Note: Apparently, whenever I need to write something in a pinch I'll go back to the kittens. This one's for Peyton, the crazy kitten person who always tricks me into doing things I don't want to do.
On Thursday evenings, Erik always gets home in a bad mood. Usually it's just general bad mood, because he's tired at the end of a long week and because Massachusetts's weather in the fall is horrible, but on the days when he has lab it was even worse. Erik usually likes labs and other activities that enable him to get hands-on experience, but this particular lab on semiconductors seems like a complete waste of time. The professor teaching it had been one of the most brilliant minds of his time, but that time had been over fifty years ago. Now he's just an old fossil who bores Erik to death on a bi-weekly basis.
His humor doesn't improve when he enters the living room and finds out that not only Charles isn't back from the library yet, Shaw the cat has also taken possession of Erik's favorite armchair and doesn't have the slightest inclination to bugger off. Erik tries to shoo him away and even bodily lift the animal and carry him away, but Shaw has the advantage of a very sharp set of claws, and Erik doesn't feel like losing an eye or an arm to the bloodthirsty beast.
So on Thursday evenings Erik settles in the other armchair, the one covered with faded blue fabric, soft and a little dusty, that Raven likes so much. He takes a book at random from the shelves and pretends to read it. In reality, he's so tired that the words are dancing in front of his eyes, and he spends the time glancing at the clock and counting down the minutes until Charles is back. Sometimes he makes coffee, just so that he has something to do, and then he forgets to drink it and the coffee remains untouched and cooling, until Raven finds it behind a coffee pot two days later while she's cleaning.
Erik looks at the clock with impatience, even though he knows that Charles has just left the campus and won't be home before thirty minutes at least. He gets up to write down something on the shopping list, and then he can't resist the temptation and goes to the window. He lifts the curtain and peeks outside to see whether Charles left the campus early today and maybe he's turning the corner already. (It never happens, Charles is a model student.)
Then finally Charles arrives, when it's dark already because in the fall the sun sets early, and he chides Erik for not switching on the lights and sitting around in the dark. Charles is always frozen to the bone when he arrives, despite the scarf and the half gloves and the collar of his jacket being turned up to protect himself from the wind. He stomps his feet and blows on his fingers to warm them. It's never clear how much Charles is really suffering from the cold and how much he is pretending to get Erik to hug him, but it works every time. Erik hugs his boyfriend tightly and they stay like that, in the half-lit living room, while the cats stare at them unimpressed.
It always ends with Raven wandering in to ask what happened to their dinner, and then complaining because the two of them are letting the food go cold. Erik's face turns scarlet and he complains to Charles about embarrassing displays of affection and swears he'll never hug him ever again, which is such a blatant lie that Charles doesn't even pretend to believe him.
On Thursdays, Charles gets home too late to make dinner, and Erik has been forbidden from cooking when he's on his own because he always turns the kitchen into a complete mess, so Charles always picks up take-away food on his way home. They eat in the kitchen, directly from the plastic boxes so they won't have to wash the dishes later, and Charles tries to be a good older brother and asks Raven what she did in school and whether she learned anything interesting and he recommends her a book that seems very interesting.
Raven rolls her eyes and complains that Charles acts like an old man and she has no idea how Erik could stand him and the book he's recommending is probably some boring doorstopper. She always ignores all the questions about school, though she always gets good grades in her exams so Erik thinks that the two siblings aren't as different as they might seem at a first glance.
While they're talking and eating, the cats prowl around the room and wait for scraps under the table. They're just like a gang. Havok and Banshee are the smallest and have to give precedence to the others, but Moira gets angry if Riptide tries to steal food from the kittens. Azazel, the big fat red cat, acts like the boss and eats as much as everyone else put together. But everyone makes way for Shaw, who's the undisputed cat overlord. Unluckily, Charles has yet to see that the cat is a diabolical criminal mastermind, and passes him pieces of kebab under the table and bends down to scratch him behind the ears.
After dinner Raven goes to her room to do her homework, though Erik suspects that she spends more time on Tumblr than working on her Engli essay, and Charles and Erik get the living room for themselves. (And the cats, of course.) For some unexplained reason, Shaw gives up the armchair when Charles is around, but Charles prefers to curl up on the sofa next to Erik. On Thursdays they're to tired to play chess or cards, so they just turn the tv on and change channels until they find a movie that doesn't suck too much.
Charles follows the movie for a while and then starts complaining aloud about the cold. Erik notes that cat fur is very warm and suggests that they should use their army of cats as impromptu heaters, but he still shuffles closer to Charles. When Raven crosses the corridor to get a glass of water from the kitchen or pick up a book that she left around, they're invariably already cuddling. Raven teases them and Erik acts offended, but at the same time he refuses to move because Charles has stopped complaining about the cold and his hands are nice and warm. Sometimes Azazel and Moira beat Erik to it and jump in Charles' lap, and then Charles doesn't complain about the cold that much, but Erik doesn't care and ends up sprawled over Charles like an octopus anyway.
By the beginning of the second half, Charles and Erik invariably decide that the movie they're watching is the worst pile of crap ever, and they swear that next week they'll rent a DVD to avoid ending up in the exact same situation. (It never happens, they both forget.) But Charles is stubborn and doesn't like to stop watching a movie halfway through, not even their awful Thursday night movies, so they end up chatting about nothing really while on the screen a CIA analyst is messing around with a bomb build by someone who has never seen a real bomb in their life.
They often talk about the weather because, to Erik's chagrin, him and Erik are the kind of old couple who talks about the weather. Charles complains about the cold and the rain and suggests to go to the beach next weekend. Erik lets him talk, even though he knows they'll spend the weekend indoors, studying as always. But Charles likes to daydream, and Erik likes the way Charles' eyes shine when he's daydreaming.
Once, Charles started wondering where he could find a whip to dress up as Indiana Jones for Halloween. Luckily he forgot all about it when Erik got up to get a drink and tripped over Shaw the cat. Charles would have been capable of talking Erik into dressing up as Indy's girlfriend so they could have matching costumes.
Shaw has way too much fun tripping people, especially Erik. He lurkes in the shadows and bids his time. Erik comes back to the sofa with two glasses full of scotch (only half full because the next day they have got classes and they're being responsible adults) and he's very careful where he's putting his feet. Then, when Erik thinks he's safe and is about to give Charles his glass, the cat comes out of nowhere and headbutts him. Erik fights not to lose his balance and curses Shaw in three different languages, while Charles sniggers in his glass.
Most times, Erik falls asleep just before the end of the movie, with his head on Charles' shoulder and a tiny speck of drool at the corner of his mouth. Charles lets him sleep and waits until the end credits are over before turning off the tv. Then he shakes Erik awake and gently pushes him towards the bedroom, because Erik is so tired that if they let him he'd happily stay and sleep on the sofa.
Erik puts on his pajama while Charles brushes his teeth. Sometimes Charles says that he should get Erik a new pajama, but thankfully he hasn't acted on this threat yet. Erik's pajama is old, but it's also very comfortable and familiar and Erik shudders at the idea of throwing it away. They both get under the covers and Charles sets the alarm and wishes Erik goodnight. Something catches in Erik's throat, because this is still new no matter how many times he does it and he can't get used to their stupid domestic routine, to Charles, to the two of them together, to their stupid cats.
Then Azazel sneaks into the room and joins them on the bed, settling down against Erik's legs. Erik whispers goodnight and turns off the light, and he falls asleep with his arms around Charles.