Chapter 1: chapter one
All things considered, being tackled isn't the worst way Ben's woken him up.
The impact shocks him more than the blow to the diaphragm; jolts him into consciousness and straight into Ben's waiting, greedy hands. Ben doesn't even wait for Poe to catch his breath before he slots their mouths together, kisses him messy and desperate as if they've been apart for four months instead of four days.
Poe has to push him away by the forehead to breathe. Ben tastes like peppermint gum and the heavy tar cigarettes he buys in Madrid, a combination disgusting enough to make Poe grab Ben by the hair to prevent any further kisses. Never one to be let obstacles stand in his way, Ben turns his attention to Poe's neck, hums happily against Poe's skin and amuses himself while Poe squirms and twists until Ben's chest is no longer squeezing the air from his lungs.
"You'll never guess who wants you," Ben murmurs, breathing the words against Poe's neck in between the open-mouthed bites he's methodically trailing across Poe's skin.
Poe quirks an eyebrow.
"I have a pretty good idea," he replies, smiling wryly as he grinds up into the heavy erection pressed against his thigh. Ben laughs, rolls onto his back and pulls Poe on top of him. He manages to land another minty, nicotine tinted kiss before Poe tugs on his ear to dislodge him.
"Remember the Bulgari shoot?" Ben taps the face of his watch with his nail, the surface barely scratched despite ten years worth of daily wear.
As if Poe could forget.
The Bulgari photo shoot was the campaign that singlehandedly led to a five thousand percent increase in Bulgari watch sales ten years ago with that photo plastered on every billboard and digital screen in the country for months. It had made it into every magazine and publication across the world, is still so iconic that it takes up the entire first page of any Google image search for both their names and the Bulgari brand itself.
The two of them met during that campaign, launched both their careers on the back of that photo, and bought their brownstone from the royalties.
It also happens to be the campaign that blistered and soured Poe's entire professional life.
"They're doing a ten year anniversary edition of the watch." Ben smirks as he slips a heavy, broad palm up the gap of Poe's boxers and drags his blunt nails against the skin of Poe's thigh. Poe's eyes flutter shut, arousal sparking in his belly. He knows Ben's trying to distract him and damn if it isn't working.
"Yeah?" Poe hums, distracted, bites his bottom lip as he arches up into Ben's touch.
"They want you to do the shoot with me."
Poe jerks back, abruptly alert; his arousal fully stamped out. "No."
"Poe," Ben coaxes, voice a weaponized purr that usually gets him what he wants.
"Absolutely not." Poe glares, his voice dry as sand, frustration already prickly in the pit of his gut. "I'm just a photographer, Ben."
"A photographer who's hotter than every model in the business," Ben reminds him with a leer, and Poe rolls his eyes, knows that Ben means it. He chases after Poe's mouth, glowers at him when Poe keeps dodging. "They specifically asked for you. We should be celebrating."
"Celebrate what?" Poe snaps and tries to roll off Ben's lap. Ben tightens his hold, keeps Poe pinned against him in stubborn rebellion. "The fact that I didn't even take the damn picture that made me famous? That every campaign I've worked on for the last ten years is judged against my camera accidentally misfiring while we were fooling around? I won a fucking ADDY for that picture, Ben."
"Celebrate the fact it's a gorgeous picture and the company wants more," Ben says insistently. "I hated my manager for booking that shoot, you know. I only wanted runway, not catalogue. But then you were there." His eyes dart down to Poe's mouth, the sharp angles of his face softening as he remembers. "I would have done anything to have you. I wanted you so bad."
Poe shudders under his gaze, remembers the way his throat had gone thick when Ben had brazenly stripped off that horrible jacket and shirt; the way he'd worked the watch over the broad, thick knuckles of his hand; the way he'd spun it playfully around one of his long fingers.
