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11 Days, 8 Hours and 12 Minutes (or Bruises, Stupidity and Anger Management)

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Through circumstances that Erik can possibly admit to himself, are stupid and petty, he’s in the kitchen of the teachers' wing of the school, in the middle of the night. He should be in his bed, asleep, instead he's busy patching up his boyfriend... ex-boyfriend, ex-ex-boyfriend?

It’s not like he’s come away unscathed, either. Charles has already cleaned a nasty cut running through Erik’s eyebrow and put butterfly bandages on it. He probably needs stitches, but he doesn’t want to go anywhere and leave Charles on his own - there’s still important shit between them that needs to be addressed.

Not that Erik wants to, but he’s not that stupid. He knows perfectly well that if he wants Charles back, the last thing that will work is putting distance between them.

Charles winces and Erik slows his movements, carefully dabbing the split lip with antibacterial cream before attaching one of the small butterfly bandages to close the cut. He wants so much to lean down and press his mouth to it, but he’s still not sure where he stands with Charles.

What he does know, is they both need to clean up. Erik can feel the come drying in his boxers and he's pretty sure that Charles is in much the same predicament.

--

11 days earlier:

Erik slams the door to his room. His room. The one he hasn't been using for the past six months, because he's been sleeping in Charles' room, in his bed. With him.

He glares at his empty bed, breathing deeply as the frame shakes with his anger.

Charles Fucking Xavier.

Leaning his head back against the door, Erik takes a deep breath, trying to center himself. It doesn't help that all the ways that have worked for him so far, are methods that Charles has helped him develop. Erik stares at his dusty bedside lamp as it slowly melts with his anger. It may not be as good as Charles' methods, but it works.

Sort of.

Erik spends day 2 and 3 of the Apocalyptic meltdown that is his lovesex life, channeling all his anger into the mission that's suddenly landed at his feet - courtesy of Logan, who keeps giving him these knowing smirks.

If not for the fact that Logan is fucking scary, Erik would rip the metal out of his body in retaliation. But he won't. Even if there's no Brotherhood or X-men anymore, Logan is still the one who rid them of Shaw and led them, until they threw their resources in with Xavier's lot.

Erik curses the day they did. Curses the fact that he hadn't followed his initial instinct, which had been to leave.

On Day 4 of Erik Lehnsherr's shitty life, he admits to himself that the merger has turned out to be a good idea after all, and that maybe, just maybe, his time with Charles has at least taught him a few good tricks.

On Day 5 of Making Erik Miserable, Charles has buggered off on some super secret mission that Erik would normally have been on as well. They made a damned good team while it lasted.

Admitting this, however, sets him off again, and he paces back and forth in his room after dinner. He's paging through old messages on his phone, all of them from Charles, deleting them, deleting pictures, candid photos that he's taken of Charles on a whim, or more often than not, taken by Charles and sent to Erik for a good laugh.

Of course the phone's ever so 'helpful' system pops up when he tries to delete the image that's currently set as user image in his contacts. 'This image is currently connected to a contact. Are you sure you want to delete this image?' the thing asks him. Erik should just press yes, but he opens the full sized file it just to check and he's floored when he does. It's the one that always pops up when... Charles used to call him. The picture of a barely awake and very naked Charles in ...their bed, sheets rumpled and the look on his face that Erik had put there by waking him up with a slow blowjob.

He stops, he's already marked the picture up for deleting, but he stops, finger hovering over the button. He sits down heavily on his unmade bed. Stares at the picture until his eyesight goes blurry and he drops the phone on the floor and buries his face in his hands.

Fucking stupid is what he is. Fucking stupid is what Charles is. They're both idiots of the most magnificent kind. They had something good and he can't believe he let it fall apart so easily. He's been blaming Charles since it happened, and Charles probably him, when in truth, they're both too stubborn for their own good.

Now, if they are to ever solve this damned problem, they'll have to spend time together and Erik's still smarting from Charles' words and Charles has been avoiding him - not to mention, going off on missions without Erik.

Of course that reminds Erik that one of the things Charles has thrown at him is Erik's urge to protect him, as well as his jealous streak when it comes to Charles. Granted, Erik is a possessive asshole on a good day, but he'd gotten the impression that Charles actually liked that.

This sets Erik's teeth on edge again as he rehashes another key point of their relationship. The fact that Charles will repeatedly put himself in danger. Always thinking he can talk his way out of most situations. Which he can, but that's not really the point!

