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Secret Santa for AnonyMouse (XMFC: Erik)


Mercury

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A/N: It's been ages since I've written these two, so I hope they're in character. I also didn't have much to go on in terms of your preferences, but I did a little stalking and found a couple small things. I hope you can forgive the lack of sneezing. I know some people prefer stories where the sneezing is more dominant than the plot, but I'm not good at writing those so I hope the general story is satisfactory smile.png

For AnonyMouse

Although he had been in the wheelchair for a while now, Charles still found himself growing tired when he had to move around for long periods. It was probably an indication that he should have been more diligent with his physical therapy, but since it had started focusing more on his upper body than trying to recover the use of his legs he hadn’t bothered.

Instead, Charles spent his nights alone, reading and drinking by the fire, which may have been why Alex insisted that Charles be the one to try and recruit the newest mutant to fall on their radar. It was the first time he had gone out to own his own since being injured, but he suspected that Sean or Alex were not too far away. It didn’t do much for his pride, but he refused to go seek them out after talking to the girl, instead dedicating himself to finding his own lodgings.

“I’m sorry, but we’ve just booked the last one.”

Charles sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose to stave the ache that was building behind his eyes. His clothes had been soaked through and the warmth of the office was making him feel dizzy and tired. He just wanted to lie down.

“I will be willing to pay for someone’s room upgrade.”

“I... I think I should speak to my manager. I don’t think we’re allowed to do that. Just wait here, Sorry.”

The woman behind the reception desk disappeared around and into the back. The brief brush against her mind had told Charles that she already knew what the answer would be, but she was uncomfortable around him and wanted to pass the interaction off to someone else. It was, Charles had learnt, a common reaction and he could not bring himself to be insulted.

Raven had oft told him that he couldn’t understand what it was truly like to be a mutant. He could pass as human physically, and he suspected it was his mutation that made him feel the line was not so harshly drawn; Perhaps their minds, their ignorant acceptance, had bled into him.

Now he had a physical, visible shield between the world, which was severing the connection he once had with others. Charles knew he was isolating himself, but didn’t feel he was withdrawing so much as he was being rejected.

“Sir, I understand you are demanding a floor level room.”

“I am not demanding, I’m requesting.” He forced his voice to remain patient. His hands trembled slightly against each other as they remained folded in his lap. “Your’s the only accommodation with available rooms that... that I can enter.”

The man, whose name wasn’t worthy of notice, sneered at him and his frame. He didn’t want Charles in his motel, and the sentiment was generally mutual as the Englishman wouldn’t have stepped foot in the place had there been other options.

“I can pay,” he reassured the clerk. “I will pay for my stay and for the upgraded room. I will pay double for the room. Both rooms.”

“That won’t be necessary.”

Charles stiffened at the husky, accented voice behind him. The clerk looked over Charles’s head to Erik.

And it was, undoubtedly, Erik.

They exchanged some words that Charles didn’t bother to hear. He knew that Erik wouldn’t be wearing his horrible helmet, but his dulled senses hadn’t picked up on the solid presence behind him. Although it had been months, he didn’t think he could have forgotten the feel of the other man’s presence so easily.

Charles looked to his side, not quite over his shoulder. He couldn’t see the man behind him and didn’t want to, but the conversation he had missed seemed to suggest that Erik had no such hesitations, which caused a slight rumbling of anger deep within the telepath.

He didn’t look into the mind of the other mutant. Charles didn’t want to see the pity or sympathy, or anger. Mostly, he was afraid that he wouldn’t see anything. That the incident on the beach hadn’t meant as much to Erik, hasn’t impacted him as much as it had Charles.

The clerk’s voice cut through Charles.

“You’ll have to pay for the room again.”

“By cousid will take care of it.” Erik patted Charles shoulder, something strange and stilted in his voice. “Won’t you, Charles?”

Charles didn’t think he was in a position to refuse. “Oh. Err... Yes. Yes, I will.”

It was clear that the clerk was not going to give him a room by himself, and the torrential rain that had driven most of the populace indoors meant that he had run out of options. Perhaps, when he was not faced with the obstinate mind of the human he could convince Erik that their sharing a room was not something that either of them could be comfortable with.

He didn’t look at the metal manipulator as he begged goodbye and turned from the desk. He grabbed the handle ring and turned to leave, keeping his eyes on the stained carpeting that took more effort to pull himself over than he was willing to admit. He was halfway to the door before something took over and started pulling at his chair.

