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New Bitch

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PROLOGUE

It’s silent inside the elevator. Damianos’ warm hand is on the small of Laurent’s back. It’s soothing, comforting, but also possessive. Laurent looks at their reflection on the mirrored walls and catches Damianos’ eyes looking back at him. He sees it, how Damianos sees him. Like a piece of meat. Like a prize. Gorgeous, glorious, glamorous. His to consume. His to devour. His.

“You know what to do when we come out?” Damianos asks while rubbing Laurent’s back. 

Laurent nods and lifts his chin higher. He looks at his expensive white suit, gifted by Damianos. It has white floral embroidery, custom made for him from one of Damianos’ designer friends. Chanel sunglasses perched on his head, Rolex on his right wrist, Cartier bracelet on his left, all from Damianos. He knows Laurent’s colors, knows what will make everyone look at him, only him. And Laurent knows how to make himself worthy to be beside the future CEO of Ios Corp. There is no one better suited for this position in Damianos’ life than him. No one.

“Face me,” Damianos commands. Laurent likes it. He doesn’t like being told what to do, but when it’s Damianos, he’d kneel immediately if that is what he asks of him. 

Laurent faces Damianos. Warm, tan hands cups his face delicately like it’s a precious jewel, but tightly, because it is his to treat any way he can. Laurent likes it, wants it, yearns for it. Then, Damianos leans down to kiss his lips aggressively. Laurent can’t wait to look at the mirror once they pull away to see how swollen it will become. Damianos wants to tell the whole world just what they were doing inside that elevator, just how much he can’t keep his fingers, lips, hands, body off Laurent’s.

Laurent wants that too, so he runs his fingers carefully through Damianos’ hair, just to pluck a few strands astray. He grabs Damianos’ collar, wrinkles it on purpose. He loosens the gold tie around Damianos’ neck and unbuttons the first two buttons on the shirt, all while his lips and tongue explore his mouth. Now, it would be undeniable just what transpired in the elevator coming from his top floor office.

Damianos’ lips find his neck and because he can, he sucks on it, just beneath the jaw. Laurent barely contains his gasp. It will be obvious to everyone whose mouth sucked, licked, and marked that red spot. Laurent should raise his head higher later. 

He leans back to look at Damianos. He licks his lips and gazes at his lust-filled face. “You look hot, daddy.”

Damianos’ eyes are closed, his hands gripping Laurent’s waist. Down there, Laurent feels the effect he had on his daddy. He touches it, Damianos growls. If this isn’t all a ruse, he would think Damianos actually has feelings for him. 

“You think they’re going to zoom in on this outside?” Damianos whispers in Laurent’s ear. 

Laurent strokes it. “You think they’ll be looking at you, daddy?”

Damianos grips his waist harder. Laurent wishes he can show off the red handprints there. Damianos is about to say something, but the elevator stops and the doors open. Neither of them pull away or walk out. From the corner of his eyes, Laurent sees a few reporters who managed to sneak into the company building, trying to catch a glimpse of them.

“We have company.” He kisses Damianos one more time and pulls away. There is a flash somewhere, but Laurent could care less. That was the point anyway. 

Damianos grabs his ass, squeezes it, then raises his hand to the small of his back and guides him out of the elevator. Oh, they truly are putting on a show now. From behind, Damianos leans down to whisper at Laurent’s ear.

“Show them who you are, baby.” God. No, Damianos is better.

Damianos takes his hand off of Laurent’s back once they are near the exit and the reporters. Laurent walks in front of him, their bodyguards who took a different elevator suddenly surround them. They were assigned to him by the future CEO himself. ‘I’m not letting anyone touch you,’ he had reasoned while Laurent was going down on him in his office.

He takes a deep breath before walking out the building doors, Damianos right behind him. Damianos might be the future CEO, but Laurent is the trophy he is proud to show off. Laurent loves that.

He raises his head higher, in his mind he screams, ‘Look at the mark Damianos has left on me.’

The reporters begin to surround his bodyguards when he steps out. He was right when he said nobody would be looking at Damianos. Everyone’s eyes are on him, all the cameras point at him, a barrage of questions come in from every direction, all addressed to him. 

“Who are you?”

“Where did you meet?”

“Are you related to Jokaste?”

“Did Mr. Vallis cheat on Joakste with you?”

“Did Jokaste cheat on Mr. Vallis and you were her replacement?”

“Is Mr. Vallis still the future CEO?”

“What are you in his life?”

Laurent has been prepared by Damianos’ PR team beforehand. He is to answer only one thing to everyone. One response to launch this whole facade. One sentence to anger anyone that should be angered. He thought of the sentence himself, a sharp tongue honed for situations such as this. 

He stops walking right in the middle of everyone. They all stop with him, as if Laurent is the one who holds all their lives. Slowly, he reaches for the custom Chanel sunglasses on his head and puts it over his eyes, just for dramatics. Every movement is deliberate. Everyone holds their breaths, waiting for him, watching just him. 

He looks around at everyone whose attention is all on him. He knows even Damianos watches everything he does. The show is meant for the reporters, but Laurent makes sure to do it with grace and confidence, in the way that makes his daddy want to lose control. In the car later, he knows he won’t be sitting on the soft leather, maybe he won’t be sitting at all.

He makes sure they are all staring and listening. He chooses one camera pointing right at him. From Ios News , the largest news channel all over Akielos. It’s a little below him, so he has to look down. Perfect. So they all know they are beneath him and Damianos. 

“What is your relationship with Mr. Vallis?” They ask Laurent once more.

He smiles. 

“I’m his new bitch.” 

He starts to walk away as chaos erupts. Damianos follows behind with a proud smirk.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER I

The VIP lounge at the nightclub is a lot more breathable than the rest of the place. There are no tacky lights or decorations or people in here. The black leather couches are clean. Men of high statuses, ones you see on business or entertainment magazines, sit on them. Laurent latched onto one of them once he got in the club, turning on his usual charm. He knows how much these men wanted him and he uses that to his advantage. He can and will get into anything because he is blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful.

He doesn’t like the man he is with right now though, which is annoying because he wore his best suit for tonight: a dark blue, satin Valentino blouse with a plunging neckline all the way to the top of his stomach, paired with an equally expensive black, high-waisted slacks that accentuates his ass, screaming at you to slap it. He didn’t wear it for this man, but still, he deserves class.

He usually doesn’t mind when they touch all over him, but this one is just a little too much. He’s been trying to suck Laurent’s neck or make Laurent rub his cock, but Laurent’s having none of it. Laurent doesn’t want blemishes on his skin at all. No man is worthy enough to color his skin differently. 

Aimeric, his friend whom he came here with, is having a fucking blast making out with the man on the cover of AKIELOS. He’s a hot dude in his 30s, definitely rich because of inheritance money, definitely Laurent’s type. 

The man Laurent met isn’t even on the sides of the cover. He’s probably in his late forties, wearing branded and expensive things from head to toe to flaunt his wealth. His beard is itchy on Laurent’s porcelain skin. He’s recently divorced and easy. Really easy. Laurent latched onto him because he knew it would only take a few words, some fluttering of the eyelids, and a touch on the shoulder for this man to fall for him. He needed an easy one tonight, because he badly needed to get in this lounge. He has a bigger fish to catch. 

Laurent pretends to be a little shy and concerned for this man’s recent divorce just so he won’t keep trying to bite his neck. He nods, asks a few questions, and reacts ‘Oh no.’ or ‘She did what?’ to keep the conversation while his eyes subtly roam, searching for the one man he hears has been here for the past few days. 

The man he searches for, the man he really wants to see, is the real deal. This one is on the cover of all the magazines, an heir to an empire, and the most important, insanely hot and insanely rich. Damianos Vallis, future CEO of Ios Corp. 

Damianos is the cream of the crop. Every woman and man wants a taste of him, wants to be the future Mrs. or Mr. Vallis, trophy wife or husband. No one had any luck with that for the past five years because he was in a happy relationship, until recently, when his fiancée, Jokaste Baikov, cheated on him with his brother, Kastor Vallis. Talk about the drama. 

The tabloids went wild. And poor Damianos, didn’t know it had been happening for half a year, now wallows in self-pity in the VIP lounge of this club. 

Laurent, being who he is, wants a taste of that promised life, which brings him here now, tolerating the boring opening act to get to the main event.

He spots Damianos immediately when he arrives, he isn’t hard to miss. He enters the lounge with confidence and authority, even in a state of depression. Like a strong magnet, all eyes turn to him. He’s tall and hot and flanked by two bodyguards. He screams importance, screams for you to look at him and his gladiator built body. God, he must be in proportion everywhere. 

Even Aimeric stops making out with the coverboy to drool at Damianos, and the coverboy isn’t mad because he’s drooling at Damianos too. His presence is just that strong. Once Aimeric takes his eyes off after a really long time, he gives Laurent a look that can only be described as ‘That’s your goal for tonight? Goodluck.’ 

Laurent doesn’t need luck. According to his research –all the magazines and news articles he read since deciding to assimilate himself into Damianos’ life somehow– he is blueprint Damianos’ Type. Blonde, check. Blue eyes, check. Pretty, check. Cold and cunning, check. He might as well have been Jokaste’s twin, but Laurent is definitely smarter than her. He isn’t insane enough to cheat on Damianos. If he met Damianos before her, they’d be married by now. 

Laurent isn’t letting Damianos go once he latches onto him. Jokaste is an idiot. Kastor isn’t even half the man Damianos is. He knows that and he never even met him. 

He watches Damianos sit by the bar, alone. The blue lights behind the counter capture his state of unbecoming and it all looks like a movie scene playing in front of Laurent. 

His bodyguards stand away from him, which is good for Laurent. It means no one will stop him from approaching.

“I’m just going to get us a drink,” Laurent announces to Smith, he thinks, not that it matters.

He lets go of Laurent with a smug look on his face, looking like he’s won the lottery. Too bad, Laurent isn’t coming back to him. 

“Get me something.” Maybe Smith orders like Laurent knows what he’s supposed to get him. 

A little annoyed, he physically has to stop himself from rolling his eyes. When he turns around, Smith or something slaps him on the ass. Laurent knows that’s why he wore the slacks but not for Smith to do. God, if the slap marks, he’s going to haunt Smith’s lying, divorced ass, and make him beg for mercy, and it’s not going to be the good kind of begging. 

Laurent’s never going to prey on easy, divorced men ever again. There’s a reason their marriages didn’t work and it’s not because of their wives.

If he successfully gets in Damianos life, he never has to prey on anyone ever again. 

Laurent walks up to the bar with a purpose. He ignores Damianos first, but he does sit right next to him despite there being plenty of room. Damianos is the only one there, as if people knew to leave him alone. Oops. 

Pretty men like Laurent never have to wait for the bartender so once he’s seated, he gives his order to the man already waiting. Just a cocktail for him, fuck whatever divorced Smith wanted. The bartender nods and moves to make his drink. That’s when he looks to his left where Damianos sits, hunched over his drink, hands on his head, oblivious to the world and all the good in it, which is Laurent. 

“All by yourself?” Laurent asks Damianos, fully turning his body to him, hoping Damianos would appreciate all that exposed pale skin under his throat.

What he sees though, is Damianos sighing, as if bracing himself before he faces Laurent. He twists his head and opens his lips to probably reject him, but then, he stops and blinks. 

Yeah, Laurent has that effect on people.

The bartender gives Laurent his drink and he looks away from Damianos to thank him. He adds in a wink too, because you always have to keep your options open and your wallet full. 

As he sips his drink, he looks back at Damianos, tilts his head, and with a challenging smile says “Am I that pretty?”

“You…”

“Hm. I know. I have that effect on people.”

Damianos is speechless. Good. That’s what Laurent needs.

“I don’t want to be a cliché but take a picture, it’ll last longer.” Damianos loses his trance then. Before he can respond, Laurent continues. “Better yet, take me home. You’ll see everything.” Laurent raises one brow, turning on full charm.

“Oh.” Damianos blurts out. Laurent isn’t really sure how drunk he is yet, but he needs him to be more buzzed than this to get him to do his bidding. “I— um. You.”

“Me?” Laurent gives a dashing smile, one that never fails to hook any man. “You can call me Laurent. If you want.”

Laurent ,” Damianos says his name surprisingly with care, rolling it off his tongue like he knew Laurent intimately. 

The magazines did say that Damianos is too kind for his own good. He treats everyone equally and shares his charming smile and kindness unbidden, which is also probably why his fiancée left him.

“And you are?” Laurent asks .

Damianos blinks again, evidently confused because Laurent doesn’t know him. He creases his eyebrows, hesitant and in disbelief, that part of him who’s used to his fame and everyone recognizing him appearing in full blast. 

Laurent wants to giggle. As if there really is anyone who doesn’t know this man whose life has been in the spotlight since the moment he was born. Maybe Damianos is already drunk after all. 

“I’m… Damianos,” He still answers, completely forgetting that he didn’t want Laurent’s attention in the first place, but Laurent blasted him with the classic ‘Who are you?’ and that always got men’s egos reeling. 

“Damianos.” Laurent hopes it sounds sultry, hopes it rolls off his tongue the way Damianos said his name. “Akielon?” 

Laurent feigns genuine curiosity, sipping his drink as if he didn’t spend countless days and sleepless nights researching any and everything he can about this man, which to say was a lot. His first magazine appearance was literally when he was a few days old, an announcement of his birth. ‘ Corporate giant, Theomedes Vallis’ wife has given birth to the future of technology’ were the headlines written.

Damianos looks at him funny. Laurent can practically see the gears in his mind turn as it tries its best to figure out whether Laurent is joking or not. They were in Ios after all, the heart of Akielos.

This is also usually the time shallow, famous men ask whether Laurent really didn’t know them, because they’re famous, had he not seen them on page five of AKIELOS , but Damianos surprises him instead.

“Yes. Akielon. My mom named me.”

Laurent isn’t expecting the answer. Luckily, he’s flirted with plenty of men enough to quickly hide his reaction and think fast on his feet for a new response to keep the conversation going. 

“You were born here then?”

“Yes. And raised.”

Laurent is genuinely surprised that Damianos is very honest with him and that he continues to respond despite not wanting to be bothered before. Laurent knew he had magical powers, gorgeous enough to charm anyone, man or woman, but this is another level for him. It’s like seducing a god and succeeding.

Laurent’s routine in picking up famous, rich men never involved too much personal information in the beginning. Around this time, they would have been making out already. He knew Damianos was going to be a challenge, but not in this way, where he has to actually wrack his brain to think of questions to ask about him. Laurent was never truly interested in the men he wanted to date for money, especially since they were too easy, but Damianos, oh boy. Good thing Laurent did his research and he’s genuinely interested in Damianos as much as he’s interested in his money. 

“Around this area or?” It’s not his best line, but this conversation has been so different from his expectations already. 

Still, somehow, Damianos continues to interact with him. “Not this area particularly, but this city, yes. Ios.”

“City boy.”

Damianos chuckles, surprisingly. “Yep. Never left. You?”

“I’m actually from Vere. Specifically, Arles, city of vipers.”

“Also a city boy then,” Damianos comments, though not accusatory. “I expected as much.”

“Is it noticeable?”

“Very much so.”

“It can’t be my pale skin or blonde hair?”

“No.” Damianos takes a sip of his drink unconsciously facing Laurent. “Who’s Kemptian in your family?”

“My mother.” Laurent purposely leans closer, hopes Damianos notices a little. “What’s my Veretian tell?” He tilts his head and sips on his straw for effect. 

“Your accent.”

“Oh yes.” Laurent doesn’t disguise his impressed tone. “People did say it made me more… exotic.”

“I wouldn’t use that word.” Laurent raises his eyebrows, challenging. “I think it makes you unique, yes, but not exotic. You’re not an animal.”

“I disagree. Humans are animals.” Damianos looks at him incredulously but there’s a tiny smile he tries but fails to hide. “I’ve been called a snake before.”

Damianos actually looks sad for him, like a puppy who feels your sadness, a large one, but a puppy nonetheless. “Well, there are better words to describe you.”

Laurent knows this is the kindness of Damianos manifesting and it’s not him more buzzed flirting with Laurent at all, but this is still a good opportunity to fish for compliments, stir Damianos to think of him in the way that will get him into his life. 

“There are? Like what?” Laurent leans even closer, places his head on his hands. He catches Damianos stare at his lips, nose, then eyes. 

Damianos releases a breathy chuckle, obviously seeing through Laurent’s flirting. Laurent isn’t bothered at all. He thinks that Damianos is a violin right now, and he’s playing him expertly.

“Look Laurent…” Damianos starts with creased eyebrows, about to let Laurent down gently. He still says his name with that genuine kindness. He pauses, finding the right words before rejecting Laurent, a complete stranger. Laurent is genuinely shocked at how kind he is.

Still, Laurent is ready for this. He’s ready for rejection, something he thought Damianos would give him immediately, well, at least he stirred the conversation here somehow. It’s time to start plan B then: low key flirting disguised as I’m not here to flirt with you, I just wanted genuine friendship. Classic for kinder men, which he didn’t meet much of. 

“Ah so there really aren’t better words for me, huh?”

Damianos’ eyes widen. “No, it’s not like that, I swear. I’m sure you’re as graceful as you look. It’s just—”

“Are you going to turn me down now?”

“I—” Damianos is caught off guard. He looks more hurt that he accidentally hurt Laurent than Laurent. 

He’s… really something else. 

“It’s fine.” Laurent sits back. “I guess— I don’t know.” He tucks a hair strand behind his ear. “I really liked your face and thought you might need a friend, but I’m imposing so—”

“No— It’s fine, it’s just I—”

“Hey, babe, where’s my drink?” Smith suddenly interrupts from behind Laurent, placing a hand on his shoulder.

 Honestly, the gods must be looking down at him right now and saying, ‘ yes we will help you out with this one, you deserve this ,’ because Smith couldn’t have come at a perfect time. It’s like Laurent planned this shit.

Laurent faces divorced Smith and shrugs his hand off. 

“Excuse you? Have we met?” 

“What—” He looks genuinely shocked, anger laced in his voice. “You came in here with me.”

“No, I came here with my friend.” Laurent answers matter-of-factly.

Luckily for Laurent, Damianos is Damianos, and he couldn’t step back from acting on any injustice (another tidbit from the media Laurent learned a few days ago), so he speaks up for Laurent. 

“Do you know this guy, Laurent?”

Laurent, embodying a scared little kitten, a damsel in distress, a maiden in turmoil, flinches back a little from Smith and nearer to Damianos. 

“No, he’s genuinely creeping me out.”

“We were literally together a few seconds ago.” Smith is angry now, stepping closer to Laurent. 

For effect, Laurent acts even more scared, evidently scooting farther, ass half off the stool. Then Smith –oh Laurent should pay him with a rose bouquet or something– raises his hand, as if to grab Laurent. So Damianos, sweet, savior Damianos, blocks that hand by placing his own arm in front of Laurent. Smith retracts his own quickly. 

“Hey man,” Damianos’ command is natural, delivered with ease as if he knows anyone will follow him no matter what. Hot. “Leave him alone. He obviously doesn’t know you.”

“Shut up, you’re not a part of this.” Smith increases his volume, grabbing the attention of the people near them and Damianos’ bodyguards.

Damianos makes a sign to stop his bodyguards from coming nearer. Honestly, Laurent doesn’t know why he needs them, he looks like he can protect himself better than them. And Laurent too. 

Damianos stands up to full height then, which oh god , Laurent realizes, Damianos is really big . Capital B-I-G big, half a foot taller than him big, and Laurent is already taller than most men. All the Kemptian and Veretian genes he possesses aren’t enough for this giant Akielon man right in front of him.

“Look, I don't want trouble,” No, Laurent thought, please do the trouble. I want to see those biceps in action. “So while I'm asking nicely,” Damianos steps closer to Smith. He has to look down at him. He’s just that big. “Please leave us.”

‘Us’ makes Laurent’s heart leap. He has this man.  

Smith, finally looking at Damianos’ face for the first time, visibly cowers, recognizing him for sure. No one wants to start a war with the most powerful man in Akielos. Hell, he might even own this establishment and you might never be welcomed to any other businesses again. 

Laurent likes that. He has a few men he’d like to get revenge on.

“But he—” Smith argues once more, but Damianos raises his eyebrows, stands taller, and subtly flexes those muscles Laurent wishes to lick all over now. 

Smith gulps and steps back this time. To keep his dignity, he doesn’t respond. He simply looks at Damianos, then Laurent, then Damianos again. He shakes his head then aggressively stalks away. Laurent feels this might not be the last time he sees him tonight. 

Fine by him, more savior Damianos to the rescue. Maybe he will get to see those biceps in action tonight. 

Damianos breathes out, doesn’t look at Laurent until Smith is out of view, back on the couches, sulking. When Damianos faces him, the anger and authority are wiped from his face. He graces Laurent with a kind gaze, wide eyes scouring his soul to know if he’s okay. Truly okay. Bone deep okay. Laurent has to keep the shiver about to run down his body. No, he doesn’t know why that would turn him on. 

“You okay?” Damianos asks, looking in his eyes. He has to look down at Laurent too, but Laurent doesn’t feel small at all.

“Yes.” Laurent answers and Damianos visibly relaxes and sits back on his stool. Laurent does the same.

Damianos gestures for the bartender. “You sure?” He asks, eyes back on Laurent, then to the bartender, “A glass of water please, Max.”

“I'm fine,” Laurent responds, waiting for the bartender, apparently named Max, to finish fetching Damianos a glass of water so he can ask for his own. “He's actually been trying to get at me all night. Can’t seem to take a fucking hint.”

“Thank you,” Damianos tells Max before he faces Laurent again. He slides the glass of water to him. “I’m sorry about that. People like him need to get a grip.”

Laurent stares at the glass of water Damianos procured for him, droplets on the rim sliding down smoothly. He reassesses before he takes it, fingers lightly touching Damianos’ over the glass. 

“Thank you,” he says, surprised at the breathlessness. 

Damianos slowly releases his grip on the glass. 

“It’s the least I could do,” he says as he stares at Laurent apologetically, like Damianos was the one at fault in that ordeal.

Laurent sips on the straw, calming his heart before he manages to control his brain once more to respond and feel like himself again. It’s just a glass of water. He need not be so desperate for kindness. 

“You don't have to apologize for him. It’s not your fault.” Laurent explains once he regains the slight slip of control.

Damianos actually smiles a bit. “Still, you don’t deserve that.” 

“Yeah. Thanks…” Laurent says, feeling the conversation coming back to when Damianos was about to reject him. 

He knows his window of opportunity in keeping the attention of Damianos is shrinking. At least Smith gave him enough to find ways to stay here. 

“Hey, Damianos, umm…” he begins shyly. Damianos looks at him fully concerned. “I know you were about to reject me, but—”

“I’m sorry.” Damianos immediately says. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m not in a good place right now.”

“No, you’re valid.” Laurent doesn’t look him in the eye. He stirs his straw instead and pretends that it’s fascinating. “But if it’s okay with you, do you mind if I stay here for a while? He’s been following me the whole time, and I'm afraid he might follow me to the restroom or home.”

“Yes, that’s fine.” Damianos’ immediate response.

“And my friend’s busy doing god knows what with someone.” Laurent continues, as if he didn’t hear Damianos. “I just feel safer here, I guess, with you.”

Laurent adds a shy glance at Damianos, then quickly turns away. An act he perfected all these years pretending to be vulnerable when picking up sad, rich men.

“Hey, hey, Laurent.” Damianos starts gently, moving his head lower to Laurent’s line of sight so Laurent will look at him. “I wasn't about to reject you.” 

Laurent lifts his head higher and raises his eyebrows, hoping the innocent puppy eyes work on him. “You weren’t?”

“Well— I—” Damianos scratches the back of his neck. “Honestly… I’m definitely not ready for whatever you might want.” He sighs and shakes his head. 

Damianos grows silent after and stops looking at Laurent for a moment. He gazes at the half-empty glass in his hand, like Laurent earlier, but his ‘deep in thought’ look is much more genuine, like he truly is drowning in his sorrows. He probably is. 

According to the news outlets his mother died three months ago, his father and his father’s mistress, Hypermenestra, got married two weeks ago, and two days later Kastor and Jokaste were caught on top of each other at a private island far off the coast. The announcement of his ended engagement with Jokaste was reported hours later, the same day. 

Damianos’ kingdom is crumbling, and if Laurent were a better person, a person with dignity left, he wouldn’t take advantage of it. 

But he’s not. 

Instead, all he does is let the silence go on for a few more seconds before speaking up.

“It’s really okay, Damianos. You don’t have to be so selfless when you’re obviously going through so much shit.” Laurent is surprised by how much he means that. “…I should go.” 

He calls Max over as he begins to get ready to go. “I’m closing my tab.” 

“You don’t have to go.” At Damianos' whispered words, Laurent stops from gracefully hopping off the bar stool. “I still had a great time talking to you.”

“Oh.” Damianos means that . “I…” Laurent is breathless again, voice stuck in his throat. He coughs to clear it. “I still don't want to impose.”

