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a golden opportunity

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Cid’s airship is shaky from disuse, unsteady and thrumming like a living thing intent on making them all airsick.

Vilmar doesn't care. He cheers loud enough to be heard from the ground and bounces on his heels, almost dancing. Alphinaud grabs him and pulls him down to make him sit.

“There is nothing heroic about falling to your death mere moments after slaying a dragon!” Alphinaud has to shout to be heard over the wind, but he just gets delighted laughter for his trouble. They’ve won, they have their ship and, with it, their hope against Garuda.

Haurchefant greets them when they stop at Camp Dragonhead to rest and make sure they won’t drop out of the sky halfway to their next destination. Vilmar doesn't even wait for the ship to land, jumping out a yalm above the ground.

If Haurchefant is surprised by the hug, he doesn’t show it, matching the joyful mood with a laugh and bright, beautiful smile. Vilmar has never wanted to kiss someone so badly in all his life.

*

“Well, look who it is! The noble slayer of primals finally decides to grace us little people with his divine presence!”

Vilmar groans goodnaturedly and lets Nolene pull him into a debatably-affectionate headlock. An Elezen with a knack for spearwork, she’s been adventuring with him since he started-- she was at his side for Titan and Garuda alike. Vilmar can’t tell if she’s actually offended that he keeps getting all the credit or if she’s just making a game out of it.

“I keep telling you, you’re invited to help the Scions any time you--”

“Nope, not doing it. They’ve got a boy of sixteen summers running far too many things over there. The lad barely comes up to my elbow, I’m not taking orders from that,” Nolene says, letting Vilmar go and dropping into her seat.

“Ahem,” Artora says, looking up from her book with an amused smile on her face. She’s older than anyone else at the table, but she’s a petite, delicate-featured Xaela woman, so one could be forgiven for forgetting that.

“Tora, my dear friend, light of my life, my sister-in-arms, you know you’re the exception to all my standards,” Nolene says, pulling her snacks across the table and shoving half a handful of nuts into her mouth.

“It’s alright, dear. Next time you’ve broken a leg on one of your stunts, we’ll just amputate. That’ll solve the height problem in no time at all,” Artora says, polite as a noblewoman at tea. Nolene pulls an exaggeratedly horrified face and Artora breaks her act, laughing.

“Vilms, you think all healers are this murderous, or just ours?”

“That Lalafell we worked with last year started smacking me with her cane when I didn’t dodge a fireball,” Vilmar says with a shrug. “So probably all of them.”

“You bring it on yourselves,” Artora says, sliding a bookmark into the tome she’d been reading from and setting it down on the table. “Now, I know we all love to bicker late into the night, but perhaps for once we can choose a job first, drink later?”

“If I agree do you promise not to cut off my legs?” Nolene asks.

“I will make no such promises,” Artora says primly, and lays out the papers from the adventurer’s guild.

Vilmar examines the offerings while Nolene makes the case for keeping her legs. He only gets halfway through before he finds one in Coerthas.

*

The looming threat of Garuda isn’t enough to keep them from staying one final night. Cid has a few critical things to repair, and they haven’t eaten since mid-morning. Haurchefant’s offer of dinner is hardly a victory feast, but it feels as jubilant as one.

Towards the end of the night, warm and well-fed and happy, gods, happy for the first time in so long, Vilmar puts a hand on Haurchefant’s thigh under the table.

The look he gets in return is intent and interested, and Vilmar can’t get out of his chair fast enough.

*

“How about the Aurum Vale?” Vilmar asks, interrupting his party’s playful argument.

Artora hums softly and takes the paper from him, looking over the details. “A bit riskier than we usually go without a second healer.”

“Let me see,” Nolene says, leaning over Artora’s shoulder. “Oh, hells, this is in Coerthas? If you’re doing this for my sake, I’ll have you know I haven’t a lick of nostalgia for the damned place. I like my nose, I’d rather not lose it to frostbite.”

“It isn’t that bad if you dress for it,” Vilmar insists, weakly.

Artora gives him a long, analytical look. “Oh. I see. You know, I thought the way you talked about that nobleman you stayed with was a bit fonder than most of your friends. You want to go see him?”

“Wait, the Haillenarte boy with the rosaries or the Fortemps bastard?” Nolene asks, suddenly interested.

“Don’t insult Haurchefant,” Vilmar says automatically.

“Well, that answers that question,” Nolene says with a snort. “Wasn’t insulting him, Vilms, I meant it literally.”

“Do you really keep track of noble lines enough to identify legitimate children?” Artora asks, skeptical.

“Don’t need to, Greystone’s a bastard’s name. Have neither of you met an Ishgardian? They love to make that shite as obvious as possible to make sure everybody knows who to spit on in the streets.”