The seduction had been blunt and brutal and obvious, Ben barely waiting for Poe's assistant to leave the room before he stripped off his pants and pinned Poe to the wall. Poe remembers how they tumbled to the floor, how he'd been so blinded by lust that he'd climbed into Ben's lap and casually tossed a six thousand dollar camera to the side as if it were cursed.
Poe still has no idea how that shot had made it into the proof portfolio, but two weeks later there it was as he drove down Sunset, blown up and slightly off-center but bold in its gritty intensity: Ben, gloriously nude and stretched out on the floor, leaning up into Poe for a kiss that had left his lips raw—the watch on the wrist that was fisting Poe's curls the only thing in focus.
"I still jerk off to that picture," Ben tells him bluntly, yanks Poe against his lap, reminding him he's probably been hard since he walked in the door.
"Good to know I still rate." Poe says, trying for exasperated.
Ben sits up suddenly, catches Poe behind the neck to prevent him from careening off the bed and Ben's lap.
"The first night I met you, I made you come all over a twenty-two thousand dollar watch," Ben tells him, intense. His face is viciously serious; his eyes narrowed and lips bleached white from pressure. "I got to keep it and you and now Bulgari wants to pay me an absurd amount of money to show the world I still have both."
"Ben," Poe says quietly, can already feel his arguments fading.
"I want to do this with you," Ben tells him, and Poe knows that he never says anything unless he means it. "I want you to stop thinking your success was a fluke when everyone knows you're the best in the business." He gives Poe a lopsided, encouraging smile. "Let's do it all again, but on purpose this time."
He finally lets go of Poe's hips, lets him slip off to the side and immediately curls a broad arm around Poe's chest, pulls him in tight. Poe closes his eyes, curls his fingers around the familiar weight of the watch that Ben has called his good luck charm for the last decade. Ben kisses his head.
"I'll think about it," Poe concedes, trying hard to ignore the victorious smile he can feel pressed against the back of his neck.
Chapter 2: chapter two
Written for the themes "compromise" and "conflict of interest" for Knightpilot Week!
Ben reschedules their Wednesday shoot with GQ and their Thursday shoot with Dior Homme and Poe finds himself with a rare weeklong vacation. Ben insists they spend it in bed, refuses to let Poe put on clothing, and spends seven days fucking him stupid.
Ben's fingers have never felt thicker, his cock never harder, his mouth relentless. Poe's body is flooded with endorphins that leave him weak—gooey—Ben tapping into reserves of energy Poe's never seen before, not even at the beginning of their relationship where it felt like they couldn't go a minute without having each other.
Poe spends the better part of a week spread across their sheets, panting into his fist, sobbing into his pillow as Ben holds him open with his hands and licks him raw, abuses his prostate to the point every touch feels like the ebb of a spectacular orgasm.
He can feel Ben's heartbeat in his throat; can taste his resolve like a sharp spice. Ben is exhausting on the best of days, but when he's determined to leave Poe blindingly well fucked and incapable of forming higher thought, it's hard to feel like he hasn't won gold in the relationship Olympics.
In the end—tired and sticky and hesitant to break the good mood—Poe sticks to his initial reaction: tells Ben he won't do the Bulgari shoot and hopes that's the end of the discussion.
It really, really isn't.
Their sex vacation inevitably lead to a scheduling backlog that Poe knew was coming, but the likes of which are only seen during Paris and New York Fashion Week. Poe has three elaborate shoots a day for four days straight—barely has enough time to pack up his gear before he and Jess are shoved in a town car to start the whole process again.
He's exhausted and starving when he finally pulls himself through his front door, is greeted with a firm kiss and a warm meal, gets to eat in comfortable silence while Ben methodically rubs the stiffness from his back and shoulders. He's drowsy and tingling with relief by the time Ben pulls him into bed and falls asleep before his head even hits the pillow.
Because the week wasn't long enough, his final booking is for a Calvin Klein underwear print ad with Ben.