“No you—you could stay.” Damianos offers him a tiny smile. “It’s okay, really. I'd rather you be safe here if—if that’s what you still feel.”

“Are you sure Damianos? Your bodyguards are glaring at me.”

“Don't mind them.” Damianos looks at them and simply shakes his head. They look away immediately. Laurent tries his best to keep his mouth closed and his cock down. This isn’t the moment for that yet.

“I really don’t want to… you know…” 

“I could also um…” Damianos scratches the back of his neck again, unsure why he’s doing this, but still doing it anyway. “If you feel like you’re not safe at all because of that guy, and if you feel safe with me… I could take you home.”

Oh. Oh god. Oh Laurent does not expect this at all. He does not expect to be this far ahead already in his plan. It is his goal tonight, sure, but the moment he saw Damianos, he knew it was an ambitious one. 

Plan B, the more possible one, was to take his phone number. But getting Damianos to his home? Seriously, who are the gods up there just smiling down at Laurent right now? If they want a blow job from him all they have to do is pull up their chitons –or whatever it is they’re wearing, maybe they’re modern now– and he’d gladly provide the service.

“That would be… perfect actually.” Laurent is genuinely stumped. “Only if you’re really okay with it too,” he adds because he doesn’t want to come across promiscuous yet, he is playing a game after all. 

It’s a perfect balance of push and pull, a delicate game Laurent has to play right. He can’t make the wrong moves or it’ll be a checkmate. It is Damianos he needs to corner. 

Before Damianos responds –obviously about to tell Laurent it’s the least he could do, judging by his expression– his phone rings.

“Let me just take this.” Damianos says, gesturing to his phone. 

Laurent nods and Damianos puts the phone to his ear. At the same time, Laurent sees his bodyguard make his way to him. 

As the bodyguard starts to whisper to Damianos, Laurent's phone vibrates once. Twice. Then, insanely, constantly. He decides to look at it since Damianos is in deep conversation with his bodyguard and the person on his phone. Laurent doesn't know how he does it, but if this is how Damianos was in his office as current vice president and future CEO of Ios Corp, Laurent has very interestingly horny days ahead of him.

When Laurent checks his notifications, he sees it’s a bunch of new messages from the same person. He continues to ignore a few from Auguste, and instead focuses on Ancel blowing up his phone with a bunch of pictures. Before he could click open the messages though, he hears Damianos groan. 

Fuck. That was so hot. He looks at Damianos with a straight face despite wanting to take the man home and do inappropriate things to him right then. 

“God, I'm so sorry about this. This club is usually more private.” Damianos apologizes, even though Laurent has no idea what he’s apologizing for. 

“This is fucking annoying.” Damianos says again, after briefly turning to look at the room. 

Laurent follows his action and notices that everyone is staring at them. Even Aimeric and coverboy stopped dry humping in public to gape at Laurent —Aimeric sending an impressed, knowing look, overly wiggling his eyebrows at him. 

It doesn’t surprise Laurent to be noticed, hell, he revels in it. It secures his connection with Damianos and somehow, he knows the photos Ancel sent him definitely has something to do with why Damianos is angry.

Damn, how can Laurent keep pretending that he doesn't know Damianos now when he understands why everyone is looking at them like animals at a zoo enclosure?

Still, Laurent, playing this delicate game like a pro, ignores their audience and instead asks “What happened?”

“Laurent,” Damianos says unbelievably kind and calm, staring at Laurent with gentleness as if he wasn’t cursing photographs a few seconds ago. “There’s paparazzi outside the door right now. There’s pictures of us all over Twitter. And I’m so sorry for getting you caught up in this. There’s tons of comments already so if you read them, please know you’re not at fault at all.” 

Ha, is Laurent truly not at fault? 

“You’re trending on Twitter?” Laurent says in his best surprised voice, keeping up the ruse because he is too deep in this fake persona to not pretend he knows why people would just take pictures of Damianos. “You’re famous?”

Damianos stops for a moment, apologetic, because he assumed Laurent understood. He does, but that’s not the point.

“God, I’m really sorry. I’ll explain later, I promise.” He’s gesturing for bartender Max as he speaks. “And I know I said I'll take you home, but I think you should stay at my house first—if that’s fine—because the paparazzi will follow us. And I don't want that for you.”

Laurent pretends to think about Damianos’ words as he talks to Max. “I’m closing my tab for tonight, I’ll take his too.” He gestures at Laurent.

“Oh… You’re paying for me?”

“It’s fine. Your night is ruined because of me.” He gives his card to Max. Black, Laurent notices. “But again if you’re not comfortable if I take you to my house, I could also take you to a hotel or—”

“No. I'm fine at your house. Thank you… for all this.”

Damianos nods at him as he signs the receipt and takes his black card back. 

“We have to go now though. Do you need to find your friend or—”

He stops talking before Laurent could answer because he sees something behind him. His expression sours, though not directed at Laurent. 

Damianos boldly steps in front of Laurent just as whatever is behind Laurent talks. 

“Damianos Vallis.” Laurent wants to punch him. “So you're going home with this gold digger slut ‘cuz you got dumped, huh?”

Laurent rolls his eyes and turns to look at divorced Smith, here to pick a fight and evidently drank more alcohol than normal since he was last here.

Damianos steps closer to Smith, body rigid. 

“Look man, I told you to leave him alone. He doesn’t want anything to do with you.”

“He came here with me. This is a VIP lounge, who do you think would let that bitch in?”

Men change so quickly when their cocks get blocked or their dicks don’t get licked. Damn.

Damianos’ bodyguards are stepping closer, about to pounce on Smith just as Damianos is, but Laurent holds him back by linking their arms together. The bodyguards stop moving simultaneously.

“Damianos, don't mind him. He’s drunk. Let’s just go. I think we’re gathering everyone’s attention.” 

Damianos quickly looks at him with less anger. 

“My friend’s fine. We came with his boyfriend.” Or soon to be if the way they were both humping on the couch is any sign. “I’ll text him though.”

The bodyguards, finally doing their job, block Smith and call the club security to take him away. Jesus, does Damianos really need them when they react that slow? 

Smith, aggression increased at the embarrassment, shouts profanities as they drag him away. “He’s just a gold digging bitch, Damianos. That’s what everyone wants from you now that your old bitch cheated on you.”

“Fucking hell.” Damianos says, ready to give Smith a piece of his fist, but Laurent holds him tighter and effectively stops him. That earns him an expression that shows Damianos did not expect his strength at all. 

Laurent only looks smaller in comparison to Damianos, but years of pilates, yoga, and horseback riding attests to his strength.

“Just ignore him. I don't think you want more pictures for Twitter to feast on tonight. Let’s go?”

Damianos stares at him while Smith is dragged away. 

Eventually, he concedes. 

“Okay, follow me.” 

The assured command is kind of hot. Damianos letting Laurent link their arms together, unconsciously placing his hand on Laurent's back to guide him out is kind of hot. The unconscious actions of Damianos to protect Laurent are all really fucking hot. Laurent is really catching a good one here. Or maybe he already has.

Damianos guides them to a private exit connected to a private parking area. Two more bodyguards meet them outside, so now, four people flank them. Laurent feels like a prince, feeling just as important as Damianos.

“There might be some paparazzi who know this private area, but don’t worry, the car is tinted so they wouldn't know who is in here.” He explains as they all walk briskly to a sleek, black car, not as fancy as Laurent knows rich men to drive. Then again, Damianos is different from all of them.

One of the bodyguards opens the car door and gentleman Damianos lets Laurent go inside first, hand hovering above Laurent’s head as he guides him inside.

Damianos talks to his bodyguards before he comes in, so Laurent takes that opportunity to text Aimeric.

‘BITCH. I AM COMING TO HIS HOUSE.’

Aimeric’s reply comes quickly. 

‘YOU WHORE TELL ME THE DETAILS WHEN I SEE YOU!!!!’

‘YOU WILL NEVER SEE ME AGAIN. BYE BITCH.’

Laurent doesn’t check the reply anymore because Damianos settles in the car, though at a respectful distance. One whole seat, approximately.

Laurent will make sure that distance will disappear by the end of the car ride.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER II

Damianos doesn’t speak for a while after he enters the car, just closes his eyes and breathes. Laurent leaves him alone, thinking he needs to process and deserves the space to do so.

In the meantime, Laurent watches the activity outside. Two of Damianos’ bodyguards get in the front of the car, while the other two go in a different car to follow them from behind. 

Did Damianos really have this much protection whenever he left his house? Laurent knows he’s important, but four bodyguards? This man is even more important than the Patran president’s son, who only has two bodyguards. 

Damianos is really about to make all of Laurent’s dreams come true.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through that.” He hears Damianos as he watches the bodyguard start driving out of the parking lot.

Laurent looks at him, shaking his head.

“You apologize too much, Damianos. None of this is your fault.” 

Damianos is about to protest so Laurent talks over him. 

“First, it was Smith’s. Then it was whoever caused us to leave. Then it was Smith again.” Laurent puts his hand in the space between, near Damianos’ but not quite touching. “You're just caught in all this as much as I am. You deserve better.”

Damianos is speechless, as if no one has ever told him he deserves a life outside of a fish bowl, where his every move doesn’t get scrutinized.

“What was it anyway? Why are they outside?” Laurent continues.

“There’s a picture of us at the club.”

“Yes, that was clear.”

“At least they think it’s Jokaste, so your personal social media accounts are spared of all that drama,” he says, leaning his head on the backrest, keeping his gaze on Laurent. “It was a blurry picture, but now they think I forgave her.” 

Laurent assumes those were the pictures Ancel sent him, but Ancel knew it was him because he knew Laurent’s plans that night. 

There’s a pained expression on Damianos’ face as he recalls the memory of his ex-fiancée, her misdeeds suffocating the air in the car. 

Despite wanting to reach out and comfort Damianos, Laurent still acts that this all doesn't make sense to him, because he is insane enough to pretend he doesn’t know a single thing about Damianos. Which is crazy because anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows him.

“I presume Jokaste is the reason you’re at the club tonight?”

Damianos looks at him, eyes wide and eyebrows raised, like he just remembered there really is someone who doesn’t know a single thing about him. He looks unused to it, never experiencing it before, and it’s unknown to him whether he likes it.

“Oh yes…” Damianos runs a hand down his face. “I’m really, really sorry for not explaining. God, I don't want to sound like a narcissist, but I'm used to people knowing everything about me the moment it happens.”

Oops. 

“I really should explain better.”

“Hey.” Laurent unconsciously touches Damianos’ shoulder. “It’s okay. Just tell me whatever you want, however you want.” He lessens the gap between them. “We have time… I hope?” 

Damianos stares at him. 

“Yeah.” Breathless. 

Ding. Another point in the scoreboard. Laurent will be Damianos’ by the end of tonight.

“Okay, okay umm… Lemme just calm down, I guess.”

“Go ahead.” Laurent returns his hand in the space between them. He notices Damianos move his, so their pinky fingers touch.

Damianos looks out the window and watches the city lights blur by. A few seconds pass before he releases a breath and laughs. 

“What a night, huh? Taking a complete stranger home.” Damianos returns his gaze to Laurent. Even sitting so close like this, he has to look down to meet his eyes. 

“You already know I'm Veretian and Kemptian. And that I look like your ex. And I also know you’re famous enough to trend on Twitter. Are we really still strangers?”

Damianos laughs. It’s involuntary, the way Laurent feels a contraction somewhere in his chest. Surely it can’t be his heart, he’s only here to seduce Damianos for his money. 

“And I should really explain why, huh?” Damianos leans on the backrest again, more relaxed, still staring at Laurent. He follows. “After I told you all that shit about how I'm not good to be in a relationship again.”

“Hey, if you just need someone to vent to, I'll be all ears. I can't go home anyway.”

Damianos laughs again. Loud, genuine, and deep. And that contraction on Laurent’s chest quickens. He almost lifts his hand on top of his chest to steady whatever it is that’s going insane in there.

Right before Damianos replies, the car stops. and he looks outside. “Oh we’re here. I guess we’ll have plenty of topics when we get inside then?”

Laurent also peeps outside and has to grit his teeth to stop his jaw from dropping. He does everything he can to keep calm as he stares at the massive iron gates opening so the car can drive in. 

The mansion, no, it almost looks like a palace, is at the end of the path, glistening even under the moonlight. It’s a typical rich person house, modern and white, walls replaced with wide and huge windows that leave nothing to the imagination. 

Laurent wonders if anyone will see if he just happens to look out there while getting pounded by the owner.

“This is where you live?” 

“My humble abode.” Damianos jokes.

“Impressive.” Laurent answers cooly. 

It isn’t a lie to inflate Damianos’ ego like Laurent does with most men. The mansion really is impressive, Laurent thinks giddily. This is the biggest fucking house –you can’t even call it that, castle really suited it best– Laurent will soon be stepping into. 

Laurent has dated the son of the Patran president, but their official presidency house does not compare to this. (He was visiting Patras with Ancel and Aimeric a few summers ago. They wreaked havoc, took money and gifts, and Laurent pretended he’ll call Torveld again, but he never did. He’s not sure he’s welcome in Patras anymore but it doesn’t matter now.)

There will be no topping the experience of looking at and entering Damianos’ massive co— castle.

The car enters the parking garage, after the automatic garage doors open. It parks right next to flashier cars that Damianos doesn't drive when he wants to be discreet, but every magazine knows of the purchases, often inserting pictures of Damianos standing right next to it, arms crossed and muscles bunched. 

“You like cars?” Laurent asks as he climbs off the car, Damianos holding the door open for him, despite one of the bodyguards opening it for Damianos.

“My dad loves them,” Damianos answers, closing the door. “I bonded with him through this. My brother too.” He says in a sad voice, staring longingly at a red Lamborghini Aventador. 

Laurent knows Damianos’ family situation is a more dangerous territory than his relationship with Jokaste, so in the interest of not ruining his chances of getting in Damianos’ bed, he deviates the topic from cars.

“You can tell me all about the cars later.” He stares at the double doors he assumes to be the entrance to the house. “Can I use the restroom? I've been needing to go since earlier but you know what happened there.”

Laurent has all the time in the world for Damianos’ cars. Right now, he has to go inside.

Damianos looks at him, longing gaze replaced by concern for his guest. “Yes, of course. This way.”

Damianos walks beside him as they make their way to the door. He opens it for Laurent like a gentleman, then beckons him to enter the house before him. It’s a wide hallway, with doors leading to different rooms and paintings that must have cost millions to set the ambiance of the house of a future CEO. 

Damianos opens a door to the left. “Right here.” 

Laurent notices the lights inside turn on by itself. 

“Just walk straight down to that door when you’re done. It's the kitchen. I'll be there.”

Laurent nods in reply, then enters the bathroom. 

In the bathroom Laurent does his business, actually meaning it when he said he needed to go. He doesn’t take time to look around and admire the modern, rich look of the bathroom, used to it and knowing he has plenty of time to do so in the future. 

Once done, he washes his hands, grips the marble counter, and stares at his reflection on the wide mirror above the sink. He’s still gorgeous as ever, but his flushed cheeks surprise him, incomprehensible why he has it; if it's because of the cold, Damianos’ genuinity, or how hot he is being all insecure and sad but also so self-assured. 

He really is getting a man who can do both.

“Alright bitch you're in.” He whispers to his reflection. “You cannot fuck this up anymore. This is what you have been waiting for all your life. Get in that man’s pants! Or life. Whatever he prefers!”

Though, Laurent really wants to see what is under that skin tight button-down. He’ll imagine that damn view for the rest of his life if he can’t see it. Which he will.

“You better suck his dick!” He whispers, pointing at himself. 

He splashes his face with water to cool down the flush and wake up. He doesn’t know what time it is, but judging how quick the drive was, knowing Damianos lived outside the city, it was probably past midnight. Towelettes are placed on the edge of the sink, which he uses to dry his face and hands. He deposits that to the cloth bin under the sink after. Laurent knows how rich people's homes work, he has been there enough. 

He looks at his reflection one last time, fixes his hair, and lowers his top more. 

“You got this, bitch.” He winks.

He comes out of the bathroom silently and walks straight just as Damianos instructed. He could explore the other rooms, pretend he got lost, but he doesn't care to waste time anymore.

He enters the kitchen to see Damianos rummaging around. He’s silent enough to go unnoticed, and Damianos is too busy opening cabinets, taking out pots, pans, and plates to notice him, so he watches Damianos for a few seconds. 

Laurent watches those thick biceps clench and unclench every time Damianos reaches for something, begging to be set free from their skin-tight cotton confinement. He watches Damianos mouthing to himself, shaking his head whenever he opens the wrong cabinet, sighing when he can’t find something as if he’s never been in this room before, which, Laurent guesses, is highly likely. It’s quick, but he sees the furrowed eyebrows, the quick flashes of hope and happiness when Damianos finds something useful. This man looks so damn hot whatever he did, Laurent could just stay here all night and watch him.

“You cooking something, or just messing up your kitchen?” Laurent finally asks, making his presence known.

“Oh, hey.” Damianos greets, unfazed.

 He glances at Laurent and points to the counter behind the sink. It’s designed as a divider, the person on the barstool can watch whoever is washing dishes or cooking, while they enjoy their food and their view. 

“There’s a mug of hot coffee on there. If it got cold, let me know. I’ll heat it up again.”

Laurent nods and walks to the counter. He hops on the barstool and cups the mug, a good temperature already for drinking. 

“Thanks. I take it black, how'd you know?” Laurent jokes then sips.

Damianos’ shoulders shake as he chuckles. “Haha, well, glad I guessed right. But in case I was wrong, I put some creamer and sugar beside it.”

“Thoughtful.” Laurent comments and takes another sip. “This is really good.”

“Yeah? It’s given to me by the best brewery in Delpha. They grow really great quality coffee beans.”

Laurent knows which brewery Damianos is talking about. From taste alone, Laurent can tell this type of coffee can only be afforded by people of Damianos’ status. The fact that the brewery simply gifted this to Damianos truly shows just how important he is. Laurent takes another sip. It really is good coffee.

“What are you doing?” Laurent asks, toning down the judgment, because Damianos is still rummaging around, opening each cabinet, taking one thing out, then putting it on the counter. 

“Umm… trying to find something easy to cook. For you. Us.” He switches to a drawer. “You only had that one glass an hour ago. I don’t know if you ate before that, but my mother said I should always make sure to stuff my guests full so they’d have a good experience in our house.”

Laurent wants to be stuffed full, alright. Just not with food. 

“I'm more like a stowaway than a guest.”

Damianos looks at him seriously. “I invited you here. You're a guest.” 

Laurent smiles. “You cook then?”

Damianos shows a sheepish expression and scratches the back of his head. “Honestly, I only know how to fry eggs, but I looked in the fridge, and I think we ran out. So I’m figuring this out as I go.”

Laurent stares at the fridge which occupies the whole wall. There are four doors on that wall, yet none contain eggs. Alright.

“So, what’s something easy?”

“Toast? But I can't find the bread.” Damianos says it so seriously that Laurent has to cover the smile growing on his face. 

“You’re not usually in this kitchen, are you?”

“You got me.” Damianos sighs.

“You need help?”

“I wanted to be a good host since I dragged you into this mess but… yes please.” Damianos gives in, throwing a little pout in Laurent’s way. 

No, that did not affect Laurent at all. At all.

“How do you eat everyday, then?” Laurent asks as he walks around the counter.

“Private chef.”

“Of course.” 

“But it’s the weekend so they have it off.”

“I assumed. Don't they leave leftovers in the fridge?” Laurent opens one of the fridges to find it empty of said leftovers. There’s a few water bottles and fruits which he takes out. He moves to the next fridge, but finds nothing useful.

“Why is your fridge so empty?”

“I might have given everyone a few days off.” Damianos sounds uncertain. “Or… more. Paid leave.”

“Had something to do with Jokaste?”

“Yeah.” Laurent hears him stop for a second, then he moves again.

“There’re fruits here, apples, peaches. Pretty easy to cut.” Laurent says, moving to the sink to wash the fruits and because this is where he hopes the cutting board and knives are.

“I… don't… know how to cut fruits.” Damianos admits quietly, back facing Laurent when he turns quickly to look at him in shock.

This time, he doesn’t hide his smile since Damianos can't see. 

“Ah. I got you. Show me the knives?”

Damianos faces him confidently, obviously happy he at least knows where the knives are. 

“My mom tried to teach me to do basic kitchen things but she can’t get me to listen. And because the possibility of a private chef was never not an option.” Damianos explains, opening a drawer near Laurent, then handing him a knife meant for cutting through meat. 

Laurent takes it –really trying his best to bite down a bigger smile– but he walks to where Damianos got the knife and exchanges it for the appropriate sized one. He finds the cutting board near, so he puts the washed apple on top and starts chopping.

Damianos saw what Laurent did, so he sighs and chuckles. “I swear I am not this incompetent. Cooking just isn't my strong suit.”

“You can fry eggs. Just don't run out and you’ll be fine.” Laurent answers.

He hears Damianos stifle a laugh. Laurent wishes he released it. He’s only heard it a few times tonight, but he knew he’d like to hear more of that deep voice in genuine ecstasy. 

Damianos is still walking all over, opening cabinets and coming in and out of the pantry, so Laurent appeases him.

“Fruits are fine, Damianos. I’ll be full with it.”

Damianos ignores him, bringing a pancake mix out of the pantry, a big and excited smile on his face as if he's a dog returning the ball to his owner. 

“Look what I found! This looks pretty easy.”

“They need eggs.”

“Really?” The disappointed look on his face almost made Laurent come over and hug him.

“I’m sorry.” Laurent says as if talking to a child.

“Damn. Let's order pizza.” Damianos says, exasperated. 

“They do deliveries here?” 

Damianos’ property looks too private and hidden for deliveries to reach.

“They leave it at the front gate. I usually don't order, but whenever Nik, my best friend, is over, he does it a lot since he’s mostly here on the weekends.” Damianos explains, leaning on the counter next to Laurent, taking out his phone. “And yes, I know how to order food, you don't have to worry.”

“I’m not.” He is.

Damianos makes the call while returning the items he took out of cabinets. He absentmindedly hands Laurent a bowl for the fruits while Laurent watches him work around the kitchen. If this is the life, the domesticity, waiting for Laurent then god, he really needs to not fuck anything up and do something now to cement his role in Damianos’ life. 

Though Damianos has shown him kindness the whole night, he can't help but think none of these have anything to do with romance or getting into Laurent's pants. No, he knows that none of these have anything to do with that at all. This is only how Damianos is as a person. And no matter how much Laurent likes being treated like this by a man whose salary can pay for his lifestyle and more, he wishes it is simply because of sex. Love can follow after. Maybe.

Laurent hears Damianos thank the operator and say goodbye. From his periphery, Damianos pours himself and Laurent coffee. 

“Your other coffee got cold. Sorry for making you slice apples.”

“You don't have to apologize.”

“Sorry I mean— here’s your coffee.”

Laurent takes it and lifts the bowl of fruits for Damianos. “Take one. You need to eat too.”

“Oh.” Damianos says, like he doesn’t expect kindness back. “Thanks.” 

Laurent gives him the bowl and turns to clean up his mess. 

“I got this.” Damianos tells him, putting the bowl down. “Just sit back down and relax. I don't want to trouble you anymore.”

Laurent obliges, though he wanted to nag Damianos to eat a slice of fruit first. He moves back to his stool behind the counter and watches Damianos move around the kitchen again, throwing apple and peach skins in the trash, rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. 

“So you do know how to do basic kitchen things.” Laurent teases.

Damianos looks up at him unamused. “Haha. My mom was adamant I at least know how to clean up after myself. One of our chores when we were younger.” 

“You really look up to her, huh?”

“Yeah. She was amazing. Tried her best to teach us a lot of house things even though we grew up with a silver spoon.” He’s in front of Laurent, since the sink is there, but he’s looking down and suddenly grows silent.

Laurent knows he should apologize, such were the only words when people are dead, despite being so useless. However, Damianos hasn't brought it up, and Laurent pretends not to know anything about him. They stay in silence for a while then. Laurent, thinking Damianos needs it more than insincere words.

Damianos shakes his head and looks up. “Sor— I mean— ah fuck.”

Laurent laughs and Damianos smiles at him. So warm, so gentle, so kind.

“She died three months ago,” Damianos says, this time looking at Laurent. “We haven't lived in the same house since I was twenty-one, but I used to see her every day and she’d nag me, of course.” There’s a sad smile on his face. “It’s still really different.”

Laurent nods. He knows how Damianos feels too, but he can't seem to open his mouth. He never had to be so genuine about his feelings with other men he dates for money. He wants to right now, but can't.

“God, I'm being really annoying with this sad topic.” Damianos breaks the silence. “Then again, if I'm about to explain to you why the paps are following me, then it really doesn't get better.”

“I'm all ears, Damianos.” Laurent truly means it. “Sometimes all we need is a friend who listens.”

Damianos stares at him –that bone deep, soul-searching gaze again– like Laurent is unreal, like he doesn't quite understand why Laurent was here, but he likes it, knows he might need it.