“I’m still getting used to all of you using your father’s surnames, legitimate and illegitimate children is completely beyond me,” Vilmar says with a sigh. “So, the Aurum Vale..?”

Artora and Nolene exchange a look, and Artora shrugs.

“You know what, sure, let’s do it. Don’t say I never did anything for you, though, Vilmar,” Nolene says, grinning. “How bad can it be?”

* * *

“I need you to know that I hate you, Vilmar,” Nolene says through gritted teeth.

“How was I supposed to know there would be morbols?” Vilmar says, lifting his shirt to dab an alchemical solution onto a chemical burn below his ribs.

“The morbols were a surprise but the gleaming pools of poison weren’t!”

“Hold still,” Artora admonishes, just before she pops Nolene’s knee back into place. Nolene curses and slaps the ground next to her.

“By the Fury, Tora, you couldn’t have just healed that?”

“Not if you want to walk on it afterwards,” Artora says, flipping through her spellbook for the appropriate healing spell.

“Don’t have to, I’m riding Taji the whole way to Dragonhead,” Nolene grumbles. “Vilmar can have his chocobo back when he’s being less of a little shite.”

“You most certainly are not, not with all those spikes on your armor. You’ll poke him,” Vilmar protests.

“I was a soldier in Ishgard, you really think I don’t know how to ride a chocobo in clunky armor?”

Artora stands up from where she was kneeling over Nolene’s injured leg. Without a word, she walks over to where the chocobo in question is standing and pulls herself up into the saddle. She gives him a pat on the neck and then turns back to the rest of the party.

“Anyone else have an interest in getting out of the snow, or would you rather argue until you freeze to death?”

“You underestimate me if you think I can’t do both,” Nolene says, grunting with discomfort as she gets to her feet.

“We all know you can walk and complain, Nolene,” Vilmar says, dodging her attempt to smack him in the back of the head.

“Shut your mouth and move, loverboy. This noble of yours better have a fire going.”

*

Haurchefant’s quarters are in a corner of the barracks, cramped and small but blessedly private. It’s colder here than in the dining hall, with no hearth to warm it, but Vilmar is too focused on the warmth of his hands to care.

“If you’d like,” Haurchefant says between kisses. “I keep a bottle of oil back here.”

Vilmar’s puzzled look is met with a chuckle.

“Do they use something else in Ul’dah?”

“What for? Sword maintenance?”

That gets him a full laugh, and one of those lovely large hands pressed between his legs. “Mmm, yes, sword maintenance indeed. More for looking after the sheath than the sword itself, though.”

After a moment, Vilmar’s eyes light up with recognition. “Oh! It’s better than spit, then?”

Haurchefant looks mildly horrified.

“You were wasted on your previous lovers.”

*

The guards recognize Vilmar’s chocobo before they recognize Vilmar, which probably says something about Coerthans. It’s midafternoon when they arrive, so finding Haruchefant is as easy as stepping into his office.

He smiles, broad and excited, when he sees who his visitors are, and Vilmar is swept up in that smile instantly.

“Vilmar, my friend! What a welcome surprise!”

“I’m glad to find you in good health, Lord Haurchefant,” Vilmar says, grinning back. He feels overcome with energy, which has made itself known in the lashing of his tail even with his ears safely covered. “We had a job nearby and I thought we might make a visit of it. I hope we’re not intruding.”

“Oh, we’re going with formalities, now?” Nolene adds from behind him. She’s shaking snow off of her helm, uncaring of which patch of floor it’s going to melt onto. “If we’ve come all this way so you can see him and you scurry off out of fear of ‘intruding’, I really will introduce you to the wrong end of my spear.”

Nolene,” Vilmar hisses.

Haurchefant looks surprised, glancing between Vilmar and Nolene. “Beg pardon, you came to see me?”

Vilmar opens his mouth to throw out an excuse, but Nolene cuts him off with a snort. “He dragged us all the way from Ul’dah to Coerthas to stumble around some nightmare of a cave as an excuse to bask in your company, my lord.”

She says ‘my lord’ like something distasteful, but if Haurchefant picks up on her tone, it doesn’t bother him. He barely seems to have noticed Artora, and Nolene has clearly slipped from his interest once her piece has been said. He’s looking at Vilmar with unrestrained delight.

“Well, if my company is what you desire, I’d be a fool to deny you. Your friends are free to warm themselves at our hearth, if you’d care to accompany me to the intercessory to catch up?”

“I’d love to!” Vilmar says, without a moment’s hesitation. The way Artora muffles a laugh behind him means he should probably be embarrassed by his eagerness, but it’s hard to be when Haurchefant is looking at him like the loveliest gift he’s ever been given.

