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Hidey-ho, fellow stories section dwellers! happy.png

Spoo here bringing you the latest and greatest "Spurple" (if what's Purple! and I have taken to calling ourselves, haha) production. Answer me this: Who doesn't love sneezy mutants? wink.png Regarding that concept, we've decided to take on the challenge of developing Charles and Erik's relationship directly after Charles saves Erik from drowning. Poor dears. Let's hope they don't catch cold... aaevil.gif

Just a bit of a warning: This story WILL contain male slash. As in, dudes sharing romantic interests with other dudes. Got it? tonguesmiley.gif

The standoffish and beautifully twisted Erik is written by the ever-talented Purple, and I have the extreme pleasure of writing for Charles. biggrin.png We hope you enjoy! heart.gif

Cold War

by Purple! and Spoo

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Prologue / Part 1

Charles had never heard a mental projection quite like Erik's before. It didn't call out to him. No, it screamed to him through a sea of minds, begging to be noticed, to be helped, to be healed.

It was why the telepath jumped into the ocean to rescue a man he'd never met in his life.

Adrenaline had temporarily replaced any and all discomfort of the chilly waters, but the moment they were being pulled back onto the ship and exposed to the coastal breeze, Charles quickly found every inch of his body shivering.

Moira had been kind enough to offer them both large towels, but that hardly discouraged his teeth from chattering.

Still, Charles smiled at Erik pleasantly, glad to have a fellow mutant onboard. More than that, though, he was content to have shared that the metal manipulator wasn't alone.

As for Erik, his head was reeling. Throbbing. Spinning.

For the first time in years he had felt something other than pain and anger, and for the first time in his life he was not alone.

Even after all the chaotic events of the night, Erik was still Erik, and had refused to accept a towel. To do so would be showing weakness, and that was not an option.

Erik barely noticed the chills that were shuddering through his body. He was far too distracted.

In all honesty, Charles hadn't expected for Erik to warm up to them right away. He was very much feral, so assimilation into a group of tamed individuals would take some time, he knew. It was why he didn't press Erik when the man denied a towel or cover of any kind.

Charles himself hadn't hesitated to wrap the offered towel around his shaking body, holding it closed at his chest. He and Erik were taken to a holding room within the ship, where they'd be able to wait and dry off before they reached shore.

Though unpleasantly chilly, Charles attempted conversation.

"We're very lucky to have come across you, Erik," he said, his tone soft and kind, and also a bit hoarse from all the shouting he'd done.

Erik looked up, directly into Charles' disturbingly blue eyes. For a moment he didn't move, didn't dare breathe.

It was the littlest things that seemed to get to him. The smallest details, the things that he shouldn't notice at all, but did. It had been years since someone had spoken his name directly to him. Not to mention the fact that those said words had been words of kindness, not words of fear or hate.

Not knowing entirely how Charles' "communication tricks" worked, Erik quickly decided that he may as well say what he was thinking.

"You'll have to forgive me for not believing you," he said, looking away from Charles' knowing stare. It was making him uncomfortable, and that was unsettling. Angering, even.

"It's quite alright," Charles reassured Erik, chuckling. "I'm sure it was a bit surprising, having a complete stranger poke around in your head."

He'd had no choice, really. There was no other way to get through to Erik without plunging into his thoughts and convincing him to release the submarine before he drowned.

"It'll be nice to get into dry clothes," Charles mused with a sniff.

The combination of being thoroughly damp on a cold ship had begun playing with his nose. He sniffed again, wetly, and brought a curled knuckle up to gently nudge at his septum.

"Once we're back at the base and such."

Erik nodded ever so slightly, glancing back at Charles who was looking increasingly colder with each passing second. Seeing the telepath shiver and sniffle reminded Erik of how freezing he was. It almost made him wish - for just a second - that he wasn't so…wet.

Almost.

"So, is there a plan in place for when we arrive there?" he asked, attempting to distract himself from…feeling. "And where exactly is 'base'?"

Charles looked at Erik, having glanced away when he picked up on a stray thought regarding their current coordinates. He smiled again, happy to answer any questions the man may have had.

"I suppose we'll begin discussing our next course of action," he answered, leaning back against the wall behind him. "As for the location, it's…"

Charles had paused to sniff again, since his running nose started to tickle him, but this time there was more to it than the sniffle alone. His nostrils flared before he brought the corner of his towel to his face and breathed a quiet sneeze into it.

