirely separate and purely Tony, but either way, his capacity for understanding the most complex scientific principles has them baffled. Coupled with his ability it makes him a very special, unique child. One that has wriggled in right under Erik's nose and settled in the cavity of his chest.
Tony snuffles in his sleep; a faint little snore that he'll deny when he's awake and Erik teases him for it.
"He was up most of the night with Hank."
Erik starts. Charles has a way of sneaking up on him in these moments, as if the metal within Charles' wheelchair doesn't thrum like a beacon. "I'm surprised you let him," he remarks.
Charles chuckles. "I didn't, I wasn't aware until he fell asleep in his cereal this morning. He's a stubborn boy."
Rather like you, my friend.
Erik grimaces, letting out a steady breath. "Stay out of my head, Charles."
Silence, stilted enough to make even Tony frown in his sleep. "As you wish," Charles replies, and Erik pretends he doesn't hold his breath until Charles is gone.
"You and the Prof should make up, y'know."
Without looking up from his work Erik merely cocks a brow. "What makes you think we're at odds."
Tony pulls a face. At seven he's a short thing in dire need of a haircut, but the last time Charles had taken a pair of scissors to Tony's hair it'd been a disaster; the boy just refuses to sit still. Much like now, in fact, when he should be doing his math homework.
He's just bugging Erik, instead.
Tony lets out a big, pre-adolescent sigh, one tinged with obvious annoyance. He's been taking tips from Sean, obviously, and Erik leans back in his chair and gestures for Tony to continue.
"You're always going on about mutant and proud, Mr Lehnsherr, but you don't let the Prof talk to you in your head. Why?"
Ah. That. Erik exhales, and closes his eyes. "It's private, Tony."
"That's just bullshit-"
"-Yeah, no, okay, but as much as I like you - and you're an awesome teacher - you're a hypocrite. It's like telling him he's not allowed to breathe around you."
Erik rubs his temples, a headache no doubt on the horizon. "I don't really want to get into this right now. Do your homework."
Tony scowls, cheeks puffing up. He lets it go with a heavy, angry exhalation, and stomps back to his desk to attend to his homework.
The quiet is welcome, if an awkward one.