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Soup and Blankets (The Winter in Winter Remix)

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Summers greets him with a scowl. A scowl that goes a little smirky at the edges as Erik attempts to shake the snow off of his cape.

The snow is worse around the house than it is further out--the highway was the sort of steady, pleasant snowfall from terribly cheesy holiday movies, but by the time he'd hit the end of the driveway, he had to fight his way against the wind. He was beginning to regret not asking Azazel to drop him off, even if it meant having to deal with Azazel's knowing smirk.

He cradles the paper bag in his arms closer to his chest.

"Shut up, Summers," he says. He snaps his cape one more time to shake off the last of the snow and then stomps towards the stairs.

McCoy is waiting outside of Charles' bedroom, looking grumpy Erik greatly admires Hank's mutation. He's less fond of the claws and teeth and occasional vague threats towards Erik's limbs should anything happen to Charles. As if anything happens to Charles that Charles doesn't want to happen to Charles. At least, where Erik is concerned.

"He's sleeping," McCoy says, eyeing Erik and the bag suspiciously.

"I can wait," Erik says, tapping his foot impatiently.

"He needs to sleep, he's been up for hours," McCoy says.

"I know," Erik says. "He's been whining to me for most of them."

"What's in the bag?" McCoy asks.

Erik sighs. Heavily. McCoy does not relent.

"Soup!" Erik finally snaps. "Have I passed your damn test yet?"

McCoy stares at him consideringly.

"He really does need to sleep," McCoy says after a moment. "At least for a few hours. But I know someone else in need of some motherhenning."

"I don't mother hen," he says. "I just needed to get him to be quiet. He was interrupting my important work." He certainly wasn't concerned. It's a simple winter cold. Nothing to worry about, really. Except that Charles could be stubborn, and sometimes Erik doubted whether any of his pupils or staff quite knew how to properly care for him. They needed to be firm in their demands that he rest and take his medicine and try not to overtax himself. Despite all the changes since they first met, Erik still can't imagine McCoy being firm with Charles.

He eyes the doorway again, but McCoy says, "Downstairs, Charles is fine," and then shoves him back towards the stairwell.

The children's rooms are on the floor below, and McCoy leads him straight down the hall to the last door on his left. Inside is the shivering, snotty, miserable source of the bad weather.

"Mr. Erik!" Storm sniffs from under what must be at least twenty blankets. She waves her tiny arms at him, but seems to lack the energy to push herself up. Erik sits on the edge of her bed and places the paper bag on the nightstand.

"Storm," he says in greeting, and brushes his fingers over her hairline. Entirely to take her temperature, of course. He doesn't care about offering comfort to Charles' brats.

"I'm glad you're here, Mr. Erik," she says, and snuggles down into the blankets. Her forehead is warm under his fingers and she presses up into the touch. He pets her hair. To check how much she's sweating due to fever. Entirely. "The Professor is grumpy."

"I imagine he's unhappy about being ill," Erik says, though he doesn't have to imagine it, as he's experienced Charles' whining first-hand for the past few days, any moment his helmet hasn't been on his head.

"Sick is the worst," Storm says, and sniffles again. "I don't feel good."

"I see that," Erik says. Then, "How about some soup?"

It's short work to retrieve a spoon from downstairs. A little harder for the bowl, but Charles is nothing if not lazy and there's a lovely china set in the good dining room that's decorated with a metallic filigree pure enough for Erik to fetch it when he's in bed with Charles and they're feeling peckish. He heats the metal of the soup container so it's steaming when he pours it into the dish and then holds the bowl as Storm very carefully eats it.

She's very small. He's noticed that before, of course, when he's caught her lurking around corners and under furniture, watching him, but wrapped up in a mountain of blankets and eating soup with shaking, fever-ridden hands, she seems downright tiny. He could wrap her up in his cape and sneak her out of here and no one would even notice.

Not that the Brotherhood is any place for a child. Or that he cares for her at all. It's simply a security flaw on Charles' part. He shouldn't keep such powerful, tiny mutants around, ready to be snatched up by anyone with a large handbag.

"Will you read me a story?" Storm asks once she's made a sizable dent in the bowl of soup.

"Can't you read yourself?" he asks. "Isn't this supposed to be a school?"

"I can't read the good stories," she says. "Only the boring ones. Well. The one with the cat is good. Read one of the stories the Professor reads."

The girl has more books than Erik knew existed for children, and under her direction, he pulls out a thick one with a young redhead on the cover, very obviously snooping where she doesn't belong. There are very few pictures. He got the impression that children this age enjoyed pictures.

"Are you sure you want this one?" he asks.

"Yes!" Storm says. "The Professor lets me read that all the time!"

He interprets that as confirmation that Charles probably wants her nowhere near this book and doesn't even know she has it, but children have to learn about the harsh realities of the world somewhere. Charles can't sanitize everything for them, and he can't imagine there's much objectionable material in something starring a girl detective, so he settles into the chair next to Storm's bed and cracks the spine.

Storm is asleep after two chapters. He only has to edit the material slightly (he doesn't care, of course, about things being too scary for her, but he doesn't want to deal with Charles complaining to him later about scarring the girl for life, so it's for the best, really), and it's not quite as terrible as he feared, though he makes a note to suggest some slightly more engaging reading material for her in the future.

He leaves the book by her bedside and gathers the bowl and spoon and half-full canister of soup to take back upstairs to Charles' bedroom. McCoy is long gone, but no presence has announced itself in Erik's mind, which makes him think Charles is still asleep.

He's half-right. Mostly right, maybe. Charles is heaped in what are probably more blankets than even Storm and nestled into a pile of pillows at the center of the bed. He's pale and sweaty and he doesn't open his eyes when Erik shuts the door, but he does make a quiet noise.

Erik shakes his head. He's sure Charles brought this on himself, running around, over-extending himself as he's prone to doing. Erik kicks off his shoes viciously. Charles is supposed to be a grown man. He should know better than this.

I don't yet possess the power to control my immune system, Charles murmurs sleepily in his head.

"I wasn't talking to you," Erik says, though it's not entirely the truth. Also, he learned long ago that Charles doesn't care if someone is talking to him or not.

"You came," Charles says, cracking open his eyes and turning his head towards Erik.

"Yes, well, you were whining and you know how that irritates Emma," Erik says. He unbuckles his cape and drapes it neatly over the back of a chair. "Honestly, you're impossible to deal with when you're sick."

"I'm lovely," Charles says, and then coughs. Erik frowns.

"I brought you soup," he says. He adds jacket, shirt, belt, and trousers on top of his cape, leaving him standing in nothing but his undergarments.

"I don't want soup," Charles says. Come here, he adds.

Erik crawls under the mound of blankets and slides across the giant mattress until he can press himself against Charles' body. Charles is hot all over and clings to Erik, burying his head in the crook of Erik's neck.

"You'd better not get me sick," he says. "I have important plans in the near future and some of us can't just take a sick day to wallow in our self-pity." He presses his forehead against Charles' and frowns at Charles' temperature. McCoy is clearly not doing a very good job of caring for Charles.

"Hank is wonderful," Charles says, already halfway back to sleep. Wonderful to me and to little Ororo. She was quite insistent that we would get better if you came. You make me happy, apparently.

"Do I?" Erik asks, gently wrapping Charles in his arms. He rests his chin on top of Charles' head and sighs.

"She seems to think so," Charles says. She's not wrong. He sighs too, and then wipes his nose on Erik's shoulder because he's utterly disgusting.

"I really do loathe you," he says, but Charles smiles against his collarbone and drifts back to sleep.