As much as Poe enjoys ogling Ben in obscenely tight boxers, he hates working with him on underwear campaigns. Ben unfailingly tries convince Poe he should do the ads naked, shamelessly spends hours nude and arguing about artistic liberties and the creative brand vision. Poe knows Ben doesn't give a shit about any of his contracts; that he does it so Poe ends up frustrated and desperately horny by the time he's done checking the proof shots.
Poe's had a tension headache for three days and Ben's constant mix of demanding and pleading to reconsider the Bulgari ad aren't helping. He's so childishly frustrating—has been spoiled his whole life and was never left wanting for anything—wants his cake and to eat it too.
Poe snaps right as they walk onto set, shakes away Ben's groping fingers that are halfway down his pants and pins him with a scorching look.
"Even if I wanted to do this, I don't have time to play at being a model and go through your proof roll, Ben."
The fact that it happens to be the truth only adds to Poe's conviction, adds to Ben's petulant pout. Ben's eyes narrow in irritation, his lush mouth a sullen moue. He knows he's a hassle to work with which is why the only stipulation in his ridiculous contract is that he gets to choose the photographer for all his print ads. Lucky Poe.
Poe sighs, kisses Ben's pouting mouth, loves him so fiercely it makes him insane. Even now it pains him to see Ben look so miserable. Ben responds back instantly, his stubborn mouth slowly yielding to Poe's tongue. Poe isn't sure why he's apologizing, but the stiffness in Ben's shoulders is fading, his mouth softer and firmer. It's a truce of a sort and Poe only has himself to blame when he lets his guard slip and actually feels the exact moment Ben's defeated disappointment turns into overconfident certainty.
"So If I can clear up your schedule, you'll do the ad?"
Poe stares at Ben blankly for a few moments. Ben's charming grin isn't as attractive as he thinks it is. "Is selective hearing a new thing for you or something we should have a medic check out?"
Ben steamrolls Poe's comments with a stinging kiss, his conviction blinding.
"I'll do this in one shot," Ben promises with utter sincerity.
Poe laughs. Loudly.
Ben's dragged out every photoshoot they've worked together for the last six years. He's never been subtle about how much he likes Poe's attention, how much he enjoys milking Poe's frustration to a steaming froth before he buckles down and continually delivers shot after shot of perfectly usable campaign pictures. It used to take Poe three rolls of film before Ben stopped fucking around long enough to deliver a workable shot; the crossover to digital an unwelcome but much needed blessing in disguise.
Ben's as vain as anyone in the fashion industry—likes it when people stare at him; gets off on their envy.
"Yeah, sure you will." Poe keeps laughing, walks past Ben to start prepping the shoot.
"I'll nail this in one take if you do the Bulgari ad." Ben negotiates enthusiastically.
"So lemme get this straight," Poe elucidates. "You promise to do your job and then I owe you?" Ben's smug, delighted grin is all the answer Poe needs. "You're fucking unbelievable."
"I do it in one and you're mine. Deal?"
In the ten years they've been together Ben hasn't turned down a single opportunity to showboat. He's almost physically incapable of not turning himself into the center of attention.
"The next three shoots," Poe begins, and the immediateness of Ben's smirk makes him add, "and you quit smoking."
"Deal," Ben instantly agrees, swoops in and kisses Poe thoroughly. He's so happy his whole body is vibrating with it, his joy utterly infectious.
Poe's almost disappointed he's going to fail.
"Knock yourself out," Poe encourages, spreads his arms wide and gestures to the empty room they're in.
Ben casts a critical eye at the set, leans against the cluttered craft table and drums his long fingers across the top of the Formica tabletop. He's staring at the brick wall as if it's personally offended him, spends five whole minutes glaring at nothing but his own overconfidence.
"Whenever you're ready," Poe says sweetly, camera armed and at the ready.
Ben rises to the taunt, unzips his black jeans and sweeps all the cups and muffins off the table and onto the floor in an overly dramatic fashion that Poe shouts at him for. Ben only smirks in retaliation, yanks off his shit and tosses it at Poe, makes him dodge the fabric. He arches his back seductively before he slouches over the table and hooks his right arm around his neck, twists his torso until the gorgeous muscles in his back and shoulders bulge beautifully.
