"Are you comfortable?"

Charles moved his torso a little, so that his head was pressed against Erik's chest firmly. "Yes, I'm quite comfortable now."

"But not later?"

"Later?" Charles sighed, and answered, "No, not likely."

The darkness kept them from seeing Charles' hotel room, and his suit jacket thrown on the chair, or even the normal wheelchair he was using, because this was an official visit and he was just an educator. They couldn't see the mass of paperwork piled high in the corner; they couldn't see anything. It was Monday; Charles was leaving for New York at six in the morning on Wednesday. Erik had shown up late yesterday evening, and proven that after years and years, some things don't change.

Erik shuffled, so that they were both laying down. He stuffed the extra pillow behind himself, and rolled his head to get the crick out of his neck. Charles smiled, against his bare chest. "Are you comfortable?"

"What?" Erik looked down, squinted at the slightly paler patch curled on him that was Charles' bald head. "Oh, yes. I'm comfortable enough."

Erik could feel Charles breathing on him, moist little puffs right between his ribs, and relaxed. Charles was muffled when he answered, "Good. Good."

His hand was stroking Charles, right on the shoulderblade, over and over again. The room was cold -- hotel rooms always are, with the air conditioning turned up so high you can almost see your breath. Charles' skin was cold where his fingers fell.

Erik smiled fondly. He knew that Charles, with his stern expression, hated being cold. Those kinds of things never change within people, so they could meet in Morocco in ten years -- maybe they will -- and Charles will love the heat and he'll be uncomfortable, throwing the blankets off. That's the way them, in bed, used to go, and that's the way it was, right now.

"Are you warm enough?" He was willing to give up the cool air, if Charles was cold.

Charles answered, sleepily, "No, I'm fine." They settled in, for a minute, and then Erik heard, "I can't believe how tired I feel, right now."

Erik replied, almost playfully, "I would hope you weren't still full of energy..."

"No, no." Charles was smiling, he was sure of it. "But I can't believe how bone tired I am."

Softly, Erik said, "You didn't know, before we met yesterday?"

Charles was thoughtful. "No. I suppose not." He chuckled, faintly, and Erik felt the air against his skin, again. "I suppose I couldn't really afford the time to admit it."

"Yes. I suppose not." Erik continued to stroke the shoulderblade beneath his palm. They were lying so that Charles was curled up on his chest, arms wrapped lazily around him. He asked, "Do you feel better now?"

"You know I do, a little." Charles had always preferred to lay on top, pinning Erik down, he'd always thought, making sure he couldn't leave in the middle of the night. This way, they had to see each other at least once more -- in the morning when Charles woke up and had to go. Erik was quite contented to let Charles doze while he sat up, thinking.

Not that there was much to think about, here; tomorrow, Charles would go to the conference he had come to DC to catch, and Erik would leave the hotel. He wouldn't write a note -- what to say? What could possibly be said? He would go back to his cold home, and wonder when the next opportunity might come, six months, a year, two, ten, and still he'd take the chance, just to meet Charles for a few days.

He was sure Charles was asleep, right on top of him, and leaned down to press his lips to the bald head. He murmured, "You looked tired, when I saw you."

Charles was most definitely asleep, he decided -- he didn't refute it.

And then, in the morning, they'd go their separate ways again. How much one gives up for integrity, Erik thought, and shook his head.