On the 6th day of Anger Management with Erik Lehnsherr, Erik wonders if maybe Charles will find someone on the mission and he'll be a better boyfriend than Erik.

This is the day Erik melts all the metal fixtures in the main gym's changing room.

Day 7 of Erik's Coping Mechanisms are Fucked Up, Logan tells him to get his shit together and talk to Charles, who'll be back in the afternoon.

Which Erik takes as an excuse to go out and get rip-roaringly drunk. He's not a sad bastard, so he tries to rally others to go with him. Unfortunately, because Steve isn't available to watch his back, he ends up with Azazel, who is Russian and therefore obviously has vodka instead of blood in his veins. Erik also learns that teleportation is a bitch when you're drunk, even more so if your teleporter isn't sober either. When he comes home, he spends most of the night projecting petty shit at his wall, all aimed at Charles.

On the 8th morning of Pathetic Displays, he's so hung-over, he thinks he might be dying. He finally ventures out of his room in search of coffee around 11, thankfully not teaching anything till after 3. He's barely set foot outside his door, before Emma slaps him. And it stings and it makes his head hurt tenfold. She then demands, much like Logan yesterday, that he gets his shit together, because his night-long mental ''Barking, sniffing and whining at the little professor's' door' has kept her up and given her a fucking migraine.

On the 9th day of Unholy Terror, thy name is Erik Lehnsherr, he wonders if everyone is avoiding him. He's pretty sure they are doing the same to Charles, whom he hasn't seen, but has heard has returned unharmed. At least five people feel a need to tell him this, including Raven, who is laughing her ass off at him, no matter how hard she tries to hide it. And of course Erik is avoiding Charles like the plague, much like Charles does not seek him out.

On the 10th day of Avoidance 101, Brian tries to talk to him but Erik just shrugs and excuses himself - he has a batch of new recruits to train. It's true - even if he doesn't have to be in the training area for another hour. And he puts the fear of Erik Lehnsherr into them, well aware that without Charles to temper him, he can be an outright bastard.

Not that he cares.

At all.

On the 11th day of Epic ManPain, Erik Lehnsherr, the Mighty Master of Magnetism, is betrayed. By one of the men he trusts the most, even.

"Lehnsherr, when the hell are you going to act like the grownup you claim you are and solve this mess?"

Erik turns around in the hallway. He's on his way to one of the smaller gyms where Logan's agreed to spar with him. Erik needs the outlet for his temper. And Logan is one of the few people who won't hold back during training.

"Solve what mess?" Erik asks, knowing very well to what Logan's referring.

"You've been a right terror for the last week and a half," Logan says, walking up to the gym door - punching in his code, but not moving to actually open it. "And Xavier Jr. has actually snapped at people. Erik, Charles Francis Xavier doesn't snap at people."

Erik takes a deep breath. "It takes two to tango," he says, stalling, hoping they can just go into the gym and he can beat the ever loving shit out of Logan - or probably reversed, considering that the dampening field will be on and Erik's powers will be no help at all. Neither will Logan's, but Logan's an old soldier, a cunning fox and he plays dirty when it suits him.

At least it means focusing on fighting and not thinking about Charles.

"How mature," Logan snorts, "but everyone's tired of walking on eggshells around the two of you, so I suggest you solve it, and you know what they say," he continues, putting a hand on Erik's shoulder, pushing him non too gently through the opening.

Erik turns his head as he stumbles sideways into the gym, staring at Logan who's blocking the way out.

"Nut up or shut up," Logan says with a mean grin, before stepping back and shutting the door.

Erik's still wondering what the hell that was supposed to mean, when he hears the trademark sound of the claws coming out and the sputter of electronics and wires being severed. Before he can even try to get to the door, he realizes he isn't alone. Turning around, ever so slowly, he comes face to face with Charles, who looks as surprised as Erik feels.

"Erik."

"Charles."

Charles makes a face at him. "I take it you weren't expecting me."

"You'd be right," Erik says carefully. He knows that the dampening field has an effect on Charles, but he also knows that it does not completely negate his power. Mostly, Erik figures, because Charles is far more powerful than Hank could've ever imagined when he built the thing. Of course, Charles hasn't 'set' foot' in Erik's mind since Erik told him to get the fuck out of it, so the risk of having him in there is pretty nonexistent in the first place.