"Heh'ISHhhish!"

Oh dear. He was chilled, wasn't he?

"Excuse me," Charles said, resurfacing from his nasal interruption. "I'm afraid my tolerance for cold has never been very good."

"Gesundheit," Erik offered, knowing it was the polite thing to say.

Though not a very social person, Erik wasn't rude. And, after all, he was the reason Charles had jumped in the water in the first place.

"And you say you're from England?" he inquired, his tone lighter, teasing.

"Well, I was actually born in New York," Charles explained, readjusting the towel over his shoulders and back. "My mother was from England, though, as were most of my private tutors. I've also just recently finished my thesis at Oxford, which might explain why my accent's a bit thicker than it normally is."

Or so Raven had told him upon returning to the states.

"And you're from Germany, yes?" he inquired, dabbing the bottom of his red nose with the coarse edge of the towel.

Erik nodded, slightly taken aback by the brief summary of Charles' educational background. It seemed there was a lot more to the man than Erik had originally assumed. Knowing that there were others like him was one thing - learning that perhaps they did not share such a tumultuous background as Erik had - that was another thing entirely.

"I am from Germany," Erik confirmed, looking down at the floor. He wasn't ready to go into detail. Not now, at least.

The ship's gentle movement was beginning to make him restless - it was all so predictable. Back and forth, back and forth...

Erik closed his eyes for a moment, exhausted, frustrated, and for a second, overwhelmed. When he opened his eyes, Charles was staring directly at him with that look.

"You're projecting," the telepath said quietly.

Something incredibly sad and lonely entered Charles' blue eyes; it was hard to tell if these sentiments were his own, or if they belonged to Erik. It wasn't uncommon for Charles to feel the emotions of others, especially when they were practically sobbing them - intentionally or unintentionally - into his mind.

"I realize that this, all of this, may be difficult to absorb," Charles continued.

He would have reached out and gently laid a hand on Erik's knee, but the man had made it clear in the water that he did not wish to be touched. Therefore, Charles respected his wishes and kept to himself.

"I'll promise you something, Erik. I'll do my best to guide you along and explain everything you may not understand."

Charles smiled warmly.

"This is no longer a journey you will face alone."

Erik was unsure of how to reply.

What little he remembered of his youth had been tainted with the horror of the years that followed. He was not used to being so helpless, and certainly not used to being treated with the kindness and respect that Charles Xavier seemed to naturally exude.

Friendship was something entirely foreign to Erik Lehnsherr, but when his sight drifted down to what remained folded and dry next to him, a part of him knew exactly how to respond. Wordlessly, Erik reached for the unused towel and handed it to a still shivering Charles.

Someone who, in a matter of words, had changed his life for the better.

TBC.

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Bweeeeeee! *sleep-deprived happy rolling on the floor* I am too tired to be coherent. But I like.

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Neeeeeeed

I am always so happy to see Spoo bring Charles to the party, and now she has a lovely writing partner as well!

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HAPPY HAPPY TAP DANCE TIME! I'm doing a little jig on my bed! <3

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*cries happy tears*

AAAWWW, YEAH! More sick mutants from you two! You're awesome!

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bounce.gifYay! New Charles/Erik fic!

And even though it's generally unrealistic I love the whole being wet & cold leading to sneezing thing! wub.png

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bounce.gifYay! New Charles/Erik fic!

And even though it's generally unrealistic I love the whole being wet & cold leading to sneezing thing! wub.png

It's actually not all that uncommon for people to sneeze from being chilled. I don't know if it's the cold air being enough of an irritant to some people to get them sneezing or something else, but there are definitely people out there for whom being chilled causes some amount of sneezing. Being cold and wet actually leading to illness on the other hand, doesn't really hold up as a theory though, you're right. Though it can potentially weaken a person's immune system somewhat. I spend too much time rationalizing the devices I use in fetish scenarios, I suspect. :lol:

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BOOM!!!! That was the sound of my brain being blown to chunks by the awesome new story!!! blowup.gif Haha sorry but you and Purple are such good writers! I can't wait for the next part. watsup.gif

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Weeeee! Thank you all for the lovely comments and encouragement. Purple and I do aim to please! biggrin.png Here we have another part to our wonderful collaboration. There's not too much sneezing going on yet, but stay tuned for a significant amount in our next update. wink.png

Much love! <3

Cold War

by Purple! and Spoo

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Part 2

When Charles and Erik eventually reached shore, they were transported to an overnight facility - it could almost be called a hotel, really - that would accommodate them until their flight in the morning.

