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A path to follow home.

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Erik is standing in the middle of an Ikea store. It just kind of hits him as he stares at some monstrosity of steel and glass posing as a coffee table. Erik, is at fucking Ikea. Actually, at the moment he is kind of lost in an Ikea store, or not so much lost, he can feel the structure of the building humming away innocently. It’s more that he somehow took a left turn at a display of china plates as he listened to Charles ramble, and somehow ended up standing in the middle of a veritable swarm of lounge chairs, with no sign of Charles in sight.

Charles lived in a god damn mansion, Erik honestly had no idea what they were doing at Ikea.

It had probably come up somewhere in the middle of Charles’ rambling, but frankly Erik hadn’t really been listening. Much of the morning seemed to have disappeared into a rush of anger over the call for the Registration Act to be once again debated that was all over the morning’s paper. Well, actually only one comment piece on page 15 that was written by someone who seemed mostly anti-registration, but that’s not really the point….

Erik glared at the table, feeling the metal warm and warp into something resembling a coffee table even less than it previously did. Fucking Ikea…he really should pay more attention to where following Charles leads him sometimes.

There are two high backed leather chairs set up in a display, the kind that would look at home in Charles’ study, seeming almost absurdly charming in the midst of more modern pieces that looked like you needed to be a yoga master just to sit in them. Erik walked over and sat in the one on the left with a sigh that was really more a huff. Now that some of his disbelief at his surroundings had found an outlet, Erik could feel the subtle pull of a metal belt buckle and watch not far away that was Charles. Familiar and calming.

Erik followed the movement of the metal, as it came closer he could hear Charles talking to some salesman about the relative advantages and disadvantages of faux leather furniture. Why, Erik had no idea, but then he had no idea why they were at Ikea to begin with.

Resting his head back against the chair, that was actually incredibly comfortable, Erik watched as Charles appeared and disappeared amongst the rows of furniture, salesman in tow. Somewhere as Charles was wandering between a hideous green recliner, and back to the three seater he had looked at at least three times, Charles appeared to have lost one salesman and picked up another. This one younger, and female, who didn’t seem the least bit disturbed by Charles flitting randomly from one end of the lounge chair section to the other. In fact she seemed to all but glow each time Charles gave her one of his boyishly charming grins. Erik resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

Without really thinking about it Erik started to pull at the band of Charles’ watch, before getting distracted by the workings. It was an older watch that had caught Erik’s eye at a store once, back before so many things had gone wrong. He liked the intricacies of its wheels and springs, the feel of them, each tiny part moving in precision. Erik couldn’t help wondering why Charles had kept it all these years.

Charles’ head lifted, looking over at Erik briefly, as if he’d caught the thought. That would have bothered Erik once….he’s not sure if it does anymore. Frankly he’s more bothered by the fact he had apparently agreed to go furniture shopping through sheer inattention.

Erik gave the watch a more deliberate tug as he held Charles’ gaze across the rows of lounges. The corner of Charles’ mouth tilted upwards in that kind of infuriating fond amusement. The kind where Erik wasn’t quite sure whether to be annoyed that Charles found him entertaining or just pleased that Charles was smiling. At the moment Erik was just happy that Charles seemed to have finished his random quest to see every chair in the store at least three times.

You seem to have made yourself at home, Charles’ voice sounded in Erik’s mind, as the professor extracted himself from the salesperson. The young woman’s gaze lingered on Charles almost forlornly for a moment.

Hardly, Erik sent back silently, as Charles made his way over. I have no idea how I ended up here, he added ruefully as Charles sat in the matching chair across from Erik. Charles actually laughed this time, a quiet puff of noise that seemed to drift across and settle over Erik’s skin. He tried to ignore the warm feeling of it with limited success.

“These are remarkably comfortable,” Charles said, slender fingers caressing the soft leather of the chair he sat in. Erik hummed in agreement, leaning his head back.

“Do you even want a new lounge?” Erik asked after a moment.

“Honestly, I just had to get out of the house,” Charles answered. “Though…” Charles shrugged with guarded casualness. “I thought I might redo the study, and these would look great,” he answered quietly. If you’re staying? He added with a thought, an afterimage of the two of them playing chess filtering through with the words.

Erik was caught off guard by the emotion accompanying that image. His powers reached out to the watch again, grounding himself in the feeling of each cog turning in synchronicity, every molecule of their workings familiar, like a well-worn path he could follow….

“See if they have them in a richer brown,” Erik finally said, answering the unspoken question, without really answering it. If they were going to get new furniture, it might as well be the right furniture.

Charles smiled at him, the kind of smile that was one part shy, and ten parts arrogant. Fuck…they might as well buy the warped coffee table as well. Eric could probably manipulate it into something less ugly to use as a chess table.

Erik really had no idea how he ended up at Ikea, but was having a hard time remembering why it was a bad thing when Charles was still smiling at him.