People often thought that winter was the slowest season for a wedding planner. People were, as most of the times, completely wrong. Winter may not be as busy as the summer, because let's face it - who doesn't want to get married in the summer? - but winter was as sought for as was any other season. Especially this winter. The main objective being the beautiful scenery outside, everything was covered in snow and the professional pictures were going to look great. Charles was starting to regret engaging with so many couples that were desperately trying to pull off a winter wedding after realizing - in November, nevertheless - that they couldn't agree on anything or get anything done without help.
The week after Christmas was so busy that he barely had time to breathe, with three huge weddings and three huge crisis he, of course, couldn't avoid. Either was the bride commenting on the color scheme, a mother-in-law yelling at him for being overpaid and not getting the thing done properly -
(Which he did, excuse you very much, he managed to pull off that fucking wedding in less than a month.)
- these are not the flowers I wanted for the center piece, Mr. Xavier, I guess you should have stuck with a more manly job, considering you can't even order the flowers correctly. I'm just going to assume you did everything else wrong.
- yes they are (you fucking witch, he wanted to tell her, but he didn't), the bride wanted me to change the center pieces and I did, because it's her wedding and not yours.
And of course the same old I-got-pregnant-and-I-can't-fit-in-my-dress-anymore tale he despised because it really wasn't his problem that the groom and the bride couldn't keep it in their pants and they got knocked up. Thankfully, Raven was there to sweep in and save the day, taking some of the stress off of his shoulders.
The weddings turned out to be a success, obviously, but Charles was so run down by everything that he couldn't even party on New Years. He couldn't even stay awake to welcome the New Year, having fallen asleep on his couch at eight in the evening, sleeping through his alarms and waking up after more than twelve hours of sleep.
On top of that he got sick with the flu, so he had to let Moira handle everything at the office which resulted in loosing some potential clients. Moira was good, but she wasn't him. She couldn't charm the pants off of them. Despite his protests that he could work while being sick, Moira and Raven were having none of it.
"You won't be any help here. So what if we loose some clients? Their loss, our gain. Get some rest. " that was Moira and Raven with:
"I don't give a fuck about your business, you can't just ignore your health. You just had one of the hardest weeks of your life, you need to recharge." and because he really couldn't be trusted to listen them, she took a couple of days off and moved in his spare bedroom. Which, in reality, was rather good considering that one day, mid-afternoon, he fainted in the living room, almost cracking his head open on the coffee table, because of the high-fever. It was good because she was there to take him to the ER and yell at him the whole way for not taking good care of himself and ignoring that he was so sick.
Charles honestly appreciated that she was there with him, but really, after an IV and a night spent at the hospital he was so much better. His doctor was a long-time friend, Alex Summers, who chided him as well for not taking care of himself and who asked to take another two, or three days off before returning back to work.
He waited four days before going back to work, just to prove Raven that he was a grown man who could take care of himself. He was feeling better, well-rested and ready to tackle new clients and continue with organizing the weddings for his current clients. At 8.00 in the morning Moira was already waiting for him with tea in her hands.
"Good morning, boss. Happy to see you're not dead yet." she joked, going behind her desk.
"Glad to see that I've been missed."
"Like the desert misses the rain." she deadpanned and Charles rolled his eyes, before taking the files Moira had ready for him.
"Do I have any meetings today?"
"Mr. Lehnsherr and Ms. Alyonovitz have called for a meeting before New Year and I scheduled them a week ago, before you got sick. I called them to reschedule. They will be here at ten, today. Then you have another meeting after lunch and that's it."
"Good. Well... send them in when they arrive."
"Will do, boss!"
"Stop calling me that, you know I hate it!" Charles yelled before the door slammed shut after him, cutting the sound of Moira giggling.
Charles had time to put his tea down before panic slammed into him, leaving him a bit breathless. He was going to see Erik, again. He was going to see Erik again and he looked like shit! Sure, he was feeling better, but the flu affected him greatly. He was paler than usual, skinnier somehow and the dark circles looked like badly-done tattoos under his eyes. His lips were dry and chapped and his hair was a disgusting mess with him having no energy to fix it after he took a shower in that morning. He panicked because of his looks for exactly five minutes before he started to panic about entirely different reasons.