*

“Ah, fuck,” Vilmar groans, pressing his face into the rough weave of the sheets. The curse is nearly incomprehensible, rattled by how hard he’s purring. The next thrust is slower, a honey-sweet tease, and he rocks against the rhythm for more.

Haurchefant makes a wordless noise of approval and kisses the back of Vilmar’s neck. It’s tender enough to make him want to tear through the sheets.

“Gods,” Haurchefant pants. “You unmake me, my friend. Would that I could keep you right here.”

He gives Vilmar no time to digest the sentiment before Haurchefant reaches down to take his cock in hand, and the world goes white at the edges.

*

Vilmar follows Haurchefant out into the snow, already feeling the warm rumble of a purr starting in his throat. The chemical burn on his side itches even after treating it, and his tail aches from the cold, but joy settles under his skin regardless.

As soon as there is a door between them and the snow, Haurchefant turns and cups Vilmar’s face in his hands, smiling. Vilmar grins up at him and leans into the touch.

“It is wonderful to see you, my friend,” Haurchefant says, and then he kisses him. Vilmar presses close, craning his neck to accommodate the height difference.

Haurchefant trails off after a moment, shifting his kisses to Vilmar’s jaw and neck. He’s bending quite a bit to reach; Vilmar taps his fingers against Haurchefant’s shoulder. “Sit down, I’ll get in your lap.”

“So forward,” Haurchefant says, voice thick with approval. He strokes a thumb across Vilmar’s cheek and gives him one more kiss before grabbing one of the chairs from around the table to sit in.

“Says the man who kissed me the moment we were alone,” Vilmar says, grinning as he straddles Haurchefant. “I’m not only here for a tumble, you know. I was looking for a chance to enjoy your company as well as your bed.”

Haurchefant’s smile softens to something tender as he settles his hands on Vilmar’s thighs. “Then I’m a lucky man indeed, as I was hoping for the same.”

“I’m glad to know it,” Vilmar says, voice low enough to catch on his purring, and leans forward to kiss Haurchefant’s throat. Haurchefant lifts a hand to pull off Vilmar’s hat, sliding his fingers into sweat-damp hair.

“You’re fresh from battle, aren’t you?” Haurchefant asks, almost awed, running his nails along Vilmar’s scalp. “You came right to me.”

Vilmar leans back a bit, frowning. “Do I still smell of sulfur?”

Haurchefant laughs and pulls him back in, kissing his cheek, then his shoulder. “No need to concern yourself, my friend. I find it… exciting. If I could take you on the battlefield, I would.”

“You have odd tastes,” Vilmar says, amused. “Though it certainly works to my benefit, so you won’t hear any complaints.”

“Mm, I wouldn’t call them odd. Any admirer of the masculine form would be hard-pressed to pass up the way your body moves in combat. Your arms alone make my mouth dry.”

“Oh, really now?” Vilmar grins and sits back enough that he can undo the straps on his gauntlets and pull off his chain mail, dropping them to the floor with a metallic clang. With just the padding on, his arms are exposed, and he flexes.

The way Haurchefant kisses him then is anything but playful, hot and intense. Vilmar laughs into it and kisses him back.

Haurchefant seems to have lost interest in talking, keeping his mouth devotedly on Vilmar’s as he slides his hands up the back of his gambeson. Vilmar moans in appreciation and squirms to bring them as close as the chair will allow. He can feel how hard Haurchefant is, and it makes him impatient.

“Can I take your cock in my mouth?”

The dazed way Haurchefant looks at him at first makes him think the words were lost under the rasp of his purring.

“What could ever possess me to say no to such an offer?” Haurchefant asks, breathless, pulling Vilmar into another kiss.

“Fear of my teeth,” Vilmar explains, smiling to display his Keeper’s fangs, but Haurchefant only shakes his head.

“I would sooner beg for it than deny you.”

Vilmar takes no further convincing. He favors Haurchefant with a final kiss, close-mouthed and quick, before he slides off his lap. He spares a moment to remove the last of his armor and unbutton the trousers he was wearing underneath, then settles onto his knees.

Haurchefant pets his hair as he gets comfortable and unbuckles Haurchefant’s belt. It makes Vilmar feel almost giddy.

Haurchefant’s cock feels impossibly hot against the chill of the intercessory, fully hard and flushed. Vilmar gives him a few strokes to get reacquainted, loving the way it makes Haurchefant’s thighs tense and his breath shake.

It’s nothing on the way he gasps when Vilmar actually puts his mouth on him. His hips jolt and he swears fervently. Vilmar pulls back, alarmed.