“Let’s go to the living room to wait for the pizza.” Damianos says, voice stuck. He coughs. “There's nothing I can cook in this place anyway.”

He walks to the door and gazes back at Laurent before exiting, expecting him to follow but still waiting patiently.

“You mind if I bring my coffee?”

“Go for it.”

Laurent hops off the stool, takes his mug and the bowl of fruits, then follows Damianos. They walk side by side to the living room entrance, an open double door a few steps to the right. 

The living room is wide, as big as Laurent's whole apartment with his friends. The ceiling is high with a starburst chandelier decorating the room more than illuminating it. The light sources are recessed lighting and various decorative lamps that probably cost more than Laurent’s rent. 

It's clean and spacious, with a white couch shaped like the letter L. There’s a black oval coffee table with a glass top, with three stacked books and a tiny plant. There are plants in spaces they need to be, to add color to the white, gold, and black aesthetic. 

Everything looks staged, items placed as if it’s a set for a movie. It’s not homey nor does it feel lived in. It’s a modern take on Akielos’ historic open and marble designs. Laurent admires it, but he doesn’t love it. He prefers an interior that still looks extravagant, but at the same time, home.

Damianos sits down and pats the space right next to him. “I know it looks a lot, but this room isn’t really where I spend most of my time.”

Laurent is looking for coasters to place the bowl of fruits so marks won’t be left on the glass table, and Damianos notices. “Oh, just place them on the table or even this couch. I don’t mind the mess.”

“You sure?” Everything looks so delicate.

“Of course. It’s just a table.”

Of course. It’s just a $75,000 coffee table, no biggie.

Laurent eventually follows him and sits down right next to Damianos. He still puts a gap, but not as big as it was in the car earlier. This time, if he shifts his leg to the left, he’ll touch Damianos’, and the man himself doesn’t seem to mind.

“So… Where were we?”

“In the kitchen.”

Laurent stares at him, shocked he made a joke, shocked they’re close enough now after a matter of hours for him to do that. Then again, he just told Laurent that his mother died. 

Damn. Laurent really does have some kind of other worldly game. He should’ve tried it with a real CEO but most of them are old and gray, so Damianos really is the best catch out here.

Unfortunately, Laurent didn’t recover fast enough because Damianos’ expression turns apologetic. 

“God, I’m sorry. I was kidding.”

“No. I know. I just…” Laurent exhales a laugh. “I was just surprised you could tell a joke.”

“I’m sorry, you must think I’m such a—”

“No. Really. Don’t apologize. I just didn’t know we’re here already.”

“Here?”

“In the living room.”

Damianos cracks a big smile. “Oh so you got jokes too.”

“Plenty.” Laurent leans close, just as Damianos does. Neither of them move away. “I’m glad you’re comfortable enough to make jokes around me. I’d love for you to make more.”

“Please remember you said that because I’m a walking dictionary of dad jokes and Nik and Jokaste absolutely hate them.”

At the mention of Jokaste, the light that’s slowly reappearing in his eyes disappears again. He moves back as his smile shrinks. He unconsciously grows quiet. 

If you look closely you’d see how much his situation with Jokaste truly broke him. It’s not obvious because he changes emotions so quickly, probably a practiced gesture since his every move is followed by the media, but it’s there. Laurent wonders how much the news outlets and the public misunderstand Damianos' real thoughts and feelings.

“I’m sor—”

Laurent gives him a pointed look so he shuts his apology quickly. 

He does that a lot, apologize, which is uncanny for a very powerful man like him. Was this how he is everyday too when he looks so self-assured? Surely that isn’t the best way to run a business. Was this just his insane kindness then? Or was this the man Jokaste left him to become?

“Are you okay?” Laurent asks him instead of all the questions burning in his mind.

Damianos looks at him wide eyed, as if no one has asked him that before or in the past three months he had been grieving his mother’s death. 

He releases a breath. “I’m… yeah. I’m fine.”

Laurent doesn’t believe him but he has a feeling he shouldn’t press. 

“If you don’t mind me asking, what really happened with Jokaste?” Laurent asks, sad, rich men therapist mode activated. Though this time, he actually wants to know.

Damianos leans on the backrest of the couch, looks up, and exhales. “Where do I even begin?”

“Pizza’s not here yet, so the beginning might be a good place.” 

Damianos grins and looks at him. Laurent is glad. 

“Ah yes, the beginning. What a good place to start.” Damianos says, still leaning on the backrest, relaxed, like Laurent is either his therapist or an old friend he’s really comfortable with.

Laurent could be both. 

“I mean, if you’re feeling adventurous, in medias res is also a style authors use.”

“Writer?”

“Just a fan of books.”

Damianos nods. “Okay so… the beginning… You haven’t heard a single thing about me, right?”

Laurent feels like he should tell the truth now and somehow, Damianos will forgive him. But he knows if he does, the mood will change and Damianos won’t be as open, so it’s stupid and it’ll hurt, but he continues to lie.

“Other than you’re a celebrity enough to trend on Twitter, nope I don’t know anything.”

“Cool.” Damianos says, nodding. “So I take it you haven’t heard of my father?”

“Is he a celebrity too?”

“He used to be. But now, he’s the CEO of Ios Corp. Theomedes Vallis.”

Laurent gives him his best confused look. He does know both of those information. It’s practically public knowledge, even in Vere. Maybe Damianos is giving him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he thinks Veretian Laurent doesn’t care about Akielon affairs. He didn’t, but he’s been here in Akielos for three years, so he kinda had to care already. To know the right men, of course.

“I don't follow business people.” A lie. “I don’t even get why people would make them celebrities… actually,” Laurent looks Damianos up and down. “With you, I get it.”

Damianos raises an eyebrow. “Me?”

“You’re hot.” Laurent says matter-of-factly.

Damianos is actually shocked but just laughs.

“Well, thank you.” 

“What, no compliment back?” Laurent boldly says.

“You’re gorgeous.” 

“I know.”

Damianos chuckles. 

“So your father was a celebrity but now a CEO?” Laurent stirs the conversation back, arm sliding on top of the backrest, almost but not quite touching Damianos’ face. 

“Yeah, he used to be an actor in his teens but retired when he inherited the company at thirty, because gramps was really old and needed someone to run the growing business. Then around that time he also met my mom, they got married really early and— god, I hope I’m not boring you; these are all necessary… I think.”

“No you’re not. Just surprised you’re starting at the beginning, beginning.”

“I’m sorry is that not—”

“I’m kidding. Keep going.” Laurent gives Damianos a look so he doesn’t protest.

“Okay… they got married but can’t have a baby so my dad, you know—it’s normal in Akielos, it was never a big deal—but yeah he met what the internet would call his side chick, Hypermenestra.”

“Side chick.”

Despite the topic, Damianos’ smile returns.

“Yes. And it’s important. Because my dad and Hypermenestra had a son before my mom had me.”

Laurent is nodding, like he didn’t read the whole wikipedia page and the articles referenced. His research was thorough, he made sure to know everything. 

“His name is Kastor, which, I’m gonna bet you also don’t know?” Laurent shakes his head. “I figured.”

“Got quite a family history, don’t you.”

“Quite.”

“So why does Kastor play into this, then?”

“How do I say this without making you judge my whole family?”

Oh babe. Laurent knows already. He knows Damianos’ brother sucks balls. Not literally.

“I promise to keep an open mind.” He won't.

“So Jokaste—”

“Oh, this was about her?”

Damianos almost laughs out loud. “I know. How is my whole family involved, right?”

“How indeed.”

“We’ve been dating for five years. And it’s not even an arranged thing, she was my secretary and—judge me all you want, the whole world already did—but we hit it off, so things just naturally unfolded.”

Damianos is silent then, as he usually becomes at the mention of Jokaste. Laurent doesn't press. He just waits patiently, intrigued, listening intently, evident to himself how much he really wants to know what Damianos feels, a genuine desire to care for him bubbling up inside.

“Anyway, long story short, she cheated on me with my brother.”

“No.” Even though Laurent already knows, his reaction is genuine.

“Yeah.” Damianos says quietly and still in disbelief.

“That fucking sucks.” Also another genuine reaction.

“I had to find out from Twitter too, you know. Couple of days after my dad married Kastor's mom, pictures of them on a yacht appeared. Jokaste and I were just together at the wedding and everything was fine. I didn't know anything at all.”

“How long?”

“Six whole months.”

“Damn.”

“Yeah. Damn.” 

They grow silent once more. Laurent, bolder this time, touches Damianos’ shoulder lightly. He doesn’t move away.

“Everybody says it’s all because I'm not the future heir anymore so she’s hopping ships—”

“You’re a future heir?” Laurent knows this one too but he can't assume. His plan is full proof.

“Oh my god, I’m sorry I forgot to— I’m the Vice President of Ios Corp, right now.”

“You look so young to be running a company.”

“I'm 27, actually.”

“Liar.”

Damianos shakes his head, smiling once more. 

“But why wouldn’t you be inheriting the company? Surely you worked all your life for that position?”

“Well… traditionally, firstborns are usually the heir. That’s Kastor, but he wasn't the legal son. So it became me.”

“Until he was.”

“Yep. So you know, life’s been grand. How are you?”

“This all feels like a soap opera.”

“I wish it were.”

Laurent is about to say something, but Damianos looks at his phone in his hand.

“Security just texted, pizza’s here. Lemme just get it.” He says, standing up and walking to another open door where Laurent assumes is the receiving room and front doors. Because, of course, this house would have a receiving room.

He comes back holding five boxes of pizza and the security person holding two more bags of what looks like five boxes each. He walks to a different direction instead of following Damianos.

“You know there’s only two of us, right?” Laurent asks Damianos once he faces him.

“I know, but I forgot to ask what you like.”

“So you got them all.”

“There’s still tomorrow.” Laurent perks at that, though inwardly. Damianos isn’t a busy man, it seems. “And the other personnel.”

“I have a feeling they have their own five boxes already.”

“They do.”

Laurent nods. This man is generous. Laurent practically lists all the jewelry he wants from Balmain, Chanel, and Gucci, but he knows not to count eggs before they hatch. 

“Let’s move to the entertainment room. That’s where Nik and I usually hang out and eat.”

Laurent loves that Damianos talks to him like he’s known Nik all his life. Laurent loves that Damianos has an entertainment room. Laurent loves rich people so much he is beaming. 

He stands. “Need help?”

“Nah, got this.” Damianos replies, raising the pizza boxes like it weighs nothing. 

Laurent knew Damianos would decline, he just asked to be polite but truly, he’d rather Damianos carry all those boxes. He quite enjoys those biceps in action, the way the muscles flex, they could crush a watermelon if Damianos really tried. God how he wishes to be enveloped in those while cumming.

He follows Damianos upstairs, grand double stairs because this whole house isn’t flashy enough. Someday, Laurent will dramatically walk down those stairs in a sheer robe and lingerie to welcome Damianos home, because he wants to, and because he plans to be here long enough for that to become a possibility.

They walk past a few more doors and paintings with different patterns of colors bursting, giving life to the cream walls. But there’s something that makes Laurent think these paintings aren’t Damianos’ style at all. Laurent wonders if he picked them himself or it was the interior designer’s choice, or maybe even Jokaste.

“In here,” Damianos says, finally opening a door.

It’s not a small room, still bigger than Laurent’s own room in his apartment, but it doesn’t meet his expectations. There’s one couch that fits three people and a loveseat on one side of the walls. On the other side was the T.V. as big as the wall, and the shelves where various consoles are placed. Another glass coffee table occupies the center, but it’s filled with remotes, controllers, and beer cans, which Damianos notices.

“Fuck, sorry. I haven’t cleaned here yet.”

“I don’t mind.” Laurent picks up two cans and looks for the nearest place to throw it. 

“You don’t have to—“

“Just put the pizza down, Damianos.” 

He obliges, finding a free spot on the table, and Laurent continues to pick up more trash, suddenly finding bags of chips he didn’t see were on the floor beside the table. This must be where Damianos spends his evenings, or even mornings, recently when he’s not in the club crying about Jokaste. Laurent is sure that the cleaners, which Damianos might have also given days off, will never leave a room in this state.

“We could move to the theater room.” Damianos suggests, fidgeting and picking up trash, evidently worried Laurent is judging his lowest moments.

“You mean to tell me this isn’t where you watch movies?” Laurent asks instead, stopping in his tracks.

Damianos chuckles and scratches the back of his neck, embarrassed. What is he embarrassed about? Him using his money right?! Laurent is offended.

“Yeah, sometimes Nik and I play video games there too when he and I quote ‘wants to beat my ass in Mario Kart at the bigger screen.’ ” Damianos has a fond smile on his face. “He never does, though.”

“Hm. Of course he doesn’t.” Laurent says, kneeling down on the floor once everything is clean  because the couches are too far from the pizza. He notices the two bags of pizza the security guy was carrying earlier. “I, on the other hand, will beat your ass.”

He sees that Damianos wants to protest his choice of seating, but because of his taunt, forgets quickly.

“Oh you think you can?” Damianos asks, walking to the opposite side of the room.

“Hell yeah, Damianos. I’m unbeatable.” Laurent says, eyeing the man who’s now turning on the T.V. and setting up the game, forgetting about the theater room and what he used to do in this room just like that. 

“There’s a first time for everything.” Damianos replies and Laurent just watches his back move, that skin-tight button-up doing wonders to his god-given body.

“Like you losing to me.” Laurent says innocently. 

Damianos looks at him with a glare, and they both laugh. 

“Do you mind if I eat while playing? I don’t want to get grease on your controllers.”

“It’s fine, just eat. Nik and I do it all the time.” Damianos stands, hands him the controller, and plops down in front of the coffee table. “Better chances of me winning if you’re distracted.”

“You’ll eat your words, Damianos!” Laurent shouts, earning a laugh. 

He grabs a slice of pepperoni and cheese for himself, nestling it in a tissue. He brings both the controller and the pizza as he moves beside Damianos, plopping down too, cross-legged. His knees purposely touch Damianos’ and either he doesn’t notice or mind, but he stays there. 

The game is already set up when Laurent looks up. He bites the pizza, letting the moan out because it is that good and he’s really hungry, realizing now that he hasn’t eaten since lunch time. 

“Good pizza?” Damianos asks and Laurent hears the way his voice cracked. 

Obviously the moan distressed him, hopefully in a good way.

“The best.” Laurent answers, biting and moaning again, not theatrical but absolutely purposeful.

Damianos coughs. He ignores the moan, but Laurent sees in his periphery the widened eyes and the way Damianos’ fidgets with the controller while the game is loading. 

 “Who—” Damianos coughs again, voice croaking. “Who do you usually play?”

“Rosalina.” Laurent answers innocently.

“Why am I not surprised?” Damianos says clicking a few things on screen, not needing to tell Laurent what to do because Laurent knows which buttons to click also so he can play.

They’re comfortable but Laurent is sure they both feel the sexual tension hanging in the air, taking over the playful atmosphere. 

“You usually play Bowser don’t you?”

Damianos looks at him offended. “Well he wins me all my games so I like him!”

Laurent cackles and Damianos, instead of getting angry, just laughs along with him. They start to tease each other about their chosen characters while on the customization screen. Damianos points out how Laurent looks exactly like Rosalina, which is why he plays him, while Laurent answers the same about Damianos and Bowser, though it couldn’t be far from the truth. 

They get to the screen of the race countdown and Laurent takes a bite of his pizza while waiting.

“Look, Damianos, I'm going to be eating this pizza and beating your ass at the same time.” Laurent taunts, mouth full.

Damianos doesn't answer, but Laurent sees a smile on his face. 

The game starts, the characters all driving forward, Laurent and Damianos focused the entire time, this being the most important game because Laurent has to beat Damianos’ ass —and he will, because he is unbeatable— and he does. He raises his controller when he wins, sweet victory tasting great, despite the reason for him being here is to seduce this man. Well, he does play games to win.

Laurent looks at Damianos who has a shocked look on his face. 

“I don't know what tasted better, victory or the pizza.” Laurent says, turning around to grab another slice.

As answer, Damianos playfully shoves his knee with his own. He can’t even say that Laurent cheated because Laurent didn’t. He’s just that good.

“Again!!!” Damianos screams like a child. Laurent adores it.

“You're ready to get your ass beaten again?”

“Are you?”

They play a few more games and Laurent continues his victory streak. He hasn’t lost to Aimeric or Ancel before, he doesn’t plan on doing it to Damianos now. Damianos who sulks more and more each loss, shoving Laurent playfully on the knee or on the shoulder, because Laurent can take it. Laurent doesn’t complain at all because oh god those hands making contact with his knee?! He needs more, preferably while he’s on his back, moaning and cumming.

Big smiles are painted on both their faces, the outside world forgotten, like this is all normal, like this has always been Laurent’s place in Damianos’ life.

Laurent eats three more slices of pizza during the game, hunger consuming him and him feeling comfortable enough to eat in front of Damianos. Sometimes he taunts to wipe his hand on Damianos’ thigh, but never delivers because he wouldn’t dare do that to Versace, even though he really wants to tease closer and closer to Damianos’ crotch. 

Damianos rushes to the mini-fridge beside the couch when Laurent almost chokes because of laughing too much. His face is so worried, but Laurent can’t stop laughing enough to drink. Eventually, he does because he can’t breathe anymore.

They continue to play, minutes turning into endless hours, game after game after game. Damianos laughs more and more. He even cheats during the game, covering Laurent's eyes, so Laurent tickles him, and he has the audacity to be upset he lost because Laurent tickled him.

In their last game, Damianos purposely stands in front of Laurent. To retaliate, Laurent purposely slots himself in between Damianos’ legs –not facing up though– which shocks Damianos so much, he almost falls on him. Laurent ends up laughing so loud, he stops controlling his character. Damianos passes his character then and wins.

Damianos steps around Laurent before he kneels and screams in happiness.

“YES YES! Fucking finally!” Damianos screams, actually looking like he’s in tears.

He’s so happy celebrating, Laurent doesn’t even mind his unbeatable streak finally ended. He doesn’t mind seeing Damianos that happy, thinking that’s the only mood he wants to see him in. He stays on the ground, cupping his face, a smile on it while watching Damianos gloat. 

Laurent is genuinely enjoying himself unlike any other time he’d tried to take a rich man to bed, and he isn’t even trying with Damianos anymore. Though, none of those men would ever simply enjoy a game of Mario Kart with him.

“I won! I beat your ass! I’m the only man who’s ever beaten you!” Damianos says again, like a child who won over a giant monster.

“You cheated.” Laurent says with a smile, no bite at all.

“You did too!” Damianos responds, standing. “In between my legs, really?” He asks as he offers his hand to raise Laurent.

Laurent accepts his hand and laughs in response, eyes getting smaller and tears on the corner of his eyes. It's so contagious, Damianos can’t help but laugh too.

When Laurent sobers, he notices how close he is to Damianos, barely a hand separating their chests from touching. He looks up at Damianos –because he is that taller than Laurent– and sees him looking back fondly, crinkles in his eyes and an adoring smile on his face. Damianos looks at him like he’d known him his whole life, like they hadn’t met in the club earlier while he’s at the bar, whole body slumping on the counter as if the world is ending.

Laurent feels the air change then, and knows Damianos feels it too. He swears if he moves closer, Damianos will follow. Instead, they just stare in each others’ eyes, laughter dying down, but neither one moving.

“It’s late.” Damianos breaks the silence with a whisper.

“It is.” Laurent answers, keeping his eyes on Damianos’ own brown ones.

Damianos’ eyes flicker to his mouth, then his eyes, and that’s when the spell breaks. He closes his eyes, exhales and steps back.

Laurent wants to pull him back in, but doesn’t. With everything so delicate, and Damianos still vulnerable, he knows it isn’t time yet. 

Laurent isn’t sure either why Damianos’ vulnerability is stopping him now, when that hasn’t stopped him with other men before.

“I’ll show you to the guest room.” Damianos tells him, back turned, walking to the door.

“I should clean up first.” Laurent answers, already picking up the controllers from the floor.

“Don’t mind that.” Damianos grabs the controller from his hand, carefully avoiding his skin. “I’ll deal with it later.”

Laurenr doesn’t protest, but he closes all the pizza boxes. Damianos lets him, returning the controllers on the shelf under the T.V. 

Laurent notices each of the boxes are missing one slice, all from him. He's the only one who ate tonight. He looks back at Damianos, wanting to say more, to say eat, but can’t.

“Alright, I’m ready.” Laurent says.

He follows Damianos to a room on the other side of the staircase. The east wing, if he wants to be fancy, thinking maybe Damianos does name his house like that. 

He asks, because he can, and Damianos laughs, answering “Yes, I do call it the east wing. Makes me feel like a king in my palace.”

Laurent thinks he really is a king.

Damianos opens another double door to a fancy guest room. It opens to a king sized bed, with no headboard, the theme of modern and historic Akielon from the living room  continuing here. The walls are colored, however, a refreshing shade of blue. 

The room has its own en suite, which explains why there are no other doors in the hallway, apart from the one right in front of this room. There’s a couch set, carpet, T.V., and fireplace on the other side. Laurent notices the bookshelves, not there for decoration, and he wishes he isn’t so tired right now so he can explore it. The large windows that leave nothing to the imagination are on the right side of the room, covered by dark blue curtains.

“This is the bathroom.” Damianos points to a door on the left side. “There's a closet inside with pajamas to change into. Feel free to use anything in there.”

Laurent nods and makes his way. Normally, he’d say, ‘Care to join me? ’ stripped naked already, but he doesn’t with Damianos. Mostly, it’s because he’s still clothed, but also because he believes there’s much more to gain if he waits. He has a feeling he’ll be in Damianos' life longer.

“Thank you.” Laurent whispers instead when he’s facing Damianos. 

He looks at Laurent, a kind smile on his face again, but this time not because Laurent is a stranger he needs to be polite to but because he feels comfortable in his presence.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” He simply says. Laurent watches him walk to the doors. He stops to look back at Laurent. “I think the chefs will be back so we’ll have better food.” 

“I quite hoped I’d get to taste some of your toast.” Laurent answers with a teasing smile.

Damianos shakes his head, smiling. “Then I’ll make you some too. Call me if you need anything.”

He leaves after Laurent nods, though Laurent has no idea how he can call. He doesn’t have Damianos’ phone number nor does he know what room he is in. Maybe it’s the one in front of him, but he’s not desperate enough to try. Everything went well, and everything will go well.

Laurent enters the en suite and is welcomed by the large mirror above the sink. His face, as usual, betrays all his hidden feelings by being a shade similar to his lips, the deep flush spreading to his neck. He forgot he’d been wearing this low cut shirt, Damianos not giving it any attention at all. Somehow, he appreciates that.

“You did well.” Laurent still tells himself before he strips and enters the shower. 

He notices the bathtub, thinking it’d be so nice to enjoy that for once without being fucked open by older men in it. He could lay there by himself, indulgently soaking in lavender bath bombs, maybe read a book from the shelves outside. But he suddenly feels the weight of the day engulf him, and he’d rather just be in bed wearing –what he hopes– are designer silk pajamas. 

As he washes his body, Laurent thinks about his next move. Sure, the night went well because of outside interference but he can’t rely on Twitter or all the men he used to prey on. He needs to plan what to do, especially since he has no idea how to make a move on Damianos, because everything he knows is the wrong move. 

They are hanging on a very delicate thread, but at least he sees the signs that Damianos wants him too. But he doesn’t know if he’s patient enough to start at friends, nor does he believe that will pay for his lifestyle.

He wants to leave it up to chance and thinks maybe the gods will interfere again, because they are obviously on Laurent's side —which they should be, thank goodness. Maybe tomorrow, the news will blow up that it isn’t Jokaste after all, everyone will find out about Laurent, and Damianos will feel responsible. Maybe someone like Smith shows up at Damianos’ front door in the morning, maybe even Jokaste, and Laurent, to help Damianos, has to pretend to be his new boyfriend. 

There’s many possibilities, many things he can do, and he prepares himself for them all, ready for whatever may come, as long as he gets to stay by Damianos’ side. He isn’t playing this game to lose. 

He comes out of the shower and makes his way to the walk-in closet connected to the bathroom —the size of it being a whole room, something Damianos forgot to mention. He wears a bathrobe hanging on one of the poles and looks at the many choices of silk pajamas. He chooses a pearl white, caressing the silk, knowing only real and expensive clothing feels this good on his skin, like they are meant to be together. God, he deserves to wear pajamas like these every single day. He checks the brand –Louis Vuitton– because, of course, only the best for Damianos’ guests.

He checks himself on the full-length mirror inside the closet, taking a few pictures to send to his friends later. He opens drawers on the vanity table, searching for a brush to fix his hair. He finds one, glad to see Damianos also provides brushes because Laurent couldn't spare his hair even in this spontaneous trip.

The men he slept with usually showered with him the next day —showered being a relative term. They often shared things too, because they aren’t as rich or as polite as Damianos. He stays in a relationship with them for two weeks, usually because that’s how long the vacation trips to expensive beaches and hotels are. Sometimes he stays after the vacation, depending on how much he can get out of them. 

Damianos already proves to be better than every single one of them and Laurent knows he’ll stay with him, vacation or none.