Both men were provided with their own room, dry clothes, and a hot meal to eat.

By the time Charles was dressed and settled in for the evening, it was already fairly late. Neighboring emotions and thoughts from other rooms drifted in and out of his consciousness, rendering him restless and very much awake.

He was tucked into his bed, propped up by pillows, sipping at some complementary tea. He hadn't brought a book with him, so he instead decided to read over the briefing packet Moira had given him.

Honestly, he could have extracted everything he needed to know from the woman's mind himself, but he found this method more traditional and less…invasive?

Yes, that sounded about right.

Erik, on the other hand, was far too wound up to relax, and in no way was he planning on sleeping any time soon. A small suitcase containing all of his possessions was propped up against the immaculately made bed that Erik was currently sitting on, its metal frame vibrating with his restlessness.

Shortly after they arrived on shore, Charles had immediately secured arrangements so that Erik could grab his things before they were to travel any further. The man didn't miss a beat, which both impressed and alerted Erik, who was feeling particularly vulnerable, understandably from the evening's events.

Memories he had fought so hard to suppress had been brought to the surface of his mind. He had been so close to killing Shaw. Close to drowning, as well, but that was hardly what was bothering him.

He needed to move.

Pocketing the key to his room and grabbing his suitcase (under such circumstances, Erik did not want it out of his sight for even a moment), he made his way to the lounge at the end of the hall, which was, as he had expected, empty.

Erik began to pace back and forth; raw thoughts, fragmented memories, and suppressed emotions bubbling to the surface of his mind. It was almost entirely too much.

"Gah…!"

And just like that, a familiar pain was back; it felt like a hot needle pricking a corner of Charles' head with ferocious intensity. The telepath lifted up a quivering hand and pressed the ends of his fingers to the hurting spot, nursing it gently with a tender amount of pressure.

There was only one explanation for this sudden onslaught of discomfort. Or rather, one person responsible for it.

Charles moved the covers off of himself and slipped his bare feet into the pair of slippers that rested on the floor. He tossed on his jumper and then padded out of his room, heading for the source of his abrupt and terrible headache.

The man found his newly made acquaintance just where he'd thought to find him.

"Trouble sleeping, Erik?" Charles asked softly, his tone ever-friendly.

In an almost feral sort of movement, Erik found himself whirling around, heart slamming against his ribcage as adrenaline coursed through his veins. The few metal objects in his general vicinity vibrated in his tension, his control.

He found himself strangely...relieved, however, when he noticed it was only Charles. Of course, no one else would know exactly where to find him at this time of the night.

Erik swallowed as his heart-rate returned to normal and the metallic vibrations of the area eventually ceased.

"I'm not planning on sleeping anytime soon," he replied, looking away from Charles' all-knowing glance.

"You've had a rather adventurous evening. I can understand why you'd be restless," Charles said, fighting a shiver.

He'd grown comfortable and warm beneath the covers on his bed, and now he was chilly without them. Or, maybe it was because their current accommodations were a bit drafty.

Both seemed plausible.

"You're more than welcome to leave, you know," Charles continued. "You aren't trapped into what I've explained to you. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated, but the decision is ultimately yours."

Erik didn't respond right away, but when he did, he spoke directly to the man before him.

"I'm staying," he said firmly, reaching his hand out in front of him.

Erik was not the kind of person to express excessive amounts of gratitude, but he knew he should properly thank Charles for his kindness. He hoped, for the time being, a handshake would do.

In his mind, however, the two unspoken words were loud and clear.

For now.

Charles seemed phenomenally pleased with Erik's decision. He reached out his own hand, wrapping it within the larger, colder one that had been offered to him.

"Wonderful," he said, shaking their grips. "I look forward to working with you, Erik. I'm confident that we can accomplish quite a bit together."

Erik allowed himself to smile ever so slightly, not needing to be a telepath to pick up on Charles' enthusiasm.

