1963-11-08 - Under Cover Nerds
Summary: Moira sneaks back after a long day working for Weapon-X, to steal a night's sleep in Charles' bed. They end up having an important conversation about her undercover mission in the morning.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
moira xavier 


*

It's late. Far past any curfew that the kids have, but Moira had to finish work for the day, get back to her apartment, ensure she'd not been followed, triple check, take a long, round about way up north, and then finally get into the mansion. Still, for the two actual *dates* they've had since they dare tried this relationship thing (again), and the many conversations, it's been very few nights they've managed to stay in the same bed. With her work on the Weapon-X project, it's been even less conversations. And she's missed him. What was a relationship if you never saw the person? So, she came.

Now, she's carefully making it up the stairs into the institute, towards his room. He might be asleep, but she's crawled in late once or twice before. It's just their lives. Still, just in case he is snoozing, she's as quiet as possible as she makes her way into the room. The crutch makes that a bit harder (but she really cannot walk without it, most of her left leg useless from being shattered all those months ago), so all she can do is just go gentle and slow. She shuts the door quietly behind her, bringing a faint scent of vanilla into the room with her as she looks around to see if he's in bed ro not.

*

He is in bed, and wearing a set of those antiquated cotton pajamas he favors. It's easy to tell, what with the bedside lamp still on and bathing one end of the room in a pool of warm light. The reason for this is likely the notebook folded over on his chest, where he must have had it propped up before nodding off.

Even asleep though, such a familiar presence approaching so close is enough to cause him to stir, an indistinct brush of recognition meeting her mind. «Moira?»

*

They have been close enough — before, and now again, though the last two months of reunion has been much of feeling things out once more — that Moira has become accustomed to the gentle echo of his voice in her head. It's rather comforting now, in truth. A ghost of a smile crosses her lips as she brushes thoughts back in his direction. «Go back to sleep. I did not mean to wake you.» Along with a touch of guilt that she did wake him.

She's still quiet as she moves, stepping over to the side of his desk and shrugging out of her fall jacket. Once that is off, she gently steps out of her high heels and the moves to the side of the bed. Now, she rests the crutch to the side, balancing on one leg as she begins to slip off her green wool dress, leaving her in just a slip and her stockings. Then she sinks down into the edge of the bed next to him so she can unclip her garter and roll the stockings off. She'd sleep in her slip, that was fine.

*

There's an audible inhalation from Charles, waking more properly now. His eyes open enough to find hers, and he gives a little smile. "And miss your first visit in— how many days has it been, now? No, I'm perfectly happy to have been disturbed." he sits himself up, making a rueful face at the book. "Besides, it seems I've neglected to go about falling asleep properly the first time anyways, I might as well make a proper go of it."

*

The woman turns her head, a few locks of brunette, soft hair falling across her now mostly bare shoulder as she does it. She studies his sleep drowsy frame, especially in those old fashioned pajamas, and a soft smile ghosts across her lips. Even with all the history between them, the controversey, the time apart, she still can't help but smile when she sees him like this. "You'd lecture me if I fell asleep like that." In fact, he has, in the past. She finishes rolling down her second stocking, setting it atop her dress on a side chair, before her hands twist around to unhook her bra. She'd sleep in a slip, but nothing else. "…and…it's best if I don't come back here every night. Safer for the children."

*

"Oh, I would, absolutely." Charles agrees without hesitation nor shame. He's slipped out of bed, padding across the rather extravagant bedroom to deposit the notebook directly on his desk. He turns to face her, a look of concern clouding his features. "You've gone through with it." he says.

*

Now Moira's sitting on the edge of his bed, silohuetted in the very dim light of his sleep darkened room, in nothing but her cream silk slip. Slim and elegant as always. She reaches hands up, pulling the few pins out of her hair that keeps those locks out of her face as she words. The look of concern is met with a quiet, leveled gaze. "…They were using my research already. Better I work to… to ensure their experiments are ineffective, then let them use it and maybe succeed. And I will get valuable information. I just need more time. Columbia gave me a leave of absence. It… seemed the wisest choice."

*

"Moira, I know how you feel about this. Especially in light of their involving your research, but." he glances aside, his expression leaving little need to voice that he doesn't like it. Tired as he is, it may very well bleed over in an unintentional projection anyways. "These people are intensely paranoid. They need to be stopped, but what you're doing is unspeakably dangerous. If they won't grant you access to anything more damning while all the while you're gambling that they won't realize your sabotage.."

