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July 29, 2009

Charles wakes up to find a small metal box lying on the bed, next to his pillow. He sits up as fast as he can, and opens it eagerly, wondering what new toy Erik has sent him this time—and is disappointed when, instead, he finds a small, clear plastic bag, filled to bursting with blue M&M’s (and only blue M&M’s) and fastened with a curling metal ribbon.

Charles curses as he cuts his finger on a sharp edge of the ribbon as he tries to undo it. He sucks on the injured site and turns the box over with his other hand, trying to see if there’s anything else he’s missed. But no, it’s just the box and the bag of M&M’s.

He shrugs, rips the bag open, and shoves a fistful of the candies into his mouth.

 

July 30, 2009

There’s another metal box on the bed this morning. All right, so this is a series. The box looks identical to the one from yesterday, and when Charles opens it, he turns it over and excitedly shakes out—

Another bag of blue M&M’s, though it’s tied with a cloth ribbon this time.

Charles rolls his eyes. Maybe Erik’s trying to fatten him up; he’s been whining lately about the paunch he seems to have developed and complaining about Charles’s comparatively trim abdomen (which Charles, having got into the habit of morning workouts nearly half a century ago, works hard to maintain).

Ah, well. A few pieces of candy before breakfast can’t hurt. He’ll just have a few—five at most—and then put the rest in the candy bowl in the kitchen.

(By the time Charles leaves his room, every last M&M is gone.)

 

August 10, 2009

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Charles mutters, when he wakes up to find yet another metal box on his bed. Erik still hasn’t explained why he’s doing this; the one time Charles had tried to mention the M&M’s, Erik had just said, gruffly, “Are you eating them?”

“Some of them,” Charles had lied. (He’s eaten every single one.)

“Charles,” Erik had said, “you need to eat all of them. For me.”

“Are you trying to see if it turns my semen blue, or something like that, Erik?” Charles had asked. “Because I’m entirely positive that won’t work.” He honestly has no idea why Erik seems to be doing this. And it’s only blue M&M’s, never any other colors. Charles isn’t a heathen; blue M&M’s are his favorite, but would it kill Erik to give him some variety?

“Just eat them,” Erik had said.

“Tell me why.”

“Because I want you to.”

“But why?”

Then there’d been a loud crackling sound, after which Erik had said—yelled, really—“I’M GOING THROUGH A TUNNEL, CHARLES, I CAN’T HEAR YOU—”

“That’s a lie, you were just trying to get me to have phone sex with you, you’re in bed, you bastard, just tell me what’s going on—”

Click.

Charles is still irritated; he has staunchly refused to speak to Erik since, unless Erik agrees to explain what the hell he’s trying to do with all these M&M’s. Since Erik is suspiciously mute on the subject, they’re at something of an impasse.

...Oh, God. Erik doesn’t think blue M&M’s have anything to do with Viagra, does he? And even if he did, why would he send them without having the decency to show up himself to take advantage of any resulting increase in Charles’s libido?

With a huff, Charles opens the box, pulls out the bag, rips it open, and shoves every last M&M into his mouth.

As he wheels himself over to the bathroom, he adds the box to the growing pile next to his wardrobe. A few more days, and he’ll be able to construct a model of the Eiffel Tower.

He sighs.

 

August 15, 2009

This morning, when Charles wakes up, there’s a metal box on his bed—but it’s being held out to him by Erik, who is also on his bed. Charles is about to pounce on Erik and kiss him senseless; they haven’t seen each other in weeks at this point, Charles too caught up with the school to leave and Erik drawn away by some emergency Brotherhood business that, apparently, only he could handle.

But then Charles remembers that Erik still hasn’t explained the meaning of the M&M’s, and he rolls onto his back with some effort, huffing loudly.

“Charles—” Erik tries, reaching out to touch Charles’s shoulder with his free hand. Charles shakes him off, not having any of it.

“Are you going to tell me what all this is about?” he demands.

“It’s not—” Erik tries, but Charles shoves himself up into a sitting position and looks down at Erik, bestowing upon him his most irritated glare.