Once he’s satisfied with his pictures and brushing his hair, Laurent lays down the bed. The bed that is so comfortable he’d orgasm on the spot if it wouldn’t dirty the sheets. It feels like real clouds, or how he thinks clouds would feel like. He could never give Damianos up now because he would never sleep on his own bed ever again after a night on this one. If Damianos turned up to become like all the other men he has dated, he would still stay in the relationship for this bed. But Laurent knows that Damianos will always be better than all those men. This bed, however, is a different story.

Despite sleep pulling him in, he remembers to check Ancel’s and Aimerics’s texts so he can brag about his pajamas before sleeping. 

He reads Aimeric’s text first.

‘Bitch better get that bag!!!’

‘Going home with the coverboy!! He’s so hot he owns three yachts rawr. Enjoy ur hunk of a man. I want details: penis size, cum color, who came first, obviously it’s you, but I still wanna know!!’

Laurent doesn't bother to reply knowing Aimeric is absolutely getting railed in one of coverboy’s yachts right at this moment.

He reads Ancel’s next.

‘OH MY GOD YOU DID IT YOU WHOREEEE’

‘DAMIANOS FUCKING VALLIS BITCH YOU GOT FUCKING GAME’

‘NGL I DID NOT BELIEVE YOU COULD ACTUALLY DO IT’

‘MUST BE NICE LOOKING LIKE HIS EX-FIANCEE LMAOOO’

Then, Laurent finally sees the pictures that started this all. It’s him and Damianos at the bar, facing each other. From the angle it was taken, Laurent’s back is facing the camera, while Damianos’ face is clearly seen, giving Laurent those polite, kind smiles that can be misconstrued any way the beholder wants. Obviously, despite Damianos being genuine to Laurent at that moment, Twitter had a different idea.

Laurent truly does look like Jokaste in that angle. Though his build is bigger and more muscular than her, he knows many perceive him as androgynous, which is why it’s so easy to prey on men, especially with the way he keeps his hair now, shoulder-length, he could pass off as a woman. And he has seen Jokaste's pictures during his research. They look so similar, he wonders if he could get Damianos drunk enough to think he was her, so he can finally make a move.

He shoves that thought to plan Z for now, because he’d rather Damianos like him as him, or whatever he is right now, but he’ll keep it as an option.

He should have asked his mother if he had a twin. Maybe Auguste would know… he shakes his head. 

Laurent opens Twitter, despite Damianos’ warnings, so he can finally know what everyone has been saying for the past few hours when Damianos had been enjoying his company.

His eyes bulge out at the scale of Damianos’ popularity in real time, hitting different this time because he’s involved. The first words on the trend list is ‘Damianos’; the second is ‘Jokaste’; and the third is ‘back together’. Laurent knows people are invested in Damianos because of his face, but he is only the vice president of a major company in Akielos, yet he’s treated as a big celebrity.

Laurent acknowledges that despite Damianos’ position, he is competent, starting his career at 18, and succeeding in his projects left and right at 21 when he officially became vice president of Ios Corp. Now 27, he has accomplished a lot at his young age, which makes him so impressive in everyone’s eyes, especially when he looks so impressive. Damianos truly had it all until this year.

Reading the comments, no one knows it’s Laurent yet, but everyone is arguing on the true identity of the blonde. Some are saying that it couldn’t be Jokaste, literally everyone could be blonde, and Damianos would never –Laurent quotes– ‘get back together with that lying, cheating skank’

Some say it is Jokaste and Damianos is the type to get back together with her because he’s a pushover like that, he’s too fucking nice and would let her step all over him. Laurent almost responds to that person, feeling protective over Damianos.

Laurent shakes his head, exiting out of Twitter before things get out of his control. It’s unimaginable what their reactions will be when he starts a relationship with Damianos, however that will turn out. 

The final thing Laurent does before turning in, seeing that it’s almost four in the morning, is open his group chat with Ancel and Aimeric to send them his pictures in the LV silk pajamas. 

‘LOOK AT ME I AM SO FANCY YALL COULD NEVER’

‘YES THIS IS PROVIDED BY DAMIANOS I AM LIVING THE LIFE I DESERVE’

With that, he locks his phone and places it on the nightstand. He gets ready to close his eyes, fixing the thin blanket on the bed over him, when he hears a knock on the door.

“Laurent, can I come in?” Laurent hears the loud whisper, thinking Damianos is doing so because he doesn’t want to wake Laurent up if he’s asleep.

Still, was this it? Asleep or not, Damianos can’t resist Laurent after all?

“Yes. Come in.” Laurent answers, sitting up on the bed. 

Damianos enters, but stays at the door. He is clothed in his own matching black silk pajamas. He’s wearing Charls , Laurent notices, even more expensive than LV. He doesn’t cross the threshold, just gazes at Laurent from the door, a folded blanket in his hand. 

“Everything alright?” Laurent asks because Damianos isn’t talking, just staring at him, like he did the first time he saw Laurent at the club earlier.

“Just checking up on you. And to bring this.” Damianos says almost shyly, as he raises the blanket.

He finally walks in to put the blanket on the feet of Laurent’s bed. He stays there, not quite going nearer Laurent nor going back to the door.

Is he testing waters? Should Laurent make the first move? Should he offer the spot right next to him?

“I… don't know if the thin sheet will be enough for you. It gets cold here.” Damianos says, looking at the folded blanket instead of Laurent. “And it took me a while looking for where they put these stuff so…”

“Thank you.” Laurent says, trying to catch Damianos’ gaze. “You didn't have to, but I appreciate it. I get cold easy.” He doesn't.

Damianos smiles, finally looking at him. He looks genuinely happy he got to do something nice for Laurent, like letting him stay here all night isn’t nice enough.

Damianos fidgets on the spot, and Laurent feels like he should tell him to stay, but uncertain because he might not want to. He could usually read these things, other men being so easy, but Damianos is just too goddamn different. 

Laurent tries to find the subtlest words he could manage.

“Lonely out there?” Laurent asks as he silently taps the empty space beside him.

Damianos’ gaze follows, then moves up Laurent’s arms, to his neck, mouth, nose, eyes. 

Damn. It’s like being touched open. Electrifying. 

“I had to give you my own blanket because I wasn’t actually able to find the supply closet.” Damianos responds, playing the game the same way as Laurent.

Laurent then moves aways from Damianos’ eyes. He openly looks at Damianos’s torso, his chest, his arms, those killer biceps, then his neck, mouth, nose, eyes. Someday, it’ll be his tongue that moves through that.

“It’ll be cold in your room then.” Laurent responds.

“I have a thermostat.”

“Can you find the controls for it?”

“It’s in my phone.”

He still doesn’t make any move to leave despite there being a good reason he doesn't need to sleep here.

For fuck’s sake.

“Damianos.” Laurent looks in his eyes. “Do you want to keep me company?”

“Yes.” There is no hesitation.

“Get on the bed then.”

He immediately follows, walking to the left side where the empty space is. Laurent is used to leaving the spot next to him empty since he has never slept on a big bed all by himself.

Damianos sits gently, hesitant too, like he doesn't know what he’s doing and why, but wanting to do it anyway.

“I'm not gonna bite. This is your house.” Laurent soothes while laying down. “I just didn't want you to miss your blanky.” 

Damianos exhales a laugh, the sexual tension bursting like a bubble. 

Damianos moves to lie down, but not before taking the blanket he brought over and fixing it over him and Laurent. They don’t touch, however. The bed is big, the one-foot gap Laurent claimed he’ll remove by the end of the car ride back in between them.

He hears Damianos breathing, and god, he wants to jump him, cuddle him, caress him, but there’s something more in the air here, some delicate balance of desire and comfort that he knows is best to leave alone for now. There’s time, he believes. There’s time.

“Don't be so nervous. Nothing needs to happen.” He tells Damianos.

“It just feels safer here.” He hears a breathy voice reply after a while.

Laurent faces Damianos. “I feel safe here too.”

Damianos faces Laurent with a smile. “Blanky’s comfy isn't it?”

Laurent nods.

“But do you really have the thermostat control on your phone?” He can’t help but ask.

Damianos laughs. “Yeah I really do.” He shows it. “See? Is 72 okay or—”

“This is your house. Do what makes you happy.”

Me. Damianos. Do I make you happy? Do me. Now. Laurent doesn’t say.

Damianos hums. 

“Thanks for keeping me company. I needed it.”

“Goodnight Damianos.” 

Out of habit, Laurent places his hand in between the gap. Damianos holds it.

“Goodnight Laurent.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER III

Laurent wakes to sunlight on his face, a warm caress gently pulling him out of sleep. Damn, he thinks with a smile, even sunlight in this mansion feels expensive. He didn’t notice last night that the windows on Damianos’ side have sheer curtains, hiding them from view, but still inviting light in.

Everything from last night still feels surreal, like a scene that only unfolds in his wildest dreams. His research didn’t prepare him for Damianos at all since he sat beside him at the bar. Who would have thought that a man so powerful, so above everyone else, is equally kind and nervous and gentle and giving.

Laurent didn’t expect to be in the mansion of a man he just met, not at a hotel, not naked —clothed in silk pajamas even. His sleep on this magical bed is the best he had in years, he didn’t even try to think of how it would feel to get dicked down on it. Well… now he is thinking of it.

It all had been so different from his past experiences and he loves it, thinking he could really get used to it. 

He has his foot in the door now —scratch that, he has entered the threshold, sliced fruits in the kitchen, made his coffee mark on the $75,000 glass coffee table, played Mario Kart and ate pizza in the entertainment room, and is now sleeping on the best bed he’s ever laid his head on. This is something he will refuse to give up.

He faces the man who made all of this possible, Damianos, who is still asleep facing him, peaceful and content. They are still a foot apart, Damianos keeping to his side the whole night despite the media saying he is a cuddler. They're not holding hands anymore, but Laurent still feels the sparks from last night. 

It came as a surprise when Damianos took his hand just before his eyes closed. Laurent didn’t respond, but didn’t close his own eyes either. He just watched Damianos fall asleep with a content smile right before him. Laurent doesn’t understand what it means, if it means anything at all, but it sure made his heart race, and he had to instantly shut all of the thoughts in his mind so he could catch a few hours of sleep.

Still, now, in the morning sunlight, he can’t forget how the warm hand felt on his, how they fit like a glove, how he’d like more. Maybe.  

Laurent watches Damianos breathe, his mouth open. He isn’t sure if it’s the luxury sunlight, but Damianos looks even more beautiful this morning. His brown skin is glowing and it looks so soft. Laurent wonders how it would feel on his lips, having the sudden urge to press gentle kisses all over it. He wonders if Damianos had ever been given gentle kisses all over his face.

Damianos smiles in his sleep, and Laurent didn’t catch it last night, being beside Damianos all the time, but there are dimples on those cheeks he’d like to cup in his hands, just to know how it feels to love a man enough to want to hold him so close. 

Laurent what is up with you? Kisses? Hand holding? Those won’t get you anywhere! You’re here for his money! He quickly thinks to himself, shaking all thoughts of love and affection away. He’s here for money and money alone. 

“Fuck.” Laurent whispers, raising his hand to trail a finger over Damianos’ face.

He caresses lightly, not wanting to wake Damianos yet. He doesn’t know his morning schedule, but according to one of his interviews, he likes sleeping in. Laurent, on the other hand, will open his eyes at seven in the morning no matter what time he sleeps. 

He pokes the dimple, because Damianos’ smile keeps growing. Laurent is almost scared he’s awake and will catch him doing an intimate act, not knowing if that is already allowed. 

He gasps as Damianos, still with his eyes closed, raises his own hand to hold Laurent’s on his face. Laurent gulps as his hands shake over those warm lips. Damianos doesn’t open his eyes, but continues to kiss his knuckles. He’s dreaming.

Damianos places their hands on his chest. He’s still breathing evenly, unconscious of his actions, unhearing of Laurent’s racing heart. Laurent tries to calm down, tries to explain to himself it’s a dream, Damianos is dreaming of… whoever it is, it’s not him. 

He waits for a few minutes, when Damianos’ hand laxes and his face is gentle again, he pulls away. There’s no complaints, so Laurent sits up. 

Laurent places a hand over his heart, careful of his movements on the bed for Damianos. He stands, looks back when he hears Damianos’ little grunt, but he’s still asleep so Laurent does nothing. He decides it’s time to go inside the bathroom before Damianos wakes, so it’s not Laurent’s face he sees when he might be expecting somebody else. He doesn’t want to disappoint Damianos that early. He knows Damianos would rather see a different blonde. 

He grabs his phone on the nightstand, then tiptoes to the restroom. Laurent faces the mirror and fixes his hair, a habit he acquired when he began sleeping with all those older men. Truthfully, none of them ever woke up before Laurent and he made sure of that all the time. Nobody has seen him just woken up, hair messed up and sleep lines on his face. And nobody should.

 He looks at his clothes from yesterday, folded neatly on the shelf by the sink. He doesn't really want to wear them again, but he can't really still be in pajamas when Damianos wakes up. He doesn't want him to think that he’s expecting to stay. He is, and Damianos will make him, but it’s always a good precaution to not seem overeager. It‘s all part of the game. He wants Damianos himself to say it, to tell him to stay. The game hasn’t ended yet just because they slept on the same bed. As long as he isn’t Damianos’ beloved, as long as he doesn’t regularly receive anything from Damianos, he plays to win.

Laurent starts his morning routine; washing his face —Damianos’ guest bathroom has a fine amount of amenities for a skin care routine, this must be where he puts all the gifts sent to him by random brands who want traction; brushing his teeth; brushing his hair until it’s smooth and perfect; finally he pees, then sits on the toilet, unwilling to come out yet because Damianos isn’t awake. Like he does with everyone, he stalls until they wake up and look for him. 

He checks his phone in the meantime. He scrolls through Twitter where the people are still fighting over his pictures with Damianos last night. He’s quite surprised the rumors haven’t been dismissed by Damianos’ PR team, but then again, Damianos was rather busy with the blonde in the pictures last night. Bored of the fighting Laurent opens his group chat with Ancel and Aimeric to read the replies.

Aimeric: Damn ur clothed??? Tf when did u ever have clothes on for sex?!

Ancel: DID HE DICK YOU DOWN THEN DRESS YOU UP? FUCK MAN UR IN. GO ASK FOR A PORSCHE GO GO

Laurent: Hm even though it’s none of your business, we just slept. He loves me like that already.

The reply comes fast, his friends wake up as early as him, all of them having the same ‘sugar daddy can’t see my morning face’ routine. They are not yet, nor will they ever be, in that level of intimacy.

Ancel: SHUT THE FUCK UP HE DOES NOT LOVE YOU. U JUST LOOK LIKE HIS EX. 

Laurent: Jealousy isn’t a good look on you babe. Maybe you think he doesn’t love me, but he still clothed me in LV pajamas so who won here?

Aimeric: Just say you went through his closet and took his clothes bro

Laurent: Is that why the pajamas fit really well?

Laurent doesn’t check their reply because he hears Damianos groan from the bed –very hot by the way– he would like to hear more of those morning grunts from him. An idea pops into his head, because he thinks he knows Damianos’ next actions, so he quickly stands, grabs his clothes, and goes inside the walk-in closet.

“Laurent?” He hears from the other side of the bathroom door and he wishes now he left it open because he would really like to see what Damianos looks like just woken up.

“In the closet.” Laurent replies, unbuttoning his pajama shirt.

Damianos knocks on the bathroom door, which is funny because Laurent predicted that and did he really want to see Laurent that badly? What if he is peeing? Laurent still says to come in. He won’t deprive Damianos of his… fresh out of the bathroom morning glory. 

Damianos opens the door. “Good morning—oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were—” 

He quickly looks away because Laurent is basically half naked in front of him. Basically. His shirt is opened, pretending he’s about to change out of his top. 

“Good morning to you too.” Laurent looks at him, not bothering to hide his bare chest and stomach. “Apologizing so early in the morning, I thought we’re way past that.” 

Damianos still has his back turned to Laurent, not speaking, but also not leaving, a very, very good sign.

“You can look. Don’t mind me, I told you to come in, didn’t I?” A challenge.

At that, Damianos turns and stares at him, his face, but it’s obvious that because he’s that far from Laurent he sees… everything.

“Hi.” Damianos’ best words. 

Yes, Laurent had that reaction before. Then he got slammed to the wall, turned and bent, and his ass remembers the rest. Damianos, take a damn hint.

Then, purposefully, Damianos’ eyes roam. Laurent lets him stare. He wonders what he sees, hoping it’s good, hoping he wants to undress Laurent to see more. 

Laurent is purposely making a show with the open buttons, pale skin of his chest and stomach bared, like Damianos didn’t have this view yesterday. A tease of the yellow hair under his navel is out, suggesting ‘come look what’s under’ , and so are his nipples, unseen and teasing, but if he puffs his chest out or turns to the side, Damianos will have the view.

“Damianos, my eyes are up here.” Laurent jokes and Damianos coughs, returning his gaze to Laurent’s face.

“Im s—” he stops himself. “Do you–um–do you want a change of clothes? I'm sure you’d want to be in more comfortable clothes than last night’s.”

Man, what is with Damianos? Can he just tell Laurent now that he wants a change of career, and he really wants to be Laurent’s sugar daddy? What is with the giving?! Laurent isn't complaining though. By all means, Damianos, he will gladly receive. Anything.

“Yes. If you don't mind, these aren't exactly comfortable anymore,” Laurent says, gesturing to his clothes from last night. Sorry, Valentino, somebody has to take the fall.

“Of course.” Damianos says. “Um—the—um— the clothes are in my bathroom closet… so if you want you can join me— I mean we could—um—we—I—“

Why so nervous, Damianos?

“Yeah.” Laurent puts Damianos out of his blubbering misery. “I’ll follow you.”

“Cool.” Damianos says, not cool at all, he almost hits the sink counter when he turns. He walks to the bathroom door, feigning confidence. Laurent is sure there’s a flush spreading through Damianos’ face. If only his coloring doesn’t hide it.

Damianos, despite knowing Laurent will follow him, still waits for him at the threshold of the bathroom, then the room. They step out of the hallway and Damianos pauses in front of the double doors right in front of the guest room. 

“It’s a mess…” He whispers. Laurent is glad he doesn’t hear an apology. 

Damianos opens the door to his room, which, he is right, a mess. Catastrophe, actually. There’s clothes all over the floor, which doesn’t make sense because Damianos has a walk-in closet, why won’t he change in there? There are glasses, cups, plates, –his whole kitchen may have been here, that’s why he can’t find crap last night– bags of chips, and more beer cans scattered everywhere. This is a big room, so for it to accumulate this much mess, it is evident how much Jokaste truly fucked him up.

It’s too bad, really, because Laurent is sure this room looks magnificent when clean. Laurent is also very sure he’d like to be fucked by Damianos on every surface of this room, especially by the large windows also covered by sheer curtains —and is that a balcony door he sees? ( He tried it once with a rich actor at a villa, they’d been photographed but Laurent’s face was hidden since he’s bent over the railing. Fun times.)

Damianos’ room is a mirror of the guest room but on a grander scale, everything is bigger and very Damianos. This place is the only place in the house, or of what Laurent has seen thus far, that looks like Damianos designed himself. The color of the walls are off-white, the furniture varying in grays and black. There is no headboard on the bed too, true to the modern-historical Akielon theme of the house. There is a single painting above the bed, one that looks like it was chosen or commissioned by Damianos, a silhouette of a lion looking up at the night sky, reaching for one bright star. 

Damianos has an Alaskan king bed, the biggest bed there is, of course Damianos would splurge on himself like that. All of Laurent’s past escapades never had that kind of bed before, but he knows if his bed in the guest room was magical, then Damianos’ bed would be otherworldly. He’d never want to wake up, or never want to get fucked on another bed again. 

Opposite to the bed which is occupying the whole left wall –only giving room for two nightstands on either side– is similar to Laurent’s room last night, the mini living room situation with the fireplace, the couch set, television, but there’s a lack of bookshelf, replaced by an office table instead, with more papers and folders filed on top. Damianos must be a busy man who has been ignoring his work for the past few weeks.

“Must get a lot of sleep on this bed.” Laurent says, returning his gaze to Damianos who’s trying to tidy the room —picking up a few cups, but ultimately giving up once he gets to the bathroom door. 

“I swear this mess isn’t the reason why I slept with you last night.” Laurent stares at Damianos with eyebrows raised. His face changes when he realizes what he just implied. “I mean slept on the same bed like you know I—we—closed eyes—“

Laurent chuckles. “It’s all good, Damianos. You don’t have to explain anything.” He walks to the bathroom door and stands right in front of him. “I liked…doing that with you.” He winks then enters.

He turns Damianos who is at a loss for words by the door. When he recovers, he smiles, shakes his head, and enters the closet with him, also a walk-in, but again, bigger, and has more clothes than the guest room’s which only had the various pajamas and bathrobes.

The closet is very organized still, Laurent is surprised it isn’t as messy as the bedroom itself. Well, it makes sense since all the clothes are on the bedroom floor. There is one side dedicated to suits, one to button downs, one to dress pants, and even a portion for all his fancy shoes, rubber or leather. Tiny drawers are also in some parts which probably holds Damianos’ underwear or socks or even accessories, if he wears any. 

Laurent wants to open each of the drawers to see where Damianos’ Rolex collection is, because he would be the type of man to have those (and because in one of the articles Laurent read, Damianos said he is most proud of his car and watch collection). He bets that those watches are inside a drawer, each placed on revolving trays.

He reels himself in. All in time, Laurent.

The most disorganized part, Laurent notices, is where Damianos is currently rifling through casual shirts and hoodies. They’re still designers, Laurent sees the Charls symbols on some, but they’re rich people's casual clothes, so obviously they are still more expensive than Laurent’s rent.

“There’s a chair over here.” Damianos points at it. “You can sit while I look for my smallest shirt.”

“Any size is fine. I look good in everything.” 

Damianos chuckles. 

“Yes you do,” is said in a whisper, but loud enough that Laurent hears. “Do you want a shirt or a hoodie?”

“Shirt, please.” It’s not really that cold in Damianos’ house.

“Alright. Here you go. I think this will fit.” Damianos hands him a plain white shirt. 

Laurent, used to checking for the brand, quickly scans the writing on the inside of the back to see which label Damianos handed him. It’s a Charls shirt, the most expensive brand of clothing in all of Akielos and Vere. God, he’s not yet officially Damianos’ sugar baby but he’s already so pampered. 

“No pants?” Laurent says as he stands to take off his pajama shirt. He never did button it up.

“Still looking. I think all of it might swallow you.” Damianos responds, busy not staring at Laurent’s body so he doesn’t wear the shirt yet.

Jokaste probably has clothes in here, but Laurent is glad that Damianos doesn't even think to make him wear her stuff, they’re obviously the same size. Unless Laurent is wrong, and Damianos burnt all of her stuff to the ground the moment he found out she cheated on him. But then, he doesn’t seem like the burning bridges or clothes, literally, type of guy. 

“This is my smallest one…” Damianos turns to hand him the sweatpants, but he stops midway because he is welcomed by Laurent, truly half naked right in front of him. He swallows.

Laurent would comment –he always comments– some teasing remark, but the right move currently is to let the tension build and linger. So he just presents his body to Damianos like that. Damianos must make the first move, he must be the one to lose control and want to take Laurent right here and now. 

There’s an empty island in the middle of the closet, Damianos. Take me there. Now.

He doesn’t do anything, but he looks like he wants to. Laurent catches the lip bite, catches Damianos’ eyes take in all of him, catches the tiny spark of hunger on his face before he catches himself and turns back to his closet, quickly grabbing clothes for himself. 

He doesn’t look at Laurent when he finally speaks. “I’ll just…” His voice is hoarse. “I’m just gonna use the restroom real quick. You could–uh–you could change here.”

The trust Damianos has in him to leave him and believe he won’t just steal anything here is astounding. He can't run away, sure, but he can still snoop, take pictures, and tell everyone. Damianos just met him last night. Damn. He really is just too nice, bringing a blonde stranger home, feeding him, and clothing him. Wait… is Laurent a stray cat in his eyes?

“Damianos…” Laurent whispers and Damianos still doesn’t look at him, but he turns his head. “The pants?”

“Oh shit—” Damianos hands it quickly. Laurent is sure it will not fit but he takes it anyway, already conjuring up a plan in his head. 

“Thank you, I'll be quick.” Laurent says, ignoring Damianos’ embarrassed predicament.

“I'm gonna change in the bathroom then.” He starts to walk to the door. “I'll be on the other side if you need anything.”

What Laurent needs is for him to change in here with him, to stop depriving him of Damianos’ glorious body. But he doesn’t say that out loud. 

“Sure you don’t want to change here?” Laurent says instead.

“Do you want me to?” Damianos’ quick reply.

Damn wasn't he shy a few seconds ago?

“If I say I do, will you?” Laurent challenges with a raised eyebrow.

They stare at each other for a while, until Damianos smiles and backs into the bathroom. Laurent pretends (he knows, it’s quite evident) that Damianos is simply keeping his cool, but he really wants to slam Laurent on a wall and kiss him stupid. He’s half naked, Damianos! Do you have eyes?!

