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14 June 2011 @ 01:58 pm
Fic: Five Days [X-Men: First Class]  
Pairing: Erik/Charles
Rating: light NC-17
Warnings: Psychological torture, hurt/comfort, sensory deprivation.
Word Count: 3400
Notes: Concept taken from Babylon 5. In that 'verse, rogue telepaths are punished by being placed in sensory deprivation coffins out of telepathic range of anyone they can read. It's considered the worst sort of torture.
Summary: Charles is captured. And then he is rescued.

~*~

When he awakens, he is in the darkness. He is alone.

He is alone.

He is the most alone he has ever felt.

For a moment, Charles Xavier does something that he's never done in his life: he panics. A surge of fear, tightening in his throat, and he twists, thrashes, and his palm slams into something cold and smooth.

He is naked, he realizes. Not that he can feel anything below the waist…

He feels, touches. Smooth surface, barely a foot from the tip of his nose. His arms, outstretched, are palm-flat against the same material. Foam underneath him. His groping hands find a spout. A switch. He flips it, and a spurt of cold water sprays against his cheek. On the other side, another, but what it dispenses is something more like jelly.

A few moments of careful checking, on himself, reveal a catheter. Two catheters, actually.

All indications that this prison is meant to be …

No. It can't be permanent

In desperation, he closes his eyes, fingers to his temple, and reaches. He strains to the end of his capability. Fathoms of willpower and strength, pushing, straining, but the world might as well have been reduced just to the size of this coffin. He could be floating in space. He could be miles underground. He could be anywhere.

He is alone.

"Who are you?" The words are more of a shout, torn from his throat. He feels raw. "What do you want?"

There is no response.

He breathes. The air is warm, but it doesn't seem as though it's getting more stale. There's no reason to panic. He can't stay in here forever. He's been captured, obviously, but he wouldn't be alive if his captor didn't want something from him.

He refuses to believe that this could be something as simple and horrible as torture.

So he waits.

He takes a long drink of the water, tries some of the jelly. It's awful. Somewhere between sweet and savory. Which, granted, is a combination he's quite enjoyed on certain types of pan-Asian cuisine, but at the moment, it just seems patently foul when combined with the slight-metallic taste of the water.

Must be coming through a metal pipe.

He probably isn't in space. There's gravity, for one.

Closing his eyes and opening them doesn't make any difference. There's absolutely no light source in here. It's completely dark. He feels compelled to keep moving -- little shifts, like tapping his fingers, mussing his hair, because as soon as he stays still, his body fades away. It's as though he's not even there. That he doesn't even exist.

He can't tell how much time is passing. He thinks about it. He starts to count. He reaches the quintuple digits of "seconds" before he decides to try something else.

After a time, his techniques of distraction have failed.

His heartbeat has slowed. He can't see the present, so it's the past that floats to the top of his mind. He thinks of Erik. He can't help it; when things grow quiet he always thinks of Erik. He thinks of the six times that he saw Erik smile. He admonishes himself for remembering all six in perfect detail. And then he plays all six through his mind again, one by one. He struggles to remember the fading details. He needs this. He will die without this.

After a time, he finds he's crying.

How long has it been? Surely there's someone to hear him.

No, it's probably only been hours.

Not long at all…

~*~

He drifts in and out of sleep, enough that his eyes feel gritty and his mouth dry. His muscles ache from the stillness.

Sleep passes the time, at least … or does it? Are these little naps, or is he out for hours?

The silence is unbearable.

He's going crazy.

The silence.

The silence is driving him crazy.

He just wants -- just one thought. Just one thing. Like a passing man considering his grocery list, or a young girl worrying about her sex life. Little thoughts. Nothing important. Just the minutiae of everyday life, the low thrum of word and image that Charles has lived with his entire life.

Not one but two senses have been taken from him, in one stroke.

He feels his throat vibrating. He's been speaking. He's been saying these thoughts out loud.

"Perhaps you'll get your wish, Charles."

Charles sits bolt-upright.

