A/N: Oh wow, it's been awhile hasn't it. *sheepish grin* I do love this 'verse though, so here's a short little ficlet for you.

Erik's known the location of the temple for awhile now. It's one of the first things he had done when they arrived and he could slip away without someone watching. They're suspicious of him, and by they, he means everyone and their droid. Everyone except Charles. So it's good, Erik thinks, even as he's moving stealthily along the walkway, successfully avoiding the few people he encounters, that Charles has people to watch out for him.

The man is much too trusting for his own good.

Erik's jumpy and unsettled as he hasn't been on a covert operation in years while he does some hasty research that night. He returns to his room, the knowledge of a simple location weighing heavily on his heart.

Shaw would expect the information soon. Perhaps he's already impatient, annoyance at Erik's failure gripping his heart in a black rage.

Coward, the Darkness whispers as it wraps around him, choking him. Coward.

And as he stands shadowed in the archway, watching Charles laugh with his sister, his eyes bluer than any jewel, Erik agrees with the Dark. I am a coward, he thinks, as Charles notices Erik and brightens, ignoring the annoyed look Raven throws at him and going over to draw Erik into their conversation, his voice more beautiful and more dangerous than the humming dance of a lightsaber duel.

I am a coward, he repeats, just because he knows it's true. But not for the reason you think.

Charles is smiling at him, open and unreserved, his gaze warm and affectionate, and Erik can't understand why, doesn't know how Charles can stand there and smile and act like he actually likes a man responsible for the deaths of millions. He invites Erik to lunch. Erik really shouldn't accept, he should really sort out the complicated, annoying, burning feelings thudding in his chest, but Charles is still smiling and Erik can't resist that smile even if prudence and self-preservation instincts scream at him to refuse.

The information that Shaw seeks is a hollow coldness in the pit of his stomach. He should tell Charles, remind him of Shaw's orders.

He should tell Charles…

Erik shouldn't take Charles's outstretched hand, but he does.

Coward, the Dark whispers to him, laughing.