“I have to use the bathroom.” Still evading Laurent then, but playing too, just with defensive moves.

Laurent simply shrugs. 

“Offer stands.” He walks to the door and he sees the peak on Damianos’ throat bob. “But if you're shy…” He’s right in front of Damianos who looks down at him, eyes getting darker. “Here, I'll close the door for you.” He doesn’t wait for a response, he simply closes the door on Damianos.

They’ll get to the good part eventually. The game is very fun to play in the meantime. 

Laurent wears the shirt, because he got colder, and this shirt is very comfortable, just holding it in his hands already feels like his skin has cleared (it already is clear, it’s glowing now). Fuck. Laurent should only always be clothed in expensive fabric. It’s so nice that Damianos knows that and has been giving him the best clothing since last night. The shirt stops mid thigh, even though he’s only half a foot smaller than Damianos, the man is still big. Laurent doesn’t even need the pants anymore. 

Laurent removes his pajama bottom. He wishes Damianos forgot his underwear and suddenly opens the door while Laurent is bent and then that’s it, the fucking begins. But that’s not really how life works. And Laurent can’t bend long enough for Damianos to hear his horny thoughts and come back in. 

Laurent wears the black sweatpants and just as he suspected, it immediately falls down. Even Damianos’ clothes agree that they should fuck. Damn, Laurent is needy this morning, good thing he hides it well. 

He takes off the sweatpants and walks to the door. He knocks.

“You can open it.” He hears from the other side.

“Damianos the pants don’t fit…” Laurent pauses.

Damianos is shirtless. Laurent blinks then stares. Damianos knows what he’s doing, so he should know that Laurent will stare at that gorgeous body he’s been lusting for since he’d seen the thirst traps on Damianos’ instagram account. 

And Damianos… his body… GOD, the pictures didn’t do him justice. He should stop wearing shirts, clothes in general. There is no reason for him to hide his sculpted torso and those killer biceps. It is a disservice to the whole world. Laurent suddenly doesn’t understand why clothes were invented. Why the fuck would anyone make Damianos hide this goddamn fucking glorious body?

Did he say he can wait? That suddenly doesn’t seem possible.

Damianos is shirtless, staring at him who is pantless. They both stare at one another’s unclothed parts. Laurent knows Damianos is gawking at his legs, even without looking at his face. He’s basically seen Laurent naked already. 

“My eyes are up here.” Damianos says in a teasing voice, recovering before him.

Look, it’s not Laurent’s fault that he didn’t recover quickly. Damianos’ body is sculpted by the gods themselves. Like, Laurent is hot in his own right, but Damianos, god—no. No, they made him so much better.

“Good for them, have they seen your body?” Laurent replies, still looking at his abs, his pecs, and Damianos, not shy at all, laughs. Oh, of course, he wouldn’t be shy about that. “Oh wait, they're too busy looking at my legs.” 

“Should I tell you to take a picture too? I already took you home, right?”

“You recover fast.” Laurent finally –and this is with great difficulty– takes his eyes off Damianos’ body to look at his face. “I don't think any of your pants will fit.”

“Shorts?” Damianos asks, eyes returning to Laurent's legs.

“Just say you want to see them longer. My face is prettier, you know?”

Damianos laughs, entering the closet door while Laurent is still there, but it’s wide enough for them not to touch. Fucking tease.

Laurent leans at the door and crosses his arms as he watches Damianos’ back looking for his smallest shorts. Someday, hopefully tomorrow already, he’ll paint that back red with scratch marks. It’s so gorgeous, so exquisite, Laurent can’t help but wonder how that will unwind, flex, and move under the palm of his hands. He could do it right now, just go there and touch, make up an excuse, but Damianos seems to scare easily and Laurent could do baby steps. Toddler steps. Giant toddler steps. God, he can't wait but he will. He must. 

“Okay, I swear this isn’t my underwear, but these are my smallest shorts.” Damianos holds up shorts that look like they may be worn by strippers. Laurent owns a lot of shorts similar to that.

It’s quite small for Damianos, and Laurent wonders how good Damianos will look in it. Does it even fit him? Will his cock poke out of it and will he let Laurent lick it through the fabric? 

Damianos, however, misunderstands his look because he flushes and scratches the back of his neck.

“Nik, he bought this for me. I haven’t worn this. Ever. So defensive.

Laurent nods, a teasing smile on his face, but he takes the shorts, turns around, bends, and wears it right in front of Damianos. He doesn’t see the look on his face but he hears his breath hitch at the view. Laurent, after all, isn’t wearing any underwear.

When Laurent turns back, Damianos has his back turned too, innocently rifling through his clothes. 

“So… where can I put the pajamas?” Laurent asks and Damianos turns to him, but avoids his gaze.

“Just give them to me.” Damianos’ voice comes out hoarse.

Laurent hands him the clothes innocently. Their hands touch and Laurent purposely lingers. In the silence of the room, he hears Damianos gulp and exhale. Good. 

Damianos pulls away first, he always does, and puts the pajamas in the laundry basket under his sink. He exits the bathroom, then faces Laurent who’s standing in the middle of it.

He stops and stares, taking Laurent in wearing his clothes. Laurent knows that look. It’s the look many men give him when he wears their clothes in the morning after hours of passionate fucking. And Damianos, gentle and polite might he be, still can’t resist Laurent especially in his own clothes.

“You look…”

Laurent raises his eyebrows. His legs are still bare, his collar is exposed because of Damianos’ large shirt. There’s a flush in his cheeks, but that’s all on purpose.

“Do you want me to pull out a dictionary?”

Damianos looks back at his eyes, schooling the hunger rising on his own. No words are said, how can there be, what he wants to do is pounce, but Damianos does none of that and simply stays in his place. Laurent doesn’t make a move. He will break Damianos down, unclothed body part by unclothed body part. Laurent won’t be the first to crack.

“Breakfast?” Damianos asks eventually, still breathless.

“Look, I love seeing your whole sexy torso, but don’t you want to put on a shirt first?” 

Damianos looks at his body and nods. He takes his shirt on the bed and wears it, then heads for the door again. 

(He doesn’t have to wear a shirt –he shouldn’t, Laurent doesn’t know why he said it– but maybe, unconsciously, Laurent doesn't want Damianos to be cold. Or he might suddenly lick Damianos’ abs, who knows.)

 They walk alongside one another. Damianos, now in a plain black shirt and gray jacket, gradually becomes friendly again, the lust for Laurent all forgotten. But Laurent isn’t worried, the animal in Damianos is surfacing and that’s all the confirmation he needs to proceed. He’ll coax the beast out, after all, Laurent is a gorgeous prey with his body bared.

Damianos explains that he’s not really sure if his private chef is back, since he really wasn’t fully conscious when he gave everyone an extended leave. Laurent assures him that he can just make his famous toast, they’ll find the bread this time. 

Laughter fills the rather empty house as they descend the stairs, the ease of last night coming back. They’re friends just as much as Laurent flirts with him immensely. Well, Damianos isn’t driving him back, so Laurent continues to push forward. 

Laurent lets Damianos know that he feels like an evil queen descending down the spiral staircase. Damianos laughs, not having that thought before. 

“It makes you powerful. Is this why you’re always so confident?” Laurent tells him seriously, and his laughter booms, echoing around the house, reverberating through Laurent’s chest.

Inside the kitchen, the lack of people let Damianos know that none of his staff had returned yet. He shoots a quick text to someone, possibly to ask when he told them to come back. 

They work together to find more food instead. They’re more sober now, so finding things became easier, Damianos flushing because the bread was on the counter all along. There’s butter in the fridge –the expensive kind that you don’t see in grocery stores– luckily for Damianos, so he generously spreads it on two slices of bread. He takes a pan and spatula out confidently, winking at Laurent who is now back in his position on the stool behind the counter, sipping coffee made by Damianos. 

“Oh wow, not going to use the toaster?” 

“Nope.” Damianos pops his ‘p’. “Only the best for you.”

“If you want me to teach you how to use the toaster, all you have to do is ask.”

Damianos’ mouth gapes and Laurent laughs. He joins him a few seconds later after he recovers from the shock. Laurent really does love hearing his deep voice in ecstasy. Just imagine that voice moaning out his name.

Laurent is watching Damianos with a curious smile as he sips his morning coffee. The way these all feel like a newly married couple's domestic activity is not lost on Laurent. It’s a nice change of pace, something he’s done before, sure, but usually he’s naked and then gets told to kneel and suck cock. This all… isn’t that. It’s better.

They continue to have conversations about anything, Damianos’ business, what work he has been ignoring and all that. Damianos denies, of course, but he is a bit embarrassed Laurent noticed.

Damianos is spreading butter on bread right in front of Laurent when he turns the questions on him. 

“What about you, huh? I feel like I’ve been talking about myself since last night.”

That’s what usually the men Laurent sleeps with do. He hardly ever has to lie about himself because they don’t care to find out. 

Laurent raises his eyebrows in response. “What about me, then?”

“Your last name. Let’s start there.”

Laurent chuckles. “It’s deVere.”

“Like deVere Tech?”

“Yeah. I’m not related to anyone there though.”

“It does make sense for people from Vere to have the last name deVere.” 

Laurent grins. 

“Okay um…” Damianos adds a slice of butter in the pan. “What do you do for a living?”

“Why does this sound like a formal interview?”

“Part of my job.” 

“I’m self-employed.”

“Nice. So you’re a CEO.” Damianos exclaims excitedly. Laurent shakes his head, a teasing smile blooming on both their faces. “I’m only a VP. Who knew?” Damianos twists the pan in his hand so the melted butter spreads. “What do you do? You sell things?”

Laurent swallows his coffee. “Sure. I… sell… things .” 

Damianos nods, placing in the pan a single slice of bread, distracted, but his full attention still on Laurent. Laurent does remember his talent of talking to multiple people at once. Multi-tasking king, can he fuck Laurent while in a business call? Laurent simply can’t wait to find out. 

“Your family in Vere?”

“Yeah.”

“Parents? Brother? Sister?”

Laurent is sure it’s evident to Damianos that he’s not as open as he is, but he’s skilled enough to know which questions Laurent will be comfortable to answer. Like a true businessman.

“My parents are dead.” Laurent says lightly.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Damianos stops and looks at him, sympathy written all over his face.

Laurent waves his hand. “It’s been a long time, I’ve grieved enough.” 

Damianos, however, continues to look at him like he’s at fault that Laurent’s parents died and that he didn’t know last night when he talked about his own mother.

So Laurent continues. “I have one brother. Alive and older. Like Kastor.”

“Oh?” Damianos finally removes his gaze, understanding that Laurent wants to move on. He places the toasted bread on a plate and adds a new slice of butter on the pan. “What’s he like?”

“If you’re asking if he’s like Kastor, he isn’t.”

“Oh thank god. I was super worried for you for a second.” Damianos says so genuinely that Laurent laughs. “You two close?”

“We’re…” before Laurent could finish his thought, the doorbell rings. “Someone’s here.”

“That must be the grocery I had my assistant order. It’s bothering me that there’s nothing in my fridge.”

“I’ll get it.”

“No, I got it.”

“You can’t leave the toast in the pan.”

“Shit. You’re right. My mom would roll in her grave if she finds out I burnt another kitchen.”

“Another?” The doorbell rings again. “Finish that up, then help me out.”

Laurent got a whiplash how this all sounds so domestic, like they’re playing house already and Laurent is the perfect housewife. Again, Damianos, take a goddamn hint!

“Alright, okay. I'll be there in a sec.”

Laurent walks to the living room, brighter than last night, the windows letting all that luxury sunlight in. It’s all so open and straightforward, which he is coming to know to be very like Damianos —no hint of malice or evil, everything out in the open, comfortable and welcoming.

The doorbell rings a third time just as Laurent opens the door. Unless Damianos and the person on the other side of the door are friends, Laurent thinks they're too demanding.

“Hey—” Laurent stops.

Right in front of him is a reflection of his pale skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Jokaste is in the flesh, wearing a loose, satin baby blue blouse and matching pencil skirt paired with heels, making her as tall as Laurent, but her gaze, calm and collected as it is, might as well be her looking down at him. She has style, Laurent has to compliment, and she really does look like him, like a long lost sister —even their demeanor and disposition are similar.

But, and this is the most important part, Laurent is definitely prettier. 

Jokaste is sizing him up too, a cool gaze sweeping over his body, looking him head to Damianos’ shirt-clad torso, pantless legs, and bare feet. Good. She should think something happened between him and Damianos last night. And this morning too. 

“Who are you?” She sounds bored, but Laurent knows that tone. He’s used it enough to understand what she is truly conveying, and he knows she knows it too. 

After all, it’s only been two weeks, her replacement came fast.

“I’m the cuter blonde in his life.” Laurent answers without hesitation.

“Ah, so you’re me from last night.”

“Ah, so you still keep track of Damianos.”

She walks in, clearly stating that she owns these palace halls, that she walked in here before Laurent, been fucked in here before Laurent, acting invited and welcome, just as Damianos comes into the foyer.

“Laurent, who’s at the…”

They both look at Damianos who stares at them, shocked, moving his head between them like a fish. It seems it has only occurred to him just who he invited into his house last night —a reptile equally poisonous and identical to the snake that cheated on him. 

He continues to stare as if he will be eaten alive by two pale blondes significantly smaller than him, but he recovers enough to keep his gaze at Jokaste and address her.

“Jokaste.”

“Damianos.”

“Laurent.”

Damianos and Jokaste both look at him after his attempt to kill the increasingly nauseating tension. He shrugs and winks at Damianos, whose mood immediately changes when he looks at him. He doesn’t look at Laurent like he can harm him at all despite knowing him for less hours than Jokaste.

Jokaste keeps her gaze on Damianos and doesn't acknowledge Laurent anymore since her target is in the room. 

“Hey, Damen.” Laurent notices the deliberate use of the intimate nickname, only for Damianos’ closest people. She is clearly marking the territory that she herself trashed. 

“What are you doing here, Jokaste?” Damianos sounds like he’s trying too hard to speak to her. Clearly she still holds a noose over his neck. 

“I have your work for today.” Jokaste ignores his tone and his demeanor, but she knows all too well Damianos’ struggle. “But it’s private so it’s best if we talk about it in your office.”

Before Damianos responds, Laurent butts in. She is not getting Damianos all to herself when she willingly shared herself to his brother.

“Actually, Jokaste, we were going to eat breakfast right now.” He stands right beside Damianos, careful not to touch him, but close enough to let Jokaste know whose rightful place is by Damianos’ side now. 

“I don’t know about you and your work ethics, but Damianos isn’t even clocked in yet.” He knows vice presidents don’t clock in. “Maybe just leave the files and email him the details or something.”

“It’s time sensitive.”

“Actually, Laurent's right. I do want to eat breakfast first.” Damianos comes to Laurent’s aid, or in pettier words, picks his side. “I’m sure whatever you’ll tell me won’t be too private. Since you can let the public know important details about you and Kastor before me.”

Laurent doesn’t stop his eyebrows from shooting up, but he doesn't speak. Jokaste also doesn't say anything, but remains unfaltered, so Damianos continues, looking back at Laurent kindly.

“Your coffee will get cold.”

Laurent helps Damianos set the dining table in the kitchen, one for more intimate dinners, Damianos explained that morning when they stepped inside. 

Damianos gives Jokaste coffee, not before scooping two tablespoons of sugar and creamer in it, then catching himself, but wordlessly hands it to her anyway. She doesn’t even thank him.

The dining table seats six people. Damianos sits on the head, Laurent to his left and Jokaste to his right. Laurent begins eating, thanking Damianos and complimenting him for making his special toast for him. Jokaste's face is blank, but it’s obvious she wants to say, ‘He made that for me before you.’  

Damianos doesn’t offer her anything.

Jokaste is skeptical while talking about the contracts in front of Laurent, but Damianos doesn’t relent so she ends up doing his bidding. He is, after all, her boss. 

Laurent listens intently about Damianos’ work while he studies Jokaste’s responsibilities as a secretary to him. She knows his schedule, his partners and projects, even his reputation in social media, but she only tells him to talk to his PR team about last night. Everything is business related, nothing personal, like the groceries or the staff at home. That must be a different person then. Damianos did call them an assistant.

Laurent hears that Damianos should soon participate in or arrange himself a board meeting. Everyone wants to settle the building ‘next heir feud’ between him and Kastor, but without him, it’s impossible. She tells him the board members on his side, ones who will vote for him no matter what (not her obviously, but she doesn’t say that). 

It is absolutely stupid that she knows all these information, then runs to Kastor’s bed every night to give him the advantage. Damianos knows that too, but his current response is to ignore the situation. He definitely needs a new secretary.

Laurent watches Damianos too, gauging when was the last time he has talked to Jokaste based on his attitude toward her now. He’s professional and so is she, work being an easier and more important topic than their unresolved problems, an old can of worms they leave unopened despite it stinking up the place.

He sees the ease they used to have with each other, no matter how stunted. Jokaste points to certain words on the schedule or the contract, while Damianos nods, tells her to write down reminders, no body contact with her, but unbothered by their proximity. 

Briefly, Laurent wonders if she’s who Damianos sees when he looks at him, which is why he can easily accept him. Is it easier if he is looking at the same person, but one that hasn’t hurt him yet, as if time went back to the better days as he wished? Laurent wonders if she was the one Damianos wanted to see this morning, the one in his dreams as he kissed Laurent’s hand.

Jokaste is showing the second contract when Damianos, looking down at the folder says, “You know you could have explained this all to Erasmus and let him hand me the contracts. That’s how it has been for the past few weeks.”

So they haven’t talked at all since the news blew up. Laurent sips his coffee as he thinks Damianos a ticking time bomb, puzzle to diffuse unsolvable.

“I needed to bring this to you today because it relates to my replacement secretary. I’m holding interviews this afternoon. It’s inefficient to explain it to Erasmus so he can explain it to you.”

“You haven't talked to me since your pictures with my brother became public, Jokaste, why is this suddenly a priority?” Damianos is still pretending to read over the contract.

Damn. Laurent feels like he shouldn't be here anymore, but he certainly won’t leave. He loves drama and he’s watching front row. Why extricate himself?

“I don’t want to do this in front of a stranger.” 

Case in point.

“But you’ll let a million other strangers know before me that you fucked my brother behind my back?” Damianos looks at her now, and Laurent openly stares at them, not shy at all.

“Damen, I'm just trying to get this done so I can leave you as soon as possible. And you still haven’t come back to work so I’m still here. Could you be civil for a second?”

“You want me to be civil.”

“Yes, Damen. You want me out of your hair, we have to get this done first. I gave you space after you ignored me. But this needs to get done.”

“So this takes priority now so you can finally be free to become, what, Kastor’s secretary?”

“Damen if you want to talk about that could we talk about it when—”

“So conversation was possible all this time?”

Laurent, as much as he loves drama, thinks he should step in now because Damianos is ready to blow a fuse in front of Jokaste, so obviously, she wins their messy break-up. And of course, Laurent stepping in will benefit him in the future.

To diffuse the situation, Laurent makes an even bigger scene. He purposely spills coffee on himself. Apologies to great quality coffee beans and Charls the designer, he had to do something.

“Shit!” He exclaims, pushing his chair back aggressively to gain Damianos’ attention.

Successfully, Damianos immediately looks at him in concern, standing up and rushing to his side.

“What happened? Are you okay?” Damianos asks while he grabs the paper towel on the counter when he sees the situation. 

Laurent stands and lets Damianos rub the bottom of his shirt, near his crotch (the placement of the spill was calculated too). Damianos doesn’t even flinch, concern for Laurent taking priority.

“I'm so sorry. Your shirt…” Laurent says apologetically, helping Damianos rub the stains too.

Jokaste do you see? Do you see what you let go of willingly?

“It’s just a shirt.” Damianos looks in his eyes as he rubs. “Are you hurt? Was the coffee hot? Do you need to go to the hos—”

“No, no.” Laurent shakes his head, chest hurting at how much attention he is getting from Damianos. “It's not that hot anymore.”

Laurent just lets him wipe the stain while he mutters about first aid and apologies for ignoring Laurent the whole time he argued with Jokaste. Laurent can see Jokaste in his periphery, carefully holding herself as she watches them. 

Damianos stops rubbing the stains once he is assured that Laurent isn’t hurt at all anywhere.

“Don't worry about the shirt.” Spoken like a true rich man. “I’ll get you a different one.”

“No, this is better.”

“What is—“

Laurent holds Damianos’ jacket and unzips it, staring at his eyes with a teasing smirk. He guides Damianos to take it off and the man, so caught off-guard by his actions, lets him.

Face near Damianos’ ear, Laurent whispers, “I’m just going to the restroom. Do you want to come so you can get away from her?”

Damianos comes back to himself. “ No… I…” He realizes just what Laurent was trying to do. He smiles, eyes showing so much gratitude. “Thank you. I… got this.”

Laurent smiles, nods, and –what the heck, why not– squeezes Damianos’ bicep. 

“Behave.” Louder, he teases. He looks at Jokaste whose eyebrow is raised, mouth a thin line. “Keep your hands to yourself while I’m gone. Surely you could do that for Kastor?” 

Damianos’ body reacts subtly, shocked and proud. Laurent knows Damianos can handle himself now. He just wants Jokaste to remember exactly who is in the room and who made it easier for Damianos to talk to her again. If he isn’t here, Damianos would not even let her step inside the house, that much became obvious to Laurent.

Inside the restroom, Laurent takes off the shirt and replaces it with the jacket, zipped up all the way to his neck. The size is big, like the shirt, so he lets it hang off his right shoulder. He wishes there was a mark there to show off to Jokaste. However, he’s not desperate enough to fabricate one.

He doesn't want to leave Damianos and Jokaste for too long, but he still gives them time to talk. They won’t air out anything, but at least Damianos will be less aggravated. 

Laurent also has a feeling Jokaste will warn Damianos against him, now that he’s out of the room, and that will only make Damianos want him more. So go ahead Jokaste, tell the man you hurt how this new blonde in his life will be bad for him, like you were.

Laurent texts his friends to stall time.

Laurent: Jokaste is here. She totally came to see who Damianos replaced her with.

Aimeric: Where r u now shouldn't there be a catfight???? Pics pls!!

Ancel: Or they had a threesome and Laurent just finished?

Aimeric: PICS OF THAT PLEASE!!!!!!!!! ESPECIALLY DAMIANOS LEMME SEE THAT HUNK OF A MAN!!!!

Laurent: First of all my man is off limits.

Ancel: You have no man shut up

Laurent: I’m not talking though? I’m typing?

Ancel: Fuck you

Laurent: Anyway, I’m in the bathroom changing into Damianos’ jacket. A spill occurred. ;)

Aimeric: OMG THE THREESOME WAS REAL

Laurent: ;) 

Laurent: And I’m giving her time to tell Damianos that I’m bad for him so he’ll want me more.

Ancel: Youre fucking insane but also youre fucking smart

Aimeric: LAURENT YOU FUCKING GENIUSSSS I’m gonna try that someday

Laurent: It’s all practice babes. 

Laurent: Oh god I gotta go now I think they’re walking out of the kitchen.

Laurent leaves the restroom and just as he suspects, Damianos and Jokaste are walking to the front door talking in hushed whispers. He follows them silently to eavesdrop.

“Damen, you invited him to your own house. You don’t know what he wants from you.” Jokaste says, voice so even, one would think she’s simply discussing weather.

Well, she’s not wrong. 

“Why do you even care, Jokaste?” Damianos says tersely.

“Think about your reputation. Especially now when your position is unstable. You’re just taking home anyone . Damen, he’s here to use you for your money. You know that, right?”

Laurent should send a ‘thank you’ gift basket to every single person who tries to drive Damianos away from him because all they do is push them closer.

“That sure sounds nice coming from you.” Damianos has attitude.

They’ve stopped at the receiving room, Laurent hears the door open. 

“Damen you’re too kind.”

“You don’t know Laurent, okay?”

Thanks for defending me, babe!

“Do you?”

“I knew you.”

A heavy silence dropped on them like a bomb, but Jokaste quickly shakes it off and adapts a different demeanor.

“I'm just looking out for you, Damen. For your mom.” Her voice is softer.

Damianos doesn't reply. She used the mom card on him, she really is Laurent’s match.

“Damen,” Jokaste says in the silence, “about that night with Kastor—“ 

This is dangerous territory. Laurent comes out, pretending to look for something

“Damianos, I can't find the—“ He halts and looks at Jokaste innocently. “Oh, you’re still here?”

“Yes.”

“Great, well shouldn’t it be about time you leave? Got those interviews and sucking up to Kastor, right?”

Jokaste ignores him and looks at Damianos, who’s –honestly, Laurent is shocked– calm and unreactive of him being a bitch to the one who used to be the love of his life. Maybe he hates her that much. Understandable.

“I’m telling you, Damen.”

Despite being calm, Damianos, Laurent sees now, has an expression close to what he looked like at the bar last night —the world crashing on him again, and he’s gritting his teeth trying to carry the heavy burden.

