The safe house that Moira’s people have managed to find for them has space for everybody to have a room to his or herself. Hank is rather impressed that the thing is still standing, that something as good as that is available to them. The humans are being kind, courteous but Hank knows they are afraid. He can’t blame them.
The first thing he does is drag the mattress off the bed. There’s a strong possibility that the frame won’t take his weight and he doesn’t fancy waking up in the middle of the night to find himself falling. Sleeping will be hard enough without being woken with a shock and he can’t change out of his blue form. He doesn’t want to cause any damage, not now.
Once he has remade the bed on the floor, he goes to collect Charles.
Charles is not in bed. He is sitting bolt upright in the wheelchair that was found for him, looking at nothing very much and he reaches up for Hank almost like one of the students after a nightmare. Hank lifts him easily, carries him to the other room and tucks Charles in before getting in beside him. On another day, he might worry about what people might think if they find him and Charles in bed together but not this day, not this night. He needs to be close to Charles. Needs to feel him breathing and the touch of his mind and know that they aren’t dead – more than that, that they are okay and safe and that (almost) everything will be all right.
Sleep is hard. He has managed a fitful doze when the door opens. Hank looks up, half-expecting a fight but it is Jean, clutching a blanket. She doesn’t bat an eyelid at Charles and Hank together, but then she wouldn’t, would she?
“Is it okay if we come in?”
Charles just reaches his arm out and Jean cuddles into the embrace instantly, hiding her face in Charles’s shoulder. Hank looks around, puzzled.
“Scott will come when he’s stopped feeling silly,” Jean says, her voice muffled.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, Scott shuffles into the room, looking rather uncertainly at them as he does. Even in the dark, Hank thinks he can see the boy blushing at the idea of crawling onto a mattress with two men and a girl.
“It’s all right if you want to lie down next to Jean,” Charles says gently.
He doesn’t sound like he’s slept at all. Hank squeezes him very gently, trying to reassure him but he supposes it will take more than that to comfort Charles tonight. He watches Scott settle on Jean’s other side, carefully holding himself away in case it looks like he’s being forward. Hank sympathises with that. He thinks that he and Scott might get on quite well, when they have time to really speak.
They go silent for a while. Hank tries to doze but he knows Charles is wide awake, listening to nothing – or more likely, listening to the thousands of minds around them that have to still be reacting to everything that’s happened during the past few days. He wants his mind to be soothing but knows that it isn’t, knows it’s too full of things to be that.
He is about to speak to Charles when there is a strange noise and Kurt appears in the room, holding Peter’s arm.
“Here you are!” Peter says. “Kurt was wanted to find Scott and then came in to me when he couldn’t find him. What are you all doing on the floor?”
“Sleeping,” Hank growls, even though he and Charles obviously aren’t. Jean seems to have drifted off though and Scott’s rolled over and buried his face in her hair so he is probably asleep too.
“Why are you sleeping on the floor?” Peter says irritatingly. “Do you often sleep on the floor? I saw loads of beds in that mansion, don’t you use them?”
Kurt doesn’t seem too worried. In fact, he seems comforted to have found them, sits himself down beside Scott and curls his tail gently over Scott’s side. Scott doesn’t even stir.
“You’re all pretty weird,” Peter continues to babble. “And there’s not enough space on the mattress anyway, Scott’s nearly falling off it you know.”
“No one is making you stay,” Charles says. If Hank had said it, it would have sounded aggressive but somehow, Charles makes it sound like an affectionate observation. He strokes Hank’s arm, calming him and smiles at Kurt, who is already looking sleepy.
“Yeah, well. I like a party. Nobody has a party without me. Even if it’s a sleeping party.”
Peter lowers himself carefully to the floor, stretches his plastered leg out and leans against Kurt, putting his head on Kurt’s shoulder. When Hank looks at them again, they’re both fast asleep, propping themselves up against each other. Hank doesn’t even need Charles to give him a little mental poke. He gets out of the bed and moves quietly to one of the other rooms, collects blankets and sheets and pillows. He drapes the sheets carefully around the two boys and put the pillows near them, in case they are wanted.
He was walking back over to the mattress when the door opened and Moira peers in, looking sleepy and confused.
“Are you all okay? I heard someone moving around, thought it might be ... was it just one of you?”
“Just Hank getting blankets. We’re fine,” Charles says softly. “Feel free to join us if you want.”
Moira looks a little embarrassed at the idea, sits herself in a chair nearby, as though she’s planning on leaving shortly or just wants to study them in their strange pile. Hank gets back into the makeshift bed, running a gentle paw over Charles’s newly bald skull. It will take time to get used to that.
At least they have time.
The door opens again and Raven walks in, leading Storm by the hand. Neither of them look at all surprised to see the group, nor disturbed by it. Storm settles herself close to Kurt and Peter, dragging blankets and pillows into a protective nest. Raven drapes a sheet over the now-sleeping Moira before she slips around and crawls onto the crowded mattress behind Hank, her body pressed against his back. He would have expected it to be unpleasant but it is surprisingly comfortable, soothing. Things have changed so much between them in the years but there is still something good there. She reaches over him to squeeze Charles’s arm briefly and he hears Charles sigh, knows Charles is happy to have his sister so close again.
And yet still, he does not sleep. Hank knows it, can feel that Charles’s breathing is not deepening, that he is not relaxing. He pets Charles again, strokes his shoulders, his arms, even shyly nuzzles his neck but he knows that Charles is still waiting for something. Hoping for something.
Erik is the last to arrive. He stares at them all doubtfully and Hank has to resist the urge to growl at him. He doubts that he will ever like Erik. There has been too much pain, too much anger between them for the wounds to ever truly heal. Erik has tried to hurt too many people that he loves and Hank finds it difficult to forgive that.
But Charles can forgive. Charles already has forgiven. He lifts his head and even in the darkness, Hank sees him smile a warm, loving smile as Erik comes and sits next to them, his knees close to their heads.
“You should have said,” Erik murmurs, glancing round the room at their motley party. “I could have brought in more mattresses.”
“Perhaps tomorrow night … ”
Charles already sounds drowsy, feels limper in Hank’s arms. Erik reaches out and traces a finger over Charles’s head. Hank sees the guilt, the sorrow there. It helps, a little. Certainly, it is better than nothing.
“Go to sleep, Charles,” Erik says quietly. He lies down, places his head just above Charles’s so that their foreheads are almost touching. “Go to sleep now.”
Charles settles and his breathing deepens as he finally drifts into sleep. Hank listens to Erik fidget for a bit, then, only slightly grudgingly hands him a blanket before finally closing his own eyes again, listening to the gentle breathing that surrounds him.
They are all together. And for now, they are safe.