The iconic band of the Calvin underwear peeks from his jeans, his skin taut and smooth and inviting and he turns his tousled head toward Poe, looks so goddamn delicious, so primal, Poe nearly drops his camera.
"Ready?" Ben asks saucily, and Poe curses him in every language he's ever heard.
He takes the picture, knows right when the shutter clicks that the Calvin reps are going to love it, that it's absolutely perfect—that the next two shoots are going to be unbearable.
Chapter 3: chapter three
Written for the themes "gravity" and "adrenaline" for Knightpilot Week!
Ben's as competitive as a well-fed cat.
He's always happy to concede to Poe—actually seems to prefer it since he inevitably ends up reaping the benefits of Poe's determination without any effort on his part. He's unfathomably lazy for someone who works as hard as he does to appear indifferent, but his reckless attitude and impetuousness have been the backbone of his reputation for years. He inherited his father's cockiness and his mother's temper and it's an absolutely lethal combination that bleeds beautifully into pictures.
Poe's been in love with Ben since he was twenty-two years old—will go to his grave loving Ben—but with every passing day where Ben smugly reminds him he 'wins in his Calvins', Poe's iron resolve to defeat him turns to titanium.
He underestimated Ben with the Calvin ad, but he won't make that mistake again.
The next job is the GQ shoot Ben rescheduled—a photo-spread of five pictures for Zegna's upcoming Fall collection.
Poe books a rooftop by the pier on the hottest day in April and tells Connix to pull out the heaviest leather jackets and thickest sweaters Zegna has in stock and to have Ben dressed and ready to shoot in fifteen minutes. He figures the heat and the wind will ruin most of the shots, but he knows that Ben's too vain to tie up his hair to try and admit something as trivial as weather can affect him.
Connix snorts as she rushes off to comply—drags Karé with her. Poe's usual crew caught wind of the bet they made and spread it like wildfire. He overhears Jess and Snap debating who would end up winning, and is disappointed to hear Jess putting her money on Ben. So much for loyalty.
It's somehow both windy and muggy. Jess is already sweating as she struggles to keep her laptop open, the force of the wind slamming it shut on her fingers each time. She glares at Poe like he's responsible.
"We're losing light here, Solo!" Poe shouts, and doesn't think even Jess, three feet away, hears him. Thankfully, Connix is prompt as ever and sends Ben out in the first outfit.
Poe realizes he's screwed the instant Ben walks onto the rooftop.
It's been years since Poe's seen Ben in anything but his customary black. He famously hates color—will wear shades of grey or go nude if he can swing it—and designers have always been more than willing to accommodate his preference. Where Connix managed to find the teal pants and indecently tight, short-sleeved, puce button-down is only second to how she convinced Ben to put it on.
Poe suddenly wants to take more than one picture, wants to capture every possible angle and inch of Ben's body on film for posterity.
Ben marches straight to Poe, clears the distance quickly. He has the longest legs in the business—has the strongest walk in the circuit. The Prada and Gucci Houses come to blows each season to have Ben close out their shows and he's walked for Ghesquière in five-inch stilettos and for Balmain on a literal sheet of ice without so much as a stumble or slip.
Poe knew the wind—despite how valiant it was trying to tackle everyone to the ground—wouldn't affect Ben's balance, but anticipated that it would pull and pucker the clothing awkwardly. Ben's hair is a predictable disaster, flies around his long face in messy clumps.
Poe has no idea why he's smiling as boldly as he is when they're both at a stalemate. Ben closes the last of the distance with his arms, pulls Poe against his chest with a strong tug, and bites at his jugular with sharp, white teeth.
"I want this more than you do," he says with a grin, loud against Poe's ear before he licks inside Poe's mouth with a hard swipe of his tongue. He's entirely far too pleased with himself for Poe's liking.
