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A Well Respected Man

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It was all Felix's fault. If not for him and his stupid, insatiable boyfriend, none of it would have happened. That's Ferdinand's story anyway, and he was sticking to it.

It started innocently enough. While Felix was not exactly the sociable type, Ferdinand had been determined to make friends with him regardless after he'd been hired on at Black Eagle Security.

It had been difficult but after finally finding a shared interest in historical weaponry (and the latest season of Real Housewives of Enbarr, though Ferdinand was sworn to secrecy on that), the two had become habitual lunch partners over time.

It was a typical day like any other. They’d been making light conversation, and complaining about difficult clients over lunch at Felix’s desk. Their phones had been sitting side by side, and being nearly the same model, Ferdinand could hardly be blamed for accidentally mistaking Felix's for his own.

Just his luck that the screen lit up with a text as soon as he picked it up. Not only that, but the sender's attached picture was included in the notification.

It took a second to register, but as soon as he realized what exactly he was looking at, Ferdinand felt his face burn hotly as his jaw dropped. Felix, ever the observant one, immediately swiped the phone out of Ferdinand’s hand. Looking at the screen, he too flushed a bright shade of red before furiously shoving his phone back in his pocket. "I've told that idiot a million times, not while I'm working!" He hissed.

Ferdinand could only smile awkwardly and pretend he hadn't just seen Sylvain Gautier's fully erect dick splashed across Felix's screen. "U-um. My apologies, I did not realize I grabbed the wrong phone."

Felix only scowled, stabbing at his salad violently with his fork. "Unbelievable! I swear, when I get home, that fool is in for it!"

Judging from the picture he’d just sent, Ferdinand was pretty sure that had been Sylvain’s intent. However, he wisely chose to stay quiet about the matter, and politely changed the subject.

Still. Ferdinand wondered if Felix would be so prickly about it if Ferdinand hadn't been the first one to see the picture. Judging by how Felix refused to make eye contact with him for the next few days, he’s pretty sure he knew the answer.

Eventually he put it out of his mind. There were other things to worry about, such as the giant stack of client files his boss dropped on his desk a week later.

"You'll have these done by Monday, won't you von Aegir? After all, you are such a dedicated worker, a little extra responsibility wouldn't phase you, would it?" Mr. von Vestra had asked with that self-satisfied smirk of his.

When he first started working at the office a few years ago, Ferdinand would have argued with him about how much work he already had on his plate, only for von Vestra to gleefully give him more. At this point in time however, Ferdinand was on to his game. Despite all his boss's best efforts to persuade him to quit, Ferdinand refused to give in, instead offering a chipper "Consider it done sir! Not a problem for me!" Alongside a big smile, if only because he knew von Vestra hated it.

Why the man wanted him gone so badly, he had no idea. Despite Ferdinand’s every attempt to be friendly, von Vestra seemed determined to give him nothing but grief in return. Ferdinand had nearly ripped his hair out trying to figure out what it was he might have said, or what perceived slight he might have given von Vestra upon their first meeting to make him loathe Ferdinand so much. Nothing came to mind.

The only possible reason he could think of was that his father used to work for the company years and years ago. Ferdinand was not so ignorant as to think the familial connection had nothing to do with his own initial hiring, but it wasn’t as though he did not work hard for his position! If anything, he always tried to go above and beyond in order to silence any rumours of nepotism and prove he was worthy of his station.

Von Vestra wanted those files done by Monday? Fine. Ferdinand finished by Saturday afternoon, fueled by the thought of how much it would bother the utter troll of a man. Sure, he'd come in to work on a weekend, and had pulled a near all-nighter to accomplish it, but picturing his boss's sour look when he realized Ferdinand had overcome his little challenge was worth it.

It wasn’t as though he had much else going on in his life anyway. If his surly boss thought Ferdinand would be sour about losing part of his weekend, he was sorely mistaken.

He was so proud of himself he sent von Vestra a short text announcing the completion of his task before he promptly passed out on his couch from exhaustion.

He could have gladly stayed there until Monday morning, but the ringtone of his cellphone brought him back to the waking world. Stifling a yawn, he read Dorothea’s name over the caller ID and swiped the “answer” button on the screen.

“Hello?”

“Ferdie! So glad you picked up! I have some news for you.”

Ferdinand stretched his arm out as he sat up, willing the tiredness out of his body. “Oh? Do tell!”

"Guess who got the leading role in next season's new soap opera?"

His face lit up. She’d been over the moon about auditioning for the role last time he saw her, he was glad to hear she’d gotten what she wanted. "Oh Dory! You did?"

"Nope! So get dressed, we're going out tonight to party my misery away. I'll meet you at your place in an hour."

His heart sank. "Oh no… oh Dorothea, I am so sorry. You truly deserved that role."

"Oh, I'm aware! But whatever, it is what it is. Just be a good wingman tonight so I can at least get fucked in a good way for once."

As ladylike as ever, that one. She hung up on him, and seeing as how she was usually early, Ferdinand dragged himself off the couch to get ready for her arrival.



--



The club was a typical hook-up bar that Ferdinand wouldn’t dare step into on his own. Dorothea however, was having the time of her life sweet-talking men and women into buying a never ending supply of drinks for the both of them throughout the evening.

Eventually she found a pretty girl to focus her interest on, and Ferdinand took it as his cue to leave her to it. The dance floor seemed inviting enough, and he was never one to pass up a chance to show off a bit.

Letting the beat of the music guide him, he let himself unwind as his body swayed to the rhythm. It wasn’t long before he felt a firm dance partner sidling up against his back and putting hands on his hips. No one he recognized, but handsome enough to convince Ferdinand to take him up on his offer of a drink while he introduced himself as William.

One drink turned into two, which turned into four, and after confirming Dorothea was good to go her own way for the night, Ferdinand wound up in the back seat of a taxi with his mouth on the man’s neck, and William’s hand palming over his crotch.

The rest of the night progressed as expected, and come morning, Ferdinand was well fucked, well rested, and had a new number in his phone for whenever he was feeling a little bored and frisky.

All in all, it was a good night.



--



By the first day of the new month, von Vestra had doubled Ferdinand’s workload when he wasn’t looking, Bernadetta needed help smoothing things over with a particularly nasty client, and no one had done any preparations for Petra’s upcoming birthday that Friday. Naturally, Ferdinand took it upon himself to try and calm the chaos.

Thankfully, Bernadetta’s client was no challenge for Ferdinand’s charms. He sat beside her, smiling brightly as the client ranted about the cost of labour. Bernadetta was shaking in her seat from nerves, but Ferdinand knew how to handle big personalities such as this. Hell, after living with his father for so long, this was practically a cakewalk.

He managed to placate the man with sweet words in between explanations, compliments for bringing such matters to their attention, and fluffing up his ego enough so that the idiot ended up eating out of Ferdinand’s palm, so much that he finished the call by agreeing to update his current package with all the extra cost benefits.

The man thanked Ferdinand at the end of the conversation, promising to call him by name if he needed more help. To his credit, Ferdinand kept smiling and laughing right up until the phone was back in it’s charging dock.

“What an ass,” he muttered after hanging up. Beside him, Bernadetta looked slightly calmer at least.

“Thanks Ferdie… I’m sorry I bothered you with this but when he started yelling at me, I just…”

Ferdinand waves his hand, smiling gently at her. “Not at all! You did what any reasonable person would do, and I absolutely will not stand idly by while a sweet person like you is verbally harassed! The least I can do is take over for you. I am only sorry I could not properly tell him off for being so rude to you.”

“I-It’s ok! You were great, thanks again.”

“You’re welcome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a birthday party to plan!”

Confident that Bernadetta would be alright for the time being, he stood up and left her desk, already mentally going over a list of bakeries to call, only to look up and find von Vestra staring him down from across the office.

Oh god, had he been watching him while he took Bernadetta’s call for her?

Swallowing nervously, Ferdinand pasted an awkward smile on his face, nodded to von Vestra, and kept walking. Hopefully the man didn’t say anything to Bernadetta. Ferdinand might be used to von Vestra’s mind games, but Bernadetta was a sweet girl who was only trying to do her best. She didn’t deserve to be reprimanded over nothing important.

Thankfully, it seemed like von Vestra had other things to worry about. He shut himself away in his office and was barely seen for the rest of the day.

Ferdinand managed to order a cake from a highly rated Brigidian specialty place, arranged for decorations to be brought in, and made sure to let everyone know to sign the birthday card in the break room when they could.

He ended up having to stay late at the office again to catch up on the mountains of paperwork von Vestra had left in his care, but no matter. Again, he took it as a challenge. If he ever hoped to become even close to CEO someday, he would simply need to get used to living at work after all.

It wasn’t all a waste at least. The office was technically closer to William’s apartment anyway.

Sure enough, his phone vibrated with a text from William just as Ferdinand was finishing up the last document on his to-do list. Figuring he could use a little stress relief, Ferdinand sent an emoji-filled agreement to meet up as soon as he left.

After shutting down his laptop, he gathered up his things and headed out toward the elevator. As he walked past the empty desks and cubicles, he noticed the lights on from underneath von Vestra’s doorway.

Curious. His boss was known to stay late, true, but not usually this late.

Well, whatever. Ferdinand shrugged and went on his way. Perhaps von Vestra was staying late to come up with new plans to torture him throughout the week. It wouldn’t surprise him in the least.

Not wanting to waste any more time or effort on thoughts of his boss, Ferdinand left, eager to relax, unwind, and get his brains fucked out until the early morning.



--



The rest of the week passed rather uneventfully. The only thing of note was that Ferdinand noticed von Vestra’s office lights on every evening before he left for the night. He’d been tempted to ask him about it, but the door was always closed, and Ferdinand was perhaps a little afraid of inviting more work to be piled onto himself by inviting undue attention.

Still, he was pleasantly surprised to see von Vestra had managed to find the time to sign Petra’s card at least, even if he didn’t actually show up to the party. It ended up being a smashing success as far as office birthdays went. The cake was delicious and beautifully decorated, and Petra was delighted by the little party hats a few of her coworkers had decided to wear.

Being a Friday afternoon, the office wasn’t exactly their most productive. Still, everyone was in good spirits. Caspar and Ashe helped with the party clean up, and if everyone decided to leave half an hour early, no one said anything.

Von Vestra was still holed up in his office, so it wasn’t like he would even notice.

For his part, Ferdinand was excited for the evening for once. William had invited him out to dinner that night, a rarity in their newfound relationship which still mainly consisted of simple booty calls.

It wasn’t as though Ferdinand minded the pure physicality of their relationship. After all, what else could he expect from a club hookup? Still, he enjoyed William’s company, and liked to think the reverse was also true. And yes, he might be busy with his work often, but that didn’t mean Ferdinand didn’t have dreams of actual romance too. He was always a little jealous when coworkers would get a bouquet of flowers from their partners, or talk about dinner dates and cozy nights in.

So hearing William wanted to just spend time with him for the sake of having Ferdinand’s company, well… it was exciting!

Exciting enough that he rushed home to get ready for his date, and forgot his phone on his desk at work.

“Damn it, damn it, damn it,” He mumbled under his breath as he rode the elevator back up to his floor.

He’d just finished styling his hair to perfection and pulling on his nicest outfit when he’d realized his mistake. It was a little awkward coming in and walking past Jeritza at the security desk while he was all dressed up for a night out. At least the security guard didn’t say anything and let him in without question.