Or he tries; his forehead smacks into the top of the coffin (no, no, think of a better name than coffin) and he falls back, with a curse. That wasn't a thought, was it?

"No. You didn't think we'd leave you down there without a way to listen in, do you?"

"Who are you?" Charles feels, somehow, that his throat should be dry, that his voice should crack with disuse. It feels as though he hasn't spoken for years.

"I don't think we'll talk about that right now," says the voice. Charles desperately tries to analyze it; it's the sort of pitch that could come from a deep-voiced woman or a younger man. He can't tell gender. He can't tell anything. "I'd like to talk to you about the X-Men."

Charles shakes his head. "You won't get a word out of me."

A pause. "Then you'll be spending rather a while in there, I'm afraid."

"I'm not afraid of a little coffin." Bad word, bad word.

"I think you are," corrects the voice. "I think you're afraid you'll never touch another mind again. Rest assured, Mr. Xavier, if we don't get what we want from you, we will let you die down there."

Charles' heart drops.

"Good-bye, Charles."

"Wait."

The voice is gone.

"Wait!"

It's gone.

~*~

He's passed the time by listening to himself breathe. Of course, sometimes he forgets to listen. And then he'll startle himself with a cough, or a quick inhale. It scares him. It makes him think that he'll forget how to hear at all.

The voice appears again, after an eternity.

"How are you feeling, Charles?"

"Fine, thank you," responds Charles, with as strong a voice as he can manage. "And yourself?"

There's a chuckle, on the other end, and then the voice disappears.

~*~

Memories become harder and harder to grasp. He tries to think of anything, anything at all, and the harder he tries, the less rises to the top of his mind.

"Erik," he whispers. He doesn't even know why.

~*~

The voice keeps reappearing. Charles guesses that it's at regular intervals, but it doesn't feel that way. Days between the first and second, and then minutes between the second and third, then weeks between the third and the fourth… always just one question.

"How are you feeling Charles?"

And then it's gone again.

The fifth time, Charles shouts. "How do you think I'm feeling?"

A chuckle.

The voice vanishes.

Charles realizes, with despair, that he's been responding to a recording to this whole time. Was the original conversation a recording?

After that, the incidences of the voice blend together. Like there's a woven tapestry of dread silence and nightmarish voices, in regular patterns that Charles can't begin to understand.

~*~

"Hello, Charles."

Charles opens his eyes.

"Would you like to know how long you've been here?"

His lips part. He feels them peeling away from one another. "Yes," he whispers.

"One day."

He wants desperately to believe that the voice is lying.

But --

He curls half onto his side, and cries.

~*~

He isn't sure anymore when he slips in and out of consciousness. It all feels the same. The skips of time might be dreams. They might be moments of time where Charles ceases to exist. When he fades away into mist and nothingness.

Coffin. Coffin. He still hasn't thought of a better word. Because it is his coffin. When they get what they want, they'll leave him to starve. If they don't get what they want, they'll leave him to starve.

The thought of this makes him panic.

He yells himself raw. His fingers tear at the foam beneath him. He bites his cheek; he tastes blood.

"Where are the X-Men?"

He seals his lips.

"Where are the X-Men? Where are the X-Men? Where are the X-Men?"

Charles realizes the question is on a loop. He tightens both hands over his ears.

~*~

Centuries later, he spits blood out of his mouth and curls up in the sudden, blessed silence.

~*~

When he awakens, he finds that the food tap isn't dispensing anymore.

He discovers this, and the voice appears:

"We'd like to improve your focus, Charles," it says. "Do you know how long it will take you to starve to death?"

Three weeks.

"Three weeks," it continues. "Three weeks of utter agony."

Charles resolves not to drink the water, either. Then it will only last three days.

~*~

He wakes up, without remembering falling asleep, sucking in water from the tap. His dreams have betrayed him.

He rests back, his throat soothed, his stomach aching.

~*~

From there, it all blurs into nothingness.

His memory fragments. He can't think of who he is. He can't think of why he fights. All he remembers is the answer to the question -- where are the X-men -- because it surfaces in his mind every time it's asked.

Westchester.

Westchester.