“Are you alright?”

“By the Fury, I hadn’t thought-- the purring, Vilmar,” Haurchefant groans. “Gods, that feels so good.”

Vilmar laughs, surprised. “Am I the first Miqo’te you’ve taken to bed?”

Haurchefant nods, looking stunned.

“I suppose it’s my duty to impress you with our finer points, then,” Vilmar says, winking up at him. Before Haurchefant can find words, Vilmar closes his lips around the head of his cock. He closes his eyes and sucks gently, letting the rumbling in his throat do half the work.

Haurchefant moans and arches, but Vilmar catches him halfway through the motion, pushing him back into the chair so he doesn’t choke. Holding him down is a beautiful accident-- his cock twitches in Vilmar’s mouth and the next moan is undeniably desperate.

Vilmar can’t smile with his mouth occupied, but his ears give a pleased twitch. Haurchefant must notice, because he drops a hand to Vilmar’s head and strokes along the shell of his right ear.

“So lovely,” Haurchefant mumbles, and Vilmar pulls off to grin up at him, shifting the work to his hands so he can speak.

I’m lovely? A shame you can’t see your own face,” he says, leaning back in to press his tongue under the head of Haurchefant’s cock to make him shudder and groan. “That was my one regret last time. I didn’t get to look at you for most of it, and, hells, I wanted to. You’re a feast for the eyes, dearheart.”

It’s hard to tell if it’s the compliment or the endearment, but Haurchefant definitely responds to something Vilmar just said. His eyes go soft and he shifts his hand from Vilmar’s ear into his hair. “Face to face next time, then?”

Vilmar nods eagerly. “I would love that. Er, not right this moment, though. Unless you have oil in here? I’m in no state to walk anywhere.”

Haurchefant shakes his head. “Tragically, no, I do not.”

“I suppose I’ll have to settle for indulging myself in some other manner,” Vilmar says, completely failing at feigning disappointment. He can’t keep the smile off his face. “Would you do me the honor of spilling in my mouth?”

He follows up that sentence with a long, firm suck, and Haurchefant outright writhes for it.

Gods, if you keep that up, I’ll be left with-- ah--”

Vilmar leaves him no quarter, and it only takes a few more moments before the first wave of orgasm hits. He jolts and pulls Vilmar’s hair on the first pulse, but catches himself and lets go on the second, digging his nails into the wood of the chair as he shakes apart.

Once he’s entirely spent, Vilmar kisses his stomach and carefully tucks his softening cock back into his trousers. He leaves the belt undone and crawls back into Haurchefant’s lap, his knees aching from the hard floor. Haurchefant pulls him close and kisses him, open-mouthed and eager. He can surely taste himself on Vilmar’s tongue, but he seems to chase it rather than turn away from it.

Vilmar rewards him with a purring moan and an involuntary thrust of his hips. Haurchefant noses affectionately at his cheek.

“I’ve shamed myself, leaving such a perfect cock unattended,” he says, pulling Vilmar from his open trousers. His hand is shockingly cold, callused from the sword and confident as he wraps his fingers around Vilmar’s cock. Vilmar drops his head onto Haurchefant’s shoulder and gasps as he starts stroking in earnest.

He manages maybe a minute of Haurchefant’s undivided attention before a sucking kiss to the line of his jaw undoes him. It’s almost a surprise when the pleasure crests low in his gut, and he whimpers as he comes over Haurchefant’s fingers and armor.

Haurchefant pauses for a split second before speeding up his strokes, wringing out every drop of pleasure from Vilmar’s body. He doesn’t speak again until Vilmar goes limp, clinging to him as he gasps for breath.

“My apologies,” he says, kissing Vilmar’s temple. “Had I known you were close, I’d have used my mouth before my hands.”

“Don’t apologize,” Vilmar says with a breathless laugh. “Gods, that was amazing. You’re amazing.”

They stay tucked in close while Vilmar catches his breath, Haurchefant stroking idle patterns on the back of his neck with his thumb.

“Do you have to get back to work?” Vilmar asks, finally, when he catches himself dozing off right there in Haurchefant’s lap, uncomfortable position or no.

*

A hint of melancholy in Haurchefant’s smile as Vilmar pulls his trousers back on in the morning, Cid and Alphinaud waiting outside.

*

Haurchefant sighs deeply. “Unfortunately, yes.”

Vilmar kisses him, chastely for the first time today. “Will you permit me a night in your bed, then?”

*

Vilmar misses him, embarrassing as it is to admit, within a day of leaving Coerthas.

*

“I would find myself quite bereft if you slept elsewhere.”

Vilmar beams at him.