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Charles is going to have to get used to being with someone who pays such careful attention. He'd been drawn, yes, to one particular display in that very interesting shop, but he hadn't thought he lingered noticeably.

But when they've left, are walking side by side again through the light rain, Erik says, "The collars caught your eye." Not a question--a statement, a simple summation: this is what is going on with you. Another thing Charles has yet to get used to.

"Well, yes."

Erik leans down to say soft and low in his ear, "You would be beautiful in a collar."

Charles gasps and stumbles. Erik laughs, loud now, and grabs an elbow to keep him from falling outright. "We're going to go get one," he says, turning around, pulling Charles along in the wake of his decision. Charles is fairly certain he's been pulled in Erik's wake since the day they met.

He follows along unthinkingly for a minute, then starts actually running through the scenario in his head, and god, yes, so arousing, but--complications.

"Wait," he says, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk. "No."

Erik turns around and arches an eyebrow at him. "No?!?," he says, as if hearing that from Charles is unprecedented.

It very nearly is.

"Not 'no, I don't want it,' because it sounds--god, it sounds good," Charles says, closes his eyes for a moment, lets himself imagine that again. Erik putting one of those broad black leather collars on him, telling him that's all he can wear all day, spending the whole day in Erik's room with him, Eric touching and teasing him for hours, telling him he hasn't earned the right to come yet--god.

"It's just, I couldn't wear it out in public, couldn't wear it very often really, and I think having you take it off would be--" Charles can't come up with a word for what that would feel like.

"Like a rebuke?" he tries. "A--demotion."

"Ah, I see," Erik says, and smiles at him, and does not push the point, for which Charles is grateful.

A few mornings later, however, they're dressing and Erik hands him a small box, rather lumpy with tape. Charles is grinning before he's even got it open--it's oddly endearing that a man of so many talents should be utterly incompetent with wrapping paper.

It's a silver chain necklace, thick, very simple. Charles runs it through his fingers; despite the thickness the individual links are small enough that it's got a beautiful snake-y drape to it.

"That's lovely, thank you, but what's the occasion?" he says, opening the clasp and moving to put it on.

"No," Erik says in that sharp tone that makes Charles go utterly still, wait for further orders.

"Kneel," Erik says, and Charles drops. "Give," Erik says, and Charles hands him the necklace, and as Erik puts it on him, warm hands lingering around his neck, Charles gets it.

"Oh," he says. "It's--"

"Yes. It's your collar. You can wear it all the time. You will wear it all the time," Erik says, and smiles at him.

"Thank you," Charles says, shuddering with the pleasure of that order, at the feel of the necklace resting heavily just across the notch at the base of his neck, and he wants to stay here, on his knees, take Erik's zipper down and show him how grateful he is. He leans, rubs his face against the crotch of Erik's trousers, but Erik gets a hand in his hair, pulls him gently away. "Breakfast with the recruits, Charles," he says. "Training. Meetings. A full day. Up."

Once Charles is standing he can think again, and what he's chiefly thinking is that he's going to have a full day of being excruciatingly hard. "You had to do this in the morning?" he says. "Bastard."

"Think about me once or twice, will you?" Erik says, sweetly.

"Utter bastard."

At breakfast Charles is trying to eat his own scrambled eggs without looking at Hank's--the boy puts catsup on them, it looks like a canary went through a fan--when the chain tugs at the front of his neck a bit. He slides a hand in the back of his shirt collar, because the clasp must be caught in the fabric and pulling it back, but it doesn't seem to be. The slight pressure is gone now, though.

He glances suspiciously at Erik, who seems entirely absorbed in putting sugar lumps in his coffee. (Charles had been amused to learn that Erik takes four sugars.) But no, that doesn't make any sense anyway, silver isn't magnetic.

Well, anything is going to feel a bit odd and draw your attention the first time you wear it, he decides.

He and Erik are on separate tasks for the rest of the morning, and it's not until they're in the same room again, taking a meeting with a security expert they've contracted to upgrade the mansion's perimeter alarms, that something else happens.