"Do you now?" Poe shouts back, but Ben ignores him and saunters toward the guardrail—tests its give with a solid shake.
He takes a few moments to look around—has substantially more to work with than the Calvin ad—before he looks up and squints at the sun. A hard push of wind covers his whole face with his hair. Poe readies his camera; doesn't want to be blamed for being unprepared.
Ben leans his back against the guardrail and lets his legs slide out in front of him as the clothing pulls taut across his limbs. Once he's reclined as he can go, he pillows his head in his arms, looks as casual as a stargazer on a particularly clear night. He's a slash of color against the hazy background, his body suspended on the strength of his broad shoulders.
The wind chooses that exact moment to calm.
Poe bitterly snaps the picture, looks at the digital display, and sees that it's frustratingly excellent.
Ben doesn't even ask him how it turned out, is already en route to the stairwell where Connix—the betrayer—has the next wardrobe change. Poe doesn't waste the opportunity, selfishly takes three quick photos of Ben as he retreats, moans with longing over how the tightness of the shirt accentuates Ben's unachievable shoulder-to-hip ratio.
The second, third, and fourth photos follow in similar suit: Ben in bright oranges and greens and purples looking effortlessly chic on a disgusting rooftop and barely containing his self-satisfaction. Poe's building up a stash of covertly taken pictures just for his own private collection—will probably send one to Ben's mother just out of spite.
The fourth picture involves Ben in a beautiful rose-tinted shirt that he unbuttons in front of Poe until it gapes wide at the neck and exposes his collarbones. The shade of pink is the exact hue Ben's skin gets after they've been fucking. Poe feels need twist in his gut; knows the wardrobe people at Zegna aren't getting that shirt back—that he's going to have Ben wear it when he rides him and won't stop until the colors match exactly.
They've been on the roof for only twenty minutes—will, in all likeliness—be fully wrapped in thirty. Usually by this time, Ben's finished complaining about every molecule of air in the room and has begun his shameless flirting. Jess wisely invested in earplugs after the third time Ben laid out a very, very detailed account of what he'd rather be doing to Poe than playing dress-up.
Poe kind of misses it.
The stairwell door opens and Ben walks out in his final outfit—pale yellow pants rolled at the cuff, a white t-shirt, and a sleek black leather jacket. It's the most he's looked like himself all shoot and Poe sighs in resignation. He takes two shots of Ben patiently waiting for Karé to powder away the perspiration dotting his hairline and tame the wayward waves of his hair with a few clever twists
The shirt is already starting to stick to Ben's skin from the humidity, and Poe is transfixed on the way the material highlights his abs. Ben catches Poe's gaze and hold it, no longer smug, but completely determined. The bite of competition has decreased exponentially in Poe with how serious Ben has taken the shoot—with how clinically professional he's being in order to win.
Poe's proud of Ben more than he's angry at being bested.
Karé nudges Ben when she's done, and Ben immediately heads for Poe. There's something stormy in his expression, and when he gets closer, Poe recognizes it as worry. Ben's nervous.
"You're distracting me," Ben says somberly, his sloe eyes dark and heavy as they track a bead of sweat that drips down Poe's cheek. He tenses his jaw and licks at his bottom lip absently, looks like he's torn between wanting to lick and bite.
Poe takes the decision away from him, leans up on his tiptoes and kisses Ben on the chin. "Give me a cover shot and let's get out of here. I'll let you fuck me in the town car on the way home."
Ben smiles his lopsided, real smile. He kisses Poe and cryptically says: "Just don't freak out, okay?"
He walks back to the guardrail, looks over his shoulder, and in one nimble move, pushes his body upward, and lands on the rail with both feet.
Terror floods Poe's system—paralyzes him.
Ben fully stands on the rail, keeps his arms up for balance, and slowly turns to face the camera, taunting gravity. He seems wholly unconcerned with the fact a single misstep would end with him plummeting to the ground and his certain death and Poe has never hated himself more for poking Ben's dormant competitive side.