Erik hadn’t looked back, but Charles knew it was his influence. It was more subtle than pushing him from behind, but it was no more appreciated.

“You don’t need to do this.”

“It’s quicker this way.”

“I’m not talking about the chair.”

Erik held the double doors open for him and Charles was hit by the cold air like a bullet. He shivered and mourned the ability to pull his jacket tighter while continuing to move.

The wind also seemed to affect Erik, who choked and turned to cough deep and thick into his fist. It was a worrying sound, and Charles couldn’t help the habitual concern that gripped him and demanded that he fuss over the other mutant ever so slightly.

Instead he rolled past Erik in silence, heading under the cover along the row of room doors.

“Did you read my mind to get the roob nubber?”

“No, but it’s the one at the end, furthest away from everyone, is it not?”

Said room was unimpressive. There was a double bed and a dresser, adorned by a space heater, but nothing much else.

Charles was surprised that he was able to get through the door, and made a mental note to thank Hank for the slimmer design he travelled with, but as he surveyed the room he realized that he would not be able to fit in the space at the end of the bed.

There was a liquid sniff behind him and Charles half turned.

“Would you mind?...”

He’d loathed asking for help, but Erik rose Charles chair over the bed without comment. The seated man had no worry, and kept his hands relaxed and away from the wheels as he was placed gently in front of the bathroom door.

Charles didn’t turn to express thanks, and instead struggled through into the bathroom.

Almost as soon as he shut the door the sound of two harsh sneezes reverberated through the door. They sounded unspeakably wet and clearly trying to force their way out of a blocked, swollen nose.

As Charles fussed about and used the facilities to the best of his abilities, there were several more sounds of the common cold getting the best over ‘Magneto’.

Sure enough, when Charles went back into the main motel room, Erik was holding the back of his wrist to his nose and hastened past him and into the bathroom where he could relieve himself in relative privacy.

As he listened to the wet nose-blow Charles clucked his tongue. Toilet paper was no substitute for a soft handkerchief, but Charles was not yet inclined to offer one to him.

After three wet, drawn out blows, Erik turned on the shower.

When Charles was sure the other man was happily under the water, the professor reached down the inner side of his chair to retrieve a flask. With the attempted recruiting finished for the day and the prospect of a night sleeping in the chair, he felt comfortable taking a long drink.

HuhhTCCHHH! HuRRRCHHH!”

Charles startled at the sound, much more pointed and indulgent than the ones that had preceded them.

Erik usually tried to smother his sneezes when he knew another was within hearing distance, and was unable to look anyone in the eye while tending to the aftermath. Even though he had retreated to the privacy of the bathroom, it was a testament to how ill he must have felt to allow himself to succumb to the steam.

The Englishman felt a shiver go though his own frame and he pulled the extra blankets from the dresser draw, claiming one to wrap around his shoulders and cover his legs before moving off into the corner of the room and out of Erik’s way. He didn’t know exactly how much space Erik would want when he emerged from the bathroom; just because they had once been close didn’t mean that he would still be comfortable showing weakness in front of Charles.

There were several more wet sneezes before the water shut off. Charles stripped off his jacket and tie, undoing the top three buttons of his shirt before tightening the blanket around himself.

Erik fussed about in the bathroom for a little, blowing his nose once again before re-entering the main room of the motel. If anything he looked worse than before; his nose red and lips chapped. It was clear he had been in the grips of illness for a while, and Charles wondered what had brought him to a recruiting when he was clearly not well enough for it.

“Feel better?”

Erik nodded, but crumpled down to sit on the bed, his elbows on knees and head in hands as he coughed, wet and rattling in his chest.

Charles pretended to adjust his blanket to give Erik a little privacy. He could feel the frustration emanating from the other man and he tried not to pry too deeply. It was clear that the German man didn’t want or need any sort of attention, and his mind overwhelmed Charles’s with the urge to curl up under the covers.

He was wearing a think, woollen sweater, one which would have complimented his eyes if it didn’t draw attention to the red, fevered highlights of his cheeks. He dragged the sleave under his nose before he spoke.

“Do you plad od sleepi’g in the chair?”

“I’ve done so before, and you would benefit from the bed more than I.”

Despite being dulled by sickness, Erik’s eyes were still piercing. It was not the first time in his presence that Charles had wondered whether his telepathy left him more exposed than he ever intended. It was only through his experience with Erik that he knew differently. They were too accustomed to each other for there to be any real secrets between them.

“You're drugk.”

“I am not.”