It was at that instant, he felt…something. Every instinct in his body immediately began attempting to identify what exactly it was, but it soon became apparent that it was a new feeling - one he had no name for, and one he certainly hadn't experienced before.

It caught him off guard for a moment, and Erik knew whatever this feeling was, it was a good one. And somehow, he knew it would always be associated with Charles.

"I apologize for keeping you up," Erik quickly spoke up. "I know it's quite late and all..."

"Oh, it's alright," Charles replied, drawing his hand back and waving Erik off. "I wasn't expecting much sleep tonight anyway."

The anticipation of their morning departure, as well as the adrenaline of others, were playing his nerves like a squeaky violin. Most nights, Charles was able to calm his mind and focus on a good book, but the lack of the latter made it difficult to distract his humming thoughts.

And speaking of a distraction…

A familiar tickle invaded the man's nose, starting somewhere high before it descended into a more sensitive area. Charles reached up, pawing at his nostrils, as he willed the sensation to disappear entirely.

"We should probably turn in, then, yes?" he proposed. "Or at least pretend as though we are, since neither of us will find rest."

"Understandable," Erik replied, nodding slightly. "Though, I think I may stay out here a while longer."

The idea of having to be in such an enclosed space during this current state of mind just wasn't settling right. Looking around the lounge for something to occupy his thoughts, Erik quickly noticed a chessboard on a nearby coffee table.

Surely that would distract them both. And, after all, It wasn't like they were going to sleep anytime soon.

Shrugging, Erik turned back around to face Charles. "Fancy a game, then?"

Charles' gaze wandered to where Erik was looking. He, too, noticed the chessboard and found himself smiling. It had been far too long since he'd engaged in one of his quieter and less alcoholic luxuries.

"Of course," he agreed, gesturing that they take a seat.

He probably should have opted to head back to his room, but Charles figured that a game of chess couldn't hurt. He did, however, miss his tea. The liquid had been working wonders on his throat, which was terribly sore from all the yelling he'd done.

Satisfied with the prospect of having something to do other than torturously drowning in his own thoughts, Erik settled into a nearby chair, straightening out the chess board on the table between him and Charles.

The chess set clearly hadn't been used for quite some time - a subtle reminder to Erik of the last time he himself had played a game of chess. It had been years ago, back in Europe, and under much darker circumstances.

This was a pleasant change, indeed.

Waiting for Charles, who had the first move, Erik momentarily wondered what he was getting himself into playing chess with a telepath. The day was just getting more and more bizarre.

"Don't worry," Charles chuckled, feeling Erik's suspicion as if it were his own. "I don't cheat. Nor do I really intrude on other's thoughts, unless I absolutely have to."

Making himself comfortable, he leaned forward and contemplated his first move. He knew off the top of his head that there were twenty possible opening strategies he could have employed to start them off.

In the end, Charles went with a more traditional approach: He moved the pawn that was stationed in front of his King.

Once the move was made, he sat back and allowed Erik to take his turn. The tickle from earlier hadn't entirely disappeared, and it was, once again, getting to him. Charles flexed his misbehaving nose and sniffed, trying to be as discreet as possible.

Sadly, his effort was useless.

The sensation abruptly flared beyond his control without warning, which had him turning away. One of his hands leaned on the edge of the table while the other lifted up, pressing the back of his wrist up and against his spasming nostrils.

"Hih'ISHhgk'tch!" he sneezed, partially stifling the action. He had begun to excuse himself when his lungs refilled and rushed out the air in another outburst. "Hh'IGHhshh'u!"

He twitched his unruly nose and left it wrinkled for a second before he finally straightened and turned back to the game.

"I'm terribly sorry for that, Erik," he apologized, sniffing. "Is it my turn?"

Erik raised an eyebrow, glancing up from the knight he had just advanced forward.

"Gesundheit," he said, for the second time that day. "And yes, it is indeed," he continued, gesturing to the board once more.

Though it had been a mere few hours since they had met, Erik sensed something was slightly off as he analyzed Charles' current behavior.

He wasn't a people-person, but he had trained himself to read and understand body language and actions over the years. It was a skill that helped the otherwise unsocial man connect with people on a comfortably distanced level.

Because of this, it didn't take long for Erik to put two and two together.