Still. What a hassle. At least he’d planned everything early, so it wasn’t like he’d be late. He just needed to grab his phone, and maybe he could meet up with William early.

Thoughts of the two of them taking a romantic walk around the park on their way to dinner filled Ferdinand’s head as he rushed over to his desk. Sure enough, his phone was exactly where he’d left it next to his monitor.

Mission accomplished, Ferdinand started back through the empty office toward the elevator. He was almost there when he heard a loud thumping noise coming from the Department head’s office. Stopping suddenly, Ferdinand turned his head and was shocked to find von Vestra’s door open for once, and his boss’s head in his hands.

He should keep going. He was almost to the elevator and von Vestra had not seen him yet. He should just keep walking and leave well enough alone.

He should, and yet… he rapped his knuckles lightly over the heavy wood door, instantly drawing von Vestra’s attention. “Sir? Are you alright?” Ferdinand asked gently.

“Von Aegir,” his boss murmured in a rare moment of surprise. Quickly, his features hardened into his usual indifferent mask. “It’s late. Shouldn’t you be at home singing to birds, or whatever it is you overly positive people do?”

Ferdinand rolled his eyes. “Well if you must know I was on my way to-” he paused as he finally took notice of the deep shadows and bags under von Vestra’s weary eyes. “Uh. Nevermind. Suffice to say, I forgot my phone here before leaving today.”

Von Vestra nodded. “I see. Well. Don’t let me stop you from your evening.” He turned back to his computer screen.

Ferdinand shifted awkwardly on his feet. He’d worn his nicest heeled boots, but they were not exactly the most comfortable. “R-right. Well…” He started to turn away, then thought better of it. “Mr. von Vestra, my apologies for interrupting you, but… you seem troubled. Is there anything I can help you with?”

Von Vestra scoffed. “While your concern is noted, I have no need of your brown-nosing right now, von Aegir. I’m in the middle of trying to fix an extraordinarily vexing problem, and I don’t have the time to give you all the attention you are so constantly in need of. I can handle my own problems just fine.”

Ferdinand put his hands on his hips and glared back at him. Maybe it was the boots and outfit giving him a surge of confidence, but he’d decided enough was enough. “Yes, that’s right, I dropped in here before a date with my boyfriend-” a lie, but who’s counting? “-just to bother you for attention. Is that truly what you think of me? That I am here to suck up to you? I only came over here because I saw you looked like death passed over and thought perhaps something had happened to you! Clearly I was wrong to waste my concern!”

He turned to leave, but surprisingly von Vestra reached out a hand and leaned forward. “Stop. I-” he sighed.

“You’re right. I’m sorry, it’s been...well. It’s been a long week.” He pushed his dark hair back in frustration, and that’s when Ferdinand realized just how serious the situation must truly be. Von Vestra was not the type to show any kind of weakness or fatigue if he could help it, especially to those working beneath him.

“Obviously what I’m about to tell you is confidential but…” he shook his head and glared down at his keyboard before looking back to Ferdinand.

“There was a problem earlier this week,” von Vestra explained. “An information leak regarding an error in one of our top client’s security systems. The person behind the leak is attempting to extort us for an exorbitant amount of money. If the situation isn’t handled before their deadline on Monday, Edelgard…” he stopped and cleared his throat. “-Ms. von Hresvelg will have to deal with not only a large media storm and resulting fallout, but also a potential lawsuit. It could very well cost her and the company dearly. I myself will most definitely be fired, but compared to what Ms. von Hresvelg will have to deal with…”

Von Vestra looked worn down to the bone. Ferdinand felt his heart strings being plucked at like a harp. He knew his boss and the CEO were extremely close friends. The idea of Edelgard von Hresvelg’s name being muddied over something this would definitely be a critical blow to von Vestra.

“Are you sure there is nothing I can do to help?” Ferdinand asked, genuinely concerned.

“Unless you can figure out what piece of human garbage is making this play, or help me find a way to fix the error, then I think not.” Von Vestra pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll be here for awhile. Go home, Ferdinand. This doesn’t concern you, and your boyfriend is probably waiting.”

It’s an opening to leave. A parting gift, Ferdinand realized. It’s the nicest thing his boss has probably ever done for him. He should just take him up on it. Especially after all the crap he’d had to deal with due to von Vestra’s inexplicable distaste for him. After all the late nights, lost weekends, short lunches, clipped insults…

It would serve him right to leave him in the lurch and end his career. Just desserts for his rotten attitude toward him over the years.

But… despite how much the man infuriated Ferdinand, he knew von Vestra was not really a bad man. Their department’s numbers were better than they had been in ages since von Vestra took over, and he knew the man did actually care about the other employees working under him. Why else let Bernadetta have the cubicle with the highest walls, or make sure there was a separate minifridge in the break room for Linhardt’s gluten-free food? And other than Petra’s birthday, von Vestra always made sure to make at least a short appearance for staff celebrations.

Maybe he had some sort of grudge against Ferdinand, but it didn’t mean he should lose his job. Making up his mind, Ferdinand set his mouth into a stern line and pulled up William’s number on his phone. Despite how much he didn’t want to cancel, he sent him a quick text explaining that he would not be able to make it to dinner that night and that they would have to postpone.

Without a word, he left von Vestra’s office. Instead of heading to the elevator, Ferdinand marched over to his work station, and grabbed his laptop from his desk..

Von Vestra stared at him in shock as Ferdinand walked back inside his office and set his laptop down on the opposite side of his desk. His boss’s eyes were wide as he searched Ferdinand’s face, no doubt expecting him to change his mind at any moment.

Ferdinand responded by smiling earnestly as he shrugged off his jacket. “Let’s get this figured out, shall we?”



--



It took all night and nearly all of the next day to find a solution to their problem. Ferdinand had tied back his hair in a messy bun, and von Vestra had loosened his tie and unbuttoned his shirt down to his collarbone in their efforts to be slightly more comfortable during their self-inflicted crunch time. A couple take-out boxes from the chinese place down the street had kept them fed when they needed it, and the vending machine in the breakroom provided any other necessities to get through the night.

They took turns napping on the leather couch in von Vestra’s office when fatigue became too much to ignore, but otherwise, they worked tirelessly to find the problem. Ferdinand pulled a few favours to get some friends in other departments to forward him some extra information regarding their culprit, while von Vestra hounded the programming department chief over the phone to find some kind of way to find and correct the error in the new system.

Miraculously, they managed to produce some concrete results together. Thanks to his meticulous digging into various departments’ workplace drama, Ferdinand managed to find out their extortionist was simply a low level IT grunt. Apparently the whole thing started with the man attempting to get revenge on a colleague for dating a girl he’d initially had his eye on, but who did not return his affections.

With a lead on the cause of the problem, von Vestra was able to pull up some substantial evidence of the man’s tampering in no time. Within the hour, he had enough lawsuit material to make any lawyer dance their hearts out over the obvious grave they would be putting the defense in.

As a final attack, Ferdinand managed to dig up their culprit’s personal cell phone number, and watched as von Vestra graced the man with a personal call.

Ferdinand was only a little ashamed at how much satisfaction he took in the way von Vestra’s smooth voice tenderly described to their extortionist just how thoroughly he could ruin his life as he spoke to him over the phone. It was strangely hypnotic to listen to him threaten the person they’d both been cursing for the past twenty something hours without von Vestra losing an ounce of his composure.

By the end of the call, Ferdinand had to cross his legs. He blamed it on the long day and lack of sleep.

Thirty minutes later, von Vestra received a prompt email from the programming department head informing him that the new system was cleared for it’s update, and that there was now an open employment opportunity in their department if anyone was hoping to transfer over from sales.

It was like a heavy weight had been lifted from both of their shoulders. Ferdinand let out a shout of joy and slapped von Vestra on the shoulder as he laughed in relief. Shockingly, his boss let out a soft chuckle too, offering Ferdinand a small grin of his own.

“My my! The intimidating Mr. von Vestra can smile! Will wonders never cease?” Ferdinand joked as he gathered his things from von Vestra’s desk.

“Yes, well, miracles are known to happen once in awhile,” von Vestra replied cheekily, clearing off his own mess.

Empty take-out boxes and vending machine drinks cleared, they pulled on their coats and walked out to the elevator together. Ferdinand winced with every step in his boots, but at least he would be able to replace them with his fuzzy slippers as soon as he was home.

Waiting for the elevator to greet them, von Vestra cleared his throat. “Ferdinand. I… thank you. I couldn’t have solved this mess without you.” He readjusted his tie and kept his eyes firmly on his hands.

Von Vestra opened his mouth and then closed it. Then did it again. If Ferdinand didn’t know any better, he’d almost think his boss looked a little bashful. Finally, von Vestra seemed to find his courage.

“After some further reflection I also realize I may have been… a little harsh on you in the past.” At Ferdinand’s sarcastic laugh, his cheeks turned the barest hint of pink. “Yes, well… for that I am sorry. Truly. Without your help these past hours, the company could have been facing a major disaster. So I…well.” He coughed. “Thank you.”

Ferdinand smiled and tucked a stray lock of orange hair behind his ear. “Wow. That must have been painful.” He laughed at the look von Vestra shot him and waved his hand. “Still. I appreciate it. Though I could not have fixed this problem alone either. I’m glad I had your help as well. We make a good team, don’t we Mr. von Vestra?”

“Hubert.”

“Hm?” Ferdinand asked as the elevator dinged and the doors opened.

“You don’t have to call me Mr. von Vestra all the time. The others don’t. My name is Hubert.” He turned his head to meet Ferdinand’s gaze and offered another small smile.

Ferdinand returned it and stepped into the elevator with him. “Very well. If you insist, Hubert.”



--



While William had been unhappy about their cancelled dinner, he at least had the courtesy of letting Ferdinand wait until Sunday night to meet him at his place. Graciously, he allowed Ferdinand to make it up to him by way of his mouth on his dick.

Truthfully, Ferdinand had hoped to simply have the rest of the weekend to himself to relax and recuperate, but he did feel bad for cancelling. Even if it was for good reason.

Monday morning, he almost wanted to groan when he walked back into the office. Hadn’t he just been there? Still, his bad mood evaporated quickly when he reached his work station and found a small bouquet of sunflowers in a vase on his desk.

His first thought was that William had sent them of course. He must have been sympathetic to Ferdinand’s long shift and sent them to cheer him up - how romantic!

There was a small note attached. Plucking it out of it’s holster eagerly, Ferdinand held it close to read the lovely, looping print.



Thank you again for your assistance this past weekend. I could not have done it without you. I realize these flowers will not make up for your lost time, however I hope they brighten your day nonetheless.

Sincerely,

Hubert.



Ferdinand gaped at the note with wide eyes. Von Vestra - Hubert, had actually given him a thank you gift? Flowers, at that! And not even funeral ones!

He almost wanted to check if there was perhaps a viper hidden among the stems. Why else give him such a nice gift if not for a ruse? Sure, Ferdinand had helped him out over the weekend, but surely von - Hubert, his name was Hubert dammit - would not get over his dislike for Ferdinand so easily?

Apparently he did if the rest of the week was any indication. Not only did Hubert not pile on stacks of extra client work on Ferdinand's desk in the morning, he also nearly gave poor Caspar an aneurysm by publicly complimenting Ferdinand on his last client contract while they were all in the breakroom together.

It was weird. Not unwelcome, but weird nonetheless.