The necklace begins moving. Slowly, very slowly, but inarguably--circling its way round his neck, orbiting.

Charles gapes across the table at Erik, bewildered for just a moment, before he realizes that Erik must have had it made specially, silver around a magnetic metal core in each link.

"Christ," Charles says, and the security consultant blinks at him.

"I'm sorry, sir, but for such an extensive job, that's really an excellent price," he says, and Charles has to rewind the conversation in his head to figure out what the hell number the consultant thinks he was responding to, because the slow warm slither across the base of his neck had completely wrecked his concentration.

He raises his hand to his neck to hide what's happening there, then realizes that since the necklace looks the same its whole length, a slow rotation in place is probably not noticeable.

He stops worrying about what Erik is doing to him being visible, but he still has to get through the rest of a business meeting with his brain yammering he's touching my collar playing with my collar and his cock straining against his zipper and his whole body desperately wanting to kneel.

As they're wrapping up the meeting, Charles takes a close look at the consultant and does a brief emotional read, as non-instrusive as he can manage. He does that, reluctantly, with most visitors to the mansion. The fellow’s happy about the large sale, yes, but still a bit bewildered by Charles' outburst and his subsequent distraction.

Charles had rather rumors didn't start--or, to be more realistic, rather they didn't escalate--about that odd mansion full of odd people. He smiles brightly at the consultant--his name, what is his name, ah, Hemmings, and invites him to stay to dinner. Then sends out a general alert to all the team : //civilian at dinner, best behavior//. It still amazes him how Raven can make him feel an eyeroll from three floors away.

He seats Hemmings next to himself, as he feels he has the most to make up for conversationally, and shoots a //please let me talk to him without making me crazy// plea to Erik. Erik gives him a look of baffled innocence.

Charles would like to say a great many things to Erik about that look, but forbears.

But Erik leaves him alone, and he turns up the charisma. He can do that more or less on automatic, but he really pays attention this time, by way of apology; and he can feel Hemmings warming up to him, to all of them. Hemmings gets into quite an animated discussion with Hank on the wonders of the prospective alarm system.

Charles is genuinely charmed to see someone so proud of his work, and as the meal wraps up he pats Hemmings on the shoulder to get his attention, to tell him that when the butler brings the pumpkin pie around he really must have some, it's Cook's specialty.

And the necklace yanks up sharply against his throat.

Just for a fraction of a second, not even a squeeze so much as a tiny slap of metal, and good lord, did Erik think he was—

//he's not remotely my type, you idiot//

Erik is looking down at his plate, but taps his temple with one finger, the signal for "read me, you're allowed," and Charles reaches, gets //hands in position// from Erik.

//oh COME on//

Erik doesn't repeat the order. He never repeats an order. He just looks at Charles, calmly.

//goddamnit// and Charles drops his hands into his lap. There's no way Erik can see them under the table, but he does it right anyway, turned up and cupped loosely. Letter of the law; pride in his work.

Erik smiles just a tiny bit, and engages Hemmings in conversation himself, thank god, because obeying an order in a room full of his charges, willingly incapacitating his own hands, is making Charles insane. He doubts he could respond to chatter with anything but "Please shut up, I need to go suck Erik's dick now."

He gives the butler a regretful headshake when the pie comes around, and sits as he's been told while the meal wraps up. Hands curved loosely, resting on his thighs, a couple inches to either side of his cock, which is killing him.

Thankfully, Erik taps his temple again and Charles picks up //you can make your goodbyes in a normal manner, as long as they're quick// and he smiles, stands, escorts Hemmings to the door, shakes hands but doesn't touch him in any other way. Once he's closed the door behind Hemmings he leans his head against it for a moment and just breathes, stands there in the quiet emptiness of the foyer, then heads for Erik's room.

He walks in and says, "For god's sake, Erik, at dinner? That's really beyond the pale," and Erik doesn't say a word, just undoes his top trouser button.