They stare at each other for a moment, without saying anything. Erik tries hard not to catalogue every little detail about Charles, reacquainting himself with the way the man looks, breathes, stands...

Erik shakes his head. "I get the feeling we won't be allowed out of here until we've 'solved' our little problem."

"Little problem?" Charles says evenly, a glint to his eyes that warns Erik he might have chosen the wrong words. "We're simply not together anymore, what is there to solve?"

Annoyance rises in Erik's mind. "Well, according to everyone else, we've been hell living with since we... parted ways."

"You maybe," Charles says, putting his hands on his hips, "I have been my usual amiable self,"

Erik's mouth goes dry. The t-shirt Charles is wearing is clinging to him and he's only wearing a pair of thin yoga pants that outline his waist and thighs very well. "Bullshit, you snapped at someone," Erik says, tearing his eyes away to turn his attention back to the door. Maybe he can fix it and get out.

"Did not."

"Did too."

Charles rolls his eyes at him, Erik can tell even with his back turned. "Alright, we'll deal with this, then."

Erik ignores him, popping the plate off the door controls. It's all completely ruined, Logan did a damned fine job - through two layers of steel plates. Unfortunately, the dampening field is still active.

"How mature of you," Charles mutters behind him.

"What?" Erik snaps, refusing to turn around and he stares at the destroyed control panel - as if he can fix it with his will alone.

"Ignoring me."

"I'm not ignoring you," Erik says acidly. "I'm trying to find a way out of here."

"Because being in here with me is such hardship," Charles snipes.

"Yes!" Erik turns around, glaring at Charles.

"Well, I'm sorry about that," Charles says, his mouth a tight line.

"Of course you are," Erik mutters.

"No need to be sarcastic," Charles replies.

Erik just glares at him. It had been easier back when Charles kept a constant connection open to his mind. Even if had been a one way street, it had at least allowed Charles to navigate the minefield that is Erik's temper. Erik isn't going to openly admit that he really does miss it, though.

Not that he needs any extra special powers to tell that Charles is very annoyed with him and of course, Erik can't leave it well enough alone. He steps forward and some part of him gleefully notes that Charles backs away from him, onto the sparring mattress that takes up most of the floor in the room.

"You're angry with me, aren't you?" he asks.

"No, Erik, I'm not. You, on the other hand, are being childish," Charles says defensively.

"Oh no, you're pissed off aren't you? So why don't you hit me? Let it rip. I'll even let you get in the first punch," Erik offers, feeling the insane urge to taunt him.

"No!"

"Come on, hit me," Erik says, advancing slowly on Charles, who's looking more and more annoyed by the second. "You know you want to."

"Erik, I said no," Charles says.

Even with the dampener switched on, Erik can almost feel Charles' anger. He figures it should scare the shit out of him, but he's far too angry himself to care. "So you're just going to walk away again the moment we can get out of here?"

Erik doesn't see it coming, because Charles can move when he wants to. And a moment later, Erik's on his back on the mattress, staring up at Charles, who is absolutely livid.

"I'm not the one who walked away!" Charles is all but shaking with anger.

It's a sight to behold and one that gets Erik's blood boiling, makes him want Charles, preferably spread out underneath him. Unfortunately he's still too annoyed with him to react to this with anything but anger. "You threw me out!" He gets to his knees, crouches and waits for Charles' next move.

"After yet another argument!" Charles growls, "When you once again alluded to me not being able to take care of myself!"

"You blame me for worrying about you?" Erik slams the flat of his hand down against the mattress in frustration. "You continuously put yourself in situations that'll end up with you dead!"

"What's it to you anyway?" Charles asks hoarsely. "You proved at the last fund raiser that you don't really...," he trails off.

Erik falls quiet for a moment. Surely Charles isn't referring to...

"Selene was all over you and you let her," Charles spits, eyes burning as he looks at Erik. "You liked it, encouraged it."

"You flirt with everything that has a pulse," Erik argues, "you can dish it out but you can't take it yourself, can you? Can't stand not to be the one they all want, everyone's favorite little mutant." And Erik hadn't liked it, but obviously Charles had misread the moment and then stopped listening to Erik's mind. Another reason why that fucking connection hadn't worked when he couldn't tell what Charles was thinking.

"How the fuck did you ever get that idea?" Charles gestures wildly. "You made it very clear that you couldn't live with our connection."

