players only. backdated to the day after Louis and Bradley spend a day off together.
Draping her cardigan over the back of her chair, Marie grabs the folders from her desk and heads for Louis's office. Lost in her own thoughts, she pushes the door open, barging straight in, her lips forming a small rounded O of surprise as she looks up and registers Louis at his desk in front of her.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know you were here," she says quickly. "I was just going to put these on your desk."
Louis smiles. "It's okay. You're not interrupting anything," he says with a small shrug, returning to his email. "Although I did say I'd be in."
Louis looks up. "Mm-hm what?"
"Nothing," Marie says, the folders still clutched to her chest. "How was your weekend?" she asks, even though, technically, it's still Sunday.
"It was good," Louis says, unable to keep from smiling as he goes back to his laptop.
Marie's eyes narrow. "Only good?" She's known Louis long enough to deserve more than that. Especially since he's never dated anyone outside Citadel in the time they've worked together. If you could even say he's 'dated' anyone at all.
Louis sighs and sits back, trying not to fidget under Marie's gaze. "It was... wonderful," he says, picking up his favourite pen and playing with it.
Marie relaxes, smiling. Suddenly it's a very good morning indeed. "You like him," she says, taking a seat in front of Louis's desk.
The pen gets clicked open and shut and open again before Louis answers, the slightest hint of colour in his cheeks. "Yes. Yes, I like him. Very much."
"And yet you're here," she points out.
Louis shrugs. "He had to work today," he says. "And so do I."
"Ah. So you're both workaholics," Marie teases.
"Well, he doesn't have much choice about it. They schedule him in and he shows up."
"Says the woman who called me on the first Friday night I've had off in how long?" Louis retorts.
That, at least, gets a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry. It was horrible," Marie says. "I didn't know what else to do. I thought I'd seen everything but the boy was screaming and hitting Pierre and he looked like he was having a seizure at one point." She shakes her head. "I've really never seen anyone that beside themselves." She sits back in the chair with a sigh. "But I shouldn't have called you. Anton was able to handle everything and Lord Cullvington decided to take him home when he got here. He said something about trying again next year," she adds, making a face.
"He might want to make sure the boy truly knows what he's getting into next time," Louis says. "Or that he stops trying to make a slave out of someone who's more suited to staying a boy." God knows his job would be so much easier if more people learned the difference.
"I know. But Anton said he'd take him if he comes in again - now that they've established some trust between them."
"That's good." Louis smiles, clicking the pen open and shut again.
Marie hesitates before speaking again, weighing her respect for Louis's privacy against her concern for him. "Does he - does Bradley know about Citadel?" she asks. "Have you told him?"
"Not yet." Louis exhales softly, wondering at Marie's ability to zero in on the heart of every matter.
"Not yet. Which means you're going to?"
"I have to at some point," Louis says, with another click of the pen. "If we're going to keep seeing each other. But he's new, to all of this... and telling him I spank and fuck other men for a living..." He sighs and shakes his head.
"That's not all you do," Marie protests. "And I wouldn't put it to him like that anyway."
"Nor would I," Louis says, rolling his eyes just a little, "but you have to agree - that's likely the part that will make the biggest impression."
Marie winces. "Unfortunately, yes, but you don't want to leave it too long. He'll think you were..." lying, but Louis never lies, "untruthful, that you were hiding things from him."
"I know." Louis nods, scribbling abstract doodles on the open calendar in front of him. "I'll talk to him when I get back from New York."
It's Marie's turn to nod. "What about Adrian?"
Louis looks up. "What about him?"
"Are you still going to see him while we're in New York? Are you going to tell him about Bradley?"
"Yes. Of course." Louis frowns. "Why wouldn't I see him?"
"Because he's not just some boy you fuck. And now you've found another man who's not just some boy you fuck. He might want to know," she insists.
"Yes, but he belongs to someone else and I'm not ever going to be anything other than I already am to him," Louis says, frowning more. "He would want me to find someone else. He's said so."
Snorting softly, Marie shakes her head. "Saying something and meaning it are two very different things. He loves you."
"And I love him, but I can't - I can't live my life without having someone who belongs to me and only to me."
Marie smiles. "And you think this Bradley might be it?"
Louis breathes deeply in then out, shoving a hand back through his hair. "I don't know," he says, gesturing a little wildly. "It's - I really like him, and he likes me, and I want to be open to seeing where it goes."
Marie's smile widens. That's what she really wanted to know. "I think that's great," she says, standing and placing the folders in front of Louis. "But be honest with him about who you are and what you do, sooner rather than later, or you might that lose that opportunity."
"Yes, ma'am," Louis says sharply, glaring a little and waving her away, but he sighs as she shuts the door. He knows she's right.
[feedback welcome. comments screened