Jess screams Ben's name but it's muffled by the wind, and Poe can't hear anything over how his pulse is racing in his own head—knows he's shouting at Ben to get down, but Ben gives him a patient look and gestures for him to take the picture.
Poe raises the camera and snaps, doesn't even see what he took but needs Ben safely on the ground. Ben hops down with a smile—is again unconcerned with how Poe's now going to kill him.
"What the fuck, Ben?" Poe snaps, fury pooling in his fists, his heart throbbing. He pounds Ben's chest with his fists, is horrified to see them shaking. Ben laughs, gathers Poe up into his arms and nuzzles the top of his head.
"There's a net. And a fence," Ben explains as if that makes any difference whatsoever. "I told you not to freak out." His strong fingers rub down Poe's spine, targets the tension reinforcing the bones and eases it away.
"You're an idiot," Poe mutters, no bite in the words.
"Oh, I know," Ben says with a fond smile. "I fell in love with a photographer."
Chapter 4: chapter four
Written for the theme "commitment" for Knightpilot Week!
They don't end up having sex in the town car.
It disappoints Poe more than it does Ben, but Poe refuses to reward his behavior and subsequent pleading. Ben thinks Poe is joking, that he's ducking and dodging his mouth to be coy.
Ben—who's spent the majority of his life avoiding confrontation when it doesn't suit him—realizes they're about to fight and sits as far away from Poe as possible to take his verbal lashes.
And Poe's out to sting.
He spends the whole ride railing on Ben for worrying everyone, for endangering himself, for momentarily draining all the color from Poe's world and shrugging it off like it was something even remotely laughable—as if Poe wouldn't be shattered if the reason Ben hurt himself was because of him.
"I love you, you fucking idiot," Poe snaps, deadly serious. "Promise me you'll never do something as stupid as that again. Promise me right now or I swear to God I'm done working with you."
"I swear," Ben agrees, far too quickly.
And that's what tips Poe off.
Ben's always been reckless—once walked for Marchesa the day after he had his appendix removed, stoned out of his mind on Codine, and ended up right back in the hospital when he pulled all his stitches. They've had lesser variations of this fight for years and Ben's never once agreed to change, which means something has.
"What aren't you telling me?" Poe realizes, and Ben looks infinitely guiltier in that moment, his shoulders hunching inward.
Ben, rather unwisely, stays silent the entire ride back.
Ben disappears to the gym when they get home, and Poe doesn't see him again until it's nearly eleven o'clock.
Poe's been ready to sleep for an hour but was determined to wait up and finish the conversation Ben escaped earlier. Ben hesitates at the bedroom door, runs through all his options, and goes for the one that usually gets him the least yelled at.
He strips off his sweaty shirt and levels a blindingly seductive look in Poe's direction.
Poe knew this was coming.
"You're on the couch tonight." Poe spreads himself on the bed and intentionally pushes Ben's pillow to the floor. It's petty, but it's satisfying.
Ben ignores Poe's power play and crawls up the bed, braces himself above Poe and leans down with slow grace. He licks at Poe's neck, settles his weight against Poe's body when he meets no resistance, and starts nudging the rounded collar of Poe's sleep shirt so he can get to his skin.
"It's a big bed," Ben begins, pitches his voice low and dark the way Poe likes it. "I think we can share."
Poe lets Ben snuggle in, rubs himself against Ben's thick thigh and pants with how good it feels, whimpers when Ben groans loud and long and holds Poe's hips in place while he grinds their cocks together. It's a dirty move and Poe retaliates by getting his leg up, presses the flat of his foot against Ben's chest and pushes him away.
Playfulness burns in Ben's eyes, his cock bulging obscenely in his tight shorts. It can't be comfortable and Poe doesn't plan on giving him a moment's relief.
"Undo my pants," Poe orders. He arches his hip off the bed, a blatant offering that Ben complies with grateful immediacy.