It seemed Hubert had truly reassessed his previous judgement of Ferdinand after their long shift together. No longer did Ferdinand look up to find his boss glaring at him or making snide comments in passing. Now when he caught Hubert staring, there was no malice behind it, and if anything, Hubert seemed to be doing what he could to help lessen Ferdinand’s load by giving him fewer clients, though the ones he did get were high priority.

Eventually it became so that sometimes when Ferdinand left a little later than usual, Hubert would ride down the elevator with him and nod along while Ferdinand chatted him up about whatever things of note had happened during the day. A couple times he even walked him out to his car so that Ferdinand could finish the story he was telling, despite Hubert having a car in the underground lot while Ferdinand’s was in the regular outdoor section.

It was nice. More than nice, actually. Hubert was surprisingly funny in conversation, and a great listener. He remembered even the little things that Ferdinand would mention, and his dry wit was actually great fun to banter with now that Ferdinand knew there was no real malice behind his words.

“Are you sleeping with him?” Linhardt casually asked Ferdinand a few months after Hubert’s good mood started making itself known around the office.

“Wh-What?!” Ferdinand spluttered, nearly dropping his mug of tea. “Why would you even suggest that? I’m not- he isn’t- I-” He wasn’t sure why he was floundering for words, all he knew was that his face felt hot and he was extremely embarrassed. “I have a boyfriend!”

“Ah yes… the human dildo. Dorothea told me about him.” Linhardt yawned. “He sounds charming.”

“He is not a human dil-” Ferdinand stopped, remembering how his voice tended to carry across the office when he got shrill. “W-why would she say such a thing?”

Linhardt shrugged. “Apparently he has no personality and you only use him for sex?”

Ferdinand opened his mouth to argue, but Linhardt cut him off. “Not that I’m judging. Seems like a nice, uncomplicated deal in my opinion. But you seem the type to want more than that. You know, the whole flowers and chocolates, and poetry beside a castle sort of thing.”

Ferdinand’s ears were red, he was certain of it. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to be properly romanced I’ll have you know!”

“Yeah, I thought so.” Linhardt hummed. Paused. “So. You never answered; are you sleeping with Hubert?”

“No!” Ferdinand hissed.

“Hm. That’s a shame. If you did, he’d probably give everyone a raise.”

He finally left when Ferdinand started throwing a pile of paper clips at him.



--



Just because Hubert was being nice to him now, and just because yes, Hubert was an attractive man with an attractive voice, did not mean Ferdinand was going to fool himself with the idea that they could ever be a thing. After all, with the way he talked Hubert was most likely carrying a torch for the damn CEO of their company.

Also Ferdinand had a boyfriend. Well. Sort of.

Maybe William had not asked him out on a dinner date again and they were still in the strictly physical part of their relationship. And maybe Ferdinand was a little tired of the same kind of sex over and over. And maybe he was not exactly getting the sort of satisfaction he was hoping for whenever they had their little sleepovers.

It happened to all couples, right? It was just a rough patch, they were still new enough to be working things out.

That’s what he explained to Dorothea over wine at her place. She, unfortunately, did not agree.

“Ferdie, William treats you like a dog on a leash. And you let him! And it’s not even in a sexy way. With you two it’s just kind of sad.” Ferdinand made a sound of protest but she ignored him. “He’s just so… so mediocre! You could do way better.”

She took another sip of her wine, ignoring the movie they had been attempting to watch while she propped her feet up on his lap. “Dump him. That’s my advice.”

Ferdinand flicked his fingers at her foot in response. “I’m not going to dump him. He’s sweet, he just… needs some time. He did ask me to a dinner date a few months ago! I just had to cancel on him and I think he took it badly. He’ll build back up to it, you just wait and see!” He emptied his own glass down his throat. “We’re still just having fun first.”

“Ooh yeah, missionary and doggy style on alternating weekends, how exciting.” Dorothea rolled her eyes. “You know how many times Ingrid made me cum the last time we hooked up? Three. And she didn’t even really know what she was doing that much. I got her to cum like twice as much that same night.”

Ferdinand made a face at her. “I thought I told you I don’t need to hear the details of your sex life? And that you don’t need to guess at mine!” He glared at the empty glass in his hand. “Besides, didn’t you and Ingrid break up ages ago?”

“Rude,” Dorothea muttered. “And beside the point. You’re seeing him for sex. And apparently the sex isn’t even that great, otherwise you wouldn’t be so hesitant to tell me about it. So obviously something needs to change, and it doesn’t sound like it’ll be him.”

He turned away from her and made a weak attempt to watch the movie while she refilled his glass. “It might be?” was the only response he was able to come up with.



--



He thought about Dorothea’s words all night, even after his taxi dropped him off at home. At first he was embarrassed, but after the extra drinks, he was leaning more toward spiteful.

“The sex isn’t boring!” He said out loud to no one as he stumbled through the hall and into his room. “It’s- it’s great! It’s gonna be great!”

He tripped over the clothes he’d forgotten earlier on the floor and fell awkwardly onto his bed. Groaning, he rolled himself over and started pulling off his shirt. Stupid Dorothea and her stupid reasoning. What did she know? It wasn't like she'd ever been in a relationship longer than a couple months either!

If he wanted good advice on love, he should have just asked Felix. After all, Felix could be a complete and utter asshole, and yet he’d managed to keep his claws in Sylvain for three years now!

And maybe it was the wine messing with him, but thinking about the two of them brought back the memory Ferdinand had tried so hard to forget for his friend’s sake. He was drunk, he couldn't help it.

Sylvain had looked good in his picture for Felix. He’d found just the right angle and lighting to really accentuate his body too. He must have sent a few before figuring out what made his boyfriend tick the most. And judging by the bite marks Felix always tried to hide behind high collars and long hair, they were definitely not having boring sex.

Well. If someone like Sylvain Gautier could do it, then Ferdinand von Aegir could do it even better!

That's what he told himself as he started to strip off the rest of his clothes until he was completely nude. Before he could second-guess himself, he pulled out his phone and opened up the camera app. Trying out some different poses, Ferdinand did his best to figure out the math behind the best possible pose to get his lover all riled up.

After a few practice shots, he decided to be a little cheeky and slipped his favourite zip up hoodie over his shoulders. William had mentioned he thought it looked cute on him in the past, and the black fabric made a nice contrast against Ferdinand’s naked skin.

Leaving it unzipped, he maneuvered himself around the bed, trying to find the best angle. Finally, he settled on a decent shot. His long legs were splayed out over his sheets, though his thighs pressed together to clearly frame his erection. His positioned his sweater so that the opening fell back just enough for one of his pink nipples to peek out from behind the zipper.

While he couldn't fit his entire face in the frame, his mouth was at least visible. Ferdinand’s long hair also fell in wavy locks all around him, obviously hinting at who was modelling. On a whim, he stuck out his tongue at the last minute just to be cute and hit the capture button.

Confident that he had finally taken the perfect shot, he checked it over and quickly adjusted the lighting filters until he was satisfied it looked as good as possible. The wine from earlier was really catching up to him and he was eager to just touch himself and fall asleep, but dammit he had something to prove first!

Yawning, he pulled up the text app on his phone and quickly attached his latest picture. He hit send before he could talk himself out of it and set his phone back on the side table. Hopefully William would respond soon so that they could maybe have a little late night call with each other.

He did not. Typical. Oh well. Ferdinand knew his own body well enough by now to know how to have fun on his own.

Though the wine had muddied his thoughts a little, it had also made him feel extra needy. He let himself get right into it, immediately reaching for the little bottle of strawberry lube in the nightstand drawer.

After coating his fingers with it, he tried to picture William above him as he stroked himself, imagining the look on his face when he opened his phone and saw Ferdinand’s picture. Tried to think of the dirty things he would say as he teased his fingers over Ferdinand’s tight little hole.

He tried, but his brain apparently had other things in mind. In his mind, he kept replacing brown hair with deep black, blue eyes with pale green. He kept imagining long, bony fingers sinking into him, while a sultry and familiar voice whispered what a good boy he was being for him, opening up so nicely around him.

His fingers moved faster, and he wondered if he should dig out his favourite toy from the dresser too. It was a little bigger than William, and Ferdinand hated to admit it but he was a bit of a size queen. Not that it mattered enough to dictate who he dated, but it had been awhile since he’d felt that nice, satisfying stretch.

Then he wondered what Hubert’s dick looked like, how big it was, and more importantly, what it would look like buried inside of him; and that was the end of Ferdinand for the night. He cried out sharply as his orgasm suddenly shuddered through him, curling his toes and leaving him dizzy for a few minutes as he fell back against the sheets with a whimper.

Panting for breath, Ferdinand couldn’t help but feel a surge of guilt about what exactly he’d just fantasized about.

It was normal, right? He could fantasize about other people, even if he was technically seeing someone else, couldn’t he? As long as he never acted on it, it was fine! They were fine!

He groaned and rolled over, planting his face in his pillow. It was too much to think about. He’d see William tomorrow and ask him out to dinner himself. There. Problem solved!

He managed to drag himself out of bed long enough to clean himself up. When he was finished, he collapsed back onto the mattress and fell asleep without another thought.



--



Something was off that morning. What it was exactly, Ferdinand wasn’t sure, but he had no time to dwell on it because he was running late.

In his eagerness to try and seduce his boyfriend last night, Ferdinand had forgotten to set his morning alarm. He barely had time to get dressed and eat a quick piece of toast before he was out the door and running to his car.

Thankfully traffic was kind to him that morning and he managed to arrive at the office just on time. He was even lucky enough that the elevator was empty when he walked into it.

Seeing as how the ride up would take a few minutes, Ferdinand took his phone out of his pocket to check his messages. He’d been in such a rush that morning, he hadn’t even been able to see how William had responded to his text last night. Now seemed as good a time as any. He bit his lip lightly in anticipation, eager to see his boyfriend’s response as he opened up his texts from last night.

He stared down at the screen.

That couldn’t be right. William’s name wasn’t at the top of the most recent list.

Hubert’s was.

No. No no nono no. Not possible. Ferdinand quickly pulled up his last message to William.

There was a short mention of meeting up the past Friday, and that was it. Sent four days ago.

A pit suddenly opened up in Ferdinand’s stomach. His fingers trembled as he backed out of the conversation and opened up his last message to Hubert.

His “selfie” from last night stared back at him, in all it’s naked, perfectly filtered glory.

“No.” A checkmark underneath confirmed it had been sent at 12:32am.

No!” Another little text box announced the message had been read at 6:15am.

Ferdinand whimpered. While the reality of the situation finally sank in, three little dots had appeared on Hubert’s side of the conversation. Disappeared. Appeared again. Disappeared once more. Then at last...



My office. 9:00am. Don’t be late.



The elevator door dinged open but Ferdinand didn’t hear it. At that point he’d already fainted on his feet.



Chapter Text

Strange how quickly things could change.

Only a few months ago, Ferdinand had sat in Hubert’s guest chair with his legs dangling over the side, a box of delicious takeout food in his hands. They’d taken a momentary respite from their hunt for the extortionist, and it had actually been quite nice to share a meal together. He’d made light conversation with Hubert, joking with him about the annoying clients they’d managed to live through that week.

Hubert had smiled and shared his own nightmarish stories between bites. Seeing him with his guard down at last had been almost surreal. As he shared his deadpan humor with Ferdinand, he’d seemed more human and down to earth than Ferdinand had ever seen him before, despite the immense pressure they’d been under at the time.