"Coming down with a cold, Charles?" he asked, trying to ignore the flutter of guilt that had begun to flicker somewhere inside him.

It was embarrassing enough that all of his thoughts and emotions were no longer only his, and now he was feeling guilty of all things?

How humiliating.

"I certainly hope not," Charles sighed, brushing the thickest part of a knuckle against the flat curve of his right nostril. "Though, my body does tend to have poor timing when it comes to illness."

He reached for the board again, initiating his second move.

"If I do end up with a cold, you'll be the first to know," he added. "There'll be a lot of this."

He sniffed deeply, demonstrating.

Another pawn was moved, joining the first. Satisfied, Charles leaned back and cleared his throat. And speaking of his throat, it wasn't much appreciating the irritating post-nasal drip the sneezes had caused.

Not at all.

"Presumably, I'd be the second to know, then," Erik tossed back. He paused before continuing, taking in Charles' tired-looking eyes and flushed face. "Though, perhaps we should turn in. I'd hate to deprive you of any rest you could be getting."

Reaching forward with two long, slender fingers, Erik flicked his King onto its side. Yes, the game had just begun, but Charles' health was far more important.

"I'm sure somewhere along the way we'll run into another opportunity to play," he suggested, rising to his feet once more.

A small part of Charles was grateful for Erik's sacrifice, but at the same time he also couldn't help but feel somewhat disappointed that his deteriorating health ended their game prematurely.

"I appreciate your consideration," he said, standing up as well. "I'll hold you to those words. It's not often I find a worthy opponent."

Erik nodded, effortlessly commanding the metal handle of his suitcase to reach his hands. Sure, in any other situation he would have walked over and just picked it up, but he figured he may as well get used to the fact that he didn't have to hide who he really was. Surely Charles wouldn't mind.

"Goodnight, then," he said, making his way back down the hall. Pausing for a moment - but not turning around - Erik uttered two simple words he hadn't genuinely said in, well, for as long as he could remember.

"Thank you."

There was no need for him to elaborate any further.

"Goodnight, Erik," Charles replied, and though Erik had his back to him, he offered the metal manipulator a warm smile - one that seemed to say 'you're welcome' without using words. "See you in the morning."

TBC.

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Oh, yay, you continued! I do like the way Charles's cold is progressing... And of course, CHESS! For some reason I always love it when they play chess...

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Argh. Gorgeous. Amazing amazing sounds. I just love thier dynamic. Charles so polite, Eric so restrained, but barely. Love it all. Thanks for sharing x

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I literally squeaked a little when I saw that you added a second part. I was so worried that we would never see anymore of this yummyness!

I'd hate to be greedy but... more more more!!!!

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Guh sick!Charles <3

You know my weakness, you two! This is delicious :)

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

You all are waaaay too sweet! heart.gif To reward your kind comments (and patience), I present you with yet another segment of Purple and I's story. Any donations of blankets, tea, and tissues to the Charles-Has-a-Cold foundation would be gladly appreciated! tonguesmiley.gif Hehehe.

Cold War

by Purple! and Spoo

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Part 3

Erik was nothing if accustomed to early mornings and travel plans. He had been back and forth to various countries and continents in his attempts to locate Shaw, so leaving to catch a flight at the crack of dawn wasn't an unfamiliar venture for him.

Although the circumstances were much different, Erik knew that the motive behind these particular actions were the same. Only, now he was part of an official team, and would be flying by private jet with a group of CIA officials and a man, Charles, who seemed to know Erik better than anyone - even better than he knew himself.

But of course he did. He was a telepath.

Erik could barely wrap his mind around the whole situation, yet found a strange level of comfort in the fact that Charles understood exactly. Though, surely it would take some getting used to, whether he stuck around or not.

As requested, Erik was ready to go at 6 AM the following morning, waiting in the lobby with his suitcase in hand. Unfortunately, his promptness would not be matched by his fellow mutant.

It wasn't an alarm that awoke Charles, or even the buzzing thoughts of those around him. What roused him into awakening was his own poor condition. He had grown horribly congested during the few hours he had slept, and swallowing was just plain painful.

A hot shower helped to relieve some of the pressure in his sinuses, but it also made his nose run something terrible.