*

"Charles. I have been there barely a month. Give me *time*. What is the saying, the Wall of China wasn't built in a day?" Well, it's not the exact saying, but she is tired and it gets her point across. Even as she feels that dislike and worry. Now, totally undressed save for her slip, Moira shifts her form deeper into the bed, one hand helping get her mostly useless left leg up onto the covers before she shifts them down so she can crawl beneath. "..Come back to bed. This isn't a matter we need to discuss tonight. I… I came back so I could… See you. Have an evening. Even if it was just sleeping." So she could sleep next to him. Sleep well, for one night, unlike the evenings alone in her apartment. Though she doesn't voice those thoughts, he might catch them on the edge of her mind. How much she's missed him. How so much of her just wants that quiet warmth of him next to her.

*

"Rome." Charles corrects absently, though there's a rueful sort of smile on his face. His hands brush for pockets, taking a moment longer than usual to find them due to the pajamas. He's not generally in the habit of having such conversations in his night wear, after all.

And perhaps she's right that that should continue to be the case. He lets out a slow sigh, rigid stance softening some. "In the morning. Yes?" he prompts, a compromise.

*

Moira gives a little sound as he corrects her phrase, but it's not really annoyance. Half amusement, half dismissal. She shakes her head, stretching her body out a bit longer and curling onto the pillow next to his. She's a delightful, elegant line in his bed, all soft limbs and dark hair. "I need to go back in the morning, you know. Showing up late would be *more* cause for worry. But… if we are both awake." She gives him a drowsy smile, genuinely exhausted herself. "For now…come to bed? Please?"

*

Charles glances at the clock, skims the knowledge of when she'll have to leave to be comfortably on time, does some math and nods. "Yes..yes, of course." he agrees, and it could easily apply to either assertion.

He crosses back towards her, pausing a moment at the bedside to just take her in. It has been far too long since they had a quiet evening together.

He slips back under the covers beside her a moment later, close at her side with an arm sliding arond her middle. "..I have missed you, you know." he says matter-of-fact but sincerely into her hair. "I just want you to stay safe." the same well-meant concern that may very well be slowing up the progress of the X-men team to it's true potential.

*

"I know, Charles…I know. But, eventually, you must trust people to be their own people. This is why you care for them in the first place. Because you see something great in them. I know you. Trust…trust that something." Moira whispers, but she's happily sinking into that wrap of his arm. She has missed him too. A feeling of pure comfort, of being home, it all radiates off of her as she sinks a bit closer against him and turns her head up to place the softest of kisses against the corner of his mouth. "…Get some rest, Charles. We will speak in the morning." She whispers against his cheek. Then she's tucking her head in against his shoulder and truly sinking in for the night. Her body stretches a long, warm line against his. It probably wasn't appropriate for a non married couple, but she also didn't care. It felt right.

*

It's early morning when the alarm clock goes off on the bedside table. Charles is the sort who learned early to master any late-riser tendencies with a mixture of habit, caffeine and drive. It's the latter especially that comes to his aid this morning, as having Moira at his side all night has kept the unconcluded conversation hovering in the wings of his mind. It's had the night to let his subconscious turn it about and let it percolate, and as he reaches across to the night table to silence the clock, he feels he's already come to some conclusions.

*

The early morning is *not* something Moira wants to hear. Yes, several degrees, jobs and students later, she's rarely had time to sleep in. But since the new job, sleep has been even more fleeting. It keeps nightmare images of experimented upon mutants hovering just behind her eyes. They've had little time for comfort with each other so this is probably the first good night's rest she's gotten in a long while. Her body wants to hang onto the fingers of it. She gives a protesting little moan, turning closer against his frame and burying her face into the crook of his shoulder, away from the dim morning light. Maybe he'll let her go back to sleep. She's small, warm and soft against him.

*

It's a sentiment Charles can very much appreciate. On the rare occasions there's been a weekend with nothing dire to attend to during the sporadic times they've been together, she knows that he's capable of sleeping in with the most steadfast of them. But so very often there's just too much drawing him directly into his day.

Today is one of those days, but even on those days sometimes a few moments are worth the stealing. He chuckles with a warm smile, half propped up from reaching the clock when she burrows rebelliously against him. He settles himself on one elbow, brushing aside some of the sleep-mussed hair from her face. "Good morning."

