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Charles sunk deeper into his seat on the couch, closing his eyes against the glare of the afternoon sun through his study windows. Pain spiked behind his eyelids, sudden and then receding into a dull throbbing, pulsing in time with the heartbeat that sounded loud to his ears. 

wonderwhattheprofessor'sdoing-damnimlostagain-thishouseissobighegrewuphere?-whereishehavetofindhimSHAW-thisconfigurationcouldwork-

He resisted the urge to cover his ears.

Despite having impressive control over his telepathy, he still had many days like this. Days where the constant background murmur of voices, of lives, became too much. Days where the normal white noise of millions of minds began to overwhelm his sense of self, first in a slow trickling through his overburdened mental shields and slowly intensifying into a steady deluge. 

As a small child when his ability had first manifested he'd almost gone insane. There'd been no one to help him, no one to teach him how to control it, but he'd survived. He'd done it by himself and he would be fine, he was fine - 

when'sournexttrainingsession?-drankallthemilkagainibetitwasHank-whydoesn'theacceptme-scottscottpleasebesafescottplease-whydidangelhavetoleaveus-

Charles focused on breathing slowly and steadily. In. Out. In. Out. His mouth felt so dry, and the loud rasping of his breath over his lips heightened the sensation. 

(True focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity) 

But that couldn't help him, no, because telepathy was about so much more than just emotions, when his shields dropped he was everyone and felt everything and so calming just himself could do little to fix things and oh, his head hurt

Unconsciously his hands rose to his temples, nails biting hard into his skin. The new pain was a welcome relief from the cacophony in his skull. If everyone would just SHUT UP for a moment - he'd kill for a moment of silence - 

"Charles?"

- and why is this so much worse today? Is it because he'd been exhausting himself shielding from Erik and the children - I promisedthempromisedherraven - it had never been a problem before - 

"Charles!"

His eyes snapped open as he registered he was being shaken and he gasped, gaze meeting frantic green, Erik's hands firmly gripping his shoulders, holding tight. They both stilled, staring, and Charles realized that the voices were quieter than before - 

"Are you okay?" Erik's voice was low and urgent, he was worried-

"...too loud..."

"What?" 

CharlesCharleswhat'shappeningishehurtwhy-

"Erik! Calm your mind, please." Charles managed to gasp out, wincing as Erik'sangerhurtfearconcern washed over him. 

There was a pause, and then Erik closed his eyes and breathed deeply, jaw set, nostrils flaring, forcibly calming himself as well as he could manage. Sorry. Charles sighed a little at the reprieve, hemakesthevoicesstop, but he decided not to question his good fortune. 

The couch dipped a little and Charles opened eyes he hadn't realized he'd closed in relief, glancing over to find that Erik had sat beside him and was watching him intently, searching. One hand was still on his shoulder as support, and Charles couldn't help but lean into it, lean into him. Erik shifted closer, and Charles smiled a little at the warmth.

"What do you need?" Erik's voice was soft in the quiet room, warm and low.Tellmehowtohelp.

"My head hurts... sometimes my telepathy, it just - it gets to be too much. I'm sorry I frightened you, my friend. This happens sometimes." Charles placed a reassuring hand on Erik's knee, wincing a little at the cramp in his fingers, he must have been gripping his head pretty hard. He's going to regret that later when he has to go over the accounts. Having a lot of money was not all fun and games, to be sure.

Warm fingers on his jaw, and Charles flinches a little, surprised. Blue eyes widen as he stares at Erik, taking in his lean form and black turtleneck, his sad but determined expression.

"I didn't know." thoughtyouhaditeasywhydidn'tyoutellme? 

"You weren't meant to. Only Raven knows." He focused on slowing his breathing, wondering a little at the funny feeling in his stomach.

Those warm fingers curved up his jawline to to his temple and then gently but firmly pressed down, massaging. Charles couldn't stop his eyelashes from fluttering shut as a sigh left his lips. Erik's hands were works of art, and they were touching his skin, and they felt wonderful.

Then the feeling stopped and Charles bit off a protesting groan, embarassed.

"Lie down." 

Shocked, Charles stared at him. He was sure his blush had colored his pale skin all the way to his throatline.

Erik smirked a little, lips quirking and eyes glinting in amusement, then tugged at Charles' shoulder in a clear command. "Lie down. It'll give me a better angle."Wanttohelpdon'tbesostubborn.

It was a firm testament to how far gone Charles was that he simply obeyed, twisting to the side and settling down so that his head rested in Erik's lap, looking up at his friend. He felt unsure and unsettled, but through the pain in his head he sensed a warm fluttery feeling had awakened in his chest. His blush had seemingly intensified, and he pouted up at Erik. "Like this?"

Erik ran his gaze over Charles in one smooth, sweeping movement, taking in the rumpled shirt with buttons undone at the throat, exposing milky pale, fragile collarbones, impossibly blue eyes, and tousled hair from Charles tugging at it in his distress. His eyes darkened as he met Charles gaze and breathed, "Perfection."

Charles shivered.

Then those hands were on him again, large fingers skillfully smoothing circles into the skin at his temples, massaging at counterpoint to one another. This time Charles couldn't stifle his groan (groannotmoanofcoursenotGOD) and he heard a soft chuckle from above, but he couldn't care less if he was embarrassing himself. 

Charles inhaled deeply as Erik's scent seemed to envelop him, soap and sweat and something metallic. He wriggled a little, burrowing deeper into the warmth of Erik's torso. His headache was already receding, the constant susurrus of voices finally quieting slowly to their normal background buzz.

He found himself marveling at his quick recovery, normally it would take hours for him to put himself together again and Erik manages it in under twenty minutes. Once more Erik has surprised him. If only he could keep this man, his miracle cure, by his side forever.

His mind was growing foggy, Erik's hands and Erik's warmth sending messages of safety to the deepest portions of Charles' brain - sleepsafehererestnowsafe

As he surrendered to sleep at last he felt a small smile curve his lips.

Safe