After a time, he doesn't even know what that means. West? Chester? It doesn't even sound like a word. Westchester.

Westchester.

~*~

He hears a scream.

He assumes it's his, and ignores it.

~*~

And then the darkness splinters into blinding light. His eyes burn in agony. He shuts them and flinches away, and then --

A curled form below him, pale in the shards of the broken metal box. Erik crouches down and touches Charles' forehead, checks his pulse.

Telepathy feels strained, like a burnt and crippled limb stretching free.

"Erik," he whispers.

"Sshh," comes the response, and he sees/feels/knows arms sliding under his knees, under his back, lifting Charles free of the wreckage.

Charles leans his cheek against Erik's shoulder. He keeps his eyes closed, and instead slips quietly inside Erik's mind. A rider.

He identifies every sight, every sound. Sparks. A hallway. A chair. A tree. Colors: grey, grey, green, grey. It all comes to him separately, details that never resolve into a full picture. Sensory input streaming through his mind without touching his memory.

"What did they do to him?" he (Erik) hears.

The voice sounds familiar, he thinks, and then he's gone.

~*~

He forgets.

He forgets in the whine of an airplane's engine. Scratchy warmth of a blanket wrapped around him. In the brush of fingers against his cheek.

He forgets.

~*~

Funny, he thinks, to be a part of a reality he doesn't control, not in the least.

He sees so much. Mountains and ice. Smooth, curved metal. A flash of dark blue skin, dark red hair.

"Is he going to wake up?"

"He is awake."

"He doesn't look like it…"

A touch of fingertips to a temple. The familiarity of the gesture jolts Charles, but then … then he fades again.

"You mean he's … in your mind?"

"I can feel him there."

"What's he doing? Charles? Charles, can you hear me?"

Of course he can. What a silly question.

"He's just … there."

~*~

He rides in Erik's mind for a long time.

First, it's pacing back and forth in a sort of infirmary. Waiting for something.

Then --

Through small, petty things: eating a meal, a brief exercise routine. He does not bother engaging his own mind. He doesn't bother understanding. He simply is. Slowly reabsorbing the idea of sensory input.

He could stay here forever.

He is aware, distantly, that there's something he's leaving behind, but damned if he remembers what it is. It has the taste of broken, whatever that means.

Day turns to night, night to day. There are dreams. He stays in those, too: disjointed attachments of a mansion he thinks he recognizes, a facility he's certain he doesn't, a beach scattered with wreckage. Illogical connections, like a beached whale where there shouldn't be one, hallways tilted and sloped like a roller coaster.

There is no particular theme in these dreams. He is content with that.

~*~

"Is he still…?"

"It's gone on long enough."

~*~

Erik bends over an unconscious form. There's something familiar about the face. The curve of the cheek. But it's impossible to place.

"Charles," says Erik -- Charles, who is Charles? -- "you can't live like this forever. It's time to wake up."

He settles in, to watch the man wake up.

Nothing happens, and he is a bit disappointed.

Erik releases a breath of air, but releases none of his tension. "All right," he murmurs. He shifts closer to the prone form, and raises his hand. And then brings it down on the form's cheek.

An explosion of pain. Shock and surprise. Is that form him? How could he have felt it, otherwise? He twists in confusion and disorientation. He can't understand what's happening.

Erik's eyes stay fixed on the still-unconscious form.

"Damn it, Charles," he says, soft.

And he leans forward and presses his lips to the unconscious man's.

Suddenly, Charles -- it is Charles -- is aware of the hand spread on his cheek. The sting from the slap. The touch of the kiss. A little spark, frisson of desire awakening something within him. His breathes in, shuddery, and

Opens his eyes.

The light from above is harsh, harsher than he'd expected, and he flinches. Erik waves a hand, and it goes dimmer. Better.

"I'm very confused," are the first dry, croaking words out of his mouth.

Erik (blurry though he is) brusquely rubs his hands together. "You were suffering from post-traumatic shock," he says. A pause, then, "Clinging to your rescuer."

"I was not clinging," Charles protests.