*

"Mmm… No." Moira murmurs into his shoulder, a firm protest of the day. Surely they could sleep in a bit longer. Her head tilts into the brush of his fingertips, certainly enjoying that much, but she's still yet to open her eyes really. He was warm. The bed was comfortable. In these stolen moments, the world felt far more like everything was right. She knew that was a lie, but she had to try. Drowsily, her fingertips stretch over, tracing against his ribs beneath the blankets. Just touching him even as she fights to go back to sleep.

*

"The 'good' may be a matter of debate, but the 'morning' part I feel we can be reasonably sure of." Charles murmurs back wryly. His hand settles around the side of her head, as if a small gesture of reassurance that she is here and safe for now, thumb brushing her cheek where it's not covered by her burrowing into his pajama shirt. "…We really ought to have that talk."

*

Another slight moan of protest. Moira knew the talk was coming, hell, he probably woke them up early enough to have it by the dim, bare morning beyond the windows. It was no where near full daylight yet. She then turns her head, pressing a gentle kiss into the center of his palm and just taking a deep breath of his scent. Finally, she picks her head up enough to look at him, auburn hair falling messily about her pale features, eyes still drowsy with sleep. There were so many better things they could be doing than talking. But not more important things — wasn't that just their lives? "Fine. Talk." She throatily murmurs.

*

"I was rather hoping that you might." Charles replies, tone still light. He leans over to leave a gentle kiss on her forehead now that her face isn't hidden, eyebrows raising questioningly. "Tell me what's going on? …And how I might help."

*

The kiss on her forehead makes her eyes shut again, just a moment. It felt nice and was tempting her just to more relaxing things. But, for all their still relative youth, they both had old souls. Disciplined souls. So, Moira gives a little sigh and forces herself up into sitting straighter, though as blankets fall from her bare shoulders she does shiver a bit. She shifts in the bed so she can be propped up against a pillow. "I…don't know what help I could take yet. They are putting us in small, sectioned off labs. One lab doesn't get to know the other. We don't meet the other teams. They are operating like some… resistance or criminal cell, but it's the damn government."

*

There's a nod from Charles, facing her now in their half-sitting state. "I gathered that much last night." he agrees.

And more this morning, when those horrifying memories of trapped and helpless people were on her mind. They can certainly agree on one thing: whatever is happening, it needs to be stopped.

"But what we are in need of ultimately is information, and that is something of a forte of mine, after all. If I were to accompany you—"

*

"No." She cuts him off before he even continues, a flare of passion and determination behind her eyes. So much for sitting relaxed against the pillows. Moira turns her body as much as her half useless leg will allow her, sitting up straight to fully face him. "You are needed *here*. These kids… this school… you do so much. AND you are a public figure, realize it or not. Your face is known. You walk in there? They will put you on lock down and god knows what. We cannot risk losing you and we can LESS risk you falling into their hands."

*

Charles raises one eyebrow, still leaning fairly relaxed on one elbow. "I hadn't finished." Charles notes mildly, though there's a bit of that rueful look again in the smile at the corner of his mouth. "I wasn't intending to leave the school at all, in the sense that I think you mean. And yes, there is work I am needed here for that I have not the least intention of tossing by the wayside. But I do have some alternative means at my disposal that I could spare at least some time to contribute."

*

Charles adds seriously, "My job here is to offer help to those in need. And the people trapped in that place you're trying to tear down Moira, they are in need. Terrible need. You can't ask me to ignore this any more than you could."

*

As he says he hadn't finished, Moira gives him the look of a woman who has a feeling he tugged her into that trap. She smirks, but she listens, not quite protesting again yet. Her smirk softens to a more somber look as he continues. "…What alternative means are you thinking about, Charles?" She murmurs, still not protesting again, but she does not seem thrilled. "I am not asking you to ignore it. I'm asking you to keep doing the good, vital work you are doing and trust me on this."

*

"I do trust you," Charles says. "That is why I said I wouldn't stand in your way when you first proposed this." and his tone is nothing but serious. "And…you're right perhaps, that I at times am too ready to play the mother bird when perhaps I should step back and trust in the wings of those I've taken under my own, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't help when it would be sensible to. And I have another way to send my mind to a distant place, though I admit there's rarely been a need since Cerebro."

*

Moira's head tilts slightly, sending more of that straight, lovely hair across a single shoulder even as her eyes narrow upon him, she trying to piece out what this other way might be. "Charles. I care for you. Quite deeply. But I am *not* one of your students and you are not my damn mother bird. If that is how you are feeling, then we have a lot more to reassess. We are partners in this. *Partners*. You have to trust that I don't need to be under your wing." There is a steel to her voice as she says this that wasn't there before. Memories of the last time he made decisions for her instead of with her.

