When Charles woke, the first thing he noticed was Erik.
The metal-bender was sitting in one of the infirmary’s plastic chairs. He had his arms crossed over his chest and he was staring. At Charles.
He was not happy.
“I told you this was a bad idea.”
“Where is he? Where's Remy?” Charles asked.
Erik rolled his eyes, and the swirling motion brought a swell of nausea to Charles’ stomach.
“He’s fine, Charles,” Erik answered. “He’s asleep. As are the rest of the children. It’s 2 a.m.”
“Oh,” was all Charles said before closing his eyes again. To Charles’ dismay, Erik latched on to this.
“Oh? Is that it? That’s all you have to say after waking up after a severe psychic attack?”
Ahh. That explained the absolutely dreadful headache.
"What happened?" He asked. He had flashes of memory: Remy, swinging his feet as he sat patiently in the chair. Erik, standing beside the boy, a look of disdain on his face. A tendril of thought probing out, connecting with the boy's mind--and then something clawing back. Pain, sudden and swift. A scream. Erik's hands. Then darkness.
"I've been waiting for you to tell me," Erik said, jolting Charles back to the present. "One minute, you were preparing to enter Remy's mind, and the next, you were convulsing on the ground. I rushed you to Hank, only to have him tell me he would 'run some tests' but we'd just have to 'wait and see.'" Erik's tone became more heated as he recounted this part of the events, and Charles swore he could feel a slight vibration in the room. "That was ten hours ago, Charles. I'm done waiting: what happened?"
“Erik, I appreciate the concern ,” Charles began. He knew his friend was worried more than anything, but it wasn't helping his head that all of Erik's concern came out as anger. “But can we leave the interrogation until the morning? As you yourself have already mentioned, I experienced a psychic attack tonight and I am tired. ”
“That’s just too bad, Charles, because sleep is going to have to wait,” Erik said, and okay, maybe Erik wasn't just worried, because even in his weakened state Charles could feel the fury that was about to boil over.
“Why are you so upset?”
And the boiling point was reached.
“Because I warned you this was a bad idea!”
“It was our only idea!” Charles said.
“No, Charles, you don’t get to do this.”
“You don’t get to veto every idea I come up with that puts me in danger only to go running headfirst into it yourself!”
“I’m sorry, Erik, but I don’t remember you having telepathic abilities, so when it comes to running headfirst into problems involving telepathy, I’m afraid I’m the only option we have!”
“Have you thought about not running headfirst into them?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He retorted. He knew it was childish, but he really wasn’t feeling his best and he wanted Erik to get to the point. He tried to push himself up on his elbows so he could at least be face-to-face with Erik, but before he was halfway up a wave of nausea crashed into him and he groaned, sinking back into the mattress. Through his tunneled vision he could see Erik, brow furrowed. Maybe concern was winning out over anger after all.
“Would you take it easy, you damned fool!” Erik spat. Okay, so concern wasn’t winning entirely. Charles gently himself back onto the pillows.
“I have a sense of self-preservation, Erik, despite what you think.”
“And Raven and Hank,” Erik shot back.
“Raven and Hank don’t think you have a sense of self-preservation either. Coming from your sister and your doctor, I’d say that’s a pretty big deal.”
“Well, I’m glad you all have something in common then. Can I be invited to your next discussion of my well-being?”
“Sure, if you’re conscious for it.”
Charles briefly wondered how many conversations the three of them had had about his health.
“Too many to count, my friend,” Erik responded. He sighed. “You’re projecting.”
“Why didn’t you say?” Charles said with a flash of annoyance. He reached out toward his wards and was shocked to find them in a desperate state. He was even more shocked that he hadn’t realized it.
“I only just realized it too. Difficult to notice when you’re shouting everything you’re thinking anyway.”
Charles was quiet for a minute as he focused on rebuilding his mental walls. It was a lot more difficult than it should have been, he thought. He hoped Erik hadn’t picked up on that.
“I did,” Erik said with a bemused grin. “But you of all people should know that it’s normal for them to be weakened after a severe psychic attack.”
“You keep saying that. ‘Severe psychic attack.’ How did you know?” Charles asked, switching topics.
“Hank ran some tests while you were out.”
“What did he find?”
“‘Psychic readouts consistent with a severe psychic attack,” Erik repeated robotically. “The rest was unknowable, scientific Hank talk,” he continued.
“That clears things up,” Charles scoffed. He sighed in relief as the last brick of his psychic dam clicked into place.
He could feel Erik’s relief now, a gentle emotion under the anger and concern. It was as if a wave lapped against his consciousness, slow and steady and lulling him toward its shore.
He closed his eyes, and let his head sink an inch into the pillow.
He heard a quiet sigh from beside him.
“Get some rest, Charles,” Erik said. “We’ll talk about this more in the morning.”
Charles was already half-asleep, but he started when he heard the plastic chair creek. He opened his eyes, and was about to protest Erik’s departure when he felt a gentle dip in the side of the bed. He looked to Erik, and was happily surprised to see the man leaning back in the chair, eyes closed, head canted back, and feet resting atop Charles’ bed.
Charles let out a breath. He closed his eyes once more, and sank back toward sleep, letting the gentle waves of Erik’s mind carry him toward serenity.