Little moments like that had made the stress much easier to deal with. By the end of the night, Ferdinand had felt like he was on top of the world, and that nothing could bring him down.

Now as he sat in that same chair, Ferdinand couldn’t remember feeling more anxious and worried in his entire life. His stomach twisted itself into tighter and tighter knots with each passing second, and he was certain he was going to throw up any moment.

Back during the long night as he called it, he had joked with Hubert and told him he needed to start stashing some wine in the office in case of any more unexpected, extended shifts.

It seemed like Hubert had taken his advice to heart. There was a bottle of red sitting on the table behind the desk by the window. Two glasses glinted in the morning sunlight. What they were for, Ferdinand had no idea. Perhaps a toast to whatever bastard was about to take Ferdinand’s job, because if he knew at least one thing, it was that he was most certainly about to be fired.

He swallowed. Hubert had not said a word to him since he sat down. His eyes were focused on his computer as his fingers flew over the keyboard. Whether it was an intimidation tactic, or whether he was emailing security to come escort Ferdinand to clear out his desk, he had no idea.

He just wished Hubert would say something though, even if it was just to scream at him. Every second of silence that passed felt like a year off of Ferdinand’s life. At this rate, he wouldn’t live past thirty!

Finally, finally, Hubert stopped typing and turned away from his monitor. “Apologies. Ms. von Hresvelg needed a response from me that could not wait.”

Oh Christ, he’d told the CEO? Ferdinand was ruined for life.

Hubert, that sadistic torturer, shot Ferdinand a devilish little smile as he focused his attention toward him. “I hope you didn’t mind waiting.”

Ferdinand dug his fingers into the fabric over his thighs to keep them from shaking. “N-not at all, sir.”

Hubert’s eyes seemed to flicker with mischief at Ferdinand’s answer. God, he really was enjoying this, wasn’t he? How cruel!

Without another word, Hubert rose from his chair and sauntered over toward the window. With deft, precise movements, he uncorked the bottle of wine sitting at the table and began to pour it into one of the empty glasses.

“Do you happen to know why I called you here this morning, Mr. von Aegir?” he asked.

This was it. This was the beginning of the end of Ferdinand von Aegir. Well. He hoped his friends would remember him fondly at least.

“I… I believe I have an idea, sir.” Ferdinand swallowed the lump in his throat, trying to keep his voice from shaking too much. “This is because I accidentally sent you a… a lewd picture of myself, right?”

Hubert paused halfway through filling the second glass.

“Accidentally?”

Ferdinand nodded, then realized Hubert was still not looking at him and felt even more stupid.

“Y-Yes. Please, sir, I can explain, this was all just a mistake!” Once he opened his mouth it was like the floodgates had been released. He couldn’t go down without at least trying to explain himself, right? Hadn’t they finally been getting somewhere near a friendship these past months? Hubert had to hear him out!

Hubert turned to face him, his expression carefully neutral. “A mistake?”

“Yes! Listen, I am so sorry about this. I-I realize sending you that picture was completely unprofessional, but I did not realize it was your number I was messaging last night. I thought I was sending it to my boyfriend.” He fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat. “I was tired when I took it, and well, a little tipsy, if I’m being honest.” Maybe a little more than tipsy, but that was beside the point.

“A-Anyway. I didn’t realize I sent it to the wrong person until about twenty minutes ago.” Ferdinand’s face was burning from the embarrassment. Having to admit all of this in front of his boss was absolutely humiliating. “If I could take it all back I would. I promise, I feel absolutely horrible about sending it to you. I am so, so sorry Mr. von Vestra! I swear it will never happen again!”

Hubert’s face was still unreadable. Ferdinand bit his lip as he waited for the axe to fall. Another moment of silence passed.

“Ah,” was all Hubert managed to say.

Ferdinand stared back at him, waiting.

“Well.” Hubert cleared his throat and set the bottle of wine back down. “Just ah. See that it doesn’t happen again and we’ll speak no more of it.”

Ferdinand blinked.

“That-that’s it?” No shouting? No security escort? Not even a written warning to HR?

Hubert sat back down in his chair, eyes back on his monitor. “Well. It was an accident, correct? As you said, it’s never going to happen again, so there’s no need to discuss it further.”

Ferdinand was… well. Shocked didn’t seem to describe it well enough. Dumbstruck was more like it. “I… Thank you, sir.”

Hubert simply nodded. “Of course. We’ll speak no more of it.” He started typing again, refusing to meet Ferdinand’s gaze. “Now, I believe you have several contracts to look over. I won’t keep you.”

That was a dismissal if he ever heard one. Ferdinand quickly hopped up from the chair and smiled shakily. “Right. I’ll get right on that. Th-Thank you again, sir!”

Hubert nodded, laser- focused on whatever email was on his screen.

While he still felt a little anxious and embarrassed about the photo, Ferdinand was also overwhelmed with relief. He turned to leave, but not before glancing over at the wine glasses before he left.

“Are you expecting another long shift tonight, sir?” He couldn’t help but ask, curiosity getting the better of him. “Anything I can help with?”

Hubert straightened up in his seat. He didn’t answer for a moment, and Ferdinand’s heart stopped as he realized he might have just put his foot in his mouth.

“No. Ms. von Hresvelg might stop by my office soon. I thought it might be nice for her to unwind a little.” He frowned and refused to look at Ferdinand. “Now, if you don’t mind, Mr. von Aegir…”

“Oh! Of course! Ah-” Naturally Hubert was getting things ready for the big boss. Edelgard von Hresvelg was always at the forefront of Hubert’s mind after all. Ferdinand smiled shakily and nodded. “I-I’ll get back to work. Thank you, sir. Please let me know if you need anything.”

Hubert waved him off as Ferdinand turned and left, closing the door behind him. As soon as it was shut, he let out the deepest sigh of relief he’d ever felt in his life.

He was never taking another god damn nude picture again for as long as he lived.



--



Life went back to normal after that. Ferdinand kept his head down and focused on his work, and if anyone knew just how close he came to losing his job and reputation, they kept it to themselves at least.

Hubert seemed to be in a bit of a sour mood for awhile, but Ferdinand suspected it was because Ms. von Hresvelg never showed up for their meeting that day. Being rejected by a crush was never pleasant after all. It could easily explain why Hubert snapped at Sylvain to get back to his own department one day when he stopped by to moon over Felix.

Ferdinand could sympathize. He’d been through his own fair share of unrequited crushes after all. At least William had started to take him out on actual dates lately. And while Ferdinand did not exactly love the idea of visiting the same casual sports bar every time they went out, it was still progress!

Dorothea didn’t seem convinced, but at least she’d stopped nagging him about it. Thankfully, she had found someone of her own to start obsessing over. Whoever “Edie” was, she must have been something to capture Dorothea’s heart so completely in such a short time.

Ferdinand was just glad he never told her about the… incident.

He hadn’t told anybody. How could he? One wrong word to the wrong person and his career would be over. He still couldn’t believe Hubert had been so calm and understanding about it. Obviously Ferdinand had pegged his boss wrong all this time. Hubert might have put on a scary front, but Ferdinand realized now that it was just a cover for the good, kind, and loyal person beneath.

Across the room, Caspar wailed as Hubert dropped a thick stack of papers on his desk and ordered him to re-file them all before noon.

Ferdinand winced and turned back to his own screen.

Well. Kind to him at least.



--



It was an unofficial tradition every year that New Year’s Eve was to be held at Dorothea’s. Her loft had unbelievably lenient noise level rules, and was without a doubt the most stylish home out of all her friends (which Ferdinand was reluctant to admit, but then again his apartment did not offer nearly as much room).

More importantly, she was one hell of a host, and always managed to convince a few of her fellow actors to swing by and party with the rest of the common folk. It was always a good time, and usually the setting of many fun stories for months following it.

Ferdinand had never seen her look quite so nervous about it before though. Usually she was excited beyond belief, with not a care in the world that anything could go wrong. But this year was different.

“Edie’s coming,” Dorothea explained to him as Ferdinand helped her pick the music playlists for the night. “It’ll be the first time she’s hung out with me and all of my friends together. What if she doesn’t like any of them? What if she thinks it’s all… I don’t know, not her style or beneath her or something?”

“That absolutely will not happen and you know it,” Ferdinand chided. “You’ve been seeing her for over a month now. She obviously cares about you enough to want to meet your closest friends. Having her at this party is a great thing.” He smiled and tried not to dwell on the fact that William never seemed interested in meeting any of Ferdinand’s friends, despite numerous opportunities to do so.

“Besides, your parties are always the highlight of the year. She’ll have a great time.”

Dorothea smiled, but Ferdinand could still see the doubt lingering in her eyes. “I guess… Still. She’s so cool, and… and so classy! You’ll see what I mean when you meet her. She’s a businesswoman at Black Eagle too you know! You two would probably get along really well.”

“Is that so?” Ferdinand hummed. “Did she say what department? Maybe I already know her.”

Dorothea shrugged. “She hasn’t said. Must be important though, she’s always got her phone on, and is always having to deal with things off the clock.”

“Hmm. Maybe she’s over in the legal department or something? She must be incredibly smart to be on their team!” Ferdinand said, offering up a bright smile. He was glad Dorothea has found someone mature and responsible to make her happy.

She turned to him and bit her lip in worry.

“Ferdie, please, if Edie starts looking bored please go talk to her. You’re the only ‘business professional’ friend I have here. You have to help me make a good impression!”

Ferdinand blushed, unable to help the swell of pride blooming in his chest. “Well that’s not entirely true, Linhardt also works with-”

“Linhardt was my weed dealer before he got that job with you, don’t you dare let him within ten feet of her!”

“Ah. Point made.” Ferdinand nodded. “Very well. Leave it to me. I promise I shall keep your lady love entertained if you are otherwise occupied. With my help, she will have no choice but to have a great time!”

Besides, it wasn’t like his own boyfriend would be there.

Dorothea leaned over and wrapped her arms around him in a hug, burying her face in his shoulder. “Thank you, Ferdie. You’re the best.”



--



As expected, the party was a hit. Music pounded throughout the speakers, and the loft was packed with people laughing and dancing, and otherwise just having a good time.

Edie was running a little late, but she had messaged Dorothea to let her know she was on her way at least.

“Keep calm, she’ll be here soon and she’ll be so happy to see you!” Ferdinand reassured her as a girl with pink hair mixed them both a fruity drink in the kitchen. “And once she’s here, you’ll be so glad to see her, you’re not even going to remember what it was you were worried about.”

Dorothea took a deep breath and nodded as the girl handed them their drinks. They thanked her and nudged their cups together in cheers.

“Just don’t get drunk on me like last year, ok?” Dorothea teased him after taking a sip. “Not that I’m against you stripping down a bit and doing another pole dance, but-”

“Never again!” Ferdinand cut her off quickly. “There will be no stripping of any kind! Not now, not ever!” Especially not where anyone could take a picture.

Dorothea raised an eyebrow. “Oh? You sound so determined. Did something happen with-”

“Not important!” He said, aware that his voice was getting far too high pitched. “Just- just a decision I’ve made for myself!”

Dorothea looked far too intrigued for his liking. Thankfully her phone pinged with a text from her girlfriend, finally announcing her presence. Dorothea lit up and quickly hopped out of her seat, dragging Ferdinand along with her to find Edie.

It didn’t take long. Dorothea shouted out her girlfriend’s name halfway through the living room. She rushed past a small cluster of people to wrap her arms around a short, pale woman in a red dress. Long, platinum blonde hair was pinned up loosely around her face.