"I had issues with our connection yes, not our relationship!" Erik says, his voice rising as well.

Charles pales for a moment, then his face twists with anger and he launches himself at Erik.

Who is used enough to sparring with him, but still, when Charles hits him in a full body tackle, and Erik rolls with it, he still hits the ground with more force than he expects.

Charles punches him hard. Several times. "Same," he pants, hitting Erik, "bloody," another hit, "thing!"

They struggle for a moment, neither getting a hit in, until Charles' fist glances off Erik's cheek, the taste of blood tainting Erik's mouth. Erik knows, deep down that he should stop them, but he's had all this pent up shit in his head for the past 11 days and he'll be damned if he'll be the first one to back down.

He rolls them over, slamming Charles' body into the mattress, trying to pin him with his own. This may, or may not have been a good idea, and Erik realizes this as Charles tries to arch to force him off. The sense memory of play fighting and wrestling like this for fun, unfortunately breaks Erik's concentration for a second.

A second, however, is all Charles needs. A moment later, Erik is the one on his back, Charles straddling his waist and pinning his elbows to the mattress with his knees. His fists connect with Erik's face twice before Erik manages to wrest one arm free and fend him off.

It's a testament as to how angry Charles is that Erik even manages this move, the heel of his hand connecting with Charles' jaw, snapping his head up. As Charles falls back, hand covering his mouth, Erik realizes that his aim must've been a little off and he's split Charles lip.

There's blood and Erik can smell it, feel it and it shouldn't make him feel this triumphant.

Neither should it be turning him on as much as it does.

A split second later, they slam into each other again, less coordinated but with a lot more heat. Erik can feel something trickle down along the outside corner of his eye, but he blinks it away, focuses on his fight. Focuses on avoiding the move that Charles executes, but he's too slow and he's heading for the mattress again.

However, this time he manages to snag his leg around the back of Charles', whose knee buckles, causing him to fall as well. Erik doesn't let go as they hit the ground, and it takes a moment before he realizes that they're both grappling at each other in a completely different way.

Charles jams a thigh in between Erik's and Erik rolls them over, pushing forward and biting into Charles' neck, which the man has most thoughtfully barred to him while throwing his head back and letting out a keening sound. The sound turns to a moan, turns to a shouted curse, as Erik bites even harder, feeling the skin give under his mouth, sucks on it till he tastes the iron in Charles' blood.

Erik barely registers that Charles stops hitting him and starts pulling instead of pushing. He doesn't notice until Charles grabs a handful of Erik's hair and tears at it, forcing Erik's head up.

Growling, Erik tries to convey his displeasure. He's busy, damn it! But whatever he's going to say to Charles, whatever might be on his lips, he forgets as Charles pulls his head down again, biting at his mouth and kissing Erik like it's going out of fashion.

At this point, Erik realizes that maybe the absence has been driving Charles as nuts as it has Erik. It's something he wants to pursue, later, because right now, he's busy, kissing Charles back, tasting blood from where Charles' lip is split. A minor injury, it seems, as Charles doesn't seem bothered.

Pushing his hands up under Charles' t-shirt, Erik rolls his hips, humping Charles' thigh and not giving a damn, because Charles is there with him, every step of the way. He arches up, moaning and cursing into Erik's mouth, but not exactly fighting him off.

He knows he'll regret it as his underwear and jeans chafe his slick skin, but Erik is too far gone to care. He's gotten used to having sex several times a week (hell, often several times a day), and having gone a whole of 11 days without even seeing Charles, has proven more than enough reason for his common sense to take a hike.

Breaking their kiss, Erik buries his face against Charles' neck, feeling and hearing him breathe heavily. His arousal climbs until it's almost painful and then it shatters his control. There is no way that he can keep himself from riding Charles' thigh or relentlessly pushing his own against Charles' hard cock. His, his Charles, who has let his head fall back, who is cursing and praising Erik in equal terms, his voice climbing with his climax, fingers clawing at the back of Erik's t-shirt, tearing till the seams give.

Erik huffs and hisses against Charles' skin as his body is finally allowed to release the tension, and heat and wetness spread in his underwear. It'll soon enough be uncomfortable, but he doesn't care, because Charles is thrashing under him, pulling and pushing and very vocally sharing his own release.

It's loud enough to make Erik's ears ring, but all he can do is hide his satisfied grin against Charles' skin.