Erik sniffed thickly and ducked his head to cough once and clear his voice a little. “You're not sober. That’s why you weren’t able to get your own room.”

“Perhaps I just don’t use my abilities for personal gain.” Charles spat with more venom than was perhaps warranted. He had felt himself bristle at the accusation and the words had come before it had settled.

“How many tibes haihhh...” Erik pressed his fist beneath his nose “have you dru’k yourself to sleeb in thad chair?”

Charles felt himself defensively smug for an uncharacteristic moment and refused to answer as he waited for Erik’s fluttering eyes to close. The reddened, chapped nostrils flared against the back of Erik’s fingers and he turned away to bury his nose in the crook of his elbow.

While the other man was turned away, Charles brought his fingertips to his forehead with the intention to exploit the nasal distraction. Although he could have removed the concern from Erik’s mind he didn’t want to risk touching anything. Instead he tried to find exactly what Erik wanted from him, what was so important that he ignored his health to come and recruit a mutant with relatively passive powers.

Hihhhh...

There was concern directed towards Charles, some guilt and lingering emotions about their relationship that he didn’t want to examine too closely. Erik felt even more miserable then he looked, with a deep pressure in his head and stubborn, attention-demanding nose. He was barely able to talk his throat hurt so, and he had dragged himself out of bed and across half the country to talk to Charles.

He almost found what he was looking for when a sense of panicked resignation and constricted agony pushed him out.

H’GKIXTT! HuhhHNGXT! Huhhh... HuhITCHHHOO!”

Charles was vaguely aware of the space heater breaking, and the handles flying from the draws and doors. The metal frame of his chair gave an aggressive shiver, its very nature responding to Erik’s distress.

Panic gripped him.

Erik. Don’t.’

Erik managed to crack open a watery eye. Charles let his fear flood through the other man, who nodded as his breath hitched.

Neither of them could do very much. Erik unburied the lower half of his face and pinched his nose shut as his body gave an anticipatory tremble. His chest visibly heaved as his dried lips parted and breath hitched.

HiihhhhhHITTT...” He bobbed forward sharply. Charles’s hand flew up and he grasped at Erik’s control, latching onto and trying to still the natural reflex of Erik’s mutation.

The tense man’s head bobbed several more times in violent silence, before he exhaled slowly and lowered a trembling hand.

There was a smear of red on his upper lip and over his fingers; a mixture of blood and his cold. Erik looked at the liquid on his fingers and blinked slowly, his head clearly swimming from the experience and not paying attention to his company, who was looking on with guilty horror.

Charles knew that he was responsible for the bleeding nose, but he didn’t know if it was due to his slightly inebriated state or his desperation to keep himself seated and away from Erik. Neither was palatable, and he looked away from the struggling man as Erik tilted his head back and made gurgling, hesitant sniffs.

“Here.” He held out his handkerchief.

“T’agks.”

“I can... I can pay for an upgraded room for you; one with functional heating. You’d be much more comfortable.”

Erik lowered his head, the handkerchief still in place under his nose, the bridge of which was scrunched in awful anticipation. Charles tried to keep his gaze steadily on the other man, tried to hide how scared he was of his own vulnerability and ashamed at the damage he had caused his once-friend.

He closed his eyes, lowered the handkerchief and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Heat would be dice.” He croaked, his shoulders sagging in defeat. It was clear that he didn’t want to move and it certainly seemed as if he would topple over if he attempted it, despite trying to look as competent as possible with a raging cold and bloodied handkerchief.

There was hesitation in his movements as be braced himself to get up. It was clear that Erik didn’t want to go, despite feeling awkward around Charles. He wanted to push the two of them in the room and into a conversation that the Englishman didn’t want to have, but it was out of concern that he wanted to talk.

It was also concern that was going to drive him out into the horrid weather and into isolation.

Erik coughed and rose. Charles followed the movement for a moment before raising a hand.

“Wait,” He spoke softly. “Stay.”

“But they dod’t have ady other roobs you cad enter with your whee-”

“It’s okay.” Charles sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. “Just help me out of the chair and onto the bed before...” He made a small gesture towards his own nose.

Erik nodded and reached down to pick Charles up, which was something that the telepath normally wouldn’t have allowed, let alone suggested. As much as he resented his position and the man who had put him there, he had never felt as afraid or powerless as he had been when he’d felt the metal move beneath him.

He had, Charles realized, started to think of his telepathy as a security blanket, that as long as he had it then he was still invulnerable. He was too used to being the most powerful person in the room, being able to mentally neutralize anyone who would take advantage of him and his diminished physical state.