By the time he had dried off and dressed, he was a sniffling mess. He'd brought a few handkerchiefs along with him in his traveling bag, but he knew that by the end of the day they'd be undoubtedly soiled (as well as unsanitary). Thus, Charles made sure to pocket plenty of tissues as a backup.

He hadn't the time for tea, unfortunately, since he and Erik needed to depart shortly. He tried not to wince when he swallowed and hoped that his traveling companion would understand his lack of consistent conversation, since Charles didn't plan on straining his voice any more than he already had.

He arrived in the lobby and greeted Erik with a nod. The man hadn't been awake for more than half an hour, and he was already exhausted.

"Good morning," Erik spoke, eager for them to be on their way.

As far as he knew, their plans hadn't changed since the night before: They were to meet the others at a nearby airport, where they would be flown to the CIA base to discuss the next course of action. Erik couldn't remember everyone's names from the previous night, but he did recall everything else. Especially the words he had exchanged with Charles.

Charles who, Erik quickly noticed, was looking a little more worse for wear than he had been the night before. Understandably so, considering the previous day's events, but Erik's suspicions were confirmed within moments of Charles' arrival.

"Good morning, Erik," Charles replied hoarsely.

He realized that his current appearance wasn't the best; he could sense Erik's judgement, which, at any other time, would have been fine. Now, though, it was making him feel a little self-conscious.

Luckily, Moira arrived and became a most excellent distraction.

"Good morning, gentlemen," she said, smiling. "There's a car waiting for us. Shall we?"

Her heels clicked against the floor as she led the way. Charles followed after the woman, though not before turning and coughing once into his shoulder. The sound was deep, wet, and indicative that he was not well.

What a cruel cold he'd managed to come down with.

"I'm sorry if I took away from any sleep the two of you may have gotten," Moira said, tossing a smile over her shoulder. "I don't really get a say in the timing of these things."

Erik eventually glanced away from Charles, swallowing back an emotional hybrid of guilt, embarrassment, and - what was that, sympathy? No, it couldn't be.

In an attempt to distract himself, Erik focused on Moira, who certainly seemed pleasant enough. He couldn't really concentrate on what she was saying, however. Charles' current state of health was yet another thing Erik had added to his list of growing concerns.

"Here we are," Moira chirped, as they arrived at the waiting car. "It's only about a twenty minute ride to where our plane is waiting, so make yourself as comfortable as you can." She slipped into the passenger seat, next to a man Erik vaguely recalled was on the boat the night before.

After their luggage had been secured into the trunk, Erik slipped into the backseat with Charles, who hadn't said a word since he had greeted him that morning.

Erik, it seemed, wasn't the only one who noticed something off.

"Charles?" Moira spoke up from the front of the car. "Is everything alright? You've been pretty quiet."

Charles would have preferred to remain as inconspicuous as possible, but it seemed his lethargy had been discovered nonetheless.

"Fine," he said, clearing his throat. "Just a bit tired. I'm not much of a morning person."

Which was actually true. The brilliant scholar had trained his body to utilize every waking hour of the evening for studying and other academic-related outlets. Waking up early wasn't something he enjoyed or did when he'd spent the entire night working on his thesis.

Charles looked at Erik then and smiled. "At least one of us is awake, hmm?"

Erik managed the smallest of smiles before turning away to look out the window. He figured it would be a decent enough distraction from any more smalltalk. He knew that Charles would get the message, but Moira, it seemed, was eager to chat.

Concentrating on the unfamiliar landscape (palm trees and all), Erik tried his hardest to tune her out. She was friendly and all, but Erik just wasn't in the mood for such a ridiculous level of perkiness.

Oppositely, Charles was being polite. Perhaps a bit too polite, but he could never be intentionally rude (even when he felt under the weather).

There came a point, thankfully, where Moira began conversing solely with the driver. This gave Charles the opportunity to rest his voice and throat, which were both giving him a fair amount of grief. Like Erik, he looked out the window and observed the scenery. He would have continued doing this until they arrived, had not his nose decided to play up again.

He could feel the congestion gradually returning, solidifying like cement in his aching sinuses.

Exhaling through his mouth, he lifted up a hand and pressed a few fingers between his eyes, nursing the pressure. He sniffed stuffily. A wiser man would have admitted defeat and blown his nose, but doing so in a car, and as thoroughly as Charles would have liked, would have drawn far more attention to him than he deemed necessary.