Dorothea released her just enough to keep one arm around her waist. She turned them both back to face Ferdinand, whose welcoming smile froze on his face as soon as he recognized the new guest.

“Edie! This is my bestie Ferdinand, he’s the one I’ve told you about!” Dorothea beamed. “Ferdie, this is my girlfriend Edelgard!”

Edie was a nickname. Of course it was. Dorothea gave everyone nicknames. This one was short for Edelgard. As in, Edelgard von Hresvelg, the CEO of Black Eagle Security.

Despite his surprise, Ferdinand widened his smile and offered his hand out. “Ah! Wonderful to meet you at last! Welcome to the party, Dorothea has been so eager to see you!”

“Has she now?” Edelgard grinned, eyeing Dorothea up as her face turned red. “Well, it’s lovely to meet you, Ferdinand. I’m glad to put a face to the name. Dorothea has told me so many stories about you.”

He laughed awkwardly. “All good ones that aren’t too embarrassing I hope?”

“Sure, let’s go with that.” Edelgard winked at him. Ferdinand laughed again and mentally made a note to interrogate his friend about it more later.

“Oh!” Edelgard turned back to Dorothea. “I should have asked first but… I was a little nervous coming over alone. A friend of mine offered to be my designated driver tonight. I hope it’s alright that I invited him too?”

Dorothea laughed and gestured to the room. “Well, I mean, it might throw off the quaint and cozy vibe here, but I’m sure we can get over it.”

Edelgard blushed, but laughed alongside her. “He should be here any moment, he was just parking the car. He’s- oh! There he is.” She waved her hand toward the direction of the door, and a tall figure started to cut through the throngs of people toward them.

“Dorothea, Ferdinand, this is my friend-”

“Hubert?” Ferdinand exclaimed in shock as the man finally emerged from the crowd.

Sure enough, Hubert von Vestra stood across from him looking much more… casual than usual in a charcoal dress shirt and tight black jeans. A form-fitting black felt jacket hung over him, and Ferdinand swallowed as he noticed Hubert still had on a pair of ebony driving gloves.

He suddenly felt very underdressed in his boss’s presence. Mentally, Ferdinand kicked himself for not taking the time to do something with his hair before he left home.

Edelgard looked between Ferdinand and Hubert, her violet eyes glittering beneath the lights. “This is surprising. Do you know each other?”

Hubert, who had seemed just as surprised to see Ferdinand, quickly straightened his stance and nodded. “Indeed.” The barest hint of a smile tugged at his lips. “Ferdinand works under me at the office.”

Oh god, why did he have to phrase it like that? And in that low, sexy voice of his!

Hubert’s eyes met Ferdinand’s, and immediately Ferdinand felt his cheeks start to warm up. Hubert opened his mouth and continued.

“He’s actually the one who helped me with that… incident a few months ago. He’s quite the worker.”

“Really?” Edelgard turned back to him and smiled. “I ought to be thanking you then, Ferdinand. Hubert was an absolute wreck that week, I’m glad you were there to help him. It’s not often he sings anyone’s praises.” She glanced over at Hubert, who refused to meet her gaze.

“Well. While I’d love to hear more, I promised I’d keep work conversations to a minimum tonight. So for now, why don’t you tell me what you two are drinking so I can start in on the celebrations too?” Edelgard nudged Dorothea’s side playfully.

“I thought you’d never ask! Right this way, Ms. von Hresvelg,” Dorothea replied with a grin, leading Edelgard back toward the kitchen bar. And just like that, Ferdinand was left alone with Hubert.

“That was very kind of you to compliment me like that,” Ferdinand said, turning his attention to the man beside him. “Can I get you anything to drink? I realize you’re driving tonight, but there’s water, or soda, or-”

“Nothing for me at the moment, thank you.” Hubert started to remove his gloves and Ferdinand tried not to stare at his hands.

Not only were they elegant, they were quite large now that he was looking at them.

Shaking those thoughts from his brain, Ferdinand coughed. “May I at least take your coat for you? There’s an extra closet upstairs that will keep it safe.”

Hubert rolled his eyes. “Very well, since you are so eager to offer your assistance.” He smirked as he let his coat slip from his shoulders. “Just keep in mind that if anything happens to it, I’ll know who to come after.”

Ferdinand laughed. Perhaps a few months ago the words would have made him nervous, but he knew now when to recognize the signs of Hubert’s wry sense of humor.

“Of course, of course. You know where I work, after all.”



--



Despite Dorothea’s earlier insistence that Ferdinand try to save Edelgard from potential boredom, there was no need. “Edie” was hooked on every word that came out of Dorothea’s mouth, laughing and eagerly interacting with her at every opportunity.

The two women would occasionally ask Ferdinand or Hubert a question, but inevitably, the conversation would steer back to the pair of them, wrapped up in their own world. It might have been annoying, but they were so obviously in love with each other that Ferdinand could only grin at them in between sips of his drink.

Hubert seemed surprisingly calm about the whole thing as well, which was surprising. If Ferdinand didn’t know any better, he’d think Hubert looked almost relieved.

“You seem happy,” Ferdinand commented to him as they wandered outside to the balcony a few hours later, both eager for a breath of fresh air despite the cold, and both having taken a hint to give the ladies a moment of privacy.

Hubert shrugged. “I suppose that’s because I am. Edelgard isn’t known to give her affections away so easily. The last time she had her heart set on someone, they unfortunately did not return her feelings. So when she started telling me about your friend Dorothea, I had my concerns.”

Ferdinand’s heart ached at the thought. “And what are your feelings now that you have met her?”

Hubert smiled out at the neighbourhood below them. “Truly? I feel there is no need to worry. Seeing them together, so obviously happy in each other’s presence, is more than enough evidence I need.” He leaned forward and rested his arms against the railing.

“Edelgard is someone who must maintain a serious, and responsible disposition for most things. Having someone like Dorothea around, who is so upbeat and positive, and who is always striving to make her smile and laugh… well. I can understand the appeal.” He turned to Ferdinand, and though a small smile teased at his lips, he looked a little said.

“And what about you? What’s your opinion about it? Is Edelgard von Hresvelg good enough for your friend?” Hubert held up a hand before Ferdinand could answer. “This is a trick question, by the way. Choose wrong and I will absolutely fire you.”

Ferdinand laughed and batted his hand away. “Very funny. Of course she is, and no I’m not just saying that to appease you. Dorothea is head over heels, and has been falling all over herself in her attempts to keep her precious “Edie” happy. I’ve never seen her so obviously in love before, and maybe it’s the cocktails talking, but I think they are going to be together for a long time!” He laughed again and leaned his own arms against the railing beside Hubert.

The metal was cold against his skin, despite his sleeves, but the warmth from Hubert’s body beside him helped alleviate it. “I must confess though… I thought you would be a little more broken up about this whole affair.”

“Oh?” Hubert arched an eyebrow. “What makes you say that?”

Ferdinand blushed and looked away. “Well… I thought perhaps you and Ms. von Hresvelg were… already an item. Or at least, I was under the impression you were perhaps carrying a torch of your own for her.”

To Ferdinand’s surprise, Hubert let out a soft chuckle. “I see. Well, you would not be the first to come to that conclusion. However, I can tell you with full honesty that while me and Edelgard do share a love for one another, that love is strictly platonic. I am her closest confidante, and she is mine in return. Not unlike you and Ms. Arnault, I would imagine.”

He doesn’t know why, but hearing that Hubert’s heart is not set on Edelgard makes Ferdinand’s own feel much lighter in his chest. “I see,” he murmured. “Well. I… I’m glad to hear it. It was making me quite sad to think of you pining after someone that would not return your affections.”

“And why would that make you sad?” Hubert asked as he turned to face Ferdinand, and oh - when had they moved so close to each other? Ferdinand could see the faint speckles of gold in Hubert’s eyes this close.

“I… well…” He stuttered for words, trying to regain his composure. “I guess I’ve just come to realize that you are a much better person than I initially thought you were. You’re very kind and thoughtful, even though you don’t like people to know it. And you’re always working so hard so that others don’t have to. I don’t like the idea of you being unhappy, is all.”

Hubert said nothing. Ferdinand swallowed and stared down into the empty cup in his hands, feeling very foolish all of a sudden. For awhile, he’d somehow forgotten that the man beside him was still his boss. He ought to keep himself more in check, and not act so familiar.

“Ferdinand-”

“I-It’s getting quite cold out here, isn’t it? I think I would like another drink now. Can I get you anything, Hubert?” He asked quickly, standing up and rubbing the top of his arms to warm himself up.

Hubert only stared at him for a moment and then shook his head. “No. No, that’s alright. I’ll head back inside too.” He stepped away from the railing. “I’m certain she’s fine, but it’s been awhile since I’ve checked on Edelgard anyway.”

Ferdinand nodded and led him back through the loft, managing to pass through most of the people lounging around the living room. Suddenly hands fell over Ferdinand’s eyes and his vision went dark. Caught off guard, he shrieked and froze at the sudden touch.

“Guess who?” A familiar voice whispered in his ear.

At first Ferdinand was too startled to answer. Then, he realized he recognized that voice…

“W-William?” Ferdinand answered, shocked as the hands removed themselves from his face and spun him around to face his boyfriend.

Sure enough, there was William’s handsome, if not somewhat plain face staring back at him. His light brown hair looked like it’s usual messy self, and he was wearing the same jeans and t-shirt as the last time Ferdinand saw him.

“What are you doing here?” Ferdinand asked, still caught off guard by seeing him so unexpectedly. “I thought you said you couldn’t come?”

William shrugged. “Yeah, but that was before your friend found my number and sent me a guilt-trip text. She said it’s been long enough that we should meet. And also that there was free beer and food, so I figured why not right?”

“A-Ah! Yes, of course.” Ferdinand… didn’t know what to say to that. It stung a little to think that his boyfriend would listen to Dorothea, but not to him.

Behind him, Hubert cleared his throat loudly. Ferdinand startled and quickly pasted on a smile. “Ah, forgive me- I haven’t done any introductions!” He turned and gestured toward Hubert. “William, this is my boss, Hubert! Hubert, this is my boyfriend, William. He’s-”

“Hey man, good to meet ya,” William interrupted, offering his hand out to Hubert. Instead of shaking it, Hubert stared down at William’s hand as though he had just spit on it.

Finally, after a moment of uncomfortable hesitation, Hubert took his hand and shook it back. “A pleasure.”

William laughed as they pulled their hands back, and wrapped an arm around Ferdinand’s waist. “Oh man, you talk all weird and formal just like Ferdie! Is that just like a businessman thing?”

Ferdinand pouted. “I don’t talk weird.”

William gave him a placating smile. “Sure you don’t, babe. Don’t worry, it’s cute.” He winked. “Now, where’s this free bar your friend was mentioning? I’m parched!”

“It’s just over there, under the stairs, I can-”

“Perfect. Thanks babe. Meet you there!” William leaned over and gave Ferdinand a quick peck on the lips before making a beeline to the kitchen.

Cheeks burning, Ferdinand avoided Hubert’s critical gaze.

“Well um. I-I suppose I will meet you again after introducing him to everyone.”

Hubert just kept staring at him, and Ferdinand couldn’t help but feel as though he was being critiqued at work and had come up short. He offered an uncomfortable smile and quickly ran off to find his boyfriend.



--



William was not a terrible guest, but Ferdinand could tell that Dorothea regretted inviting him the moment she met him.