Erik sends him a glance.

"I was reacclimatizing myself to the use of telepathy," Charles explains. "I was deprived of it for quite some time, after all."

"Five days."

Charles stops.

"You were under for five days," clarifies Erik.

"Five days." His lips feel numb. Every part of him feels numb.

"Sensory deprivation always feels like longer."

Charles rallies. "I was not clinging," he says. Then: "Aren't we supposed to be enemies?"

"We have a common enemy," says Erik. "I will never forget that."

"Yes, yes, I suppose we do." Smiling. Charles can't quite stop smiling. Or shivering, even though there's nothing cold.

~*~

It becomes quickly clear that, despite Erik's regard, Charles is more or less a prisoner. And what's frustrating about that is that an entire lifetime of telepathic control seems to have deserted him. Feels as though his mind has been through a blender.

He catches bits and pieces of thoughts and memories, through a day. Most of the base is shielded, he picks up, simply because thoughts will abruptly silence themselves. (The first time he felt this, he thought someone had been killed and he'd panicked for a moment.)

~*~

Raven visits.

Charles is afraid, as soon as she enters, that it's going to be terribly awkward. They'll sit there in silence with nothing to say. They're enemies, after being friends for so long. Long enough that he loves her, loves her enough to let her go.

-- Luckily, it's not like that at all.

They fall into the old rhythms like it's nothing. Talking over each other, recalling memories -- of course, there are lapses into silence, as each of them remember how poorly their friendship has turned, but there's still such deep affection there.

It makes Charles feel stronger.

~*~

“How long do you plan to keep me here?” asks Charles. Pawn one step forward.

Erik peruses the chess board before them. “Hadn’t made any specific plans,” he says. Bishop three diagonal spaces.

“Why not?” Castle, back four.

Erik hesitates. Charles reaches out, and catches a snatch of the truth from his mind. “Oh, really,” he says, “you were the one who showed me the base in the first place, you can hardly blame me for remembering certain details about it.”

“I can’t let you go until I know we’ll be safe.”

Charles despairs, for a moment. If Erik believes that he’d betray him so easily...

“Don’t say you won’t tell.” Bishop back one. “I know you will, if you ever believe it necessary.”

True enough. Charles, at this moment, hates himself for it. “What am I supposed to do?” he asks. “It isn’t as though I can erase my own memory.”

Erik’s eyes meet his.

“No,” says Charles. “No. I can’t do that.”

“Are you sure?” asks Erik.

No, he’s not sure. “Yes! It doesn’t work like that.”

“And if you used my mind to help you?”

That -- “Erik.” Erik, see reason. Erik, don’t ask this of me. Erik, I’m already terrified enough of the dark.

A sweep of mind and hand scatters the chess board. Rough lips are against his, and Charles’ fingers hook into the cloth of Erik’s shirt. Hands closing tight into fists. Erik kisses like he’s drowning, which is funny, because that’s how they first met, and it’s funny because Charles feels like he’s drowning in this, right now.

Erik’s arms slip around him, lift him up.

You carried me like this, Charles remembers.

Not like this. Then, Charles was a small, broken thing. Now, he is the man that Erik remembers. Perhaps a bit beaten, but with all of the vibrancy and life of before.

Erik eases Charles back onto the bed. Charles transmits consent and desire and instructions -- he can’t strip himself, or at least not without a fair amount of awkward squirming, and would Erik be so kind as to make that all easier on everyone so that they could get to the sex part now.

Erik exhales a laugh, and he kisses Charles again. Clothes unravel from Charles’ body; they’ve all bits of metal in them. Eyes for laces, clasps, buttons. Charles grasps at Erik, pulls at him until he’s covered with the comforting bulk of his -- well, his enemy, but a special sort of enemy, at that. A perfect sort of enemy.

Charles senses a warm sort of surprise at his own responsiveness, from Erik. Given what he’s been through...

This is the opposite of what I’ve been through, clarifies Charles. Erik is sensation, he’s warmth, he’s the polar opposite of that empty darkness. Charles feels like a frozen sunflower, tilting towards the welcome rays of dawn.