Why did he need to look good for Erik Lehnsherr? The man was practically married! It didn't matter if Charles looked good or not, Erik Lehnsherr was still his client, and in a very committed relationship nevertheless. Charles knew the answer to that without even bothering to search for it for too long; he wanted Erik to look at him the same way he did at Tony Stark's party. He wanted to see that smoldering look and those flames in Erik's eyes, like he wanted to devour Charles in a single bite.
He hated himself for thinking about a taken man that way, yet he couldn't help himself. No one made his blood boil the same Erik did. No one made him loose his mind so fast and he certainly never felt so strongly towards someone that he was ready to step all over his principles if the man as much as told him a sweet word. It frightened Charles, how hooked and completely gone he was on the man, how desperate he was to taste from the forbidden fruit.
It was also disgustingly pathetic to feel that way, but he was only human, and he knew those feelings were not going away too soon. Maybe if he hooked up with someone, he would stop feeling this way. His sex life was pretty non-existent nowadays.
Yes, surely that was the answer. He'd have to ask Raven if she wanted to go pub-crawling with him, it used to be their favorite past time. Maybe he'll find a nice guy to take home and satisfy his needs. Charles smiled to himself before sitting down in his office chair and opening the first file. Sure, he desperately wanted Erik, but at the same time, screw him.
Time passed faster than usual, and before he knew there was a shy knock at his door, interrupting Charles' research on the latest trends in wedding matters. He called for whoever was on the other side to come in. The door opened, and when Charles looked up, pushing up his reading-glasses he let out an unwilling sigh.
Erik Lehnsherr looked like he stepped off of a GQ magazine, despite the fact that he was wearing simple clothes: a pair of cream-colored tight jeans and a black, fitted wool sweater. He smiled at Charles, closing the door behind him.
"Hi." he said, making Charles stand up. His ginger beard was neatly trimmed and looked soft. Charles wanted to sigh again. How could someone look so effortlessly attractive? Why didn't he?!
"Hello, Erik." looking over the man's shoulder, Charles bit his lip worried. "Are you alone again?"
"No, Magda is outside filling and signing the contract. Moira said it's long overdue."
"Oh, yes. Indeed it is! I'm glad you both could be here."
The look in Erik's eyes told him that he wasn't exactly thrilled, and truth be told, neither was Charles, despite his long debate with himself just mere hours ago.
"I didn't know you wear glasses."
"I don't, most of the times. I need them for reading sometimes. Raven says they make me look like a professor."
"I think they are cute. They suit you." Erik offered, stepping closer. The only obstacle being Charles' desk.
"I - thank you, Erik." he muttered shyly, tucking a strand of curly hair behind his ear.
Erik's grey eyes followed the movement and Charles realized how awfully close they were, despite the desk. They were leaning towards each other, like there was a pull, an invisible chord trying to mush them together. Erik licked his lips and rised his hand. Long, elegant fingers brushed Charles' cheekbone and his eyes shut as an automatic response to the other man's touch. It was just a flutter, before Erik's hand cupped his face, stroking gently the skin from his eyebrow to the line of his jaw.
"Moira told me that you were sick." Erik whispered between themselves. "Are you feeling better now?"
Charles sighed, turning his face in Erik's hand and boldly pressing a kiss to the center of Erik's palm. He gasped when the world's most precious Lapis lazuli's stones gazed into his eyes, long eyelashes brushing the skin under Charles' eyes.
"So much better." Charles whispered, before he closed his eyes again and enjoying the warmth of Erik's hand cupping his face.
Stolen moments, he realized, that's what his life reduced to. Stolen moments with a man who wasn't even his. With a man he wanted to get out of his system, but at the same time wanted to consume him whole.
His life was a bad joke. The worst Romeo and Juliet kind of scenario.
The difference between Erik, Charles and Romeo with Juliet was they weren't exactly together, and, as much as the thought made Charles' stomach churn and his soul break in million, irreplaceable pieces, they will never be!