Erik lives about ten minutes from the daycare in the opposite direction from Charles. He has a sixth floor flat in a nice, modern building in the center of the city, and Charles has a key. It's a one-bedroom, not overly large, and sparsely furnished, but it looks sleek and professional and adult in a way that Charles knows his homey, cluttered apartment never will. Still, Charles doesn't much like it there--there's nothing personal, nothing Erik about it. Sure, there may be room to sit down without moving a stack of books first, but Charles likes space with a bit of a personality to it.
He's supposed to be meeting Erik there tonight and he manages to close the daycare up for the weekend a bit earlier than usual. As a result, he's standing in front of Erik's door about twenty minutes before he said he would be. He hesitates for a moment, the key clutched in his hand as he tries to decide whether he should knock. He gives in and does so, but when there's no reply he pushes the key into the lock anyway.
The living room and kitchen are empty when Charles tentatively enters.
"Hello? Erik?" he calls, but there's no answer. He spies Erik's laptop on the desk in the corner and his keys in the bowl by the door, which means he's home from work, at least. He reaches out mentally and repeats, Hello? Erik?
On the fire escape, Erik responds, though Charles knows that now, of course, felt it the moment their minds brushed together. He crosses to Erik's bedroom and sees the window propped open just a fraction of an inch, keeping the chill outside as much as possible. He pushes it open all the way and tries to climb out onto the metal platform without making a clumsy fool of himself. It's not exactly easy; his legs aren't as long as Erik's.
He grunts when his shoes hit the metal and he thinks he'll probably have bruises on his thighs.
"The trick of it is," Erik says, "you need to keep your legs together. Either start with them both inside and pull yourself out with your upper body or sit on the sill with both legs outside and drop down onto both feet."
"I'll remember that for next time," Charles says. Erik is leaning against the bars, his legs dangling off the platform. He looks half-dressed for going out--he's wearing a nicer shirt than he wears to the office, but the tired, worn jeans that are essentially his work uniform. He's not smoking, which is a small blessing--Charles hates it when Erik sits out on the fire escape with a cigarette, and not only because it always seems to happen after they have an argument.
"I had a girlfriend for a few years in college," Erik says, apropos of nothing. "Nice girl. I always assumed...I don't know what I assumed. That was what people were looking for in partners. Someone nice who would have sex with you."
"I...hope that's changed," Charles says carefully. He's not entirely sure what's going on and he's afraid that if he looks for himself, Erik will react badly. Erik vacillates wildly between encouraging Charles to pull things at random from his mind and snapping about how important his privacy is. Charles doesn't want to misstep tonight, not when it appears tonight has turned into A Thing. Though he still has no idea what kind of thing it is.
"It has, of course," Erik assures him, and holds out a hand in invitation. Charles sits down carefully and scoots against the platform, allowing Erik to continue to urge him forward until he's tucked securely against Erik's side. "Although, I suppose you're nice, too." He cracks a smile, glancing down at Charles, and Charles lets out a quiet breath. Whatever's going on, it's going to be okay. Charles can be sure of that, now.
"I'm wonderful," Charles says primly.
"You're something," Erik says, and Charles thinks maybe it's supposed to be sarcastic, but it comes out frank and sort of awed.
"Erik," Charles says hesitantly, when Erik doesn't continue. "I don't mean to pry, but--"
"Today is my parents' anniversary," Erik says. "Well. It would have been. And I've always wondered, especially when I was dating that girl, how my mother could have followed my father from Germany to New York. How could you love someone that much? Why would you ever drop everything to follow another person? And I was buttoning my shirt today and noticed the date and realized that I don't wonder anymore." The half smile is back and Charles is flustered, pleased, blushing, and can't help but lean up to kiss that smile.
"Do you still want to go out?" Charles asks when Erik pulls back, pressing his nose against Charles' temple.
"Yes," Erik says. "Definitely. But we've got a couple minutes still, right?"
"Of course," Charles says. "Take as much time as you want."
From Charles' spot, leaning against Erik's side, six stories up, even the sounds of the endless traffic seem gentle and almost soothing. They stay there, huddled against the side of the building, until the streetlights come on and the buildings around them are lit up. Erik is the first to make a move, sighing and levering himself to his feet, offering a hand to pull Charles up as well.
"I'll put on some proper trousers," he says. "We still have time to get dinner before the film, right?"
"Of course," Charles says. "And we can always choose another film. We don't have to go out at all, if you'd rather." And Charles know Erik would usually rather. He's not a fan of spending time with people other than Charles, if he can help it, though Charles enjoys the cinema and the theatre and food that's not eaten in takeaway containers.
"No," Erik says, "let's go out. We haven't been out in days. I know you're going stir-crazy." He grins at Charles with just the slightest edge of fond exasperation and then climbs back in through the window. Charles watches him go with no small amount of wonder as some pieces fall into place. He rushes after Erik, stumbling a little as he tries to lift himself onto the sill, succeeding in more bruises on his legs until Erik pulls him back into the room.
He brushes himself off and murmurs his sheepish thanks and then, because he can't help himself, he asks, "So would you, then? Follow me from New York to Germany, I mean?"
Erik glances over his shoulder, black slacks hanging from one hand.
"Charles," he says, rolling his eyes as if Charles is being exceptionally dim, "I think I would follow you anywhere."
They don't make the movie. Charles doesn't much mind.