Erik shifts them both. A fierce bite to Charles’ jaw, and then fingers are slipping inside him. Strong against the muscles of Charles’ body that fight against the penetration. Charles is gasping for air, making little broken, filthy noises.

If I’m going to have you once, I’ll have you-- The fragment of a thought, and then Charles is crying out, pleading, in shock, cornered and besieged and defeated by the warmth that comes from without and within at the same time.

Charles spares a thought or two for how they’re going to work this -- the logistics, they’re all so different when it comes to paralysis, but Erik already has something in mind. He urges Charles on his side, slips in behind him, an arm around his waist cradling him from below. And then the ache, burning muscles and a fragile body stretched around intrusion. Charles tips his head back against Erik’s shoulder and reaches.

What happens next is beyond words.

Charles has touched minds before with hardly any barriers. He knows how to delve deep and pick out the right memories, emotions, sensations. How to summon them properly. But he’s never tried when in the grips of emotion like this, and he’s never reached into someone who’s in just as much tumult as he.

This is impossible to control. The emotions crash into each other, like wild ocean waves against a haphazard rocky beach. Charles is no longer aware of the sounds coming from his throat. Squirming, pressing, gasping, and Erik is everything. Erik is all around him. Erik is within him. Erik is a part of him.

Ecstasy burns through him -- burns, ever so appropriate, because the heat of it leaves nothing behind. No strength, no resistance, no emotion, nothing but that complete and utter connection. Two people become one.

He is crying.

It’s a moment, an eternity of them lying together, sweat-tangled and quiet, before Erik thinks now.

He is in Charles’ mind. It’s no difficult task for him to push Charles, to direct Charles’ power. It’s like water against ice, thinks Charles; the water shatters the ice, melts it away, and even though the memories are still there, they aren’t in the proper form anymore.

Underneath Erik, Charles’ mind melts.

From the rescue, to the base, to Raven, to Erik.

All gone.

~*~

Charles wakes up in a stolen military uniform in a grassy field near Washington DC. He, with the assistance of a stranger, stumbles to a bar, asks to use the phone, and dials.

“Hello, Moira,” he says. “I seem to have escaped a kidnapping, and I rather need your help.”

~*~

Eventually, he wonders at his quick recovery from what was truly a harrowing ordeal.

He also dreams. The same dream every time. Seeing from Erik’s eyes -- how curious. He never saw from Erik’s point of view. Why would his subconscious show him that?

Ah, well; life goes on, of course.
 
 
 
poemwithnorhyme: X-Men: Charles and Erikpoemwithnorhyme on June 14th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is just heart-breaking! Very well written though, thank you for sharing!
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: leeeeeaning outcerebel on June 14th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked ^_^
(Deleted comment)
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: magneto first helmetcerebel on June 14th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think I managed to horrify myself a bit during the torture. But I'm glad you liked.
Talithatalitha78 on June 14th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
This was really great!!

One question, though. At the end, how does Charles stumble to a bar? Isn't he paralyzed?
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: prof xcerebel on June 14th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
Damnit...

/quietly fixes that.

Glad you liked!
gogothgirlgogothgirl on June 14th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
but... but... why? -wibble-

(the torture was intense, by the way. i respect that you could write the whole lot of it when i would've cringe at every word, give up, and promptly write something with daisies and sunflowers and our boys dancing to Bruno Mars)

LEGIT CREYS AT THE DELETED MEMORY.
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: prof xcerebel on June 14th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
It was a little rough at times, not gonna lie. But, then, I told a friend that I could break Charles, and I had to see if I could follow through.

I'm glad you enjoyed!
(Deleted comment)
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: magneto can totes laughcerebel on June 14th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked.
tuckatangenttuckatangent on June 14th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Ouch. What a heartbreaking, poetic, lyrical work. I wasn't expecting Erik to erase Charles' memories after their lovemaking, but I should have. I forgot that he's evil in this one, and has to protect his base. Charles' interaction with Raven was poignant; I liked how you described their frayed relationship that picked back up again, for a moment.