*

Charles sits up cross-legged to hold up his hands as if to forestall the rush of her her words. "I didn't mean you specifically in that analogy. I had simply been thinking the statement you made last night about my conduct in general may have had some merit to it." he winces a bit when he catches the sharpness of that last thought. "We are partners."

*

Pale, strong eyes search his handsome face as he affirms those last words, looking for truth in them. For no hesitation or doubt at all. Moira breathes in slowly, seeming to find what she hoped for. Or, at least, she's decided not to push it. "Good…then you need to trust me to do what I am doing. If you… have ideas to safely contribute, I won't stop you, but you cannot protect me from the world any more, Charles. Please… promise me that you won't try."

*

The intensity, the searching in her expression is easily apparent without any need for being psychic. And all considered, he can't really blame her for that uncertainty. But perhaps that at least is something he can lay to rest right now. "I won't make that mistake again." he states firmly. Though he does tilt his head to add, "Though I feel it only fair to note for being so firm on that point yourself, you seem somewhat ready to do the same to me. Perhaps we shall simply both have to accept that our mutual concerns will exist, and will be taken in advisory. But not as directives to be given."

*

A slight tilt of her head in acceptance to his comment about the mistake. Considering her marriage and everything that came after, she cannot disagree that it was a mistake. But Moira's forgiven him as well. She had to, or she couldn't even lay in this bed. Life moves on. She sighs slightly, reaching one hand forward to trace the edge of her thumb down the line of his jaw een as he speaks about their mutual concern. "…yes…I do suppose that is a part of partnership. But… we discuss it. We advise. We make decisions together. Always."

*

Charles lets out a breath, ready to admit that isn't always in his nature.. but overcoming one's challenges and becoming something better is after all rather a theme of this whole place. He certainly shouldn't be any exception. He offers her a smile, leaning a bit into that gentle touch to his face. "Together." he agrees, reaching out to find one of her hands and squeeze it firmly. "And with that said, I think perhaps I'd better show you what I was talking about."

*

"…Alright, yes. I take it that it involves getting out of this bed?" Moira asks with a wry smile, still half tired but she's accepted being awake this morning. And commuting back into the city is going to take time. She'll probably be short of a shower today but hashing this all out with him has been worth it. Her fingertips linger against the side of his neck, savoring every last touch she can get.

*

"No, as a matter of fact; it would probably be a touch safer really to just stay put." he says, and there's a glint of mischief in his eye at her guessing, at getting to show off a new trick to an inquisitive mind like hers. He catches her hand when it falls from his neck, giving her fingers a light kiss as he scoots over to rest his back against the headboard. He turns her fingers loose, settling himself, eyes closing.

*

The kiss is enjoyed. Moira always enjoys their little affections, even if they had so little time for it. But then she lets him go and arches a brow curiously. She shifts on the bed, bringing her hand down to help move her leg into sitting cross style instead of off to the side. It let her see him far easier. Now, sitting up straight, the satin of her slip pooling in her lap, she nods…"Take it away, Charles."

*

"I already have, as it happens." Focused on Charles as she is it's clear enough he's fallen still, lips unmoving. But considering the voice sounded from just behind her, it may be a moot observation.

There behind her is a ghostly blueish image of Charles, hovering in the air and looking quite pleased with himself. "It's a projection of my mind. And before you raise the obvious protest, I needn't look like myself—or anything at all, come to that."

*

Hearing that projection, that *spoken* voice, not the gentle echo of it in her head, Moira practically jumps out of her skin. Her eyes shoot wide, head jerking back and turning to see him. She's flabbergasted for a heartbeat or two, jaw slightly dropped, eyes staring wide at the image. It takes her a moment to swallow back, to get her heart out of her throat as she looks from the seemingly still, sleeping Charles to the image behind her. "…Projection. It… how… How taxing is this on your mind, Charles? It must be exhausting… And you look like…Like a ghost."

*

"A mental projection." Charles repeats, still floating in the air, ghostly pajamas and all. "Very much alive. It's a comfortable short hand, but with some effort I could appear solid. I can do most anything I could do with my mind normally, though with a much more limited range, I admit. And to answer your question, it isn't something I could do perpetually, no. But an hour or so here or there would be quite manageable."

*

Charles' 'ghost' nods to his body. "And all the while safe and sound here, as you can see."

