Characters: Charles, Alex/Hank implied, Possible Alex/Charles/Hank
Warnings: Unmanaged depression. Unhappy ending.
Disclaimer: Not mine, as nice as it would be
Prompt: Originally posted here for this prompt: "[...] Hank and Alex are trying to cheer Charles up after Cuba, and taking care of the mansion, ect? [...]"
Summary: Alex wakes up, and Hank isn't there. Clearly Charles is having a bad night.
Alex blinked blearily at the clock. It was nearly four in the morning. Hank had been gone for almost an hour.
After a brief internal debate over the merits of simply going back to sleep, Alex flicked on the bedside lamp. Tonight must be one of the bad nights, Hank might need his help.
Alex dragged himself out of bed and pulled on some socks. The mansion's hardwood floors were freezing during the night, and he had no desire to walk around on them barefoot. Taking one last look at the toasty warm bed, he shuffled out the door, down the hall, around the corner and down the flight of stairs. Even if he hadn't known the way by heart, he still would have known the right direction. The feelings of regret, anger, loneliness and grief filled the empty hallways, getting stronger with each footstep.
He didn't knock on the door, just pushed it gently. It creaked, slowly revealing a familiar but still heart-wrenching scene.
Hank was sitting on Charles' bed, enormous blue arms almost completely enclosing Charles' smaller form. Charles was resting in Hank's lap, face buried in the extra soft fur of Hank's neck, his whole body shaking with intermittent tremors of grief.
It was not an unfamiliar sight. From the first day Charles had been allowed out of the hospital Hank had taken on the responsibility of helping him turn over regularly through the night. The bad nights hadn't started until a few weeks ago, and now they seemed to happen alarmingly often. Hank would go to Charles' room for a few minutes, then spend hours trying to console him, and ease him back to sleep.
Alex watched the two men on the bed for a few moments. Hank was still murmuring assertions that everything would be alright, rocking very slightly, with one hand absentmindedly rubbing Charles' upper back and neck. His words were low pitched and soothing, reminiscent of a continuous purr.
When Alex had first met Charles, he had looked small. Tiny, really, with Erik walking along side him. But that impression had been fleeting, and for the months leading up to the Cuba incident Charles had become almost larger than life. An enormous presence wrapped in a tiny package. But now he seemed small again, and not just compared to Hank. Charles was diminished, and that was...
Alex took a deep breath, then stepped into the room, pushing the door back to the same ajar position it had been in when he arrived. The movement attracted Hank's attention, although Alex was pretty sure his presence had long since been noticed.
'Bad night?' Alex mouthed silently.
Hank let his gaze drop pointedly to the crown of Charles' head resting on his shoulder then looked back at Alex, his tired eyes still managing to express a sarcastic 'what do you think?'.
Alex shrugged, watching silently for a few seconds. Normally, trying to keep a conversation secret from Charles by using gestures and looks would be a pointless exercise. The telepath was more than capable of picking up the full detail in surround sound. But on bad nights like this one, Charles was more than usually oblivious.
Alex pointed to himself, then pointed a thumb over his shoulder, simultaneously mouthing the words 'Should I go?'
Hank looked back down at Charles for a moment, assessing, then looked back at Alex and shook his head. He twitched his head down to the empty spot on the bed instead. Alex took the instruction, and shuffled over to set himself down carefully next to Hank and Charles.
"Hi." He said, out loud this time, but soft. Hank wouldn't have suggested that Alex should stay unless Charles was a long way from sleep, but even so Alex had no desire to startle him.
Charles lifted his head with an unnatural slowness, blinking heavily.
"Alex," he said, an observation rather than a question. Charles' skin had grown pale since Cuba, making the blue in his eyes shine out unnaturally. He didn't bother trying to feign a smile. "I'm sorry, I'm keeping Hank from you."
Alex leaned over and pressed his lips feather-light to Charles' cheek. The gesture still felt unfamiliar to the younger man, but it was uniquely effective at soothing Charles' anxiety.
"That's all right Professor," Alex replied with as much gentle affection as he could muster at four in the morning, "you're not keeping him from me, we're both right here. It's not a problem."
Charles' eyes drifted vaguely. "I'm still sorry."
The statement carried weight far beyond this night and this bedroom. Dismissing it would do no good, but then acknowledging it might actually do harm. Alex reached out to squeeze Charles' shoulder.
"I understand. And it's fine."
After a few seconds of silence, during which Charles only managed to look more unhappy, Hank said, "We talked about this, don't you remember? You're forgiven. Whatever bad things you think you need to apologize for, you're forgiven. For all of it."
Charles nodded, placing one of his own hands over Alex's to keep it in place. He curled himself back into Hank's embrace, hiding his face once more in his silky fur.
Yes, Alex mused. It was going to be a very long night.