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Charles lets out a soft, gentle breath, a sound that is both awed and appreciative. “It’s amazing.”

“It’s brilliant,” Erik grudgingly admits.

Charles turns toward him, his eyes alight with barely-restrained excitement. “We have to get it.”

“You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘excess’, do you?”

“I’m afraid it never entered my vocabulary,” Charles replies, his voice playfully deadpan. “But honestly, have you ever seen anything like it?”

“Yes, I have.” Erik folds his arms over his chest and adopts the most thorough expression of disinterest he can muster. “In the manor. We already have a television, Charles.”

“But this one is in color.

“They’ve had them out for quite a while now.”

Charles makes a shushing noise. “Don’t spoil this for me, Erik. Besides, we’ve been fairly busy for the past year: I think I can be forgiven for missing one or two leaps in technology when I’m helping to avert global nuclear crisis.”

Truth. “It’s expensive,” Erik counters, even though he knows it’s a null point. Money won’t start being an issue until Charles starts buying color televisions by the dozens. Which wouldn’t exactly surprise Erik: he’s come to learn that Charles is something of an impulse buyer. A bad one, at that, which is why Erik has made it his mission to accompany the other man whenever he heads into the city.

Charles arches both brows, but doesn’t comment on Erik’s unsuccessful counter-argument. “Wouldn’t it be great, though? I feel it would make a wonderful addition to the common room.”

“It’s unnecessary. Frivolous.”

“You say ‘frivolous’, I say marvelous.”

“We came here to buy a lamp, Charles. And only that. For once,” and, against all odds, Erik feels his voice shift toward something that resembles pleading, “can we leave with just what we came for? And nothing more?”

“We’ll get the lamp,” Charles assures him, gesturing a hand through the air as If to wave away Erik’s skepticism. “After I speak to a sales associate about this television.”

As if waiting for her cue, a woman dressed in the department store’s pristine uniform swoops in from behind them. “Is there anything I can help you with, sir?”

She seems to recognize that Charles is the negotiator and Erik the silent, somewhat intimidating observer. She smiles brightly at the both of them, but then immediately directs her attention toward selling Charles on the prospect of the new television. (Erik supposes that the good thing about being a telepath is that Charles will never get swindled into a bad deal. He absently makes a note to take the other man with him, should he ever need to head to a car dealership.)

I think it’s lovely that you’ve decided my abilities are best utilized by thwarting car salesmen.

And I think you should pay attention to our saleswoman here, lest you be talked into buying more than one of the item in question. Again.

Charles is still speaking with the sales associate, but his smile twitches for a fraction of a moment. That only happened once, he retorts, and we did end up needing another bed, anyway. Besides, she’s not trying to pull the wool over my eyes. In fact, and here, Charles’s smile manages to look very much like a smirk, she can hardly think past a very candid appreciation of your backside—

“We’ll take it,” Erik interrupts. Things are heading into uncomfortable territory, and fast.

You didn’t even see any of the imagery she’s conjured up. I can show you, if you like.

Erik does not deign to respond to that, verbally or mentally.

“Oh.” The sales woman’s mouth makes a corresponding ‘o’ as she suddenly seems to remember something. “I’m sorry, I truly am, but our delivery cars are in the process of being replaced. I’m afraid we won’t be able to bring the set by until at least next week, at the earliest.” She gives Charles an apologetic smile. “You’ll be at the very top of our list, as soon as we’re able."

Seeing as they’re trying to keep the school as ‘off the radar’ as possible, Erik thinks it’s unlikely that they’ll utilize the delivery service at all. A sidelong glance toward Charles reveals that the other man is already looking at him, expectant.

Erik heaves a mental sigh, positive that Charles can hear it, and then reaches within himself and extends his awareness to the television closest to them. The wood paneling makes the appliance look refined, distinguished, and most certainly heavy. However, below the surface lies a rigid metal skeleton. Hardly as difficult to lift as a submarine.

