katydidmischief: (lights)
[personal profile] katydidmischief posting in [community profile] cjs_own
disclaimer. Not mine. So incredibly not mine.
title. Subtle Touch
rating. PG
pairing. Charles/Erik, very subtly implied.
summary. This only serves to make him more ornery than ever.
notes. Written for this prompt at [livejournal.com profile] 1stclass_kink.

Subtle Touch

I.
Charles knows what's going on when Erik, after days of malaise and ill temper, has a coughing fit while attempting to lift Kurt Marko's old Indian Powerplus: bits of metal from all over the garage lift from their places, some tumbling away and some slamming into brick and wood and glass.

He doesn't try to help Erik – his friend has too much pride to accept any aid – and instead, waits until the fit has turned to sneezing. "It is a bit dusty in here. Let's get some fresh air," he plies and guides Erik back into the warm New York sun.

II.
The fits continue into the night and by morning, the kids are eying him at the breakfast table with a bit of concern. They've already tried to get him to go back to bed, told him he looks terrible, but he'd read them the riot act and they are definitely not about to try again.

Charles, as per usual, is the last to join them and when he enters the dining room, a plate of toast with jam and a coffee in his hands, he smiles at them all. "Good morning," he says and gives the smallest of glances in Erik's direction. He, wisely, fails to comment on Lensherr's sour expression.

They all eat in relative silence, Raven and Alex casting looks at Charles, until Erik coughs and two wall sconces tear away from their settings. By the time he's caught his breath, they've fallen to the floor, glass shattering on the wood.

"Well, I have been meaning to update the fixtures," Charles remarks and sips his coffee. "Erik, I left the books you asked for in your room."

"Yes." Erik nods and gets to his feet. "Thank you, Charles."

When he leaves, everyone instantly relaxes; Xavier smirks and winks at Moira.

III.
He refuses to stop training. Charles tries to gently nudge Erik back to bed each time he demands Xavier's help, but after a while, any suggestion of a less strenuous activity is met with defiance. So Charles spins it, pointing out that he hasn't had the chance to train himself, he's been so busy with the others.

This is how they end up in Charles' personal study – the one that is filled top to bottom with books on Genetics, books by Einstein, books that most people would think too old and stodgy for a young man – on the floor before the fire. Charles has his legs crossed and his hands on his knees; Erik is trying to emulate the position as best he can despite the congestion he will never admit is in his chest.

Charles pretends to have a problem focusing on Erik's mind in the way he wants and, had Erik not been sick, would have been sussed out in seconds. Instead, Erik agrees to lay down with his head in Charles' lap, allowing Charles to set his fingers on Erik's skin and heighten the connection. Erik has no way of knowing that this is how Charles can best influence one's subconscious.

Erik's mind is sluggish, mired down in the beginning of a fever. Charles has to fight to keep what he's doing from being too obvious and slowly, Erik falls off into sleep.

IV.
Erik can't out of bed the next morning, too rundown from a burning fever and a powerful nausea that makes it impossible to keep his breakfast down. This only serves to make him more ornery than ever.

He yells at Moira like she's caused his illness and tells Hank to stay the hell away from me. But he tolerates Charles and that's enough, because Charles is the only one who can keep him calm.

"I thought I could do with a bit of a break," he tell Erik when he enters the room with the lunch tray. "Chicken soup, dry toast, some tea. A nice light lunch."

Charles can feel the annoyance roll off of Erik in waves, ignoring the nails that rip themselves out of the small wooden bookshelf across from the bed. It falls into a heap of heavy, polished wood a second later, but Charles refuses to comment.

"Come on, eat up," he orders without so much as a glance in the direction of the destroyed furniture. He swipes his bowl from the tray and stirs with the spoon already there, careful to blow on the hot broth before taking the first bite; he leans back in the chair, crosses his legs, and prods a piece on the chess board Erik had reset a few nights earlier.

He moves a rook.

Erik, swallowing a spoonful of plain chicken broth (Thank God, Erik won't say out loud, soup probably wouldn't of stayed down), moves his knight.

V.
(The fever takes two days to break, despite the drugs Hank gives Charles to hide in Erik's food. He still won't accept anyone save Charles being near him; he nearly tears the mansion's metal fixtures from the walls twice, succeeds in melting the centrifuge in Hank's office, the tub in Charles' room, and Raven's wall clock.)

"Charles," he says in the middle of the next night.

His fever is so high that Charles, sleeves rolled up and vest gone, has gotten Erik undressed and into the bath. The water is lukewarm, not cold, and he's using one of his mother's old crystal vases to gather water, spill it over Erik's neck and shoulders. He wets Erik's hair with a drinking glass, sets a damp rag on Erik's neck and begins to drain the water so he can refill the tub.

"Thank you, Charles."

Xavier lifts an eyebrow and tells Erik, "You're welcome, though I don't know what you're thanking me for."

Erik doesn't say anything, just shrugs. He looks like a lost little boy and a memory pops into his mind, projects into Charles'. In seconds, Charles understands what the thanks is for and leans up to kiss Erik's forehead, saying, "My friend," before he sets back to work.

VI.
Erik's still a bit weak once he's on the mend, but he's capable of walking and keeping food down. Charles still shies him away from training too intensively; he pushes that a bit, finds Raven and asks her to help him instead. (She refuses – she may find Erik impressive and a little terrifying yet he's nothing compared to her brother when angered.)

Still, little by little, he's getting back into the groove of things and if he realizes that Charles' nightly chess match starts earlier in the evening and goes longer, if he notices that Charles demands afternoon tea, if he thinks it odd when Charles mandates that they all get physicals in the near future, Erik doesn't say. He simply raises an eyebrow and goes on with life, glad when he finally talks Charles into shooting him in the head.
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