cantankerous old __________

There is not an inch of quiet in the overly large building. People are chattering together, exchanging things, bargaining prices and buying goods. Near the door, a single, tall man stands as he surveys all the souls wandering back and forth. There barely is enough room between the stalls and people to walk anywhere without bumping shoulders. He hasn’t set foot in a flea market, a marché aux puces in nearly a century. There always has been too many people for his comfort.

It was the best place to find what he was looking for.

Breathing a soft sigh, Alexis pushes himself away from the door and starts to make his way through the crowds. He knows this is one of the reasons why Eoghan will never set food in this place. His control over his gift is near perfect, really, but so many people all so close to one another under a single, large roof would put anyone’s mind-speaking gift to the test. He didn’t want to chance it.

He had almost invited Yael to come but had decided against the idea at the last moment. He did want the young man to discover these things but he wanted to be in and out of this particular market as fast as he could manage. It was the one closest to their home and it would do but he didn’t much care for it. Now for the brocantes in Belgium, those were better as far as he cared.

“Where am I ever going to find what he wants in this place?” He looks up to the ceiling for a moment and then back down to the crowd as he slowly walks his way through, looking at vendors as he goes. The last flea market he had visited had had signs up, hanging from the ceiling. Then again, it was also a case of semi-permanent setup where vendors had their spots and no one else really could take them unless payments weren’t done on time.

This place is different, it looks more like a case of first come first serve. Still, he’s heard from one of his commissioner that what he’s looking for is sold by an old man who has a tendency for arguing over the simplest of things. Something else he isn’t looking forward to.

After a couple of hours of wandering, almost ready to give up, Alexis finally spots what he’s been looking for. An old, tall lamp, seeming to be from back in the Victorian era. A beautiful lamp with its bronze body, wide, steady foot and gorgeous etched glass shade hanging from an ‘arm’. Eoghan had mentioned wanting an antique lamp for his small writing room where he’d recently decided he would write: books and stories. Invent things for the pleasure of others. His room was already set up with an old writing desk, a gorgeous old George III tambour fronted one.

Approaching the stall, Alexis looks the old lamp over, making sure it really was what it was looking to be. It could be a copy, could be the furthest thing from an original but he can see no sign of this one being anything other than the real deal. He approaches the old man and clears his throat. The old man keeps his eyes on his newspaper, reading it and Alexis has to wonder why he’s here at all if he’s going to not be paying attention to potential customers, especially with the antiques he’s selling, those might just fetch a very fair price.

Alexis clears his throat again and still the man ignores him. He breathes in and out to keep his calm and then sighs.

“Much as I want to spend all day here waiting for you to look my way, I would honestly rather not. So either you tell me how much this lamp is worth so I can pay you and be on my way or I’ll be happy to just take it off your hand, no fees attached.” His words are calm and smooth still, no sign of anger to them.

They do get the attention of the man who puts his newspaper, looks at the lamp then back up to his potential buyer. He eyes the clean look of the man, the lamp again and he shrugs.

“Two thousand dollars.”

Alexis quirks a brow, looks the lamp slowly over again. Beautiful yes, but he knows he can get one delivered that looks almost the same for a quarter of that price in most places. “I’m not paying more than five hundred for this.”

“Two thousand dollars.” The man’s voice is rough, either from age or who knows, smoking too long, maybe. He looks at the lamp again and crosses his arms over his chest. Alexis sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. This was going to be one very long moment of his life.

Almost an hour later, he steps back out of the building, empty handed. He rubs his temple and shakes his head as he breathes in the still crisp and fresh air of spring. He heads back towards his vehicle, just glad he hadn’t brought Eoghan or Yael with him for this. The man had arguing long and loud and hadn’t budged at all on the price. It wouldn’t have been much out of Alexis’s pocket but just for the man’s attitude, it hadn’t been worth it. He’d look online to find better.

Once home, he eases from the car and heads back up to the third floor where he knows Eoghan is waiting for him. He expects disappointment since he had promised he would be coming back with a lamp for him but some things cannot be helped.

As the elevator doors open to their floor, he steps out and meets the eyes of his lover who look him over in confusion. He frowns softly and cants his head briefly. Alexis lifts one hand in a ‘give me a moment to come home, please’ motion and Eoghan steps up to help him with his coat. He seems more worried about the worn look on his lover’s face than anything else.

“I did find you a gorgeous lamp, I thought it would have been perfect, but the older geezer who was selling it wouldn’t let it go under a pretty outrageous price. I’m pretty sure it was just made recently but based on the old Victorian styles. He wouldn’t stop arguing, I swear it was like trying to have a discussion with a crusty, cantankerous old bastard. I’m sorry, I know I promised by my head is pounding and we’ll look online, it’ll be less hassle.”

He pauses and sighs, managing a small, tiny little smile to his lover who leads him wordlessly towards their bedroom. The frown is gone, replaced by gentle worry and understanding.

“I’m glad you didn’t come with me. It was so loud in there, I don’t like the marché aux puces here. At least this one, it felt so disorganized. If we go to Belgium on vacation eventually, I’ll take you to the one placed I went way back then. I assume it has changed over the past century but still.”

Eoghan is quiet, merely helping his lover undress, listening to him talk and marvelling still at the fact that he no longer has to share this man with anyone else.

“We still have plenty of time to figure things out, I’m in no rush for extra decoration in the room, the desk on its own is gorgeous and I have the window. Now let’s settle you in bed and let’s rest for a while, see if the room’s quiet can’t help with the headache.”

Alexis laughs softly and climbs into bed, he settles and opens his arms. Eoghan wastes no time settling into those very arm with a content sigh. He might not have a lamp to add to his working room but he has his lover and that’s more than enough for him.

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