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swaying our sentiments, pulling our strings

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Lafayette whistles to himself as he walks around the office, hands in his pockets. He has that look on his face that he gets when he thinks he’s planned something brilliant, little smile and a glimmer in his dark eyes.

Alex watches him walk by, and narrows his eyes at the sly sideways look Lafayette shoots him.

He forgets about it by mid-afternoon, swept up in the daytime flurry of meetings and deadlines.

He forgets about it until he sits down at his desk at 2:30 pm and opens his email for the first time since this morning.

Annual Office Holiday Trip!

So that’s what Lafayette was smirking about all day.

Alex hates the office trip. He hates that work shuts down for a week, even if there are meetings and workshops to attend while they are away. He hates that they are forced to go away together, to room with a colleague. He hates having to acknowledge the holidays more than he would choose to. He hates spending a week in luxury on someone else’s dime.

It wasn’t too bad last year, when he got to room with John, and they went to Florida, so at least it wasn’t cold.

Still.

Alex swallows his dread and clicks on the email from Lafayette. Scans through it, sinking feeling in his chest.

A skiing trip.

Alex groans.

He hates the cold, he’s not outdoorsy, he doesn’t know how to ski. He can already tell this trip is going to be a nightmare, and he hasn’t even checked who his assigned roommate for the week is.

He almost doesn’t want to know.

He hopes Lafayette took pity on him, hopes Lafayette didn’t stick him with John Adams, or whiny Charles Lee.

He takes a deep breath, and scrolls down to the assigned rooms.

Alex leaps up from his desk so fast his chair falls over backwards with a crash.

Anger burns hot through his body as he stalks down the hallway, heading for Lafayette’s office. Lafayette is supposed to be his friend. Lafayette is supposed to let him room with someone he actually likes. Of course, he can’t room with John anymore, but still.

He barges into Lafayette’s office, all anger and heat.

“Lafayette!” He practically shouts as Lafayette looks up from his computer, serene smile on his face.

“Yes Alexander?” Lafayette purrs, like a cat with a canary.

Alex is about to launch into a tirade, when Thomas Jefferson strides into Lafayette’s office and shuts the door behind him.

“Lafayette,” Thomas sneers, “there must be some sort of mistake-”

“Why would you room me with him!?” Alex and Thomas exclaim simultaneously, fingers pointing at each other.

Alex glares at Thomas. He detests everything about the Virginian. His big hair, his garish fashion sense, his obnoxious voice and arrogant swagger. His dark eyes and his sharp jawline and his plush kissable lips.

Lafayette shrugs, and looks entirely unfazed by Thomas and Alex, both looming angrily over his desk. He stretches, catlike, and props his socked feet up on his desk.

“The office trip is about building office relations, no? It is about getting to know each other better, so that we might work in better harmony. If anyone needs some harmony, it is the pair of you,” and he smiles sweetly, leans back in his chair.

Thomas splutters, anger robbing him of his words.

Alex slams his hands down on Lafayette’s desk.

“You can’t- you can’t make me room with him! Lafayette, I thought you were my friend!” He glares at Lafayette, can’t believe his friend would do this to him.

“Lafayette, I beg you to reconsider. I can’t spend a week sharing a room with… him,” Thomas sneers.

“Nope,” Lafayette says. Pleased. Smug. He folds his arms behind his head, crosses his legs at the ankles. “Who knows, you might even find you like each other.” He sticks out his tongue, and waggles his eyebrows suggestively.

“Oh please, as if I would ever fuck him,” Thomas splutters.

“What makes you think you’d be doing the fucking?! As if I’d bottom for you!” Alex shoots back, whirling to stab his finger into Thomas’ stupid smug chest.

Thomas raises an eyebrow, looks down at Alex’s finger.

“Don’t tell me you’re scared? Don’t think you could handle it?” He taunts.

“I’m not scared, you fuck. I’d be the best goddamn bottom you ever had in your life!” Alex shoots back.

“You wouldn’t last a week as my sub!” Thomas snaps.

“Wanna bet?” Alex fires back, all heat, all anger.

In his chair, Lafayette watches them closely, smug grin on his stupid French face.

“What are we wagering, my friends?” He asks, voice silky smooth.

Alex stares dumbly at Lafayette, realizes too late what he just proposed. Beside him, Thomas does the same.

The silence that falls over the small office prickles with tension.

“Think on it,” Lafayette says after a long moment, “and let me know. I simply cannot change the room assignments. Now, if you don’t mind, I have things to do?” Lafayette makes no move to sit up, but he stares at Alex and Thomas expectantly until Alex turns with a huff.

“Fuck you, Laf!” He snarls, and yanks open the office door.

“Mm, that’s Thomas’ job now, no?” Lafayette purrs.

~

The following morning, there’s a yellow envelope on Alex’s desk when he walks into his office, marked CONFIDENTIAL in large purple letters.

Alex sits down at his desk and unwinds the little red string holding it closed. Slides out a typed letter, and starts to read.

Alexander,

If we’re really doing this, I have a few conditions.

Alex rolls his eyes and takes a giant mouthful of coffee before continuing to read.

1) we will both be tested prior to next week, and provide copies of our results to one another. I would prefer not to use condoms.

Okay, so Thomas is actually making sense. Alex is loathe to admit it, but he agrees with him for perhaps the first time in his life.

2) I’d like you to provide me with a list of everything you are and are not willing to do. I think it’s important that we establish boundaries prior to next week. Please also indicate which safe words you would like to use, as you are subbing, I would like it to be something you are familiar and comfortable with.

Alex huffs a little, and drinks more coffee. Thomas is still making sense, and Alex isn’t entirely sure that he hasn’t stepped into some sort of alternate universe.

3) Your transportation to and from the resort has been arranged. You will pack for the week according to my direction. As your dom, your safety and wellbeing is my responsibility for the duration of our trip.

Okay, Thomas is taking this far too seriously. Alex rolls his eyes again.

Still.

He ducks out at lunch to get tested.

At the end of the day, he drops the envelope on Thomas’ desk wordlessly, detailed list inside.

~

The following morning, the envelope is back on Alex’s desk.

He settles in with his coffee and pulls out his list, annotated and amended with purple pen. He looks over Thomas’ adjustments, makes some of his own, and seals it back up again.

Returns it to Thomas’ desk at lunch.

He gets it back at the end of the day, with a note scrawled at the bottom:

I consent and agree to all of the above.

Thomas Jefferson.

Alex rolls his eyes again, and adds his signature next to Thomas’.

He photocopies the list and stuffs a copy of it in his laptop bag.

Returns the sealed envelope to Thomas.

~

A week later, they trade negative test results.

That afternoon, the evening before the trip, Alex receives an email from Lafayette.

Terms & Wager

He reads it through, heart sinking into his stomach like a lead weight, too late to back down now, and if he’s being truly honest, he doesn’t want to anyways.

Steals himself, and packs up his things for the evening. Can’t deny that the thrill that runs through his body isn’t entirely made up of dread.

He takes a deep breath, and locks up his office for the week.

It’s on.