He was not rude, per say, but some of his comments came off as quite ignorant. And he seemed far too interested in the workings of Dorothea and Edelgard’s physical relationship to be considered polite. Ferdinand had managed to steer the topic in a different direction anytime the conversation started to become stiff and awkward, but unfortunately the only way to keep things somewhat calm seemed to be by focusing the attention onto himself.

Normally, he was happy to be the centre of attention, but when most of the stories were based on his own embarrassing mishaps, he mostly wished the party would just end so he could go home. It didn’t help that he could feel Hubert staring at him all night, most likely judging him.

“You’re not drinking tonight Ferdie?” William asked once he noticed Ferdinand had filled his solo cup with water.

Ferdinand shook his head. “It’s starting to get late, and I’ve already had a few. I thought I should pace myself for the night.”

“Responsible of you,” Edelgard noted, still carefully sipping at her own drink.

“That’s no fun!”William whined. "It's New Year's eve! It's like, the night to let loose!"

"I think I'd prefer just to keep things a little calmer this time around," Ferdinand replied before taking a small sip.

"This time around? What does that mean?" William asked, refusing to drop it.

"Nothing!” He shot Dorothea a pleading look not to mention last year’s party. “Just, I think I've had enough for the night is all." Especially now that it seemed he'd need to find his boyfriend a safe ride home too.

"Aw, come on Ferdie, we all know you love to party! Here, have another one, I'll share mine. Open up-"

"He said he's had enough," Hubert cut in sharply. "As his boyfriend, shouldn't you respect that?"

William put his hands up and rolled his eyes. "Geez, okay! Party poopers."

While his boyfriend grumbled about it, Ferdinand looked over at Hubert and mouthed a silent thank you.

Hubert gave him a sharp nod, but did not smile.

Realizing his boyfriend was killing the mood, Ferdinand decided to take one for the team and managed to pull William away from their little group. The last thing he wanted was for Edelgard to not want to come to Dorothea’s parties again due to a few annoying guests.

Not to mention, while most of the stories told that night were harmless, Ferdinand was a little worried that after a few more drinks William might say something especially unprofessional about him. Not just in front of his boss, but also his boss’s boss. Ferdinand had just barely managed to survive the... incident last month; even Hubert had to have limits of how much ridiculousness he would put up with.

They ended up sitting on the couches while William made conversation with some strangers seated nearby. Usually Ferdinand would be excited to join in as well, but at that point he mostly just wanted to leave. He was bored just sitting there, sipping his water while his boyfriend talked to everyone except for him. At least Dorothea and Edelgard would be having a better time.

After what felt like forever, at last the countdown to the new year began. As everyone began to shout out numbers down from ten, Ferdinand spared a glance across the room. Dorothea and Edelgard were holding hands and grinning at each other as they counted down with the crowd. They seemed beyond happy.

Letting his eyes travel a little further, Ferdinand spotted Hubert leaning against the wall, a drink in hand. For a brief moment their eyes met.

He looked so moody in his dark outfit and perma-scowl. Ferdinand couldn’t help but smile at him. His chest tightened when Hubert’s lips curled slightly and he shot Ferdinand a small one of his own in return.

Ferdinand was so caught up in that moment, that he almost forgot about the countdown until the room burst into a roaring cheer, everyone shouting happy new year! around them.

Then Ferdinand felt hands around his face again as William pulled him back and planted a big wet kiss on his lips.

Ferdinand stiffened in his seat, but didn’t move. Of course. The new year’s kiss. No doubt Dorothea and Edelgard had probably been looking forward to this all night.

“Happy New Year, babe,” William whispered into his ear, grinning as he finally pulled away. Ferdinand offered him a small smile in return.

“Of course, happy new year.”

William immediately returned to his conversation with the person on his other side and Ferdinand took the opportunity to look across the room again. Unfortunately, this time when he looked, Hubert was no longer there.

Strangely disappointed, Ferdinand sank back into his seat and pulled out his phone to arrange for a taxi. He had no desire to stay any longer.

Later, when he was alone in his apartment and on the edge of unconsciousness, if he imagined dark hair under his fingertips and gloved hands against his skin, he’d tell himself it was simply the fatigue of the night weighing down on him.



--



The first week back at the office in the new year was oddly comforting in how mundane it all felt. Ferdinand easily fell back into his schedule, and was glad to catch up with all his coworkers about their holidays.

And when he and Felix resumed their little lunch dates, Ferdinand was absolutely ecstatic to see the new ring sitting on Felix’s finger, despite the traitorous pangs of jealousy tugging inside of him.

Not that he had any reason to be jealous. After Dorothea’s party, William had been texting Ferdinand a lot more frequently, asking to see him almost twice as much as he had before. He seemed much more handsy as well lately, though Ferdinand was forced to leave him hanging a few times in order to focus on some important upcoming projects.

All in all, life seemed back to it’s usual routine. Which was why Ferdinand was so surprised one day to find an email in his inbox from Edelgard von Hresvelg herself, asking if he was free for a meeting the following afternoon in her office.

Hubert didn’t seem to know anything about it when Ferdinand mentioned it to him, which made it all the more strange.

He hoped he had made a good impression on her at the party. Prayed that Dorothea had not told her too many embarrassing stories about him.

So when he arrived in Edelgard’s gigantic office on the top floor the following day, he had no idea what to expect - especially not a promotion of all things.

“I-I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?” He asked, unsure if he had heard her correctly.

Edelgard smiled at him from behind her massive desk. “I said I want you to consider moving up in the company. While I have no complaints about your current department, I think someone of your skill and talent is being wasted on the ground level. I need more people with your dedication and optimism helping to keep things running. So I’d love for you to consider becoming head of our public relations department.”

Ferdinand was stunned. This couldn’t be real, could it?

“It’s a lot of work, I’ll admit it, but I’m told you’re here just as much as Hubert is, so you might as well get proper compensation for your work.” Edelgard folded her hands in front of her, resting them on the desk.

“If you’re interested, you’ll need to fill out a proper application and forward it to me by Monday next week. Take the rest of the week to think about it, but I do hope you’ll accept.”

Ferdinand nodded, barely able to contain his excitement. Still… “Does H- does Mr. von Vestra know about this? I’m definitely interested, but I don’t want to leave him with a pile of extra work on top of being short an employee...”

Edelgard looked Ferdinand over as she leaned back in her seat. “That’s very kind of you to consider that. No, I haven’t told him yet. However, if you do accept the job, it would take at least a month to get everything ready for your transition. I’m certain you and him could work together to get everything sorted. In fact, it was his glowing review of you that encouraged me to offer this position to you in the first place.”

Ferdinand felt his cheeks warm. “Is that so? I wasn’t aware.”

She nodded. “It was quite surprising. I’ve known Hubert since childhood and I can count on one hand how many times he’s actually given wholehearted praise to someone other than myself.” Smirking, she raised a hand up to rest her chin against her knuckles. “He must like you quite a lot.”

Ferdinand was definitely blushing now, much to his annoyance. “He’s a very kind man.”

Edelgard considered him for a moment and then lowered her arm to rise from her seat. “Well. As I’ve said, take the rest of the week to think about it. It’s a great pay raise, and a great position, but it’s also a large responsibility. You’ll be on equal terms with Hubert, with a workload similar to his while running your own department, so make sure you’re up to the challenge before giving me your answer.”

Ferdinand nodded as he rose from his own chair. “Of course. Thank you so much for your consideration, Ms. von Hresvelg. I’ll have my answer for you first thing Monday!”

“Glad to hear it. It’s been a pleasure, Ferdinand.” She offered her hand, and he shook it firmly.

He thanked her once more before taking his leave and heading back down to the sales floor.

Alone in the elevator, he couldn’t help himself from raising his arms and punching the air in joy. A promotion! His own department! He couldn’t believe it! He’d have to send Hubert a gift basket full of his favourite coffee or something to show his thanks later.

In the meantime, Ferdinand took his phone out of his pocket and quickly messaged William to see if he was free for dinner that night. He was so excited! He had to share the good news or it felt like he would burst.

He could already picture his boyfriend’s face when he told him how much his hard work had paid off. Maybe William would order them a bottle of champagne to celebrate, and then afterward…

Ferdinand couldn’t help the little giggle that slipped out. This was going so well! Nothing could bring down this incredible feeling of accomplishment and happiness!



--



“You’re doing what?” William asked, face twisted in confusion.

Ferdinand’s smile froze as he blinked. “I’m… taking the promotion?” What was so hard to understand about that?

“Yeah, I heard that part,” William scoffed. “I mean why? Why would you want to spend even more time stuck in that place? You practically live in that office more than your own apartment.”

“Well yes, but I like my work! And now I’d be able to actually have some power and responsibility to really move it forward!” He paused to take a breath and compose himself. Tacky sports bar or not, he did not want to make a scene. “This is a good move for me, I thought you’d be excited.”

“Oh yeah, excited!” William scowled, pausing to take a sip of his pint. “Excited for my boyfriend to see even less of me because he’s busy sitting behind some desk all goddamn week! Great!”

Ferdinand’s mouth pulled down into a frown as he narrowed his eyes. “I don’t understand what you are so angry about, you’re the one who brushes me off whenever I have free time. You know how important my work is to me, but I still try to make time for you whenever I am able!” He crossed his arms. “Honestly, it’s all starting to feel pretty one-sided.”

William glared back at him as he pointed at Ferdinand accusingly. “Hey, you’re the one who wanted me to be more serious about this relationship! We started this whole thing just to have a bit of fun, but you’re the one who wanted me to be more present! How am I supposed to do that if you’re holed up in that stupid office with Count Dracula all the time?”

Ferdinand reared back. Was he talking about Hubert? “That’s so rude! Don’t talk about my boss like that, he’s a great man!”

“Oh yeah, a great man. A great man who was basically eye-fucking you the whole time we were at that stupid new year’s party!” William hissed.

“Are you out of your mind? Hubert is my boss and my friend, nothing more! He would never be the type to- to… eye-fuck someone!” Ferdinand spat back. “He’s got more class than that, unlike some other people I know!”

William suddenly leaned back in his seat and let out a loud, humorless laugh. “Oh, I get it. All those late nights make sense now.” His expression darkens. “You’re fucking the boss, aren’t you?”

Ferdinand nearly choked on his own saliva in sheer surprise. “I beg your pardon?”

“Yeah, that makes sense. All those late nights, this sudden promotion… How many times did you have to suck his dick to get him to offer you this job huh?” William asked cruelly.

Ferdinand wanted to scream and shout, maybe strike him in the face. Instead, what happened was far more humiliating. His eyes suddenly welled up with hot tears and his hands clenched into fists at his side.

“Is that what you think of me? Truly, that I am some - some corporate whore looking to sleep my way to the top?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Everything I have, I earned through hard work! I received this promotion from the CEO herself because everyone at the office saw that. I had thought - I had hoped that as my boyfriend, you would feel the same!”

He stood up from his seat and grabbed his coat off the back of his chair, hating how the tears had begun to run down his cheeks. “Obviously I was wrong. Well, I’ve had enough of this, I’m leaving!”

William rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, Ferdie-”

“No! I’m sick of being treated like I am just some pretty idiot for you to do with as you please! And I’m tired of bending over backwards to try and keep you happy without you ever making the effort to do the same for me. I’ve had it!”

“Ferdinand, stop being so dramatic and-”

“Kindly go fuck yourself, William. It’s over. Goodbye!”