Laurent stands right next to Damianos then looks at Jokaste with the fakest smile. “Goodbye. It was nice meeting you.”

“You, too.” Jokaste smiles at him, politely. And Laurent understands. She's not really more subtle than him, Laurent just has no reason to bite back the venom when talking to her.

She turns and leaves, not bothering to close the door. She looks very much like a queen walking away slowly, still cool and composed, assured that she can just waltz back into Damianos’ life tomorrow and he’ll accept.

Well, that was before Laurent came into the picture, bitch.

Damianos closes the door after her, but doesn't turn back to Laurent yet. He leans his head against the door, exhausted at that whole ordeal. Laurent craves to touch him, offer some comfort, but doesn’t. Damianos exhales a large breath, body sagging, like he’s finally done with a bloodless battle. 

Eventually, he faces Laurent, eyebrows furrowed, ready to ask for forgiveness about that whole ordeal, demeanor from last night before they met returning with force.

But Laurent talks first. “I’m sorry for taking your jacket. And for intruding. And for being an asshole to Jokaste. I’m not really a good person and… now you know.”

“No you… you helped.” Damianos says, attempting a smile, but unsuccessful.

“I just…  I felt like making her mad. And I know we’re not that close for that, and you probably hate me now, but it didn’t sit right with me that she acted like she hasn’t done anything wrong.” Laurent explains further.

“No, it's fine.” Damianos means it, evident that he isn’t upset with Laurent at all. “Thank you for being on my side. She’s right, I was the one who ignored her calls all that time. You… made this easier. I'm really, really glad you’re here.”

Laurent smiles, heart aching at Damianos’ grateful face, almost driven to tears. If Laurent isn’t so shameless, maybe he’ll feel some kind of guilt for seducing him for his own gain.

They continue to eat breakfast, but Jokaste’s appearance caused a rift in between them. Damianos’ whole mood changed, just as Jokaste wanted, reminding him of what they had, what he’ll never have again. He attempts to talk to Laurent, but he doesn’t crack jokes anymore, doesn’t even continue to ask about him. Jokaste knew coming here would rip the carefully sewn back heart of Damianos. That’s her true motive, and she, Laurent must applaud, succeeded.

 When the coffee is cold, and Laurent notices that Damianos is trying his best to keep his attention on him, but his stolen glances at the work Jokaste brought is taking up his attention, he understands it’s time for the next step — absence to make the heart grow fonder

He brings his plate to the sink.

“Oh,” Damianos stands. “I can handle that.” 

“Just bring your plate here.” Laurent notices his toast only has a single bite. “It's the least I could do.”

Damianos obliges, somehow knowing Laurent will do whatever he wants anyway, so why not just let him.

After a few minutes of silence while Damianos stands on the other side of the counter, looking at a space behind Laurent, unfocused, Laurent speaks. 

“Hey, Damianos…”

“Yeah?” He looks at Laurent.

“I had a really fun time with you.”

“Yeah?” There’s a tiny spark of happiness, albeit a little shy, in his tone.

“Yes.” Damianos nods, proud. “But my friends might be looking for me already.” They’re not. “And it’s Sunday, but you know I have to keep the business going.”

“Of course.” Damianos doesn’t even assure Laurent that he could stay. Fucking Jokaste, you don’t deserve a gift basket. “Here, write down your address. I'll take you there.” 

He hands Laurent a piece of paper and pen from the files Jokaste provided him.

Laurent writes down his address, then, after a thought, adds at the bottom his phone number with a note, ‘Call me anytime.’ 

He folds it and hands it to Damianos, who silently reads it right in front of him. 

“That’s smooth.”

“You never did ask.”

“Well, I hope you mean it.” Damianos says, taking out his phone and typing in Laurent’s number. “It’d be nice to have a friend to call anytime.”

Friend.

“I hope you call.”

“Who else will listen to my dad jokes?”

Laurent grins, shakes his head, then turns to place their plates inside the dishwasher. He turns it on. 

“Ready to go?” Damianos asks once he’s done. He really doesn’t even try to make Laurent stay.

“I need my clothes from upstairs.”

“Right. I’ll get you a bag for that.”

He silently accompanies Laurent to the guest room where he enters and takes his things, while Damianos looks for a bag in his room. Laurent stares at the bed, fixed already by Damianos after he woke up, all the marks of their domestic intimacy erased, but hopefully not forgotten.

“I’m coming back here.” Laurent whispers. “You’re mine now.”

Laurent steps out of the guest room and closes the door.

“Damianos?” 

“In here.”

The door is open so Laurent steps inside. He fixes his gaze at the man quickly lowering a white box on his office table. He walks to Laurent with a Chanel paper bag. The box, Laurent realizes, is obviously from inside the paper bag. 

(Laurent is devastated that Damianos didn’t include the box with the bag. Why did he not premise this relationship with his true intentions again? But he consoles himself with the assumption that the box would have been for Jokaste, and he doesn't want her seconds. Even if it is Chanel jewelry.)

“Here,” Damianos hands him the jewelry-empty paper bag. “You can put your clothes in there.”

“Thank you. Was that for Jokaste?” Laurent can’t help asking.

He wouldn’t bring up exes usually, but Damianos is upset already and Laurent can only do so little to get back the Damianos that was playing Mario Kart with him.

“Oh uh…” Damianos says, somber, scratching the back of his head. “Yeah… I wanted to give it when she came back from her ‘business trip’ with my brother.” 

“If you have the receipt you could always return it.” Laurent says honestly, glad when Damianos cracks a tiny smile. At least, at least he knows Laurent will always try to pick him up. 

“You’re a great friend, Laurent.” Rub it in, will you? “…I'm really going to give you a call, you know that, right?”

“You better. I don’t have your number.”

Damianos exhales a laugh, unlike the hearty ones Laurent enjoys hearing from last night, but at least he’s a bit more gleeful.

Inside the car, to Laurent’s dismay, Jokaste continues to linger in the air like bad perfume. Her appearance this morning is a cannonball destroying all the progress Damianos has made with Laurent. The gap between them is back, bigger, as Damianos stares out of the window, lost in his thoughts, in his memories. 

Laurent wishes he could touch him, pull him back in, make him look at him, but isn’t he a double edged sword, here to remind Damianos of Jokaste more?

“Are you okay?” Laurent whispers to nothing.

Damianos shakes his head, then faces Laurent, melancholy. 

“I’m sorry… I…” Damianos sighs. “It's been a rough couple of weeks—months.”

Laurent keeps silent. Damianos stares outside the window again. 

“Jokaste… she really broke your heart.” It’s not a question.

“I thought I was doing okay but seeing her today…” Damianos grips his pants, knuckles turning white. “I was going to propose to her after my father’s wedding. I was ready— I thought she—”

“She shouldn’t have come. Not after leaving you with nothing.”

Damianos nods, still not sparing him a glance. “You… I want to let you know that I’m glad you’re here. I really needed a friend beside me or, as you almost saw, I would have probably cried in front of her or something.”

“You can cry in front of me.”

Damianos doesn’t continue and Laurent leaves it at that. Still, he notices, it’s been the third time Damianos called him a friend. He knows he premised his company as friendship but he thought Damianos reads in between the lines. 

Laurent doesn’t like that Damianos keeps reminding him that this is all a friendship to him. Laurent… he can’t wait that long. He can’t afford to have no income for that long. Sure he has his other daddies but he didn’t come here to just be friends. He did that to open the door, why is Damianos pushing him out again?

So Laurent decides to do something he knows is ridiculous, stupid, and outright dumb. He knows the foundation he has built with Damianos is still on sand, crashing waves of Jokaste ready to break them apart in a second, but he sees the opportunity laid out right in front of him to drive home his plans. It’s time to take a giant leap to ruin or to paradise. 

Laurent tucks a hair strand behind his ear to appear shy and self conscious, even though Damianos isn’t watching.

“Damianos…” His voice is really quiet, but he knows Damianos hears. “You can—it’s just an idea—you can use me.”

There’s silence in the air, a bomb heavier than Jokaste’s canonball has just been dropped. Laurent feels like he’s walking on a tightrope now, but he willingly chose to perform the stunt, so he can’t really blame anyone but himself if he fails.

In his periphery, he sees Damianos slowly look at him with raised eyebrows, genuinely concerned he might have grown a second head. 

“What—what are you saying? What do you mean ‘use you’?

“I don’t know…” Laurent still doesn’t look at him, pretending to be shy, pretending he hasn’t thought about this plan at all until now. “Use—use me to make Jokaste… jealous.”

“Laurent I couldn't—I wouldn't do that to you.”

“Damianos, you know I came onto you last night and… you know I've been flirting with you all this time…” 

“I know but—was this why you—last night—” He stops abruptly, the thought of Laurent coming to him to use him, as Jokaste warned, an open flame inside the car.

“Please don’t think that. I didn’t know any of this last night. You know that.” Laurent finally looks at him, voice breaking, eyes wide with honesty, fake honesty, but he doesn’t know that . “I genuinely am here to be a friend to you too. That doesn't change. But you must know by now that I really like you.”

“But why do you want me to use you? Why does Jokaste have to play into this?”

“I don’t know, I really didn’t think this through. It’s just a thought, a sensible one to me.” Now these are all half true. “All I know is it made Jokaste mad seeing us. Do you think she had other reasons to go to your house today after all those days she left you without any explanations?”

Damianos doesn’t respond. He looks at Laurent like a wounded deer, like he’s seeing Laurent as the hunter he truly was for the first time after being nursed back to health.

“Please don’t think I have ill intentions. I’m on your side, Damianos. I need you to believe that. I just thought this… we could…” He sighs.

“But I don't want that for me or for you.” Damianos says, so honest, so worried, so hurt. 

Laurent knows he’s losing Damianos, knows he should have waited before proposing such a ridiculous idea for him. Laurent is shaking inside, seeing all his plans, his research crash right in front of him, his grip on the tightrope slipping. He can practically see Damianos erase his number.

The car suddenly stops. “We’re here, sir.”

Laurent stares at Damianos’ eyes, back straight. 

“Damianos, I'm really on your side and I really was there to flirt with you, but after getting to know you, I want to become your friend too. This was just how I thought I could help with everything.”

Damianos doesn't respond, but stares at Laurent’s eyes, face unreadable. 

“I think… you deserve better.”

Laurent turns around to his opened car door, Damianos’ driver standing outside holding it open for him. He steps out and stares at his brown apartment building. Not as fancy as Damianos’ house, but it’s still one of the more expensive apartments in town. He deserves that much. And with that resolve, he looks back inside the car. Damianos is still staring at him.

“Think about it.” Damianos opens his mouth but no sound comes out. “I’ll return your jacket when you give me a call.”

Laurent steps away from the car and thanks the driver. He walks to his apartment building without glancing back, still gripping hard on that tightrope.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER IV

Laurent presses the button to take him to the third floor of his apartment building. He stares at his reflection while the elevator moves up and sees what Damianos has been seeing the whole morning. That’s when he realizes that he is –totally to be a narcissist– fucking hot. 

Damianos’ large Champion jacket falls down mid-thigh, short enough that he looks like he’s wearing absolutely nothing under. The extremely short spandex shorts Damianos gave him to wear aren't even visible, so Laurent truly looks like a fuckable fever dream. He was right in front of Jokaste and Damianos like this, screaming to be topped, loved, and licked, yet Damianos passed on the opportunity. 

Laurent cannot believe his audacity. 

And now… after Laurent boldly laid his plans right in front of Damianos out in the open, he isn’t even sure if he will ever see the man again. He feels as if he made the wrong move, but Laurent never makes the wrong moves. 

That’s a tomorrow problem , Laurent thinks to himself, if it is a problem at all.

Once the elevator stops on his floor, he walks to his apartment door and unlocks it through the keypad. Though he knows Damianos left already, he still looks out his window just to check. Laurent was dropped off right in front of his building, so Damianos can't really stay long and block the whole street and cause traffic. And what would he do anyway? Follow Laurent? After what just transpired? 

Still, Laurent checks his phone to determine if Damianos immediately called or texted him, even just to make him save his number. But all Laurent sees are the ignored texts from Auguste, ones he’ll read tonight just to make himself mad and continue to ignore him just like what his brother did to him in the past years.

The apartment is quiet when Laurent comes in. He's unsure whether Aimeric and Ancel are home since it’s barely noon. Laurent is too caught up in his head to find them and tell them all about last night, so he simply enters his room, drops the Chanel paper bag on top of his dresser, grabs his laptop, and plops down on his bed. After all, he did tell Damianos that he had a business to run.

His business… isn’t really a business. Laurent abhors working a day in his life, which is exactly why he is a sugar baby. But sometimes he doesn’t want to pick up rich men in events or bars. To sustain his lifestyle when he doesn’t have a rich man in his arms to exploit, he messages a few online daddies who give large amounts of money for a picture of his feet, his hands, his collarbone, or even conversation. And Laurent is very good at conversation.

Right now, none of those online relationships are active, because he stops talking to anyone whenever he is in pursuit of someone new. Damianos, in this case. 

But due to recent events (also known as Laurent getting impatient in the car) Laurent has to make sure he will still earn money to buy the new Birkin he’s been eyeing for months.

The online relationships are sustainable for Laurent’s monthly rent, and since none of the relationships are exclusive –a picture and only a few words necessary in exchange for money– he could juggle plenty at one time to sustain his need for luxury items. Some men just have too much money and too little human connection, who is Laurent to deprive them of that.

Still, Laurent wants the spice of life and the real trophy wife lifestyle, not sitting on his couch sending pictures of his feet to men online. 

Laurent wants to be wined and dined at the most expensive restaurants. Then he wants to be fucked and tucked at the most expensive hotels. Laurent likes the challenge, the attention, and the satisfaction after he can and will pick up anyone rich..

If Laurent has to work for that with Damianos, so be it. He will succeed, there is no doubt, but until then, he has to make sure he still has income.

A few long minutes after opening his spreadsheets with the emails and numbers of his online “financiers” and reviewing the ones that are highlighted in red (the ones he noted as only needs conversation), his door suddenly bursts open, and a man with long, fiery red hair blasts him with a face full of judgment.

“Bitch I thought I smelled failure.” Ancel teases Laurent as he plops down beside him. 

Laurent doesn’t even look up from his laptop when he replies “Your new perfume?”

Ancel swats him on the thigh. Laurent yelps. Ancel may be thinner than Laurent, but that doesn’t mean he’s not strong. 

“Why the hell are you home so early? I thought we’ll never see you again? Shouldn’t delicious daddy Damianos already have whisked you away to Isthima and you both would have marathon sex—”

Laurent shoves him. “Oh my god, shut up.”

Ancel laughs and flips his hair behind his shoulder. “Aw what’s stuck up your ass? Put in a dildo ‘cuz Damianos didn’t fuck you?”

Laurent hits him with a pillow this time. Ancel laughs hits him back in response. Aimeric enters, hearing Ancel’s boisterous laughter from his room adjacent to Laurent's.

“What the hell Laurent?” Aimeric says, his boyish face full of attitude because he isn’t expecting him to be home too.

“Ugh now everyone’s in my room.” Laurent ceases his hits.

“You really are anal today. Is that how I am when I don’t get some?” Ancel comments which earns another hit from Laurent.

“Both of you come into my private space to judge me and you expect me to welcome you with open arms?” Laurents says as he watches Aimeric sit on his vanity chair and stare at himself in the mirror, short brown curls bouncing as he swivels. 

“Wait, why is the ‘manspread’ open?” Ancel asks when he peers at the laptop beside Laurent. They named Laurent's spreadsheets of sugar daddies as the manspread. “Did you fuck it up with Damianos?”

“You know I don’t fuck up anything.”

“Laurent you should've done better.” Aimeric looks at Laurent through the mirror.

“It’s just a contingency plan. I’m still in it to win.” Laurent answers immediately.

“I want to go to their company banquet in two weeks. I already prepared my outfit—” Aimeric continues, obviously not listening to Laurent.

“Ew. Don’t message Frederique Martin, he’s an ass.”

As his two roommates talk over each other, Laurent rubs his temples because he has been in this situation too many times to stop them. Clearly, their lives aren’t as entertaining as Laurent’s, but do they really have to give so much commentary?

“And I already decided to dump Pierre on Saturday—” Who even is Pierre?

“Frederique won’t actually send you the money he promises. He’s not worth sending your collarbone to.”

“—because I wanted to hook-up with a supermodel that’s pretty close to the people in Ios Corp., so he gets invited to all their parties—”

“Will you both shut up?” Laurent finally speaks. “And give me that.” He snatches his laptop back from Ancel.

“His name is in blue so I know Frederique sucks.” Laurent says, stressing every word. “And Aimeric, you will get into that party. We will be there.”

“Not without Damianos, you’re not.”

“I will be there with him, in his arms, in the red Balenciaga, so shut up.”

“But you’re home early, Laurent,” Ancel reminds him. “Something obviously happened and it’s not sex, not a blowjob, not even a handjob—”

“If you wanted to know you’d let me speak.” Laurent says, subconsciously rearranging Damianos’ jacket after it falls off his shoulder. That’s when Ancel notices.

“Hold up.” Ancel says, eyeing the jacket. “That is not your jacket.”

“Fuck, you stole Damianos’ jacket?” Aimeric says.

“He let me wear it.” Not a lie. “After I took it off him.”

“Stop making it sound sexual. You’re home. We know nothing happened, babe.” Ancel answers as he glances around the room like a homeowner coming home from vacation, realizing something is amiss. 

He spots it then. “That Chanel paper bag is new. Aimeric, grab it!” He excitedly jumps out of the bed. “Damn, babe you really got game. No sex, first meeting, and still given something?”

Aimeric retrieves the paper bag from Laurent’s dresser. Laurent lets them do whatever they want, watching with his hand tucked under his chin. Together, Ancel and Aimeric peer in with big smiles, until Laurent laughs as those smiles comically turn into disappointment. 

Aimeric pulls the items out and throws them to Laurent like it scorched him.

“These were your clothes from last night.” He says, disgusted.

“I am aware of that.” Laurent says refolding the clothes, unappreciative of Aimeric’s action. Laurent places the clothes beside him as Ancel returns on his bed and lays his head on top of Laurent's outstretched legs. 

“Babe, what really happened with you and daddy Damianos?” Laurent absentmindedly strokes Ancel's long red hair, detangling some knots that formed, just as he did when they were younger. “Aimeric told me he’s like the biggest man ever, and he looks like he can and will slam you on a wall then fuck you stupid. You shouldn’t be well enough to come home!”

Laurent knows that. Hell, he yearned for that. There were so many wall windows in that house he wanted to lean on while holding onto Damianos for his dear life. 

“Yup. Yes. Remember when he almost hit Sterling at the bar? Freaking hot. You really know how to make a scene.” Aimeric says, back on Laurent's vanity chair.

“Who the fuck is Sterling?” Laurent asks.

“… the guy you were with before Damianos.” Aimeric says slowly.

“His name was Sterling?” 

Ancel cackles. Laurent usually remembers the names of the men he meets, but the guy from last night was just too annoying to give a shit about. 

“Enough about him. He sucks if you can’t remember him.” Ancel sits up. “Tell us the whole story now. How far did you go? Did you see him naked? Was his dick as big as his—”

“Damianos had work to do so he brought me home. I didn't want to overstay my welcome.” Laurent interrupts because Ancel would talk more and then blame Laurent for not telling his story.

“Like you ever cared about that.” 

Laurent swats Ancel’s forehead. “With him I do. It’s to make him like me more.”

Ancel gives him a quizzical look because the concept of considering other people’s feelings does not occur in their sugar baby life.

To help him understand, finally , Laurent begins to recount what happened when he left the bar. The mansion, the games, the just sleeping together. Jokaste. The phone number. Ancel and Aimeric listen intently, giggling like teenagers at how Laurent's supposed romantic night went. They boo Jokaste when she tried to frame Laurent as a gold digger, then laugh because she wasn’t really wrong. 

“I am not a gold digger. I am a sugar baby,” Laurent clarifies, which earns a laugh from all of them.

Eventually, Laurent recounts this morning in the car, when he proposed to be used by Damianos. That earns him a groan from Aimeric and a pinch from Ancel, which he doesn’t appreciate, especially since he has on those long, gold, acrylic nails. Why the hell are his friends so violent?

“That doesn’t sound like something you would just say that far in your game. You’re more calculated than that.” Ancel complains.

‘Use’? After the kindest man even dressed you in LV and bought you twenty boxes of pizza?” Aimeric continues, eyebrows raised in disappointment.

“I know. I just… panicked.” Laurent admits. “But that’s always been the plan, just… I didn’t use a better word.” They give him a judgemental look. “He was so distant in the car. I had to say something.”

“And you said the dumbest thing, which is so unlike you.” Aimeric says.

“He was so excited to text you too. Did you even tell him to confirm his number first?” Ancel reminds him.

“Fuck.” is all Laurent replies. 

Aimeric and Ancel look at each other knowingly, a face Laurent knows all too well. 

“What?” Laurent says, annoyed. “Your faces clearly screams ‘Laurent you miscalculated because.’”

Ancel looks at him with raised eyebrows. No words are needed. They've been friends long enough for Laurent to understand all their little gestures and nuances just like that.

“Grow up. I do not have feelings for Damianos.”

“Sounds like you do, babe. You never get impatient like that in important games.” Ancel quotes his fingers for emphasis.

“And if you really didn’t like him, you would have gotten his number and dick no matter what.” Aimeric interjects.

“I mean if someone also takes me home unbidden after being my knight in shining armor, I’d also fall in love with them.” Ancel says.

Laurent makes a face. “Look, if both of you care to listen, I simply got a taste of the life I have always wanted to live with a man that doesn't even compare to all the men I’ve dated. I just used a different approach.” 

“Liar.” Aimeric coughs. 

Laurent grabs a pillow to throw at him but Aimeric quickly says “You get violent when we’re telling the truth.” 

Laurent stops himself and glares at them. “Whatever. I just want the good life now. I’ve been researching him for weeks, I haven't had a taste of real dick in a while. I just wanted some.”

Ancel makes a face. “Mhm sure. It’s the money and the dick.” Ancel says sarcastically. “Not the holding hands while sleeping, making food together, listening to you intently like you’re the only man he’d ever want to hea— mmmph.”

Laurent puts a hand over Ancel's mouth.

“Ew!” Laurent screams when Ancel licks it.

“Look babe, you’re gorgeous but we tried it when we were teenagers, you know I can’t get it up with you.”

“Oh my god.” Laurent flicks him on the forehead. They both laugh.

“Oh shit!” Aimeric exclaims looking at his phone and standing from his chair. “Fuck I have to go. I was getting ready to leave when I heard you both screaming. I thought you were having sex or something.”

Aimeric walks to the door as he talks. Laurent looks at Ancel with eyebrows raised in question. Ancel nods at Laurent's assumptions. 

They follow him outside. They watch the man rummage through his stuff, putting things in his school bag. 

“Off to see coverboy?”

“Coverboy?” Ancel sings teasingly. “Oh no, Laurent de Vere. Our little Aimeric is going to uni.”

“Uni? Don’t you only have classes on Wednesdays and Fridays?” Laurent looks at Aimeric incredulously. “Are you seducing a teacher or something? I thought we’re above that, Aimeric.” 

“Shut up. I have a group project to work on okay? What are you, my parents?”

“He has a group project with uni boy.” Ancel sings again.

Laurent scoffs. “I was only gone for the night, Aimeric. I thought you were at coverboy’s yacht?”

“I left with him but I asked him to take me home instead. I remembered I had this project. And he was boring.”

Laurent’s eyes widen. He clearly saw them humping on each other last night. “What the fuck? Does uni boy have more money than coverboy?”

“His name is Jord. And he’s just my project partner. I’m not seducing anybody. He really wants to stick to his stupid project schedule. No procrastinating bullshit, so I gotta do this now.”

“I wouldn’t wear my best Gucci jean jacket if I was just meeting for a school project.” Ancel comments from the kitchen. They have an open apartment which makes it easier to see and hear him even from the living room.

“He has no money?” Laurent is stuck on that. 

“He’s just my partner!”

“I thought you weren’t romantically involved with him, what do you mean partner?” Laurent teases, sitting on the couch, watching Aimeric run around and grab his stuff.

“You’re annoying.”

“I can’t believe Aimeric is trying for love.” Ancel says from the open refrigerator.

“How about coverboy?” Laurent asks, still really baffled by the no money thing. Who passes on a yacht-owning, magazine-cover-appearing man? For a regular university student?!

“Well he’s the income isn't he?” Ancel says standing beside the kitchen table now, spooning vanilla ice cream in his mouth directly from the tub. 

“That’s smart. Always keep your options open.” Laurent comments like it’s a business meeting.

Aimeric, at the door now, rolls his eyes while wearing his shoes. “You two are impossible. Jord is just my project partner. I’m going.”

He slams the door as Laurent and Ancel cackle loudly.

“He is so into uni boy.” Laurent says standing from the couch.

“Totally. He won’t even show me his picture, but he won’t stop talking about him and his principles.”