*

"…I don't know that I could have a visitor for just an hour or two. Or, really… a visitor at all. And they have… bio readings. Things that trace who is coming and going. They are paranoid to the Nth degree, Charles. I… I just don't know if it will work, though it is… Remarkable. Are you touchable, like this?" Moira asks, slowly shifting on the bed to swing her legs down so she's almost in range of his other body. Her hand reaches out, stretching for that form. The scientist in her must know.

*

"No, perhaps Jean with her telekinesis could mimic something like that, but—" he offers a forearm to her inquisitive touch, and her fingers pass right through. "You're only seeing and hearing me through a trick of the mind. Bioscans shouldn't be a problem because no one is here at all, physically speaking. You won't have to smuggle me in, the hope is that I can roam about as I please with no one the wiser. The drawback of course is I can't affect anything like this. I won't be able to collect documents for you, but I might at least be able to learn where they are kept. Or if you ever felt the need to roam somewhere that could be risky, I could keep someone nearby from seeing you, things of that nature."

*

A slow breath in through her nose, and Moira just nods slightly to him. "I will…consider it. It could be useful. I'd just be worried about over taxing yourself. How far can you project this? How long? We…would need to do more tests, Charles, before we try this in reality." Moira is ever the scientist, that much is clear, and she's not taken an untested state into the most dangerous place she's seen in her life. Slowly, her hand that was reaching to touch him falls away and she turns back up the bed, reaching that palm for his very real wrist, trying just to get some basic vitals on him while he's like this.

*

Of course she isn't the only one with a scientific bent, and Charles' projection looks almost comically affronted. "What do you take me for? ..I spent years you might recall before Cerebro, before the school, with myself one of the only available case studies to investigate. I've never reached a distance that caused me difficulty, and I've made it across the better part of Europe from Oxford at one time or another before I grew too tired. And that was years ago. I managed for six hours in a single stint once, so I assure you my suggestions for doing this 'in the field' were both cautious and conservative."

*

A wrinkle of her nose comes, the scientist not really trusting anyone's tests but her own, but that was part of the charm they had for each other — they challenged each other's intellects in a world where so few others can. Moira just squeezes his hand gently. "Fine…fine. You will show me every paper or file you've written on this little trick of yours, alright? Then I'll decide."

*

Squeezing his hand may also confirm if she was wondering that his body may as well be comatose— there's no reaction, and from the look of him if he wasn't well propped up he would very likely just fall right over where he's sitting.

The projection nods though, taking this as a reasonable condition. "I'll have to pour through my old school things, but I should have it all collected and ready for you by the end of the day." he says. And then, because the school can be unpredictable at times he adds, "Two at the most."

Taking her conditions as a sign that the little demonstration has served it's purpose, he flits back towards his body.

*

The woman keeps her hand on his wrist while he's coming back to his body, because she is curious. A scientist and a biologist, this was as fascinating as it was concerning. So, Moira keeps her light, make shift monitoring while he returns. "I guess that means I'll need to sneak back here tonight, after work?" Moira asks with a slightly warmer smile. The excuse would be nice, even if she ends up exhausted.

*

Charles takes a deep breath, his fingers twitching as he comes back to himself. His hand seeks hers on his wrist a moment later, a smile in his eyes. "Anything of note? I admit, I've never had anyone to monitor me during one of my tests before, aside from what I could discern myself."

Her question gives him pause, as he knows how tired she's likely to be, but he -will- probably have time to collect it all today, and he can tell that she wants the excuse as much as he does. "I suppose it does." he agrees, matter-of-fact.

*

"Nothing… remarkable I can tell except the expected increase in activity when you returned, but if you've never had anyone monitor you, then you HAVEN'T done full testing, and that will be our next step before doing anything." Moira seems dead serious about that, her eyes leveling fiercely upon him. Do not cross a determined scientist, they WILL prove you wrong. "You get the files together. I'll come back tonight and pick them up. Perhaps, over the weekend, we can take a few more hours for study." And not that date they've been putting off for two months now. They were never going to get it.

*

Charles rolls his eyes at her insistence, though he really can't argue her point on the research gap. Which is probably why he doesn't try, instead letting out a breath and pressing her fingers to his lips once more.

"Alright." he says. And because he is a mind reader after all, he responds with a smile and a cheeky, "It's a date, then." At least this latest disruption will still have them spending time together, as opposed to so many others. And honestly, Charles is a little concerned to take her on a public date just now, when as she said his face is becoming known, and she's attempting to convince Weapon-X of her false allegiances.

He never did promise not to worry, after all. He likes to think generally speaking he's a man who knows his limits.