Which undoes Charles. He drops to his knees, moaning, and slides down Erik's zipper, gets a hand in Erik's boxers and gets his cock out. Doesn't even ask if he's allowed, just sucks it down as far as he can, works his tongue against it desperately.

"All day, Charles, I've been dying for this all day, you have no idea how beautiful you are with that on, my god," Erik murmurs, rocking his hips, rubbing his cock against Charles' tongue, so good.

Erik comes very quickly--he really had been thinking about it all day, apparently--and Charles swallows, licks gently for a moment and then rests his head against Erik's hip, panting. Erik hauls him up by the back of the shirt and manhandles him over to the bed, and Charles has to bite his lip not to come from that, but it's worth hanging on because then Erik pulls his trousers and boxers down to his knees and grabs his cock, works it hard and fast until Charles is right on the edge--it doesn't take long at all. But then he slows down.

"Christ, Erik, please, don't make me wait, come on, I was--I was good, all day, loved having it on so much, please--"

"Did you? Love the necklace?" Erik says, and he's smiling, a sweet smile Charles rarely sees outside the bedroom. It used to be rare even in the bedroom, but it's getting less so.

"God, yes, the collar, call it my collar, yes, please."

Erik stretches out beside him, still working his cock sweetly and excruciatingly slowly, and says softly in his ear, "Pushy."

//please// and Charles isn't even sure what exactly he's begging for anymore, but Erik licks around his ear with just the tip of his tongue, and murmurs "I love the collar, love seeing you collared, love you doing that for me," and Charles groans. His hips are coming up off the bed with every much-too-slow stroke, and if Erik orders him to stop that he thinks he might implode.

"So you will wear it every day for me?" Erik says, bites gently at Charles' earlobe.

And every cell of Charles wants to say just yes yes yes so fucking much but--oh, god, there are important things he has to accomplish, he can't just--

"I want to I want to, fuck I want to, I swear but I can't, I can't be fucking useless all day every day, Erik, you had me--I couldn't think, I need to be able to think--" and he closes his eyes, not wanting to see disappointment on Erik's face.

But Erik throws a leg over his, slides even closer while he keeps giving Charles the world's most tortuously slow handjob, and whispers, "I know, you're gorgeous when you can't think," and then laughs a little and says, "I wouldn't do that much with it every day, wouldn't do anything most days, not until we got back to the bedroom. I need your brain as well as your dick, Charles."

He nips his way down the side of Charles' neck, tucks his face into his shoulder, so Charles can barely hear him when he murmurs, "I just want to see it. My collar. On you, every day."

"Yes," Charles says, "yes, okay, yes, please."

"Good boy," Erik says, and finally, thank you god, speeds up his hand and Charles starts making a great deal of noise, can't help it. Erik covers Charles' mouth with his, swallows up the shouts, and Charles comes so hard he's shaking all over, jerking like he's being shocked.

Erik doesn't stop kissing him until he's done. It takes a long time.

Finally he pulls away enough to smile at Charles.

"Christ," Charles says, "that was amazing. The whole day. Not changing my mind about not being able to deal with that all the time. But still. Amazing."

"Glad you approve," Erik says, looking so unbearably smug that Charles has to give him a little grief, so he says sulkily, "Except that I really wanted some pie."

"Hedonist," Erik says, and rolls off the bed onto his knees, reaches under the bed and comes up with a saucer covered with aluminum foil.

"You are a lovely man," Charles says, as he unwraps it to reveal a really quite huge slice of pie. Erik must have charmed Cook relentlessly; she highly disapproves of any food leaving the dining area, making dark predictions of rodent infestation every time Hank tries to take a sandwich back to the lab.

But--"No fork?" he says, and raises his eyebrows.

Erik takes the saucer back from him, grins, says "No fork," and breaks off a bit of pie with his fingers.

Charles grins back and stretches out, arms above his head. The come drying on his chest itches a bit, but no matter, he closes his eyes and happily opens his mouth and waits.