I watched X-Men: First Class the other day, and for whatever reason, I kept thinking Charles looked like he had a chronic headache. So that night I wrote this. Also, I know it ends in blood and flames, but I love Charles and Erik's friendship. They clicked so well and it was just awesome. Anyway, that's where this came from. I think it's cute, but I would love to hear your opinion.

Takes place in transit after capturing Emma Frost

All standard disclaimers apply.

:::

It was when they were in the truck, halfway back to the airstrip they used to fly into the USSR, when Erik first noticed it. Charles was resting his head against the wall behind his seat, eyes closed, and Erik hadn't paid any mind until now - distracted by the small army in the cramped space and the sedated enemy only feet away and the fact that Shaw hadn't been there - but he noticed the telepath looked pale and shaky, a sheen of sweat collecting over his brow and lip.

Something niggled in Erik's stomach. He leaned closer to the other man.

"You alright?"

Charles's eyes squinted open.

"Yes." He straightened in his seat with a grimace. "Just a headache." He smiled and the niggling grew.

"Are you sure?"

Charles's features softened. He reached out to rest a hand on Erik's arm.

"Yes, my friend. Suppose I overexerted myself a bit today. That's all. Altering perception is more difficult than reading thoughts, and even in her more vulnerable state, Miss Frost has a strong mind." At some point during the explanation, Charles's eyes had slipped shut again. His head began to loll with the bouncing of the truck.

Erik didn't apologize. He appreciated the fact that his actions had put Charles in a difficult position more than once today, and was immensely grateful the other man had followed him, knowing he was disobeying orders and preferences alike. But he didn't regret his decisions.

The truck lurched, bouncing Charles's head against the wall. Erik winced in sympathy and Charles made a small sound, raising a hand to his head - not to read, but to guard.

Erik surveyed the truck bed. Frost was still unconscious and restrained. The agents they traveled with still avoided looking at the pair of mutants, and the engine was loud enough to hide their conversation, but not looking didn't mean not watching.

The CIA was an ally, but Erik didn't trust them, and Charles looked particularly vulnerable then.

Feeling awkward but determined, Erik raised an arm, carefully sliding it behind the telepath. Charles stiffened at first, brows furrowing farther in confusion, then he sagged into the half hug. His hand fell into his lap, freeing his face to turn into Erik's shoulder, blocking out the dying light.

Erik shifted; Charles tensed; Erik stopped moving.

They spent the next ten minutes in silence but for the grumble of the engine and the clanking of running over potholes, stones, and roots, Erik glaring at anyone who glanced their way. He was thinking Charles might have fallen asleep when the man in question tilted his head up briefly.

Erik felt the words against his ear more than he heard them.

"Thank you, my friend."

He tightened his arm around Charles in response as they settled comfortably again.

When they got back to Division X, Erik would hand him over to Raven, trusting her to know what to do with the man she grew up with. For now, there was half a drive and a long plane ride to spend pointedly not worrying about the condition of his friend.