He stormed out of the bar without a second glance back. His phone rang as soon as he arrived at his car, but he turned it off.

Enough was enough.



--



Work was all Ferdinand was able to focus on after that. He filled out the application for department head the day after his fight with William. He was both annoyed and relieved when the man did not bother to try calling him again since.

Like hell was Ferdinand going to go crawling back. But still, it stung a little that William did not even make an attempt to keep him.

Now he had another ex-boyfriend to add to the list. And as much as Dorothea was right when she reassured him he had made the right decision, he still felt miserable.

As much of an ass as William had turned out to be, Ferdinand couldn’t help but feel like he was right about certain parts of their flawed relationship. After all, Ferdinand did spend nearly all his time at work, and he did not plan on changing his schedule any time soon. He liked helping people and being productive, and other than Dorothea, nearly all of his friends were at work too.

Now with this new promotion, he would have no time at all for a relationship. Especially not with someone who couldn’t understand what it all meant to him.

So instead of going out to a bar and trying to find a rebound lay as Sylvain had suggested, Ferdinand was throwing himself into his work instead. After all, if he focused on finishing up all of his contracts and client work, then he couldn’t focus on how utterly lonely and unlovable he felt.

Everyone found out about the breakup, naturally. But even though having his ruined relationship aired out in public was beyond humiliating, they were all kind to Ferdinand about it at least.

Bernadetta offered to let him come over to her house to eat ice cream and watch rom-coms. Petra and Ashe offered to take him out on a shopping spree when he was feeling up to it. Felix offered to break William’s legs which was kind, though Ferdinand politely declined.

“I remember meeting that guy at Dorothea’s party. Trust me when I say, you’re better off without him,” Linhardt said during a coffee break. “I know lazy when I see it, and believe me, you would have been pulling all the weight in that relationship for years.”

“Yeah, fuck that guy!” Caspar chimed in. “You’re too good for him anyway, Ferdie! Now if you want to meet a real good and dedicated guy you should come down to my gym sometime, there’s loads of dudes there that-”

“Ah, Hubert. Maybe you can cheer up poor Ferdinand here,” Linhardt cut in as their boss walked into the breakroom. “He’s just broken up with his boyfriend - got any kind words for him?”

Caspar made a face at Linhardt for cutting him off as Hubert’s posture stiffened. “You broke up with him?” he asked.

Ferdinand nodded, staring down at a coffee stain on the table.”It… It was a long time coming. We were already on borrowed time, so it was for the best.”

Hubert didn’t say anything at first. Then he turned on the kettle and started rummaging around in the cupboard. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said as the kettle began to boil. “I understand it’s difficult to say goodbye to someone who was close to your heart, even if they were not particularly good to you.”

Ferdinand was taken by surprise. All day, he’d had nothing but people insult his ex and tell him he would find someone better over and over again. He knew Hubert had a few choice words about William, why didn’t he bother saying them now when he had the chance?

Linhardt mentioned something about needing Caspar to show him some files, and they left just as the water boiled completely. A moment later, Hubert set down a mug of Ferdinand’s favourite tea in front of him.

“If you need an extra break today, or want to leave early, you can. You’re still in my department until the end of the month, and I’m giving you permission.” Hubert’s voice was quiet, but kind.

Ferdinand’s lower lip trembled. “Thank you,” he whispered, not trusting his voice to speak much louder without cracking.

Hubert’s hand moved forward, as though he meant to place it on Ferdinand’s shoulder, then paused mid air. He returned it to his side and gruffly nodded before taking his leave.

Ferdinand sniffled and took a sip of his tea. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and William had not made it for him once.

He let himself cry in the bathroom for about fifteen minutes afterward and promptly returned to work, eager to lose himself in fine print and order forms once again.



--



It took a few weeks, but after the initial sting, Ferdinand could confidently say without a doubt that he was over his ex. After all, everyone was correct - he was too good for William. Far too good to waste any more of his time and thoughts on him.

Besides, he only had a couple of days left in his old position before he moved into his new office. There was still loose ends he needed to finish up before it was all official.

His final day in sales was the last Friday of the month. He had expected it to be just another regular day as he walked into the office.

Instead, Ferdinand was overjoyed to find bouquets of flowers littering his desk, all with fond notes from his coworkers. They brought out a cake for him at lunch, decorated with the words ‘Congratulations! We’ll miss you!’ written in colourful, cursive words, as well as a large card full of fond anecdotes and well wishes. Everyone in the office had signed it, though Ferdinand’s eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to his boss’s perfect, delicate script in the lower right corner.

“No one will ever come close to replacing you in this office. Your smile and positivity uplifted us all, and I’m sure you will do great things in your new role. We I will miss you.”

-Hubert.

Ferdinand cried, he couldn’t help it. Everyone piled on to give him a hug, and he was mortified when they all decided to take a group photo immediately afterward. Still, he was so grateful for all of their efforts that he didn’t bother putting up a fuss.

However, while the goodbye party was deeply appreciated, he still needed to make sure the last of his work was finalized and that nothing was left uncared for before he left.

So there he was, sitting at his desk long after the other employees had gone home, poring over the files on his computer for the fifth time. He was about to go over them all for the sixth when a shadow fell over his screen.

Looking up, Ferdinand turned to find Hubert smirking down at him. “Working until the very last moment, von Aegir? How diligent.”

Ferdinand chuckled. “Yes, well. I suppose I’m just delaying the inevitable…” He sighed as he took another look around the empty office. “It will be strange not to be here. I’m excited, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve been here so long that to finally say goodbye…”

Hubert nodded. “I understand. It will not be the same without you here. I expect there will be quite a few somber faces in this office next week. However,” he turned to Ferdinand, a smile playing on his lips. “We are professionals. And you have already done more than enough work tonight. So why don’t you join me in my office for one last drink before you leave us for the bustling world of PR?”

Ferdinand grinned. “Funny. It’s usually me asking you to take a break. Did I perhaps fall asleep at my desk? Is this is all a dream?”

Hubert rolled his eyes, but remained smiling as he stood and led Ferdinand back toward his office. “If this were a dream, I assure you this office would look much cleaner than it is.”



--



The guest chair was much more comfortable this time around. Ferdinand allowed himself to stretch out and relax, while Hubert pulled out some familiar glasses from a cabinet, along with a new bottle of wine.

“So I see you did take my advice, after all,” Ferdinand teased.

Hubert hummed and uncorked the bottle with ease. The loud ‘pop’ made Ferdinand jump a little, but he laughed it off while Hubert filled their glasses.

“I must admit, even though we were running on fumes and noodles back then, it was fun to work with you, Hubert. I’m a little sad that we didn’t get to have more late nights like that together,” Ferdinand admitted, taking a sip.

Hubert sat on the edge of his desk rather than take a seat behind it. His long legs stretched out before him, nearly brushing against Ferdinand’s. “I have to agree with you there. That night does carry some fond memories with it now that the problem has been taken care of.” He took a sip from his own wine glass, and Ferdinand tried not to stare as Hubert’s tongue peeked out to wet his lips.

“I dare say it’s going to be quite boring without you in this department, Ferdinand. I always have such… interesting conversations with you whenever you’re called in here.”

Ferdinand thought back to the incident and nearly choked on his wine. “I-I don’t know what you mean!” He spluttered, taking another drink to distract himself.

Hubert smirked at him from behind his glass. “Of course. I did say I would never speak of it again, didn’t I? Apologies.”

“Did-did you and Edelgard ever manage to have that other drink you poured for her?” Ferdinand asked, blatantly changing the subject.

“What?”

“You know,” Ferdinand blushed. “That day when we had that...meeting. You had poured some wine for Edelgard too. She didn’t show up that day, so I was just wondering-”

“Ferdinand.”

“Yes?”

Hubert shook his head. “You are an incredible worker, a very sweet person, and extremely clever despite what some other people might think. But my god. Sometimes you can be downright oblivious.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You know,” Hubert started. “When you first walked out of those elevator doors, I thought I should hate you.”

Ferdinand blinked up at him, surprised. Sure, he knew Hubert did not particularly like him up until last year, but to hear the man admit it was strange.

“You seemed so, I don’t know. Enthusiastic. I thought perhaps it was an act. After all, when your father worked here…” Hubert trailed off and Ferdinand winced. He knew the stories about his father. His sudden retirement had been a blessing for everyone that did not have to live with him. Coincidentally, Ferdinand had left home the following year.

“Well. The less said about him the better. Suffice to say, I was expecting you to follow in his footsteps in terms of how you conducted your business deals, and also in how you might try to ascend the corporate ladder.” Hubert frowned.

“This was rather hypocritical of me. After all, my own father was not exactly a paragon of virtue and proper business. That did not stop me from making my own way to my current position here, or from helping Edelgard reach hers.”

Ferdinand watched as Hubert pushed his hair back, getting a clear view of both his eyes momentarily before his usual bangs fell back into place. “By the time I realized that you were not, in fact, a corporate spy or saboteur, I had become so accustomed to disliking you that it simply became a habit. You also did impeccable work, no matter the task, and had the kind of warm personality that made everyone around you wish to bask in your presence.” He paused to take another slow sip of wine.

“I realized you were a genuinely kind and diligent person, and that my initial take on you had been completely wrong. And I was so angry about it. How could I possibly be so wrong about someone? So I kept piling work on you, trying to make you crack, and prove to myself that I had been right about you all along.” He let out a humorless laugh. “Then I nearly lost it all. And you came to my aid without a moment’s hesitation. That’s when I knew I couldn’t keep lying to myself. I couldn’t keep pretending.”

“...Pretending what?” Ferdinand asked softly, hanging onto Hubert’s every word.

For a moment, Hubert did not answer. Then, at last, he set his wine glass down and turned his head to meet Ferdinand’s stare.

“I could not keep pretending that I was not completely and utterly in love with you.”

Ferdinand’s voice stuck in his throat. His eyes opened wide, and his heart was beating a mile a minute. “You… you’re... what?”

Hubert’s cheeks reddened as he rose from his perch and turned away. “My apologies. That was... unprofessional. I should not have said that.”

He moved to step away, but Ferdinand’s hand shot out to catch his wrist. He froze in place, silent.

“Hubert… you love me?” Ferdinand whispered, his voice shaking. “Really?”

Slowly, Hubert nodded. “For a long time now. I suppose I did not recognize it until a few months ago, but yes. I do.”

Ferdinand reached out to place his own glass on the desk as Hubert continued. “Forgive me. I did not want to say anything, especially not when you were seeing that absolute ingrate of a boyfriend. I did not want to interfere, not as long as you were happy. But then you sent me that damned photograph of yourself, and I-”

“You what?” Ferdinand asked in a hushed voice, slowly rising to his feet. His hand was still on Hubert’s wrist as he stepped closer. Tilting his head up to get a good look at him, Ferdinand leaned in until their bodies were separated by only a fraction of space.

Hubert swallowed, his mint green eyes focused only on Ferdinand. “...And I wanted you more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my entire life.”

Ferdinand wasn’t sure who moved first. It did not matter, not when Hubert’s lips were suddenly upon his own.

He moaned, hands reaching up to bury themselves in that head of jet black hair he’d been dreaming of for ages. He felt Hubert’s arms wrap around him as their kiss deepened, felt his large, dextrous hands run down his back as he held Ferdinand close.

It was as though some restraint had been lifted. As though all the tension that had been building for months had finally snapped. Ferdinand could only do his best to hold on for the ride.