“And I wasn't even told about it.”

Laurent walks into the kitchen where Ancel is licking ice cream off his spoon. Laurent grabs a spoon for himself and digs in. 

“You’re disgusting. Get a freaking cup or something,” Layrent says even though he is following Ancel’s lead.

Ancel just raises his eyebrows. “Bitch.”

Laurent smiles. “So how long have you known about uni boy?”

“Just last night. I also questioned Aimeric why he’s home so early. You're not the only one who struck out.”

“I did not struck out .” Laurent points his spoon at Ancel.

“You’re still home. Number-less, dick-less, and Chanel-less.”

“I literally have the Chanel paper bag.” Ancel shakes his head. “Whatever, it’s all part of the plan.”

“Uh-huh sure. And has the owner of that jacket called or texted you since you left his sight?”

Laurent shrugs. “I haven't checked.” 

They both know it’s a lie. Laurent has his phone face up on the table. 

“He’s busy. Jokaste brought him work this morning.” 

Ancel nods slowly and knowingly. Laurent wants to dump the ice cream tub on him, but that’s a waste, he won’t even want to lick it off Ancel after. 

Damianos… maybe… definitely.

“Your brother called by the way.” Ancel says cautiously, voice coming out with more concern than he lets on.

Laurent rolls his eyes and continues eating as if he didn’t hear. 

Except for Aimeric whom Laurent and Ancel met at Akielos when they moved here a few years ago, Ancel, Auguste, and Laurent have all been friends since they were in grade school. Though Auguste was older, they have been neighbors all their lives so they got close too. 

Ancel knows Laurent’s history with his brother, how close they used to be. Ancel also knows something happened before they moved to Akielos, but Laurent never told him the details.

“He really wants you to call back. Or text him.” Ancel tries. “Even just a period.”

Laurent sighs. “Block his number.” 

“I can't.” Ancel whines. “You know I've been lusting for him since high school.” Laurent sticks his tongue out, appreciating the welcome change of mood. “I just never do anything because you’re brothers.”

“Stop lying.” Laurent points the spoon at him again. He has bad manners, but oh well. “You're not doing anything because you really want Berry.”

Ancel’s whole face lights up. “Oh my god. Berry.” He sighs dreamily. “How is he now? I should give him a call…”

Laurent shakes his head, watching Ancel pull his phone out while sitting on the dining chair, presumably looking for Berenger’s (Berry for short) number. 

“You know he owns some company here? I saw him in one of Damianos’ articles. They're shaking hands in the picture. They might be business partners.” Laurent explains, also taking his phone, not to check if Damianos texted. No, not at all. 

“I genuinely considered using him to meet Damianos.” Laurent places his head on his chin after seeing no texts from Damianos. Not that he checked, he just happened to notice. “But that’s too easy and boring. And not a meet-cute at all.”

“Well fuck me.” Ancel says, still glued to his phone.

“Pass.”

“Pass on you too. I was talking to Berry.” Ancel shows Laurent a picture.

Laurent chuckles in response. “Berry looks good in his thirties, doesn’t he?”

Ancel nods enthusiastically. “So this company, is it in Akielos?”

They continue to talk about Berenger and his company in Akielos –to Ancel’s delight. Then they reminisce their days in Vere over the tub of ice cream (super unhealthy for Laurent’s body but he deserves it so fuck it). 

Laurent carefully avoids the topic of three years ago, when he moved to Akielos with Ancel without so much as a goodbye to Auguste. It’s something Ancel always wondered about, but never pestered Laurent for, and he is grateful. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever even talk about it. 

Eventually Ancel has to prepare for his night shift as a bartender at an exclusive strip club in Ios. How else will he pick up old lonely men? He did consider being a stripper once, however, as he explained to Laurent, it makes it harder to create relationships when he’s shaking his ass for everyone. At least as a bartender, the men would only think it’s all for them. 

While Ancel prepares for work, he makes jabs at Laurent for refusing to work a day in his life but working so hard to get Damianos.

“Like babe, I don't get it.” Ancel says, expertly drawing on his golden winged eyeliner, staring at himself in their living room mirror. “You hate working, but you researched about him for weeks and prepared everything just for what? That one night and then maybe a month?” 

“This isn’t work. It's a walk in the park for me. You know I love researching men.” Laurent is sprawled on the couch, phone face up on his chest. No reason, he just likes his lockscreen. 

“Sure, but all you have to do is bat your eyes at them and bam, new Gucci watch.” Ancel ties his hair up in a high ponytail. “But with Damianos? You’re home and all you have is a stolen jacket and—”

“I didn't steal this.” Laurent defends. 

And an empty Chanel paper bag.” 

“I also have his underwear on.”

“It fits you so well, it’s obvious he’s never worn it.” Ancel scrunches his hair, looking over himself in his black shirt and jeans. “What’s your plan anyway? Work as his secretary too?”

“If needed.” 

Ancel looks back at him in shock. “You are going to do actual work just to be with Damianos?”

“It’s not work if it’s something I like doing.”

“You don’t like working.” Ancel reminds him like he’s a whole new person he’s never met before.

“I don’t like working a typical job.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“I am not. I have a master’s degree. I’m just a planner.”

“Still don’t know how you managed uni. Twice.”

“I could still get a PhD, the sugar baby life’s call is just louder. I’m very smart, you know that.”

“Not smart enough to bag Damianos.” Ancel is too far away to get hit by the nearest book Laurent wants to throw at him so he just ignores it. And books are too precious for that. “You hate work but you'll do it for Damianos. Doesn’t sound so big-brained to me.”

“But he’s for the long run.” Laurent looks at his phone screen again. “He’s so rich, he has estates all over the world, it’s not too bad to live that life for a few years.”

Ancel looks at him with those eyes again, screaming how idiotic this whole thing is when it’s not even for love. 

Laurent simply shakes his head at the unspoken words.

“It's the game I like, Ancel. It’s the game I like.”


Ancel leaves shortly after yelling for Laurent not to wait up because he plans to get railed that night. His words, verbatim. Now Laurent is left all alone in their apartment, still lying on the couch, waiting for a text message that he’s getting less and less confident will come, when he should be in the arms of a hunky vice president with biceps the size of watermelons.

He checks his phone again while turning on the television to a documentary about penguins. 

Still no text, Damianos. 

He sighs loudly, that negative part in his brain screaming clearly that he has really fucked it up this time, at his most important game too. He’s only known the real Damianos for a night and a morning, but he knows he’s not the type to make anyone wait. This delay could only mean he’s swamped with work, or he’s done with Laurent, which truly, Laurent can’t afford. He has never lost.

Laurent rubs his eyes before he lays on his side, still staring at the messages on his phone. A watched pot never boils but it would still boil eventually, maybe if Laurent watches longer, he could will the call or text to come. 

Since he’s on his phone already, without anything hindering his thoughts from wandering to any scenario, he finally clicks Auguste’s messages: four from last night and this morning. 

‘Laurent, please answer my texts.’

‘Please talk to me again, I know I fucked up, but please let me fix it.’

‘I called Ancel, he said he’d relay my message. But I told him to just ask you to look at my messages. Even if you reply a period, I just want to know you’re okay. Please.’

‘Laurent, I’m sorry. Please talk to me.’

The nostalgia from Laurent’s conversation with Ancel still lingers, which made it easier for him to click his brother’s name and read his words. He almost replies, because he misses Auguste dearly, the conversation from earlier softening him. 

He misses his brother. He misses the days when Auguste read him bedtime stories, that Auguste who smiled whenever he saw him, his most trusted companion. But he still can’t make himself reply. 

It still hurt too much when Auguste left him with their grandmother a few months after their parents died. There were no words, no reasons, when all was fresh and thirteen-year-old Laurent was grieving, Auguste left. 

Laurent stays on the couch for a few more minutes, maybe hours, browsing on Twitter, seeing the same memes of Damianos from last night, the fight still going on whether he and Jokaste are back together. 

When the sun set on his apartment window and Laurent had exhausted five documentaries and watched too many videos on his phone, there is still not a single text from Damianos. 

At seven, Laurent stands up from the couch, eats dinner from whatever they had in the fridge and takes a shower. He wants to relieve himself of all the pent up tension he feels, but he’s too upset to get his cock hard, the thought of Damianos’ biceps up close just making him lonely instead. 

Is it longing for him that Laurent feels? He certainly thinks that it’s impossible. He just doesn’t want to cope with losing a game he is expertly playing until he isn’t. Laurent doesn’t think it’s affection—no he knows it isn’t. He just hates losing, that’s all.

When he gets out of the shower, Laurent wears Damianos’ jacket again and lies down on his bed. He grabs his laptop and stares at the manspread. All he has to do is click one of the phone numbers and message, he still needs income.

“I’ll do it tomorrow,” Laurent tells himself, closing his laptop and curling up to his phone. He smells Damianos’ jacket, still lingering with his scent, still making Laurent’s heart flutter. 

Maybe he’s too good for me , Laurent thinks to the empty lockscreen. 

“Well, he might still want his jacket back.”


One week later, Laurent finds himself laying on the couch once more, eating microwave popcorn, watching a shitty thriller movie with Aimeric and Ancel, still wearing Damianos’ unwashed jacket, still not a single message from him. 

At this point, Laurent should stop looking at his phone every five minutes and just message one of his other daddies, but he still has this jacket on and it still smells like Damianos. He still thinks Damianos might want it back.

“God Laurent, you’re destroying the movie with all your moping.” Ancel complains from the floor.

“The movie isn’t bad because of me,” Laurent answers.

“Well I still can’t enjoy Lydos because of all your sighing.” Aimeric whines.

“Haven’t you seen his dick already and hated it ‘cuz it was small?” Laurent makes a face. “Why are you still all over it?”

“He’s still hot from the waist above.” Aimeric argues.

“And aren’t you sucking uni boy’s dick right—”

“Shhh!” Ancel scolds. “I’m fucking watching the movie!”

They both shut up. Laurent doesn’t argue because he feels really shitty right now. Sure he holds out hope for Damianos to message him back, but that hope is a flickering candle at the end of its life. No man has ever made Laurent wait a whole week. Damianos might be worth that wait but Laurent can’t help but feel as if he’s waiting on a dead artist to make a comeback. 

But when Laurent puts down his phone, he starts to think about all the facts, all the reasons he holds that dying candle in his hand and covers it from fading out. He thinks about how Damianos’ team is not yet responding to the rumors from last week, something his team usually kills before it spreads. Laurent tells himself, maybe… just maybe Damianos is still thinking about his offer. And this jacket… this jacket that Laurent has seen Damianos wear more than once in his instagram posts. Maybe Damianos misses this jacket that’s why he hasn’t ended those rumors.

Laurent misses Damianos. 

He hates it. He has no feelings for him. But Laurent has never thought of anyone this much before. He misses Damianos. 

There’s a brunette running for her life when Laurent turns his gaze back to the television after idly staring at his lockscreen. He gazes at it idly too, feeling defeated after a mess of a week and the disappointment and acceptance that he might never have a chance at Damianos again. 

His phone vibrates when they show the masked killer, knife in the air ready to stab the screaming brunette. It’s a long vibration, one Laurent hadn’t felt at all this week. He looks at his phone, unable to stop himself as that spark of hope ignites. 

It’s an unknown number, unfamiliar to Laurent. He’d had calls before from exes who wanted him back, promising to spoil him with more jewels and bags but they’re all named or blocked—if Laurent really hated them. This one Laurent doesn’t recognize. This one fills his heart with excitement, makes his heart pound hard as if he’s at the climax during sex, though that can’t be the only indication that this might finally be the man Laurent has been waiting a whole week for. 

Laurent ignores the call but he sits up. If this is truly Damianos, he’d text after. Laurent has only been with him for a short while but he believes… No, he knows Damianos is that type of man.

Laurent’s phone stops vibrating, then two messages pop up.

‘I know you said to call, but you didn't answer, which is valid after I disappeared for a whole week. 

So hi. This is Damianos Vallis. Please answer my call???’

Laurent reads it once. Twice. And maybe more than three times with a smile growing on his face. He’s not sure it’s Damianos, he hasn’t heard from him in a week, nor does he know his number. This could be anyone, even from that text. But Laurent hasn’t given his phone number to anyone recently, nor does anyone know he has been close enough to Damianos.

This could really only be Damianos.

Laurent doesn't reply immediately. He waits and continues to watch the brunette get brutally stabbed as if the man he has been pining for a whole week isn’t there on his phone waiting for him. 

Serves Damianos right. He should feel how it feels to be ignored for a week.

But Laurent can’t really wait another week, can he?

When Laurent thinks the time he waited is adequate enough –about thirty minutes– he still doesn’t open the message. He pauses the movie as the killer takes off his mask in front of a sobbing, tied-up blonde.

“Laurent what the fuck?! They’re about to show the killer!” Aimeric screams.

“I have something better than that movie,” Laurent says, voice neutral.

“No, you don’t, so play the damn thing!” Ancel says on the single couch now, all bundled up in blankets.

“Damianos.”

Both Ancel’s and Aimeric’s faces light up, the movie immediately forgotten.

“What? What did he say? What did you say—” 

Ancel is ready to talk again so Laurent immediately shuts him up by answering. “He texted thirty minutes ago. I’m making him wait. He wants me to answer his call, which I ignored by the way.”

“Smart move,” Aimeric praises and Ancel nods.

“Okay so what are you going to do now?”Ancel asks.

Laurent shrugs. “Make him wait until tomorrow…”

Ancel cackles. “Liar. You’re going to message him in five minutes then you’ll meet tonight and finally have that ‘I’ve been pining for you for a whole week sex.’ Damn, what the hell is this, Victorian era?”

Laurent rolls his eyes. “As long as I get some.” 

“Well, tell us about it later, I still want to see Lydos get the stabbing he deserves.” Aimeric snatches the remote back from Laurent. “And can you please let us know after the damn movie. You’re so dramatic, pausing it like that.”

Laurent shakes his head and picks up his phone again. He reads the message one more time, heart fluttering again as he replies.

Laurent: Damianos Vallis? You’re playing. He’s a busy man.

Of course Laurent is salty. He didn’t hear from Damianos for a week. 

Damianos: I’m sorry it took me a week. I can explain better if you answer my call.

Laurent: How do I know you’re actually Damianos?

Damianos: I can prove it. 

Attached to his message is a selfie of himself, a tiny smile on his handsome face. His eyes aren’t as bright as Laurent remembers, and his face looks thinner too. He looks like he hasn’t slept or eaten for a week. Laurent’s heart reaches to him, so close to dropping his salty act, but he doesn’t. He must be stronger. 

Laurent: Anyone can just take a selfie of Damianos from the internet.  

That is actually not true. Damianos doesn’t post or take selfies at all. When Laurent says ‘thirst traps’ on Instagram, it’s simply Damianos with a shirt on, arms crossed and biceps out and flexed, with his family or friends. But damn did he look good in them.

Damianos doesn’t answer immediately which worries Laurent, but he reels in the part of himself that wants to send a text again and take it all back. He’s finally regained Damianos’ attention, he doesn’t want to lose it that quick. But it’s a game, and he has a good feeling Damianos won’t stop pestering him until he gives him attention too.

A few minutes pass when Laurent’s phone finally vibrates. He opens it immediately, then he finds himself staring at another picture of Damianos, this time with a wider view. In the picture, Damianos holds an iPad showing the time and date. His eyes are wide and eyebrows are up as if saying ‘Look, it’s really me.’

Laurent notices that he’s in an office, though he doesn’t know whether it’s at his home or the Ios Corp. building, but it’s obvious that Damianos is still at work. He must have been aching to talk to Laurent. Good.

After admiring Damianos’ beautiful face for a few more seconds, Laurent replies. 

Laurent: Oh you. Damianos Vallis. I remember you. Glad you still remember me. 

And because Laurent can’t help being salty, he adds more. 

Laurent: We’re still friends?

Damianos: Yes we are. You’re really important to me.

Fuck, he really knows how to play Laurent without effort.

Damianos: I’m sorry for being gone. Please let me call. I want to explain.

Laurent contemplates making the waiting game longer but there’s a louder part in him that wants to hear Damianos’ deep, soothing voice. He can’t deny himself that now, can he?

Laurent: Call me now.

Laurent’s phone vibrates immediately, then Laurent hears a squeal. He looks at Aimeric and Ancel who clearly found him more interesting than the movie.

“God, answer it now!” Ancel screams and Aimeric follows. 

They keep squealing as Laurent presses answer after making Damianos wait more. They won’t shut up, so Laurent stands and runs to his room as he hears that voice he’s wanted to hear for so long.

“Hi…” Damianos says all awkward, like Laurent hasn’t seen him at his lowest just a week ago. 

“Hi.” Laurent answers more confidently than Damianos, but there’s this tingling in his stomach that seems to shut his brain off. 

Did he really miss Damianos that damn much? 

“Hi.” Damianos says again, breathier. Laurent hears it this time, the shyness and happiness in his voice.

“You didn’t call me just to say hi, did you?” Laurent finally regains his wits enough to provide a coherent response.

“No. I… I just… I can’t believe how much I missed hearing your voice.”

Fuck.

“Did you, now?” Laurent plays coy as he sits on his dresser. “I genuinely thought you forgot about me.”

“No.” Damianos defends immediately. “I’ve thought about you all week.”

“You missed your jacket that much?” Laurent sounds cool, but he’s actually screaming inside.

Damianos chuckles and Laurent, he’ll never admit to it , feels something down there. “I actually do miss it. It’s my favorite jacket.”

“Well, I guess it’s about time you get it back.” Laurent doesn't mention what he said last week. He’s just going with the easy vibe, hoping Damianos called because of that, but also hoping he forgot about it altogether.

“Do you want to meet up, then? So, um, so you can return it?” 

“Just to return it? You haven’t seen me in a week. You won’t even spare me an hour?”

“No I… I want to eat dinner with you. And… talk. If… if you’ll have me.”

He sounds so shy that all the butterflies in Laurent’s stomach are going crazy. 

“Hm. I guess if you insist.” But his will to tease Damianos is stronger.

“Great, just tell me where you are and I'll pick you up when you’re ready. I already had my assistant reserve a restaurant.” He practically hears Damianos smile. 

“Presumptuous, aren’t you?”

“I want to think of it as hopeful.”

Laurent exhales a laugh or nerves. He truly doesn’t know. 

“And if I had said no?”

“Then you would’ve seen photos of me all over the internet eating alone at a restaurant with headlines saying I got stood up by Jokaste.”

Laurent shakes his head. Damianos doesn’t sound too upset when he mentions Jokaste. He hopes that’s a good sign.

“You’re lucky I can spare you some of my precious time then.”

“Thank you, I really want to avoid the headlines for at least one day.”

Laurent smiles. “I'm at my apartment. Do you need my address again?”

“Oh no. I have that saved.”

“Will it take you a week to find it again?”

“Laurent.” Damianos groans. “I’m really sor—”

“I’m joking, Damianos. I know you’re a busy man.”

“Still, I promised to call you—”

“Explain everything later. What time do you want to meet?”

“The reservation’s at eight. Can I come around seven?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“I’m excited to see you.”

Laurent's heart jumps. But his tongue is a different story. 

“I would believe it if you didn't ignore me for a week.

Damianos’ breath catches. Laurent hears him fumbling for an answer. He laughs to put Damianos out of his misery early. He’s too cute.

“I'm really kidding, Damianos. I want to see you too.”

He hangs up even before Damianos answers. It’s to keep them wanting more.

His phone vibrates with a message. From Damianos. As expected.

‘See you at seven.’

Laurent doesn’t reply but if Damianos is here, he will see a big smile and a hard flush paint Laurent’s face.

There’s a bang at his door and a “Stop hogging the door, Aimeric. Laurent masturbates noisily, you’ll hear him either way.”

“But it’s Damianos I want to hear!”

“Oh my god.” Laurent sighs then shouts. “We are not having phone sex, you creeps!”

His door bursts open and suddenly, he’s bombarded with a hundred questions from both his nosy friends with uninteresting escapades.

“Did he send you a dick pic at least?”

“A shirtless pic?”

“Or, OMG, it’s a video of him touching himself, isn’t it?”

“You guys are disgusting,” Laurent says without any bite, the conversation from Damianos still playing in his mind. “You’re both listening this whole time did you really hear anything that might lead to sex?”

“Hell yeah,” Ancel says. “ ‘Sounds like a plan, Damianos.’ ‘I want to see you too, Damianos.’ ” He mocks raspily and seductively.

Laurent makes a face. “If that’s how you talk to men you’re trying to fuck, I understand why you’re home on a Saturday afternoon.”

“Bitch, you’re home too!”

They start bickering so Aimeric quickly interjects before he loses them. “Are you getting some Damianos dick tonight, then?”

Laurent stands up excitedly and opens his closet. “Oh god, yes! Fuck. I don’t know who to wear!”

“Where are you meeting?” Aimeric asks jumping into action to help Laurent get some dick tonight.

“He said in a restaurant but he didn’t specify which one. He had to make a reservation though, so it’s probably one of the fancier ones.”

“He’s rich, of course it’s the ones with reservations.” Ancel says from Laurent’s vanity where all his jewelry is placed.

“You think it’s that really expensive restaurant at the top of Kingsmeet?” Aimeric asks, browsing through Laurent’s clothes beside him.

“With the view of the skyline? Laurent, that’s the dream.” Ancel sighs dreamily.

“Well, only the best for me, right?” 

“Bitch, don’t get your hopes up now.” Ancel slaps him on the back. He forgives it, he’s only excited for him. 

“Who cares?” Aimeric pushes another shirt away. “Wherever he brings you, it’s gonna be expensive and you should only wear your best.”

“I should wear the white suit jacket with the cape.” Laurent says, both arms holding clothes up in his closet.

“Damn. The Charls?” Ancel asks, taking out a few pieces of jewelry. “You really should wear only the best for him.”

“But is the cape too…” Laurent holds it up in front of his torso while staring at his reflection.

“A Charls piece is never ‘too’ anything!” Ancel scolds.

“I think it’s perfect.” Aimeric walks up to him with a light blue undershirt.

“And in white?” Laurent asks again, unsure why he’s so nervous all of a sudden to look his best for the best man ever.

“Hell yeah! Marriage material, duh.” Ancel is now beside him too, holding up a Chanel watch and bracelet to see which matches Laurent’s outfit best. “No, Aimeric, navy blue pants are better.” He says when Aimeric shows two choices for Laurent.

Laurent laughs. It doesn’t take anything to convince him to wear his favorite suit and brand anyway. 

“You know what, you’re right. Damianos only deserves the best.”

Laurent gets ready with the help of his friends like always. It’s around five when Damianos called, so Laurent doesn’t really have that much time to do his skincare routine and pre-date rituals (which are very extensive and take the whole day and the night before). 

But whatever, Laurent won’t cancel on Damianos or ask for more time. He needs to see him now. He’s gorgeous no matter what happens. 

Ancel and Aimeric help Laurent dress up because that’s what they like to do for each other with any date, no matter how unimportant. They also talk his ears off about what he’ll be doing with Damianos. They even make a bet whether Laurent will get dicked down tonight.

“I think they’ll kiss. That’s a given. But the farthest they’ll go is a handjob.” Ancel tells Aimeric. 

They’re both tired of helping Laurent and are now on his bed, annoying him more than anything. He doesn’t kick them out though. They keep Laurent calm. He’s more jittery right now despite having done this plenty of times. It might have been because he didn’t get to put on the calming cucumber mask on his face or the coconut mask on his hair last night. Yeah. That’s why he’s a little nervous.

“I’ve seen Damianos in person,” Aimeric says. “I think he’s someone who won’t say no to a blowjob. And Laurent’s Laurent . He’ll definitely offer. ”

“God, is that all you both ever think of?” Laurent asks as he brushes his hair in front of his vanity mirror. He opts for a middle part to look like a regal vampire.

“With Damianos’ stature? Hell yeah.” Aimeric answers.

“Okay, but the truth, Laurent.” Ancel sits up to look at him through the mirror. “How far do you think you’ll go with him tonight?”

“All the way,” Laurent answers without hesitation.

Aimeric and Ancel share a look then laugh.

Laurent shakes his head and continues brushing his hair.

It’s about 6:40 when he finishes dressing up. The Charls suit jacket he’s wearing –the very first Charls piece he owns– is white with a sleeve cape that stops just below his ass. He partnered it with the baby blue undershirt and navy blue high-waisted straight end pants Aimeric brought earlier. He ends up choosing a gold band bracelet from Alexon, an Akielon brand, and no necklace. He wants his long neck and collarbone out in the open for Damianos. Maybe he’ll want to lick it, leave marks on it, Laurent will let him do anything.

He’s brushing off his pants and looking at himself in the full length mirror in his room when Ancel’s phone rings. They all turn to gaze at him as he makes a face but answers anyway.

“Hey… Auguste.” Laurent hears.

He carefully looks back at himself in the mirror stiffly, hoping his friends don’t notice. His heart is pounding but not the good kind and definitely not for the excitement in meeting Damianos tonight.

“He…” Ancel looks at Laurent through the mirror. Laurent unconsciously shakes his head, though he tries to keep a straight face. “He’s not here.”