As they stay where they are, Erik resting heavily on top of Charles, Erik knows that something's missing. One of the brilliant things about having sex with Charles, had been the mental connection, the rush of release that would echo back and forth between them. It's the one thing that ever did, because during their day to day lives, Erik is well aware that Charles was constantly aware of his emotional state while Erik never had the same advantage.

"I've missed this," he says before he can stop himself. "I've missed you - and I've missed you in my head." It's like his vocal cords have been disconnected from his brain and reattached to his heart (or possibly his dick). And they're just spilling the whole damned thing.

Charles is quiet for a moment, then says, in a low voice, "I'm not the one who couldn't handle the constant mental connection." He runs his fingers through Erik's hair, nails scraping against Erik's scalp, sending pleasant shivers through his body.

Erik rises onto his knees, staring down at Charles for a moment before putting his hands on either side of Charles' face and holding him still. The bruises Erik put there are already darkening. "You have had a one way street into my mind since we started ...dating. You can read me, I can't read you... your mood." He's trying to convey what's really the problem. He's fighting for the words, but carries on, crossing his fingers that Charles will get it. "I liked you in my mind, but it made me feel... not unequal, but..."

Charles draws in a deep breath. He closes his eyes and lets it out slowly. "Maybe we should take this conversation elsewhere? "

"If we can get out," Erik grouches. He hasn't forgotten Logan's mutilation of the door controls.

Charles smiles softly. It's nothing like what he normally gives Erik, but it's a beginning.

'Logan must've switched the field off at some point,' his voice unfolds in Erik's mind.

"The door is metal, Erik." He pushes himself up onto his elbows and he looks every inch the debauched, annoying know-it-all asshole that he is. "Just rip it off - or melt it."

Erik revels in the familiar mental touch and feels a small smile stretching his lips. He's always liked the way Charles' mind works. A moment later, the door hisses and melts into a puddle on the floor, allowing them out into the empty hallway.

Charles stops him with a hand to his wrist. It hurts to see how much hesitation there is in the move. "Hang on a moment," he says, pulling his shirt off and rolling it up to dab at Erik's temple.

Erik realizes that the wetness trickling down the outside corner of his eye isn't sweat, but blood. This is also the point where his body tells him that he's hurting all over. He can't help but stare at Charles' naked chest, however. The bruises are showing like red and purpling splotches.

They walk along the hallway, and Erik struggles for something to fill the quiet. "I hope Logan's happy," he growls.

"I'm sure he is," Charles mutters, glaring up at the surveillance camera hanging in the hallway.

Erik follows his gaze and snorts. "He probably already knows that we've stopped fighting. Considering he switched the field off at some point around the time we were... done, he probably watched it all on the surveillance camera."

Charles shoots him an alarmed look. "I did not need to know that," he says with a groan.

Erik snorts and pretty soon, they're leaning on each other, laughing so hard it hurts. "Perverted old bastard," Erik mutters. "Come on, we need a first aid kit - and I'm not going down to the lab to do this - McCoy will be there and he'll watch us with those big puppy dog eyes of his."

"They're more feline," Charles argues, "but yeah, I get that. There's a first aid in the kitchen cupboard."

Charles leads the way into the kitchen and Erik enjoys the view of Charles' back and naked shoulders. Yeah, he's missed it all. The humor, the sex, the sarcasm, the sex. The whole package, really.

"Other people don't need mental connections to fit together," he says with a sigh as he sits down on the chair that Charles indicates.

Charles laughs softly, "I hate to break it to you, Erik. We're not 'other' people. Normal is not what we do or who we are."

Erik shrugs. He knows Charles is right. He's just been so bloody stubborn about it. What had felt great in the beginning had become an unfair advantage for Charles.

Charles digs the first aid out of the cupboard and starts setting antiseptics and bandages on the table. Then he gets started on cleaning Erik's cuts and bruises. He stems the flow of blood from what turns out to be a split eyebrow. "I didn't think you'd want such a deep attachment"

Erik winces as Charles squeezes the skin together, holding it in place as he applies butterfly bandages. "I don't know what I want anymore," he admits, 'apart from you' he ads in thought, not sure if Charles picks up on it. He probably does, because there's a slight flush to his cheeks, and a small smile eases the focused look on his face a little.

And this is where it leaves Erik, in the kitchen, swapping places with Charles and cleaning his cuts, applying a single butterfly bandage to the split lip that keeps oozing drops of blood.

