Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men. Marvel does.

A/N: And now back to your previously scheduled postings.

Rating: Let's do T to be safe, because yeah.


Muted

His head shoots up at the sound of muted, blaring music, eyes squinting in quick pain as they move away from the oiled canvas to the outside world he's ignored for the better part of the day.

He sees Charles sitting at his desk, just as he was this morning, face scrunched up in bitter expression as he clenches the blue ink pen tightly in one hand. The other, Erik notices, is stretched forward, slim pale fingers tightly gripping the small knob of the speakers volume, slowly but firmly twisting it to be louder and louder still. The soft notes of the music, no doubt raging in Charles' ears, seep out from the circles of the headphones to escape being overwhelmed by the ones that follow, and the brunette man bites his bottom lip as his eyes remain closed.

Glancing briefly at his unfinished painting, Erik stands up, and sighs.

He moves across the carpet with practiced silence, the ungentle Berber crushing beneath his bare feet and not betraying his movements, the sunlight the filters through the blinds dogging at his steps. It's nice, their apartment - small, but just so, enough room for their meager possessions and the crowding of their work. Their bed, an unmade mess of black cotton and blue sheets, sits temptingly in the corner, just feet away from their miniature refrigerator and unreliable stove. And far away from their work spaces, as if the rest of reality ceased to exist after the line the furniture had formed. The way they wanted.

He stops just over Charles' shoulder, wincing as the music grows louder still, until the knob can't be turned anymore, though it is still held tightly. From here, he can see that the other man's jaw has clenched, that the hand attempting to squeeze life from the pen is all white knuckles and no words - the sheets that Charles has spread out before him are all either blank or covered in scratched out sentences and angry notes. Hours since they pulled away from each other to lose themselves in the unrelenting demands of art, and all that his companion seems to show for it is anger.

And pain.

Slowly, cautiously - he knows better than to startle - Erik allows his paint-stained hands of burgundy and violet to ghost over Charles' shoulders, pausing at the immediate tense of his shoulders, waiting until they relax just slightly before he continues his trek, pressing his fingers a little more firmly as they cross over tense shoulders, slowly up the heated neck, until they rest over the black, worn-down headphones. Gently, carefully, he pulls them off and sets them down.

Without a word, Charles turns the knob until the music dies, casting them both into the silence that has fed the canvas in the corner all morning.

"Erik." It's all he says, but his tone says more. Desperation. Anger. Annoyance. He is lost and hurting for it. Erik says nothing, simply leans over and wraps his arms around the other's shoulders in a cross, holding Charles close as he shakes like a person in shock.

A writer needs to be within their own head as much as a painter, Erik knows and respects, but within their head they need to be within their words, and only their words. Harsh music and blank paper meant Charles had again been caught in the undertow of other thoughts - emotions that were his own, not those of his story. He's trapped where he is, trying to claw his way out with no purchase to grab.

The pen has fallen from Charles' hand, rocking back and forth on the empty pages before coming to an innocent stop, waiting to be picked up again. The man sighs, heavy against Erik's chest as the tension drains away into uncertain defeated, and that is when Erik stands, pulling Charles with him and away from the frozen battlefield of words. Pulls him towards the canvas that has paused in its birth and to its barren, untouched counterpart. Silently, he reaches down and grabs a new tube of red oil paint, pops off the lid, and firmly presses it into Charles' hand. Pushes him towards the blank canvas and stands directly behind him, arms wrapped about his waist, and rests his chin on a bony shoulder.

Excess emotion impedes the writing process - they've tried poetry, but it only seems to make it worse. They really need to come up with a new rule about answering the phone when Charles' mother calls, when it leads to this.

Tomorrow, perhaps, or even later today, there will be words, when the echoes of last night are gone and Charles can speak in his own language again. But for now, he needs Erik's, and Erik wants to hear.

"Tell me," he whispers, calm and simple.

Hesitating only minutely, Charles presses the tube to the canvas, and does.


A/N:

Okay, no, really back now. Sorry. Huge personal life issue. Not important. I'll start posting stories again!

Let me know what you thought? (: