A/N: Hullo, there. Random little ficlet... Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don not own X-Men. It's all Marvel, Stan Lee, and many more unnamed peoples.

Charles is in his study, sitting on his bed, next to Erik.

Charles isn't quite sure how they ended up there, but he's pretty sure it started with a question about genetics from Erik.

So here they are, in Charles's study. Charles is facing Erik, legs crossed, and Erik leans back on the head board, his legs out in front of him. Charles is talking about things, using words he has tirelessly studied, explaining things he knows as well as the back of his hand.

But these words, this speech- He's said these words so many times it requires little effort on his part. So instead, while he talks, Charles is focused on Erik. Taking in every detail. The way his hair is mussed, the rough, calloused skin of his palms. Then Charles notices something a little odd.

Erik is absent-mindedly stroking a patch of skin- just below his wrist. Charles stops talking. And almost subconsciously, he reaches out, touches the hand covering the skin. For a moment, Charles and Erik lock eyes.

And then Erik silently moves his hand, revealing a small string of numbers. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just numbers, inked in at the very flesh.

Charles takes Erik's forearm into his hands, examining the tattoo. Quietly, slowly, and in almost child-like wonder, Charles lightly traces the tattoo. It's smooth and old. Worn, but still there.

And suddenly, Charles feels something that's a mix of hurt and anger. He wishes very badly to take away this brand, this label, this reminder, of all the painful memories in Erik's virtually horror-filled life. But he can't. So Charles does the next best thing he can think of.

He grips Erik's hand with a quiet but gentle intensity. And as Erik swallows, a lone tear trailing down his cheek, Charles wipes it away and plants a tender kiss on his forehead, all the while, constantly whispering in Erik's head-

I'm here, I'm here, I'm here.

A/N: Well wasn't that lovely? I hope you all thought so. Reviews please!