However, in defending himself he had caused physical harm to one he had once cared about, and he felt sick. He didn’t feel like he had the control he once had and it was dangerous now to protect himself with his telepathy.

“I’m sorry.” He spoke quietly against the too hot body that had grasped him.

“It’s dow trouble, Charles.”

Erik dropped him with a jolt on the bed, but Charles didn’t take it personally. It was clear that he had used the last of his energy as he moved around the bed to collapse on the other side.

“Before you retire, you might want to dampen a cloth with cool water. For you fever, Erik.”

Nodding, he moved out of Charles’s view into the bathroom, the sound of a soft, thick nose-blow following. If the professor needed any more evidence about how rotten Erik must have been feeing, then the lack of protesting would have provided it.

Charles used Erik’s momentary absence to wrestle with the blankets to place his body under them and prop himself up slightly against the headboard. His clothes were still damp from the rain, but no longer cold, and the heat from the covers made them feel heavy and uncomfortable against his body.

Erik returned, fell into the bed next to him and placed the cloth on his forehead. He had used Charles handkerchief in lieu of another cloth, clearly having rinsed it, but it was still tinged with the bloodied colour.

“Charles.”

“Erik.”

“I didn’t bean to hurt you. You know thad don’t you?”

The well man took a beat and a breath before answering. “Get some sleep, Erik. Having this conversation now won’t do either of us any good.”

Erik rolled over and away, signalling that the conversation would be re-shelved. Charles watched as pink tendrils of water ran down the back of the other man’s neck as the muscles shifted and tensed.

Hihhhh... ihhhhh... H’Hihhhh... Verdabbte Scheiße!”

“Erik?”

“I deed tehhhhh... Hihhhh...”

“Oh!”

Charles reached out, hesitating for a moment before resting two of his fingers against the sweat, water and blood that clung to Erik’s temple. He swallowed nervously before closing his eyes and allowing Erik’s mind and body to open up to him again.

HtCCHHH! HuhCCHHH! HISHHHH! HihISSSHH! HutTISCHHHOO!... AESSSHHHOO!”

He snuffled and moved to rub his nose against his sweater. Charles placed his palm between the other’s shoulder blades for a moment, but he wasn’t sure which one of them needed the reassurance of touch more.

“Tha’gs.”

“Goodnight, Erik.”

“G’dight, Charles.”

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Erik held the double doors open for him and Charles was hit by the cold air like a bullet. He shivered and mourned the ability to pull his jacket tighter while continuing to move.

Owww, my HEART! cry.gif

Mercury, this was such a beautiful concoction of angst, and comfort, and aljsdlfksl;df. Poor Erik. Poor Charles. Poor EVERYONE! 2hrobv5.gif

I have to say, though. I like the take on this. Most post-Cuba stories deal with Charles and Erik's reunion in a different way, but this take - your take - was impacting. I just want to fix the broken babies and give them lots of hugs!

Great fic, though. Truly. heart.gif

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Christ almighty....my heart! OWW!

This was so terribly lovely and angsty, Mercury! VERY well done :)

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:dribble: I can't

I literally can't

Either you somehow know me really well, got lucky, or did a SUPERB job at stalking because you hit all the right fetish buttons with this (and angst buttons too!) The bloody nose was an unexpected but not unwelcome surprise! :drool: I love how down Charles is and how he's struggling to adjust to his new life and then Erik shows up with a lovely cold and it's so bad he can't even keep his composure and Charles's mutation coming into it in the loveliest and most interesting way and goddammit I just this was fantastic, thank you SO SO MUCH :hug:

I'm about to PM you my running commentary because I think I'd break the forum if I tried to post it here. :lol: I literally loved every word of it, thank you!

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The results of my stalking pretty much boiled down to you liking nosebleeds and something about sweaters(?) so I was very nervous about this. I also read your X-Men and Avengers stories, and since I loved them and your style of writing I was hoping that if I liked what I was writing then you would like it too. I am so happy and relieved that it was the case.

Thank you everyone for the lovely comments! I hope you all have a great holiday season heart.gif

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I had meant to reply what felt like ages ago but this fic was... breathtaking. It was harsh and so real I just wanted to cuddle them both! That drinking comment, ooooh it wrenched my poor heart! I cannot reply well enough!

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I think Ouroboros totally nailed it. This was heart-breaking in all the most perfect ways and just the post-Cuba fic I've always wanted!

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