The heavy crunch of a lamp punching a hole through the wall startled Charles awake. He barely had time to read "2:16 am" on the alarm clock before it collapsed in on itself and then joined the lamp, three inches deep in the wallpaper.

Erik, he said into his boyfriend's mind. Erik, you're dreaming.

The bed frame shuddered ominously. Charles tried to roll over but only succeeded in popping his back.

"Damnit." He grabbed the fabric of his sweatpants and tugged the other half of his body with him as he rolled over and slid an arm around Erik's chest.

Every muscle in Erik's body was tense, and he was drenched in sweat. Charles could hear his teeth grinding.

Erik. He pressed his face to the nape of Erik's neck. He could hear – feel, really – red static lashing through Erik's mind, a disjointed flash of images and voices and impressions.

I hate dreams, he thought before projecting his mind into Erik's, submersing himself in the chaos that was engulfing him.

Darkness, thick as cake, crowded in from every side, blurring the distorted, horrible faces of people Charles had only ever seen here, in Erik's nightmares. He pushed through them, into a hospital room, watery blood draining in a line across the checkered tile floor.

"Erik!" he yelled, scanning the room but seeing no one. Just blood. No one could survive losing that much blood.

He stepped to the door and wrenched it open. It led to a house, small and worn, but tidy. Yellow curtains, their printed pink roses looking so wrong as they fluttered over the broken table, shattered dishes-

"Erik! Where are you?" Charles tore through the house, checking all the rooms. Some led to actual bedrooms, but others opened onto city streets or a beach. He stopped. One doorway led to his own bedroom, the one they were sleeping in now. He shook himself and kept looking.

The upstairs hall faded slowly from a home to a laboratory – warm browns to sterile steel. The darkness seemed to be pooling here, physical darkness so thick Charles felt himself coughing. The noise here was deafening. Screaming, and voices, and the sound of a gunshot. Over and over and over.

Oh Erik, he thought, his heart clenching.

Then he heard... sniffling. Little boy sniffling.

"Erik." Charles' voice went soft as he knelt on the cement floor and felt around, crawling forward. His fingers brushed soft fabric, and the small collar of a child's shirt.

"It's okay, Erik." He pulled the child against his chest and held him tight. "I'm here. You don't have to be scared anymore." He kissed the part of the boy's hair and mentally pulled them up, up, up out of the dark and the noise and into the waking world.

"Charles?" Erik's voice, twenty years older, sounded exhausted.

"You were dreaming."

Erik laced their fingers together and sighed. All the objects in the room that had slammed against the wall fell to the floor like heavy metal hailstones. After his heart rate slowed to a steady pace, Erik sat up and surveyed the damage.

"The bed-" was now on the other side of the room.

"It's fine." Charles tried to tug him back down, but he stood up instead, and began restoring all of the objects to their proper places. The bed slid gently back to where it started. The lamp and alarm clock uncrumpled and plugged themselves back into the wall. Erik wasn't meeting Charles' eyes. He knew, even without brushing against his mind, that Erik hated this weakness, this loss of control. He stood, arms crossed, back to the wall riddled with holes, and focused his attention on smoothing out a doorknob.

Erik had no trouble discussing or dealing with his pain, as long as he did so through anger. Pain by itself, raw and vulnerable, was something entirely different. What do you need to me to do here? Charles swallowed, and focused on Erik's thoughts.

"Don't." He flinched as if from a physical blow. "I don't want to talk about it. And I don't want you," he tapped his temple - hard. "Poking around in here without my permission."

"Okay." Charles looked over at the alarm clock as if he didn't know exactly what time it was. "It's almost three in the morning. Let's just go back to sleep."

Erik didn't move, and Charles thought he was going to refuse, but then he gave a sharp nod and climbed back into bed. They settled into each other, Charles resting his head lightly on Erik's shoulder. "Good night, Erik," he mumbled into the soft fabric of his t-shirt.

"Good night, Charles."

They took a few breaths together. Erik's body slowly relaxed into the mattress and he turned his head so his nose and chin nestled into Charles' head.

Charles was almost asleep when he heard the soft low tones of Erik saying, "Thank you."