Laurent can’t hear his brother’s voice, one he hasn’t heard for years and he’s grateful. He doesnt want that to mess up his night.

“…Try again tomorrow?” There is another pause. “I’m sorry, Auguste. I have to go.”

Laurent flattens his hair even though it’s perfectly in place.

“…Okay. I’ll let him know… Yeah… I'm sure he misses you too.”

Does he?

“Bye, Auguste.”

The silence in the room is heavy after he ends the call. The tension is thick in Laurent's throat and no matter how much he swallows, he can’t get rid of it. Not now. Not when he has a big evening.

“You need to settle whatever you have with him.” Ancel says a few seconds later. Aimeric doesn’t know the history, but he’s silent as he looks back and forth between Ancel and Laurent.

“There’s nothing to settle.”

“Sure. It’s not like that overturned frame on your dresser is a picture of you and him.”

“Shut up. Should I wait for Damianos in the lobby or the living room?”

Laurent waits for Damianos in his living room. No more words are said about Auguste after, because Aimeric enthusiastically changes the topic to guessing where Damianos will bring Laurent. 

Ancel didn't mean any disrespect when he answered his phone in front of Laurent. He is unfortunately caught in an unfair situation, and he has too much love and respect for Auguste and their memories just to ignore him. Though Laurent understands that Ancel and Auguste’s relationship isn’t as deep as it was once with Laurent and Auguste, he wishes Ancel hated Auguste too. When Auguste cut off from him, Ancel was part of that. Ancel was Auguste’s friend too, so why is it so easy for him to open his arms like that?

At seven, Laurent receives a text from Damianos, four, to be exact.

‘Hi Laurent! It’s Damianos, just in case you didn’t save my number.’

Laurent shakes his head, a smile blooming on his face. Auguste who?

‘My driver’s outside to pick you up. I’m sorry I can't be there right now, someone came up to me as I was exiting my office. I didn’t want you to think I stood you up if I didn’t arrive at 7pm.’

‘I’ll be at the restaurant when you arrive though. It’s pretty close to my office.’

‘I’ll see you soon. I’m really, really, really excited to see you.’

Despite the adorable messages with three ‘really’ , Laurent is disappointed that Damianos, once again, is making him wait to see him in the flesh. He hides that flicker of sadness however, because he’ll see him soon. He would rather that than a cancellation. And because he is truly worth the wait.

Tonight though, Laurent will make sure Damianos will always want to see him. 

Laurent goes downstairs with Aimeric and Ancel, because they want to see if he’ll be picked up in a limousine, even though they could have seen it from upstairs. They really just want to embarrass Laurent but he lets them. Damianos isn’t out there anyway.

“I can’t believe I still won’t see him,” Ancel complains inside the elevator. “Maybe the universe knows if he sees me, he’ll fall in love with me instead.”

Laurent shakes his head. Ancel has silly dreams.

Laurent makes sure that Ancel and Aimeric stay inside the apartment doors when he exits, because they start squealing when they see the Rolls Royce –better than a limousine, according to them– and the chauffeur waiting for Laurent with a bouquet of flowers in hand. 

He hands Laurent the assorted flower bouquet when he approaches.

“Good evening, Mr. de Vere. Mr. Vallis asked me to hand this to you.”

Laurent thanks him with a big smile on his face and his cheeks imitating one of the pink roses in his hand. Flowers and Mr. de Vere. Common courtesy or not, Damianos is so sexy for telling his staff Laurent's name. All of Laurent’s roots are being planted in Damianos life, and he loves that. 

The drive to the city is quick since the rush hour traffic just ended. Laurent lives in apartment complexes past the city because he doesn’t want the city lights and noise everyday. Luxury apartments are also less expensive outside the city. It’s quiet and peaceful out there. And, only people with boring jobs live in the city. 

The skyscrapers of Ios are still as fascinating as Laurent first saw them three years ago, especially when their lights illuminate the night sky. They accentuate Akielons’ love for simplicity, which is a great feat in this modernizing world. Laurent feels at peace staring at the lofty buildings, knowing one day he will be inside one of those, even as an accessory to any man that owns it. 

The car drives past a few of the known buildings, Ios Corp. and Grande Ios, to name a few. They also drive past the most popular five star restaurants that are booked three years in advance. Laurent wonders which of those Damianos reserved as they drive closer to the heart of the city.

 His smile grows wider as Kingsmeet comes into view. When the car enters the roundabout to the entrance of the tallest skyscraper in Akielos, Laurent's heart skips a beat. Damianos brought him to the best restaurant in Ios. The one that everyone, even most rich people, only dream to eat at while enjoying the skyline view. 

Aimeric and Ancel will have a field day when they find out, and a fit if Laurent doesn't take a single picture. 

The car stops in front of the entrance, then the chauffeur opens the door for Laurent. He leaves the flowers inside.

“Thank you…?” He asks.

“Oh… Christian.”

“Thank you, Christian.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. de Vere. Please follow me.” 

Christian hands the keys to the valet while ushering Laurent to the entrance doors, held open by two men clad in all white suits and single sashes The uniform is based off of historical Akielon clothing worn in the real Kingsmeet, where kings used to meet when Akielos used to be a kingdom a very long time ago. 

Laurent learned that from a really old guy he dated while going down on him at his home office. He’s old money rich, which Laurent loved. 

Laurent enters with Christian to a lobby that is white and gold. There’s a flat marble fountain in the center with a marble statue of a lady holding a vase pouring out water to more vases. There’s a gap at the edge of it where the water pours down, but it is not bowl shaped like normal fountains. There are pillars and plants everywhere to pay homage to Akielos’ history.

It's truly a good thing Laurent overdressed. Only the best outfit shall touch this exclusive place.

Kingsmeet is an invite and members only building. Tourists cannot even try to take pictures from outside the doors because it’s that exclusive. And Laurent is here, looking like a million bucks, as if he has always belonged here. 

There aren’t many people in the lobby, only a few men who look at Laurent as he walks past them. To them he is someone new, someone foreign, someone they cannot touch. Christian walks to the receptionist who is behind a marble counter, also wearing the white uniform. He shows a gold card and she nods, says something into her earpiece then another person wearing the same uniform comes out. 

“This way please, Mr. de Vere. Mr Vallis is waiting for you.”

Even the Kingsmeet staff know his name. He might as well wear an engagement ring already.

Laurent follows the usher to the elevator. He feels so important, like the spoiled prince he is always meant to be. He can't help but imagine this and more in his future with Damianos. So many exclusive places to walk into, to carve his name into. No one had ever treated him as important as they are, and Laurent could truly get used to this, if he isn't already. 

The elevator door opens. Laurent is welcomed by the Akielon skyline in front of a man with shoulders broader than the sky, clad in a burgundy suit jacket and pants, different from what he wore in his selfie earlier, all regal, elegant, and kingly. 

Damianos, after a week of disappearing, is right in front of him again.

Laurent steps out, quietly watching Damianos gaze at the Akielon skyline. The elevator dings as the usher leaves. Damianos finally turns.

His face lights in recognition. He slowly walks to him with a huge smile on his face.

“Laurent!” Damianos says, stopping a few steps away from him.

Fuck, he’s still so fucking gorgeous.

“Damianos,” Laurent replies instead.

He’s looking at Laurent's eyes so intently, and thank goodness it’s dark because Laurent knows his face is flushed. How can he not when Damianos is gazing at him like he’s more beautiful than the Akielon skyline? He is, but he’s surprised Damianos can actually see that.

“Wow. You look…” Damianos says breathily, eyes roaming all over his body.

“I know.” Laurent smiles. Damianos does too. “Thank you for the flowers.”

“You’re welcome. I really wanted to be the one who gave it to you.” Damianos replies.

Silence follows but it isn't an awkward one. It’s more like Damianos is speechless because Laurent is too damn beautiful and he can't believe he’s right in front of him.

“I missed you,” Damianos blurts out, but before Laurent can reply another person in uniform interrupts.

“Mr. Vallis, Mr. de Vere,” They both look at the woman who spoke. “When you’re ready.”

Damianos thanks her, then looks at Laurent and offers his arm. 

“Shall we?”

They enter arm in arm. There aren't many people inside, full of rich men and women who are trying but failing to hide that they want to catch a glimpse of Damianos and whoever is the blonde in his arms. No one will take a picture though, Laurent is sure of that. They’re too rich and haughty to care about online gossip like that. They will only talk among themselves, and that’s still another seed Laurent likes to be planted. If only he can shout his name. 

They follow the woman to a private room with an even better view than the main restaurant. She opens the door for them and leaves to let them settle first.

“I hope you don’t mind?” Damianos asks Laurent, pulling his seat for him. “It’s just more privacy, I don't think you’d like to be stared at all night.”

“I don’t mind.” Laurent says and sits. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Damianos sits on his side.

“I still can’t believe you booked this so easily. Isn’t Kingsmeet booked for years, even the private rooms?”

“I pulled some strings.” Damianos is a little shy. “And I know the owner.”

Laurent chuckles. Of course he does. He is the richest bachelor in Akielos after all. Everyone would break their backs just to do him a favor.

“They have a five course meal that’ll just be served.” Damianos hands him a hard piece of paper with the courses. “But if you want anything else, just let them know. They will get it done for you.”

Laurent looks down to read the menu, all traditional Akielon dishes served in luxury proportions—small. 

He looks up at Damianos. “So if I say I want something like sweetmeats à la Vere…”

“Do you? I’ll let them know when they—”

“No, but wow.” Laurent says quickly because Damianos’ thinks he’s serious. “That’s some five star restaurant quality.”

“Only the best in Kingsmeet.”

“Yeah.” Laurent smiles then looks around. “Even the view is just… breathtaking.”

“It is.” Laurent looks back at Damianos, noticing that he is looking at him when he answers. 

Fuck.

“Thanks for bringing me here, then.”

“Only the best for you too.”

God, Damianos. Is this a date? Is he dating Laurent right now? What is this meeting even about? Wasn’t this just to explain the one week of ghosting? Why is he being so romantic right now?

“How—” they both say at the same time. They laugh. 

“You go.” Damianos says.

“No, you go.” Laurent says immediately.

“No you—” Laurent gives him a look which makes him smile and effectively shuts him up. “How have you been, Laurent?”

“Oh, you know. Same as ever. Meeting men in bars. Meeting the vice president of Ios Corp. and all that.” Damianos laughs. 

“Did that guy bother you after?”

“No. He doesn’t even have my number.” It’s an offhand comment but it’s obvious how Damianos takes it, so Laurent immediately changes the topic before they talk about that. The night hasn’t even begun yet. “How have you been, Damianos?”

Laurent is genuinely curious. The lights are dim, most of the room illuminated by the skyline and the moon, yet Laurent can still see that Damianos looks the worse for wear. He still looks goddamn hot but like his picture, his eyes are sunken, defeated, light flickering as if he had a very tough week. 

“I’m…” Damianos chuckles. 

“Had better days?”

He looks at Laurent as if he isn't expecting him to read so quickly how bad it has been. Does this man not have anyone kind in his life?

“You always see me when I'm at my worst. I could never brag about all the good things in my life now.”

Laurent laughs. “Well it just means I could be here when it all gets better.”

Damianos flashes a genuine smile. Before he continues, the server comes in with their first course, a classic Akielon hors d'oeuvre: cucumber bites stuffed with feta and a mix of sliced vegetables.

They both thank the server and Laurent picks up his fork, so does Damianos. 

“How’s work?” Laurent asks. “Or do you still mope at home playing video games with random strangers from the bar?”

Damianos laughs, appreciating the joke. “I actually went back to work, that’s why I’m a mess.”

“Tougher when you leave all your work, huh?” Laurent takes a bite, eyes widening. “That is amazing.”

Damianos shows a proud smile like he cooked it himself. “Kingsmeet is worth the hype.” Laurent nods, taking another bite. “But yeah. Apparently, life doesn't stop when your whole world turns upside down.”

Laurent nods his head in agreement.

“Found a new secretary yet?”

Damianos sighs. 

“Sorry for ruining the mood?” 

“No you didn’t. Just… I still haven’t found anyone.”

“What? How come?” He takes another bite, noticing that Damianos’ plate is still full.

“I don’t know. Jokaste has been doing the interviews because I don't have time for it. She’s been telling me no one is competent enough.”

“Ah. So she’s…” Laurent doesn't continue nor Damianos but it looks like they have the same thought. 

“Until I can find someone, I can't really fire her. She gets work done. Especially since this week is just too crazy.”

Laurent nods, already thinking about when to bring up that he has a resume and he definitely should be Damianos’ new secretary. He knows he doesn't have to be, since Damianos seeked him out himself, but how else can he and Laurent get closer? How else will Laurent get into exclusive parties if they are simply friends? Also, Jokaste has to get cut off.

“Is it just the piled up work that’s making you go insane?” Laurent asks, sourcing for information about his work for when he eventually does it too.

“It’s everything. It’s Jokaste. It’s the board—”

“The board?” 

“The stockholders, investors, Kastor, my dad.” Damianos explains. “They’re –well, Kastor’s side– putting out a lot of narrative that makes me look like the bad guy, so Kastor can take my place and be the heir faster.”

“Oh, that’s fucked up.”

“It is, but it’s business politics. I can only do so much.”

“Is it like… making you look weak or unreliable, unlike Kastor?”

“Mostly, yeah. They’re pushing that if I can’t keep Jokaste happy and loyal, how can I do the same for the company’s partners… when I’ve been working tirelessly for years.”

“They don’t actually say that in the meetings, do they?”

“No, but rumors can do a lot of damage.”

Laurent nods… thinking. Always thinking.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t call you to vent about work.”

“You know I’ll listen to you anytime, Damianos.”

“Thank you.”

“I wish I can help, though. I think I can help.”

Damianos smiles again, Laurent knows he thinks Laurent just means to help emotionally. But Laurent can do so much more. 

They talk as more courses come: a salad, then soup, and then the main course. Laurent notices throughout the evening that Damianos only takes a few bites, but he doesn’t point it out. He doesn’t think it’s because Damianos is talking, he listens more than anything. It does worry him though, Damianos looks thinner.

It’s difficult to ease back into the closeness they had in their first meeting, the whole car fiasco and one week of ghosting hanging in the air like thick smoke. But they’re laughing, Damianos providing anecdotes from his best friend finding out he brought a complete stranger home. 

Laurent thinks it’s all nice. He can afford to wait a bit. 

When the dessert –apricot-almond tartlets, something that Akielos prides itself in– comes, they are finally comfortable enough again. Comfortable enough to talk about earlier today when Damianos texted him. Comfortable enough for Laurent to casually mention a certain jacket. 

“I’m sorry I didn't answer your call immediately,” Laurent says.

“If you think about it, why would you suddenly answer a call from an unknown number, right?

“I should've made you call me the first time I gave it.”

Damianos laughs. “Yeah. I debated on texting first but I told you I'd give you a call so I did that first.”

Laurent laughs harder than he intended. “I'm glad you still texted after.”

“Yeah, I was scrambling in my office trying to find something that’ll prove to you that it’s me.”

“Miss your jacket that much?”

Damianos laughs too. “I do, but I think it’s in good hands.”

“It is. I’ve been wearing it for a whole week actually.”

Damianos’ smile fades, an unreadable expression forms in his face. Laurent doesn’t think he said something that could garner that reaction, but then again, Damianos had been so different from all he ever knew, and he’s been fumbling all his moves since he first met him. 

His mouth opens but Damianos beats him into talking. 

“I'm really sorry that I didn't reach out sooner.” His voice is soft, eyes genuinely apologetic, looking like he made a grave mistake leaving Laurent hanging.

“No, you’re a busy man. I understand.”

Damianos looks Laurent in the eyes. 

“Laurent I…” He sighs. “When you told me in the car a week ago that you’d want me to use you to make Jokaste jealous…”

Laurent’s heart races as Damianos brings up that little mishap. He knows this is why Damianos asked him out tonight, but he really hoped that if he gave him a good time he’d completely ignore whatever inhibitions he had about Laurent because of that. Or at least wait to bring it up after they have mind-blowing sex.

“I thought you said that because you wanted to replace her. On the car ride home that day, I didn't know whether I was hurt because I thought no one could ever replace Jokaste, or whether I was upset that you talked to me in the bar because of that.” 

Laurent is silent. The candle that he thought burned brightly again was once more flickering. He sees himself at the edge of achieving his goals, covering a tiny flame from being blown out by a strong hurricane.

“But I thought it’s impossible because you said you didn’t know me before meeting me, which was a really nice change of pace.” Laurent swallows. “So I considered everything you said for this whole week. That’s why it took me so long and I'm really sorry.”

Laurent’s heart is heavy, remembering all the dishonesty he began their whole meeting with.

“I remembered how much fun I had with you in just those few hours, and I thought, why did I believe Jokaste’s words? You were probably only trying to console me and I made such a big deal of it.”

There’s a lump in Laurent's throat choking him. The words ‘I’m a sugar baby, Damianos, that’s why I did all this to get close to you. I really knew you before this. I researched everything.’ is at the tip of his tongue, threatening to escape.

“So I'm sorry because I made you wait, when I really wanted to talk to you all week and see you all week, because you’re the one good thing in my life since all that shit happened.”

Damianos is looking at him with so much genuine kindness and belief. Laurent swallows the words. He knows he’d disappoint Damianos someday, but he can’t do that tonight. Especially when he’s that one good thing. Especially when he’s at the precipice. Especially when he’s so close to his goals he can taste it.

“I’m glad.” Laurent says instead. “At least I know now that I wasn't the only one going crazy all week wearing your jacket because I really missed you.”

That is genuine. And so is the smile that breaks out of Damianos’ face as he looks down and scratches the back of his neck. 

“I’m glad too. I missed you too.”

“More than your jacket?”

“Didn't even think about it for a single second. Just all you.”

Laurent rolls his eyes with a shy smile. Then he looks at Damianos again.

“Damianos I… I hope you also know that I don't mean any harm when I said you could use me. Nor are my feelings ingenuine.”

“I know.”

“I think… I used the wrong word. I know you’ll never use me.”

Damianos nods. He's silent but there isn’t any anger in his eyes nor judgment nor objection.

Laurent continues.

“I just really think you deserve better than to sulk about a woman who can easily let go of a man like you.”

“Thank you.” He sounds shy.

“I know you thought about it, and you’re here now, but no matter what happens, I'm here for you as a friend, and as anything you want me to be. I want to help make things easier.”

Damianos smiles. “I don’t think I want Jokaste to be jealous.”

Laurent nods slowly, heartbeat picking up.

“But… I do want you to be in my life.”

Laurent smiles. “I'm glad you called.”

He’ll ask Damianos later what that means. Right now… he should seize the moment.

“I’m glad I met you.”

They talk for a few more minutes, air clearer now as the server takes the dessert away and pours more wine into their glasses. The server asks if they needed anything more and they shake their heads, thanking him. If Laurent didn’t have dignity and respect for their work, he really wants to ask for something outrageous, like lube and condoms.

“Have you ever asked for something crazy?” He asks Damianos.

“Don’t judge me.” Laurent’s jaw drops. “I brought an important business partner from Vere. It was when I was starting out as a VP so I'm trying to build credibility and connections.”

“Naturally,” Laurent says trying to tone down judgment and excitement

Damianos shakes his head with a smile.

“I knew he liked sweetmeats. When we talked in Vere he kept going on about it.” Damianos continues. “So before he arrived that day I asked the restaurant to prepare some, and they made it, no questions asked.”

“Impressive. But it’s not that crazy. I think it’s still in the lines of what they can give.”

Damianos gives him a look. Laurent’s face changes. 

“What else did you ask for?”

“He was so happy about the sweetmeats, right? When we’re having dinner he mentions this Veretian wine that can only be found in Vere or at least, not a lot of restaurants carry it in Akielos. I didn’t know if Kingsmeet carried it.”

“Wow.”

“I asked for it and thirty minutes later, they were pouring it in our glasses.” 

“This place is crazy.”

“It’s the best.”

Man, when Damianos said Laurent deserves only the best, he really meant it. 

Laurent senses that they will go soon so he casually stands up and admires the skyline. 

“I dont think I’ll ever get to see this view again… Do you mind if I…” He procures his phone. 

“Oh, feel free.” God, he wants a picture of him too.

Laurent shamelessly takes pictures of the view for Ancel and Aimeric. And honestly, himself too. Being classy at an expensive place be damned, he wants a photo remembrance. That view is to-die-for.

“If you or your friends ever want to eat here, just let me know. The owner owes me.”

Laurent looks at him with wide eyes, genuinely impressed. His cock actually grew a little hard with that flex. He just loves rich men too much. 

Damianos stands beside him and looks at the view too.

“You know, I've been here a lot but I never actually just take my time to enjoy it.”

“It’s because you can keep coming here. You don't get to appreciate what you have in abundance.”

Laurent senses Damianos look at him. “Yeah… you don’t.”

He looks back at Damianos curiously because he’s gazing at him intently.

“What is it?”

“Just appreciating the view.”

Laurent flushes hard despite hearing that a thousand times from all kinds of men.

“I got something for you, by the way.”

Damianos produces a white box, similar to what Laurent saw him holding a week ago: the one he was supposed to give to Jokaste but never did. 

“I promise you this isn't the same white box I told you I was supposed to give Jokaste.”

“I wasn't thinking that.” Laurent is surprised at his breathy voice.

“Like you said, I returned that necklace. I had the receipt.” Laurent chuckles and looks at him. “I just… When we first met, I couldn't stop thinking about how a necklace would look really good on you.”

He—what?

“So I got you this.”

Laurent takes the box and gazes at it for a while. “Thank you…”

He’s received gifts plenty of times but never without a favor, so maybe that’s the reason why his heart is jackhammering in his chest.

“You’re welcome.” He looks at Damianos again. “You can open it.”

Laurent opens the box. His breath catches. Inside is a gold necklace with a starburst pendant. 

“Damianos, I don’t know what to say… This is…”

“Do you mind if I put it on you?”

“No. Go ahead.” 

Damianos takes the box from Laurent and takes out the necklace as he turns around. He feels Damianos’ cold fingers on his bare skin when he brushes his hair to the side. 

“I hope you know that I meant it when I said you’re the one good thing in my life. You kept me going again.”

Laurent swallows.

“Thank you,” Laurent whispers, the starburst pendant cold on his flushed skin. The trail of Damianos’ fingers, warm and tingling.

Apparently, baring his neck meant a new one would be put on it. Smart choice exposing his skin like that. He’ll do it more often when he’s with Damianos.

He faces Damianos, who is so close to him he didn't even notice. No one backs away. But no one moves forward either. Laurent doesn’t want to make the first move, but what the hell is Damianos waiting for?

“Damianos…” he whispers.

Damianos eyes flicker to his lips once. Twice.

Laurent steps closer.

Kiss me.

Damianos hears him. He puts his hands on Laurent’s waist. Laurent’s arms find Damianos’ shoulder. 

Damianos’ kiss is gentle, but Laurent feels how much he wants him too. But he doesn’t push it… yet .

Laurent pulls away first.

Damianos opens his eyes, hands still on Laurent’s waist. 

“Thank you for the necklace.”

“Just because of the necklace?”

“For Kingsmeet.” 

Laurent kisses him again, just a peck.

“For calling me back.”

He leans in again. Damianos’ grip tightens.

“And because I really like you.”

Damianos leans in this time, but the door opens. Laurent backs away. He doesn’t want to… but it will make Damianos more eager.

“Oh— I’m sorry, Mr. Vallis. I can—”

“It’s okay. We’re about to go anyway.” It’s Laurent who answers. He faces Damianos. “Shall we?”

The elevator ride down is silent but electric. They’re close to each other, Laurent really carefully not touching Damianos. Even at the lobby waiting for the chauffeur, they have a little distance in them, but they’re buzzing with tension. Laurent wants to just pull him in and consume him, but he waits. He has to.

“Do you have anywhere to be?” Damianos asks, voice rasp.

“No, do you?”

“I opened my whole evening to spend time with you.”

Laurent thanks the powers that be, but also, what did they do? This man is smitten for him because of him. Good job, Laurent. Thank you, Laurent.

“You’re lucky I was free today or else you’d be really lonely.” 

Damianos laughs. “There’s always another bar.”

Laurent scoffs and bumps him with his body. Damianos chuckles but stiffens. Hooked, that’s what he is.

“Mr. Vallis, your car will be out in a few minutes.”

“Thank you, we’ll wait outside, if that’s fine?” He looks at Laurent who nods.

They walk outside together in comfortable silence. Laurent keeps that tiny distance, but allows their hands to brush. It’s all about the anticipation.

They wait by the entrance, the evening breeze kissing their skins, but doing nothing to minimize the electrified air. This time, Laurent takes a step closer so their shoulders are touching. 

“Laurent…” Damianos whispers.

“Yes?” 

“Would you like to come home with me?”

Jackpot.

Laurent sees their car in the periphery. He faces Damianos and leans in, so does he, but Laurent, the tease that he is , makes way for his ears and whispers.

“Ride’s here.”