A congested sniffle from the other side of the car tore Erik away from his thoughts momentarily, as Charles' words from last night revisited his mind.

'There'll be a lot of this,' Charles had said.

Erik glanced over at the man next to him, taking in his body language, current posture, and evident attempts at disguising his misery.

Had it been anyone else, perhaps they would not have noticed, but Erik had trained himself to pick up on every little detail of his surroundings, thoroughly sure that Charles was far more than 'a bit tired.'

As curious as he was for the man's well-being, Erik also found the prospect of any prospective weakness downright alarming.

Charles could feel Erik's eyes on him without even looking over to confirm, which meant exactly what he'd wanted to prevent: He was making a spectacle of himself. He lowered his hand away from his face and sniffed again, wriggling his nostrils.

As someone who suffered from seasonal hay fever, he was accustomed to an unhappy nose. Being sick, though, was a tad different and far more demanding.

His throat itched with the burning need to cough, but he ignored the sensation. His tight chest wouldn't appreciate it, and neither would his pulsing head. What Charles did do, however, was readjust his position. He folded one leg over the other and cleared his throat, looking back up.

Moira's mind was a swirling mass of adrenaline and determination, and while the telepath hadn't meant to intrude, he couldn't help but notice when it was almost as loud as Erik's was.

From what he could tell based on her thoughts alone, they were almost there.

Fortunately for him, Erik didn't have to torture himself with his own thoughts for much longer. It wasn't long before they arrived at the airbase and had boarded the small plane. Erik took in the surroundings with a dull level of awe, naturally attempting to disguise it as mere curiosity.

The CIA designated jet was cramped but luxurious, and far from anything Erik had ever experienced in the past. There were a few men whom Erik recognized from the previous night, but he made no attempts to greet, or even acknowledge them, really.

He was way out of his comfort zone, and being in an unfamiliar setting was not helping the tension he was already dealing with.

As if his own discomfort wasn't dislikable enough, Charles could feel Erik's trepidation for the jet ride brushing against his mind. For himself, flying wasn't the problem. The telepath had flown many times in the past from New York to England and back again. Though, flying with a cold was a miserable reality he didn't care to experience.

Charles settled into his chosen seat and made himself as comfortable as possible. He opted not to sit by the window, because he didn't quite trust his stomach at the moment.

He hadn't been sitting down for more than a minute when he felt the urgent need to sneeze commandeer his focus. His handkerchief was tucked away in his pocket, as were the tissues, and both would require him to either stand or awkwardly arch to reach them.

He opted for the former choice and got this feet. He managed to secure his handkerchief and sit back down just as the first sneeze tickled its way out.

"Hhm'FFSCHh'ishh!"

The soft cloth muffled most of the sound, but it was fairly obvious what was happening. Obvious and unfortunate, because there was nothing Charles could do about it.

"Hh'IKFSSChh'shh!"

He dabbed at his nose carefully, drying his wet nostrils, and then sat back with a sigh while silently blessing himself beneath his breath.

Erik soon came to realize there was no chance he would be able to sit on his own for the plane ride. Personal space was a basic need for him, but it seemed there were enough seats for each person aboard; no more.

After securing his bag in the overhead compartment, Erik opted for a seat next to the only person on the plane he knew he would have a chance to feel comfortable around.

It took Erik all of five seconds to assess what he saw:

Charles, buried in his handkerchief, already sniffling miserably. Erik briefly wondered if and when the man would admit to being ill. It was fairly obvious, and surely not just to him. The plane was filled with CIA officials, for goodness sakes. They were bound to catch on.

/'You're not fooling anyone, Charles,'/ Erik thought, looking directly into the telepath's knowing gaze.

Charles had yet to remove the handkerchief from the lower portion of his face, but that didn't stop him from addressing Erik's mental accusation. His mouth was hidden by the plaid cloth, but the corner of his blue eyes crinkled in an unseen smile.

/'It was never my intention to fool anyone, Erik. I would just prefer not to advertise my condition any more than it already has been,'/ Charles answered, speaking into their shared link.

He was proud of Erik for seeking him out this way; he knew how uncomfortable the other mutant was about sharing thoughts and having Charles 'inside of his head', but privacy took priority in a jet of unfamiliar individuals, or so the telepath supposed.