He nipped at Hubert’s lower lip in between kisses. Couldn’t stifle the low moan that escaped him as Hubert’s hand squeezed at his ass.

“H-Hubert,” He murmured, kissing him again and again. His knees felt weak, and when he opened his mouth, he eagerly greeted Hubert’s tongue with his own. A needy pulse began to throb between Ferdinand’s legs as their tongues slid wetly against each other. He couldn’t help but feel pleased when he rolled his hips against Hubert’s, only for the other man to gasp against his mouth in surprise.

Ferdinand did it again, eager to hear that noise slip from Hubert’s lips again. Instead he let out a surprised yelp as Hubert’s hands suddenly gripped the backs of Ferdinand’s thighs. In an unexpected show of strength, he lifted him up off the ground and onto the desk beside them, knocking away whatever small office supplies were in the way.

Briefly, Hubert’s mouth broke away from Ferdinand’s as both of them gasped for breath. Then the momentary pause was over, and Hubert’s lips were nipping and sucking sweet little kisses down the nape of Ferdinand’s neck. He pushed him back down against the desk, neither of them bothering to care when their glasses of wine were pushed aside and fell to the floor below.

Biting his lip in an attempt to stifle his loud moans, Ferdinand twisted his head to bare more of his neck to Hubert. His skin tingled with each press of Hubert’s mouth, and he hoped there would be at least a few marks later to remember him by.

Then Hubert’s hand began to palm at the growing bulge between Ferdinand’s legs, and all attempts at stifling his cries became for naught.

With trembling fingers, Ferdinand reached out and frantically began to unbutton Hubert’s shirt. He wanted more, wanted to feel Hubert’s skin against his, wanted that weight of another man on top of him.

Catching on, Hubert started to help him as he quickly undid his tie and threw it to the side before finishing what Ferdinand started. As soon as Hubert’s shirt was open, he slipped it off his shoulders and immediately began work on Ferdinand’s. It did not take long to realize however, that Ferdinand had apparently overestimated the other man’s patience. After encountering a particularly difficult button, Hubert snarled against Ferdinand’s neck and simply ripped his shirt apart, the remainder of the buttons going flying.

Ferdinand was about to protest, but then Hubert was undoing his pants and sliding them down over his hips and Ferdinand decided that he could just get a new shirt later. There were more pressing matters at hand.

Judging by the bulge underneath Hubert’s slacks, the matters were quite large indeed.

He stared. He couldn’t help it. Licked his lips. Hubert noticed his stare and flushed bright red. Then he leaned forward and stole another kiss from Ferdinand’s lips as Ferdinand kicked off his shoes and let Hubert tug his pants off over his ankles.

As soon as his legs were bared, Ferdinand trapped Hubert in between his thighs, hooking his ankles behind Hubert’s lower back and pulling him closer against him.

Hubert groaned against Ferdinand’s mouth as their bodies pressed tightly together. Digging his fingers into Ferdinand’s hair, Hubert rolled his hips against him aggressively, drawing out another loud moan from deep in Ferdinand’s throat. Then his mouth began to trail back down over Ferdinand’s bare chest, stopping to rest over his pectoral.

A hot, wet warmth suddenly enveloped Ferdinand’s nipple and his voice reached a new pitch. “O-oh! Hubert, please, th-that feels-” His breathy voice broke off as his body shivered. He cried out as Hubert’s teeth lightly grazed over the tender, little bud.

“Should have known you would be sensitive here,” Hubert murmured against Ferdinand’s chest, pressing sweet, soft little kisses around his nipple in between light pinches between his fingers. Just when Ferdinand thought he couldn’t take any more, Hubert would switch to the other side and then back again. He wasn’t sure how long the torment lasted, all Ferdinand knew was that his underwear was absolutely soaked from how much his cock was leaking. He was getting desperate.

“H-Hubert, please!” He whined. “I-I can’t take this much longer!”

Hubert, that devil, nipped at Ferdinand’s chest once more before slowly starting to kiss a trail down the length of his toned belly. “What would you like me to do for you, Ferdinand?” He asked, lips brushing against Ferdinand’s sensitive skin with each word, but refusing to touch him where he throbbed with need the most.

“Just- Just fuck me already! Please!” Ferdinand begged. “I need it!”

He whimpered as Hubert seemed to growl against him. Long fingers slipped under the waistband of Ferdinand’s underwear, his last line of defence, and with one swift pull, exposed his cock to the open air between them.

Hubert didn’t say anything for a moment. His chest heaved with each breath he took while his eyes roamed all over Ferdinand’s naked body, drinking him in.

“Much better in person,” He said, smiling crookedly as Ferdinand glared.

“Hubert, if you don’t have your dick inside of me in the next five minutes, I’m leaving!”

“So impatient,” Hubert teased, leaning down and pressing a kiss on the inside of Ferdinand’s thigh as he opened a drawer behind the desk. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.” A moment later, Ferdinand saw him pull out a small bottle.

“You keep that here?” Ferdinand squeaked, the realization sinking in.

“I’m here late most nights,” Hubert shrugged as he started to unzip his pants. “And I have this annoyingly attractive employee who likes to wear these tight little outfits around the office.”

Ferdinand blushed and stuck his tongue out at him. “How unprofessional,” he said, grinning as he spread his legs further to make room for Hubert between them. “Who knew my boss was such a pervert this whole time?”

Hubert pinched Ferdinand’s inner thigh lightly in reprimand. He leaned down to whisper in Ferdinand’s ear as he coated his fingers with lube. “I’ll have you know I had perfect restraint up until you sent me that slutty picture of yourself, you little minx.”

Ferdinand’s breath hitched as Hubert’s voice tickled his ear. “I-I told you, that was-”

“Don’t worry. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Hubert teased, hitching up one of Ferdinand’s legs and slowly circling a finger over his hole.

Ferdinand whined with need. His cock was aching and he wanted so badly for Hubert to hurry up and sink his fingers into him.

“H-Hubert… please…”

Hubert placed his mouth over Ferdinand’s thigh again, biting and sucking a sweet little mark on his skin as he finally slipped a finger inside. Ferdinand mewled in pleasure, his body trying to shove himself further down on Hubert’s clever fingers. Thankfully Hubert did not need to wait long before sliding in a second, and then a third. He left soft kisses against the new marks on Ferdinand’s thighs, before moving back up to bury his face in the crook of his neck.

“You’re so tight, Ferdinand. You’re being so good for me, letting me in like this,” Hubert purred into his ear as he crooked his fingers and pressed them right against his sweet spot. Ferdinand arced up against him and sobbed with need, his own fingers digging deep into Hubert’s shoulder blades.

“Hubert, I’m so close! Please, please, please!” He begged, far beyond the point of modesty.

“Very well, since you asked so nicely.” Hubert’s teeth lightly dragged over the shell of his ear as he pulled his fingers away, only to take hold of Ferdinand’s legs and forcibly spread them apart. The sheer dominance of it made Ferdinand gasp, and he dared not move as Hubert took himself in hand and lined his cock up with Ferdinand’s entrance.

The first thrust inside left Ferdinand seeing stars. He could feel Hubert deep inside of him, and nearly came from that alone. He choked out Hubert’s name again, only for his mouth to be taken by another deep, tender kiss as Hubert began to move his hips in a slow, steady rhythm.

With one hand clinging to Hubert’s shoulder, Ferdinand’s other reached up to take hold of the edge of the shaking desk, trying to steady himself as he pushed himself back down to meet Hubert’s thrusts. He was unable to help himself from nearly screaming himself hoarse as Hubert’s pace quickened with each slam against Ferdinand’s prostate.

There were tears in his eyes, and he felt like he’d been teetering on the edge of bliss for hours. It did not help that Hubert kept reverently murmuring Ferdinand’s name over and over in between sweet kisses and tender love bites.

At last, Hubert moved a hand down to stroke Ferdinand’s cock. His fingers barely finished wrapping around it when Ferdinand finally reached his limit and could take it no longer. He screamed Hubert’s name as he spilled his release between them, eyes rolling back as his brain seemed to short-circuit from the overwhelming pleasure.

He fell back against the desk in a daze just as Hubert bit down on his neck and dug his fingers tightly into Ferdinand’s thighs. With one final thrust, warmth suddenly filled Ferdinand’s lower abdomen. He pulled Hubert down into another kiss as he shuddered through the aftermath of his orgasm, refusing to let him go until they were both short of breath once more. Finally, their mouths broke apart as they gasped for air.

For a moment neither of them moved a muscle, panting as they clung to each other. Hubert’s softening cock was still buried deep inside Ferdinand, though neither of them any effort to separate.

When they finally did move, it was only just far enough to tilt their heads to look each other in the eyes.

“I… suppose I’m doing this out of order,” Hubert whispered as he stared down at Ferdinand, face red from exertion. “But would you be interested in joining me for dinner tomorrow night?”

Ferdinand laughed and reached out to pull him back down for another kiss.



--



Monday morning, the sales floor was back to normal. Mostly.

“Okay, so it’s still the first half of February, so that means… oh, dammit Linhardt!” Caspar scowled as he flipped the whiteboard to check the betting pool on the back. “You cheated!”

“Does anyone else hear that? It sounds like the call of a sore loser.” Linhardt held his hand out. “I won fair and square. Pay up.”

The small crowd groaned. Ashe pulled out the cash jar from under his desk and began tallying up Linhardt’s winnings. “Did anyone else win anything?” He asked.

“Uh, let’s see…” Caspar turned back to the board. “Oh! Bernadetta bet that they’d do it in the office, so fifty goes to her.”

Bernadetta punched the air with her fist while muttering a determined “Yes,” under her breath.

Ashe doled out her share while Caspar checked the pool for anything they’d missed.

“Oh, Petra gets little bit for guessing that they wouldn’t get together until after the new year, so-”

At that point, the door to the department head’s office opened. Hubert stuck his head out and shot them all his sternest death glare.

“Do you people ever do any actual work around here? Get back to your desks!”

Jumping up, they all started to disperse as Hubert scowled and returned to his office, slamming the door shut.

Then:

“I saw two hickies on his neck, who was closest without going over?”



--



Several months later, Ferdinand eagerly closed the last of the open tabs on his browser.

The last of the employees outside his office were clearing out. Most of them offered him a quick wave and goodbye before they left. He smiled and wished them all a good evening in return. Thankfully, he was able to leave right after they did. Everything was on schedule, and he had a dinner date, after all.

Finished at last, Ferdinand pulled on his jacket and turned off the lights in his office. He walked over to the elevator and pressed the button for the lower floors. He only had to wait a moment before hearing the familiar ding. As the doors opened, a smile lit up his face.

“Mr. von Aegir. Fancy meeting you here,” Hubert said, eyeing him up from inside the elevator. “Excited for your weekend?”

Ferdinand flipped his hair over his shoulder as he stepped inside. His shoulder brushed against Hubert’s as the doors closed behind him.

“You could say that, Mr. von Vestra.” He stole a glance at him as he casually moved to stand beside him. “I’ll have you know I have a hot date tonight with my tall, dark, and very handsome boyfriend.”

Hubert smirked and hit the button for the ground floor. “Sounds like a lucky man. I hope he’s ready for you.”

When the doors opened again upon reaching their destination, they stepped out of the elevator presenting themselves as the pair of highly professional businessmen they were. And if anyone in the lobby happened to notice that their hands were pressed together, fingers intertwined, they didn’t say anything.