“It won’t be a problem,” Erik says.

“Excellent.” Charles claps his hands together and gives both Erik and the saleswoman a blinding smile. “We’ll take two, then.”

By the time Erik has finished processing the fact that yes, he is in a relationship with what is simultaneously the world’s most intelligent and most juvenile telepath, Charles is already paying at the nearest sales counter. (And giving Erik an appropriately disgruntled look in response to that thought.)

“Are you sure about this?” Charles continues filling the check, which Erik takes as a yes. “Fine, fine. It’s your money, after all. I suppose you’re free to waste it at your leisure.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Charles finishes signing the check with a flourish to his signature, turns around, and gives Erik a broad grin. “It’s our money that I’m wasting.”

 


They sit in front of the television: Charles leaning forward, hands clasped across his knees, and Erik with his feet on the coffee table. They’d returned in the earliest hours of the morning, the sky still dark and the lights in the recreation room still dim. Their students, now at the respectable number of fifteen, are all asleep, Charles has assured him. The television will have to be a pleasant surprise left for the afternoon.

If they have it working by then.

“You know what, Charles?” Erik can’t help the smirk that spreads across his face. “I agree. This was a wonderful purchase.”

“The associate said it would work with ‘little to no installation’.” Charles strokes his chin, the picture of contemplation. “Maybe your magnetism affected it in some way?”

“Yes, and maybe your telepathy is interfering with our signal.”

Charles gives him a droll look. “Yes, I suppose neither of those things are very plausible, are they?” He turns so that his back leans against the other arm of the couch, and then he kicks up his legs and crosses them on top of Erik’s. “Tell me,” he asks, “has your sense of humour always been so unbelievably dry? Or is this just something that developed after meeting me?”

Erik makes a valiant attempt to hold back the smile that tugs at his face, but ultimately fails. “And here I thought you knew everything about me.”

Charles makes to answer, but pauses mid-breath. He turns slightly and calls over his shoulder: “Sean? Is there something wrong?”

The floppy-haired teen emerges from the darkness of the hallway, a glass of water in hand. He rubs away sleep with one arm and then gives the two of them a tired smile. “Hey, Professor. Hey, Mr. Lehnsherr. No, just wanted something to drink.”

He starts toward the staircase, but stops and backpedals into the room, drawn in by the glow of television set.

“Hey, new TV!” The sleep in Sean’s voice is met with a tide of enthusiasm that seems to wash over him as soon as he recognizes the new addition to the common room. The wonder recedes, however, as the seconds pass and static continues to blare silently. “…is it supposed to be doing something?”

“Probably,” Erik says, “but I think I like this channel.”

Charles sighs. “We’ll have Hank take a look at it the morning.”

Sean nods slowly. He turns to leave, and is almost to the corridor when he stops and faces the two of them again.

“Hey, Professor,” he says through an oncoming yawn, “did you ever get—”

“The lamp.” Charles slaps a palm to his face and digs its heel into his forehead. “No, no. I’m sorry, Sean, we’ll pick that up as soon as we can.”

The boy gives a sleepy shrug. “S’okay. My fault for breaking it in the first place. I’ve just gotta learn to keep my voice down.” He pauses, ruminates over his words, and then turns a brilliant shade of red. “Not that I’m doing anything that has me raising my voice on regular basis or anything…”

“Go to bed, Sean.” It’s an order issued by both Charles and Erik, spoken in unison. Erik supposes that the half-manic grin on his face is what makes Sean squeak out a hurried “okay!” and climb up the stairs as quickly as possible.

There’s silence for a bit, and then Charles speaks first. “Don’t say it,” he warns.

Can I think it?

No. You will do no such thing.

Erik decides he will definitely do such a thing. “I told y—”

He’s interrupted rather abruptly as Charles climbs into his lap and kisses the sentence (and the thought) out of his grasp. And the last thing Erik manages to think before his shirt is pulled over his head is that, really, Charles wins far too many arguments this way.