He cleans the last of the cuts and offers Charles a hand up that he is happy to see no hesitation in being taken.

Charles watches him for a moment, obviously trying to figure out where they are at. And Erik hopes he'll share when he figures it out, because Erik isn't sure either. He knows where he hopes they are, but he can't rush into this. Not again.

"We need to get cleaned up," Charles mutters, taking his own t-shirt, red with Erik's blood, and dumping it in the trash.

"Yeah," Erik agrees. He's sure Charles' pants are no more comfortable than his are. He pauses for a moment, because he wants so much to ask if that was meant as an invitation or...

Charles snags his shirt as Erik steps back. "The tub in my bathroom?"

Erik doesn't even think about it before he nods. Besides, neither of them should probably be left on their own right now. They're both so tired and bruised that falling asleep in the bath is a very real risk.

They get back to Charles' room without running into anyone else and for that Erik is grateful. He doesn't need their knowing or worried glances. He trails after Charles into the bathroom and smiles when he sees the tub. It's pretty big, and he and Charles have made many good memories in it.

Charles' cheeks color, but he still starts the water running before digging washcloth and towels out of the small compartment underneath the sink. Then he straightens, avoids meeting Erik's eyes and strips.

Erik's too tired to fight the urge to just watch while he undresses himself. Charles looks every inch as good as he remembers him. And he wants to touch, so much, but he leaves it up to Charles for now, because he's already said his piece, let Charles know why it hadn't worked the first time around.

As small as the tub is, Charles still tries to keep space between them - Erik just sighs and admits to himself that maybe Charles needs a push or two. He reaches out and pulls Charles to his chest. For a moment Charles is stiff as a board, then he melts against him. The familiar shape of him against Erik's chest sends a pang through him.

Erik winces as the warm water makes every little cut and scrape sting. He carefully soaps up the washcloth and starts washing Charles' shoulders and back, mindful of the darkening bruises. He reaches up and carefully rubs the pads of his fingers against Charles' temples. He proceeds to bury his face in Charles' wet hair. "Come back in," he says - "please" He can tell that Charles is holding his breath for a moment before letting it out slowly. Then he moves into Erik's mind, tentatively.

Erik lets out a breath he isn't even aware he's holding back. They stay like this for a while. Just... a light presence in each other's minds. And it's so much better that the connection goes both ways now. It's familiar like Charles' presence will always be to him, but there's the added layer of feeling the shape and color of Charles' thoughts, his mood as well.

"I've got some bad shit in my head," Charles says quietly.

And Erik wants to ask what, but he knows Charles will share eventually. He's never given it much thought - he knows that Charles' childhood wasn't all small kittens, rainbow barfing unicorns and fluffy clouds. He's gotten that much from Mystique, even if she's always been reluctant to share.

"And I was afraid if I let you in on my side, it would be allowing myself to have what I wanted most of all and it would ...hurt even more when... if... we broke up." Charles sighs deeply. "If I scared you away."

"I thought I was the emotionally constipated one," Erik mutters. Charles is normally the one who feels an overwhelming need to share. It's not like Erik's memories are bed of roses, he thinks to himself as he runs a hand soothingly up and down Charles' arm.

"No, you just don't hide that you have issues," Charles says with a small laugh. "Trust me, being with you for the past half year has been... a bit of an eye opener for me."

"Good or bad?" Erik asks, part in jest, partly a little worried.

Charles sits quietly. "All change is hard," he finally says, and that's the last thing either of them says in a while, as they busy themselves getting each other cleaned up. They sit in silence for a little longer, the hot water turning tepid. Erik feels sleepy, content to hold onto Charles, who suddenly slips from Erik's grasp and stands up. And Erik winces as he sees the bruises he's left on Charles' body. They are more vivid now, and come morning, he's sure they'll look even worse.

"I'm not fragile," Charles says with a huff, a warm rush of emotions touching Erik's mind. 'Want/need/hesitation/hope/joy.' Before, the few times he has felt Charles, it has always been what Charles has chosen to share with him. This... this is different. More open. Uncensored.

"I know," Erik says, taking the hand he's offered and gets out of the water. They towel off in silence. There's a low hum of arousal between them, but they're both too damned tired to do anything about it just yet.

"Stay with me tonight?" Charles asks.

