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While the World Burns

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          Smoke and fire filled the sky, a dark toxic cloud blocking out the heavens that had forsaken them all. The world stretched out in barren wasteland of lost dreams and broken ambitions. What life had been here was long since suffocated out by the corruption of a once innocent race. The civilizations once brilliant monuments of accomplishment falling into the murky depths of their polluted sea. Debris and garbage washed up along their shores; once brilliant sands tarnished with oil and littered with rusting junk.

         He stood there, lost in the devastation of a world he had tried to save; a world that he had given his very life to protect. Grief pulled him to his knees, and remorse bowed his head against the sharp wind lashing against his frail form. How had they gone so astray? How had they lost everything? His old gnarled fingers curled into the ruddy dirt, droplets of his tears spilling onto the ground and moistening the earth. Those tears grew, washing up around him in a sea of red that wrapped around him like the body of a snake. He was pulled under and deeper into the inky-blackness. It suffocated him, despite his struggles---

         In one loud gasp Charles pushed himself up against the headboard of his bed, chest heaving with erratic breaths as he tried to piece together the fragments of his dream. Before he had even opened his eyes, the telepath had reached out for the lives around him. The steady heartbeats of his crew grounded him firmly. Nightmare. Just another nightmare. Fire. Smoke. Drowning. Death. The images blurred together until a headache pulsed angrily at him. In one smooth motion he rested his head back against the cool wood of his headboard and focused on breathing. It took a few minutes to let his body relax, to allow his clenched fists to release the material of his bedding they had captured.

        He hadn't had one of these in months-- and he had not missed them. With sleep now lost to him, Charles shoved back his sheets and allowed the cool air of his quarters to drift over his bare skin. The temperature sent a shiver down his spine, leaving the man to quickly wrap a robe around him to trap the heat from his sleep. Bare feet slid into slippers and with a weary squinting the man shuffled his way over towards his kitchenette.

       "Earl Grey, hot." He mumbled to the computer only for a dull 'NERNAH' to sound tauntingly at him. The man bowed his head, peering into the empty replicator with a frown pulling down his lips.
       "Earl Grey, hot." He requested again, only to be met with the same sound.
"Wonderful." He hissed softly before pulling back to rub at the bridge of his nose. It was far too early to deal with technical issues. What god-forsaken ill-luck had he acquired that was so determined to make his morning miserable?! With a huff, emerald eyes glanced down over his clothing. No. He couldn't chance walking to the mess-hall in just a bathrobe.

       It took several minutes for Captain Xavier to pull together his concentration enough to cloth himself in more reputable attire. The slender black of his standard uniform contracted against the deep red marking his command position. The jacket was left to hang open, offering a tempting glance along the well-toned abdomen. The four golden studs along his collar were enough to claim his status, even if his hair fell in an unruly mess of a child’s. The brown locks were destined to remain an untameable nest until after the man had received a warm cup of tea to start his morning.

       Wandering the halls, the man became aware of the sleeping minds around him. What of the night-shift was lurking around was not with in a close enough radius for him to pick up in his sleepy state. With no one to greet him, the man made it quickly to his destination, and stood staring challengingly at the replicator in the lounge. Its flashing green lights seemed to almost taunt him, tease him--- as if just waiting for his request. His lips were set into a firm expression, before he called crisply.

"Earl Grey, Hot."


      Charles's face fell into a look of absolute despair. H-how dare it! How dare it! The man stumbled back as if the computer had insulted him. The look of outrage over his sleepy features was sure to be adorable. If anyone else had been there to see it, they might have doubled over laughing to see their Captain looking so devastated.

        There was only one thing to do.


        A sleepy silence brushed back against his reach, and Charles sighed in defeat. It looks as if there would be no tea for him this morning, or for anyone else. Bowing his head the man turned on his heel and stomped back out into the hall. With his hands sliding down into his pockets, he let his feet lead him where they may. If a soothing cup of tea was beyond his reach, then he could at least wander and loose himself in his thoughts.

        Eventually the captain found his feet leading him to a familiar door, where he would pause and stare at the cool metal with a thoughtful look. His fingers lifted, ghosting along the interface before the door whooshed open at his command. It closed after him just as quickly, and the darkness of the room took a moment to adjust his eyes to.

        He stood their quietly listening to the silence that greeted him. Seconds bled into minutes, before the dim outlines of furniture became outlined in the shadows before him. Charles left his boots by the door, bare feet padding quietly through the maze before him. He knew the layout of this room like the back of his hand, and likely could have navigated it blind. However, he took caution in his movements. Slipping his jacket off and letting it rest to the back of a chair in passing. He prowled towards the bedroom, pale skin catching the soft glow from the various interfaces that flashed along the walls. A knee met the edge of the mattress, and in one fluid motion his weight followed the dip in the bed to bring himself up against the sleeping frame already lost to its warm sheets.

        The existing occupant stirred and glanced curiously towards its visitor with a sleepy expression.
         "Charles?" He inquired, turned slowly to welcome the smaller man to his chest. His voice still husky from not being used through the night.

        "Nightmare." Was all the Captain responded with and it seemed that was all that was needed. Two strong arms wrapped around the telepath, and after a brief fight with tangled sheets Charles was nestled contently against Erik's chest. His unruly curls tickling the underside of the magnetist's chin.

        Laying there Charles was comforted by the steady heartbeat sounding just under his ear. His eyes lulled closed under the caress of callused fingers gliding a path along his spine. Distantly he could feel concern curling through the engineer’s thoughts, and reached towards him with reassuring warmth. The mental brush seemed to be enough to relax Erik, who bowed his head to feather a kiss into the unruly hair below him. Soon after this Erik submitted himself back to sleep; wrapped up in his warm embrace it would not take Charles long to join him. What a splendid substitute for a hot cup of earl grey.