“Erik, you have been leaving metal boxes of blue M&M’s on my pillow for the last”—Charles looks over at the mini Eiffel Tower and counts—“seventeen days, even though you have technically not been home, so I can only assume that you’ve been instructing Azazel to deliver them—which, by the way, is incredibly intrusive and not a little concerning, we’re going to have to have a talk about boundaries and appropriate delineations thereof later—so please, do me the courtesy of explaining to me why the hell M&M’s, and blue ones at that, are so damn important.”

Erik mutters something incomprehensible.

“You’re going to have to repeat that.”

Erik mumbles again, looking away sheepishly. He tugs at the neck of his turtleneck nervously, and that’s it, Charles has had it. He slips into Erik’s mind, nudging past the worry and embarrassment and finding—an article?

Oh, good God.

“Erik,” Charles sighs, flopping back down. “You know that’s not...” He pauses, tries to think how best to phrase this. Erik, in the meantime, is studiously avoiding Charles’s gaze.

“All right,” Charles says, finally. “Darling, I appreciate the thought, but it’s been years. Even if this were a therapy that had been tested and approved for use on humans—which it isn’t, as you know, and much as you have enjoyed comparing me to a lab rat in the past, I think you’re well aware that I am not actually a member of the species Rattus norvegicus—it is still highly unlikely that it would work on me at this point. The scar tissue’s too extensive, the damage has been compounded by the normal issues that come with aging, and anyway, simply ingesting the dye likely isn’t enough; it would have to be injected into my spine.” He sighs, shakes his head. “Besides, that article says the dye is like the one found in M&M’s.”

Erik stays silent, still not looking at him. His mind, though, is still whirling, his embarrassment nearly stifling.

Charles sighs again.

“Darling,” he says, reaching out and running his hand up and down Erik’s arm. “I appreciate the thought, I do. But I rather thought we’d...got past this, a long time ago.”

Erik exhales heavily. “I just thought...”

“It was worth a shot?” Charles finishes quietly. “It’s all right, sweetheart.” He squeezes Erik’s arm in a way that he hopes is reassuring. “But next time you decide to try to experiment on me, tell me first, all right?” He pulls gently on Erik’s shoulder, rolling him over so Charles can see his face. Charles sits up slightly and kisses Erik’s cheek.

“Or,” Charles says, with a mischievous grin. Erik looks at him quizzically. Well, at least he doesn’t look sad anymore. “You could always send the paper to Hank and see if he wants to start experimenting. But I do draw the line at letting Hank inject me with experimental treatments.”

“About time you stopped letting him experiment on you,” Erik mutters, pulling Charles closer to him and burying his face in the crook of his neck.

“I’m far too old for that sort of thing,” Charles says, stroking Erik’s hair soothingly. “You don’t have to worry about me.”

Erik makes a disbelieving noise and pulls away so he can give Charles his best frustrated look. “Of course I have to worry about you,” he says gruffly. “I go away and then you do stupid things like fight Cyclops in the Danger Room—oh, yes, I heard about that, we are going to talk about all the idiotic things you’ve been doing while I’ve been gone—”

“And what about you?” Charles retorts. “Emma told me about that levitation trick you tried, and how you very nearly threw out your back and broke your legs.” His grip tightens. “You have to be more careful; you’re not thirty anymore.”

“Tattletale,” Erik grumbles.

“Believe it or not, she actually cares about you.” Charles lifts his hand to Erik’s face, pushes a lock of gray hair off his forehead. Fondly, he adds, “Idiotic as you can be sometimes.”

Erik rolls his eyes before leaning in to kiss Charles. You’re the idiot.

Charles huffs a laugh into Erik’s mouth. Pot, kettle, love.

“Yeah, yeah,” Erik says, pulling back and pressing his forehead to Charles’s. They stay there for a moment, and then Erik sits up a little and raises his hand: the metal box, forgotten, floats to rest on his palm, opening with a flick of his finger.

“So,” Erik says, offering Charles the box. “You going to eat these, or not?”

Charles rolls his eyes but takes the bag anyway.

After all, it can’t hurt.