/'Fair enough,'/ Erik silently replied, turning to gaze straight ahead.

For a reason he couldn't quite put his finger on, Erik felt his heart beating faster than it should have been. Whether it was due to anxiety or a bizarre form of excitement, he wasn't sure. Yet, somehow, the fact that Charles was seated next to him brought with it a warm feeling of…something Erik hadn't been expecting to feel - ever, really. Not since his mother.

This was someone he could trust.

The sudden rush of emotions that followed this realization was almost humiliating, and Erik found himself surprisingly grateful for Moira's chosen moment to interrupt.

"Alright, boys," she exclaimed, ducking far too close into Erik's personal space. He tensed, holding his breath and trying with everything he had not to move an inch.

He was no longer grateful for her presence. At all.

"I've just been informed we're next to takeoff. Settle in, and we should be..."

She trailed off, frowning and much to Erik's relief, finally straightening up, taking in Charles' disheveled appearance with what Erik could only describe as a 'look.'

"Charles, are you sure you're alright?"

Up until that point Charles had been fighting off another round of unrest in his nose, but it seemed his present condition absolutely could not be ignored. Not even by Moira, who was quite astute about everything.

"Of course, love," he replied softly, lowering his handkerchief to speak. "Please don't concern yourself over it."

Charles might have used a tiny bit of mental coaxing to convince Moira that he was alright (and also shoo her back to her seat) but they were about to take off, and her safety was a top priority.

The woman hadn't been gone five seconds before the unwell telepath clothed his nose again and hunched into three consecutive sneezes.

"Hh'TPSCHhhkt!…Hh'ISSCHh'gkt!…Heh'IGHhh'shhuh!"

The third was, expectedly, the strongest and loudest of the trio, which not only left Charles miserably snuffling in the aftermath, but also a tad embarrassed.

"I apologize, Erik," he said sheepishly, once he was able to straighten up. "I'm not usually a poor traveling companion. It's really only when I'm ihhh…"

Bloody hell.

"'IHSSCHhhuuh!sngkkh…when I'b ill. Eghxcuse be."

"It's fine," Erik replied, swallowing dryly.

The fact that Charles was now willing to admit to his illness had Erik dealing with another swell of anxiety, directly related to his need for a designated level of strength when it came to dealing with Shaw. Any sort of weakness was a step away from where (both physically and emotionally) they wanted to be.

He knew it was beyond Charles' control, and immediately felt slightly guilty for thinking otherwise. Thankfully, it seemed Charles was far too distracted to pick up on his thoughts.

Or so he hoped.

Erik was entirely unsure of how to help Charles, having never been in such a situation before. Much like he had the night before, Erik settled for unspoken gestures, which included retrieving something for Charles to drink, and offering him an extra blanket that Erik was most certainly not going to be using. He was already sweating enough without the extra warmth.

As far as Erik knew, those were the extent of his care-taking abilities. He hoped they would work, because quite frankly he didn't know what the hell else to do.

Fortunately, the unsure methods must have been working, because Charles appeared content with the offered drink, and certainly with the blanket. Well, as content as he could be when sick. If Charles was being honest, though, he'd felt his cold coming on before it had the chance to settle in. However, with his recent escapades he had failed to nip it in the bud and was now…

"Hh'IKSCHhghhkt!"

…suffering handsomely for his unwise neglect.

He'd grown far too congested to even bother breathing out of his nose, which was now a distinct reddish color from constant applications of his damp handkerchief. He tried to rest, but each attempt at a nap turned futile when Charles would wake himself up by coughing. The spasms were muffled (mostly in his mouth) but were soon forced to be quieted by a cupped hand.

Heavens, he felt wretched. He probably didn't look much better either.

Though, if that were the case, Erik didn't say a word to Charles about it for the entire flight. He had initially intended to mentally plan out his next few days, but soon realised he didn't know enough about what was yet to come to do so.

Erik instead settled for staring straight ahead and concentrating on the snippets of conversation he could barely hear over the white noise of the jet engine. Mostly, though, he could only hear Charles, who seemed increasingly more ill as the flight went on.

TBC.

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Augh must you torture me with this deliciousness, you two?! Incredible. Charles' battle to keep up appearances is too cute and Erik's stoic care-taking is perfect. I am waiting on the edge of my seat for more!

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