Of course Erik tries violence first to rouse Xavier. Oh, Erik.

Sorry for the nitpick, but Charles stumbles to a bar? How did he do that, when he's paralyzed?
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: rdj sadcerebel on June 14th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure I see Erik as entirely evil. Protecting his people is a pretty noble goal, and he's giving up as much as Charles to have it happen. I kind of see the memory erasing, in a way, as Charles giving up and admitting Erik is right, this once.

Re: the nitpick: Already fixed! I was visualizing it as someone helping him into a bar, but I didn't quite manage to convey that with the original phrasing.

I'm glad you liked!
(no subject) - tuckatangent on June 14th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cerebel on June 14th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tuckatangent on June 14th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cerebel on June 14th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
oximore: Nimuehoximore on June 14th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
♥♥♥♥♥


Oh my heart! this is just so perfect/sad/terrible and so brilliant it will probably become a part of my own personnal canon.

eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: cavil and the lordcerebel on June 15th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked ♥
mander3_swish: erik/charlesmander3_swish on June 15th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
Charles feels like a frozen sunflower, tilting towards the welcome rays of dawn. what a wonderful analogy.

This whole story is beautifully heart-breaking.
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: leeeeeaning outcerebel on June 15th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
That was one of the lines I wasn't entirely sure of, actually! Glad I kept it in, and I'm glad you liked ^_^
Renee-chan: Jeremiah -- Mister Smith *puppy eyes*rchan on June 15th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
Just beautiful. *_* There's always something heartbreaking about Erik and Charles and that last bit about killed me. I know it had to happen, but still... it about killed me. *_* Thank you for this!
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: magneto first helmetcerebel on June 15th, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
I love that sort of tragedic trajectory in a relationship; I'm a sucker for writing it. I'm glad you liked!
crow821crow821 on June 15th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
Ohhhh *adds that to memories at once!!*
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: prof xcerebel on June 15th, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
Glad you liked!
rekindle956: Tree&Cloudsrekindle956 on June 15th, 2011 05:24 am (UTC)
Wow, just wow. Thank you.
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: sgu tjcerebel on June 15th, 2011 08:22 am (UTC)
<3 You're welcome.
pink_bambi13: chesspink_bambi13 on June 15th, 2011 06:00 am (UTC)
This was just... fantastic. I have thought about this issue for so long. I mean, everyone else has such free reign on their powers but because Charles' is so invasive and terrifying, it would be so hard to reign himself back from touching other peoples minds. I always found it so sad. But you pulled this off so well, the panic, the acceptance, the rescue, the redemption and the recovery. Brilliant. I think I am putting this fic on the top of my favorite list. Great work.
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: prof xcerebel on June 15th, 2011 08:22 am (UTC)
Honestly, I think the movie treated it a little cavalierly. What with the 'get in the car!' moment and such.

But, I'm glad you liked!
dmlpackerdmlpacker on June 15th, 2011 06:21 am (UTC)
And I was expecting a happier ending right until the end. Ah well, I suppose it's never that way with this couple.

Beautifully, vividly written.
eradicating evil was always on my to-do list: raylan watcerebel on June 15th, 2011 08:23 am (UTC)
I'm still in the 'hopeless tragedy' stage, as far as writing them goes. I'll probably move on to ambiguously happy endings at some point. It's my style.

I'm glad you liked!
nemo: approvednemo_r on June 15th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
Very nice. You write Erik really well, he's very sympathetic.
eradicating evil was always on my to-do listcerebel on June 17th, 2011 06:27 am (UTC)
Thank you!
bones_2_bebones_2_be on June 16th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
Oh... oh that's tragic. Which seems to be the fall-back word to describe this ENTIRE fandom, so let me elaborate. If my brain will work. This was lovely. It was beautiful, and it hurt, and I hate to think of Charles like that, but you did such a wonderful job with it. Thank you for sharing.
eradicating evil was always on my to-do listcerebel on June 17th, 2011 06:27 am (UTC)
It was a little rough writing it, not gonna lie. But I'm glad you liked!