*

Isn't this sort of how they started? Both fascinated in each other's work. He celebrating his thesis then him getting her through her's. It's weirdly like the good old days, even if they are going to spend most of the time in science study. At least it was bonding and time together. She smiles a bit more, "Only we would have a date like this, you know that?" She mutters in amusement. It's not really a complaint.

*

Charles gives a hearty laugh at that. "No, no complaint. I think I actually like the sound of that very well, in fact." recalling their last conversation on the subject he can't help but add, "And it's even closer than Harry's."

*

It does feel a bit like full circle in a way, and that suits Charles just fine as well. A sense of truly starting over after the mistakes of the past. The two of them working together to make a difference where it's sorely needed.

*

"Alright. Then… it's a plan. But it all starts with my getting up and going to work today and NOT getting caught between now and then. So… I… I should start moving." Moira admits softly. She doesn't want to, but she needs to. She leans over, free hand that isn't supporting her on the bed coming up to cup his cheek one last time and pull him a bit closer to her for a deep, longer kiss. A proper kiss.

*

It's something they've had opportunity for far too rarely of late, and Charles leans into it wistfully, his fingers brushing against her cheek. <Do be safe..> he thinks. A request, rather than a statement.

*

The kiss is savoured. A little longer than is probably proper and if she didn't have to go to work, well, she's probably giving him a few flashes of thoughts that are enough to make most men blush. The request is noted and appreciated, <I will, my dear. I promise.> And responded to so much better when it's a request. Eventually, though, her lips pull breathlessly away and she begins to shift off the bed again.

*

Time and tide wait for no man or woman, no matter how alluring or well illustrated the alternatives. Charles squeezes her fingers once more with a sigh before he gets up as well. He heads for his dresser shucking his pajama shirt as Moira starts her own preparations for the day. "When do you think you'll be by this evening?"

*

A slight sigh as she leans over and picks up her crutch from where it leaned against the wall. She slides her arm into it and, with the smooth practice of over a year of using it, gets up to her feet again. That done, she limps across to where she abandoned her dress so she can pull it on over her head and not walk in nothing but a slip down the hallway of a school. "…10 at the earliest. I… have to be so careful I'm not followed back here. We can't take the risk."

*

A caution he's not about to argue. "Ten it is." he agrees. It's difficult to see her struggling with the crutch, though she isn't wrong about it being no worse a challenge than many of the students here face. Charles doesn't feel somehow responsible for those hardships though. As much as he admires Moira's strength and poise in accepting, even overcoming it, he's not certain he has yet done the same. He's not sure how to. "I'll see you then."

*

As always, he shows more on his face than he likely has any notion of. It's surely old hat by this point.

*

It's when she looks back to him, once she's settled her dress around her frame and is leaning again on that crutch, that she catches that look on his face. The mix of pity, guilt and slight admiration. She knows him so damn well and she hates seeing that expression. She knows just what it's about. "Charles…if you look at me like that a moment longer I am going to scream. Or throw something. I am no child and this is life. Please. I am no different, it's just a tool. I am fine."

*

There's a flicker of a grimace at being caught, but it turns into a contrite smile. "You know, when I answer what someone is thinking about without them saying it aloud, I tend to be chided for it." he remarks.

Though he isn't chiding, not really. He's never really minded her knowing what he's thinking, though in this case he wishes it didn't trouble her. "And I do know that. What else can I say that hasn't been already?"

*

"Yes, well, I'm prettier than you are. So I get away with more." Moira banters back, her smile returning, teasing, a bit flirtatious. A slight apology in it and a show she's not really hurt, because she also hates that look on his face now. Contrite. A bit hurt. She limps back closer to him, her free hand coming up to cup his cheek. "You needn't say anything. You just need to believe that I'm not broken. I'm no less than the woman you knew before."

*

"I had never for one moment thought that." Charles replies, and that at least has the ring of simple honesty to it. And he smiles too, hugging her around the middle for a brief moment as she draws near. He rubs at his chin as he replies, "—And only prettier because I've not yet had a chance to shave this morning, but I suppose I have to concede the point." the same sort of assuring tone under his voice as well; he's alright. "..But I'd best not keep you much longer, as much as I would like to."

*

"Mm…I'd love to also, but I think they frown on calling out sick in the first month. I better be a good girl and run along." One last, brief kiss, and then she is fully pulling away and limping to the door. She'll make the quickest work possible of changing into fresh clothes and getting out of there. But at least the tension in her shoulders has eased some. Sometimes just a night beside someone for whom you care can be entirely soul healing.

*

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