Erik stares at him, then pulls him close and kisses him for a few long moments. "You don't have to ask," he finally says, leaning heavily against him.

Charles flushes again, but at least the old smile is almost back. The moment is broken as Charles yawns and in turn sets Erik off.

They both laugh and without further debate make their way into the bedroom. The door to the small living room is open and Erik pushes it shut by the metal handle. The bedroom feels shut off from the rest of the house, just the way he likes it while he and Charles get reacquainted.

In bed they curl up together and Erik goes back to kissing Charles, knowing that he's welcome, wanted and that Charles regrets their more than week long spat as much as he does. Will it happen again? Possibly, probably, though Erik hopes that a more open mental connection between them will allow him to head Charles off in time.

It becomes a slow, burning make-out session, though they're both too sleepy and achy to take it any further than that. And eventually it tapers off and they end up lying in a loose embrace under the covers.

Charles touches the sore cut bisecting Erik's eyebrow, traces the butterfly bandages. "Might end up with a sexy scar there," he says.

Erik can tell that Charles is feeling part guilty and part intrigued by this possibility. It feels fantastic to be allowed to experience all this, unfiltered. He wonders if it's because Charles is tired or...

"No, I'm just not shielding anything at the moment," Charles admits. "Just... let me know if it becomes too much, okay? Don't bottle it up inside so we end up with another fight."

Erik nods. He won't. He can't say for sure that he'll always like it this way. He knows there'll be situations where it will be too distracting, but he trusts Charles to recognize those. Right now, though, he's feeling so relaxed and in tune with Charles, he can't really imagine ever not wanting this.

"When father left...," Charles starts, "well, disappeared for a few years," he amends. "Mum paid a lot of money to get a divorce. Don't ask me how she managed that in such a short time, considering my father was only considered missing, but she did."

Erik stays quiet, he's not going to push Charles into sharing, but he'll be here for him if he feels like it. When he feels like it.

"Thank you," Charles whispers. "Anyway, shortly after, she married one of father's old partners, a man named Kurt Marko. I'm too tired to go through the whole tale tonight, but safe to say, Kurt and his son Cain did not make the most stable family home."

Erik tries to rein in his temper. Which gets him kissed. Soundly.

"Raven made it bearable," Charles admits. "But it wasn't easy for her either. Although at least Cain didn't beat her up or push her down the st..." Charles cuts himself and clears his throat.

Erik's temper burns a little brighter. Even with Charles cutting off his sentence, Erik is getting flashing images of stairs and pain.

"It's …" Charles stops. "I'm not going to say it's okay, but it's in the past. And father finally did escape the government facility he was locked up in for years and came back."

"Must have really pissed off your mother," Erik mutters. He's never met Sharon Xavier, but he's been able to piece a few things together from both Mystique and Charles occasionally mentioning her.

"Like you wouldn't believe," Charles huffs out a laugh. "However, father took us away and last I heard she had had enough of Kurt, who always were the worst kind of gold digger, and had thrown him out."

"And Cain?" Erik asks, deceptively light.

Charles shrugs. "Somewhere top secret with the army, I think" he says. "I try not to dwell on the past."

Erik gets that, but he still has to fight the urge to bundle Charles up and keep him safe from the world.

"It's okay," Charles says, this time laughing out loud. "You can think it, as long as you don't try to do so."

Erik grins. "And what about the jealousy thing?" he asks.

Charles tilts his head up for another kiss, yawning as he pulls back. "I think it's healthy enough to a certain point, and you are hot as hell when you get possessive."

"But?" Erik prompts. It doesn't upset him as much as he thought it would have.

"There's a time and a place," Charles replies, snuffling against Erik's shoulder, settling in for the night. "Hopefully, if you can live with the two way nature of our connection, you can tell when it's welcome and when it's just an unwelcome distraction."

Erik nods and twitches a finger, the light switching off. "I'll try," he says, getting comfortable as Charles proceeds to use him half as a mattress and half as a pillow.

"Brilliant, darling," Charles says, voice thick with sleep.

The dark room is silent for a few minutes. "Seriously?" Erik mutters, "Selene?" He shakes his head and sniggers when Charles pokes him and tells him to kindly shut up and go to sleep. Selene has nothing on his Charles, Erik thinks, grinning into the dark room, feeling at ease for the first time in 11 days, 8 hours and, he checks the bedside clock, 12 minutes.

The end