His thick fingers pluck at the string on his pajamas and he takes far longer than he needs to accomplish the task—gets distracted when Poe thrusts up, rubbing himself shamelessly against Ben's huge, wonderful palm.
When Ben finally pulls the string loose, Poe presses back with his foot, prevents Ben from reaching in and touching his dick. Ben drops his hands without having to be told, stares helplessly as Poe cups himself and squeezes, purrs at the slow burn that swirls in his belly.
Poe uses Ben's body to brace himself as he finally pulls himself out, moans brazenly when he grips himself and strokes. Ben whines, tries to lean down again. Poe has no problem keeping him at bay with his leg.
Ben doesn't touch even though it's obvious he's dying to, squeezes above Poe's knees with both hands as a means of restraining himself. Poe allows it for the time being, enjoys the strength of Ben's body. His hand doesn't feel as good as Ben's does, but it's good enough for now.
He wishes he were a little slicker but he's leaking enough to make the glide pleasurable, keeps rubbing at the head of his cock and bites down hard on his tongue to keep from begging Ben to take over, keeps it as slow and deliberate as he can. Ben's gone near catatonic above him, his eyes transfixed on Poe's dick, his breathing shallow and rough. He's squeezing Poe's legs so tightly it hurts, but that only makes it better, thankfully keeps Poe pinned when his orgasm finally hits, his spine arching sharply and his torso thrashing.
The flood of endorphins brings forth a hazy sort of clarity. He wipes his sticky fingers on his ruined shirt and tosses it to the side, lets his leg slide from Ben's chest to around his waist, finally lets Ben slot against him the way he'd been trying.
Given permission to move, Ben immediately grabs Poe's right hand, brings the fingers up to his mouth and sucks—tries to chase after any lingering traces of come and groans in disappointment when he finds none.
He sighs against Poe's thumb, kisses the knob of his knuckle before shaking his head free and placing it on Poe's sternum. He tucks his face into the curve of Poe's neck and Poe feels the tickle of his eyelashes against his skin as he closes his eyes. He's so hard against Poe's hip it's got to be agony for him, but he's not moving at all—is taking his punishment beautifully.
Poe strokes along Ben's sleek, thick hair, threads his fingers and rubs at his scalp. Ben moans in utter bliss.
"I'm stopping the bet," Poe says. Ben's head shoots up—protest coloring his expression—before Poe yanks on his ear and drags his head back down to lie across his chest. "I'll do the Bulgari shoot. No fucking ad is worth you hurting yourself."
"This one is," Ben insists, sullenly. His deep voice is liquidy with conviction.
Ben's jaw tightens along Poe's neck. Poe can feel the tension in his back, the way he's bracing himself for another fight. All at once, the stiffness dissipates, Ben's limbs going soft as they curl around Poe.
"Because it's my last one."
Poe fingers freeze where they're working through a particularly nasty tangle of knots in Ben's hair.
"I terminated my deal with Resistance Models when I got back from Spain. I'm out, after the Bulgari shoot."
"What about your contracts?" Poe mentally runs through the staggering list of companies Ben's tied himself to over the years. "And your upcoming shoots?"
"Dealt with," Ben assures. "I'm tired of being at the mercy of paranoid narcissists. I'm tired of being away from you for weeks on end." He sighs, sounds so weary it makes Poe ache. "I never gave a shit about modeling, Poe. I only took all those contracts and booked all those shoots so I could keep seeing you."
"You see me every day," Poe reminds him, gestures to the brownstone they've lived in for the last eight years. Ben's avoiding his eyes, keeps his gaze fixed on Poe's shoulder. "There's something else."
Ben bites the inside of his cheek. Anything that requires Ben to hesitate has got to be serious.
"The First Order asked me to be their new Creative Director. I accepted."
The First Order has been a thorn in the side of Resistance Models for years. They poach contracts and sabotage campaigns, are cruel to their staff and wicked to their models. Poe's hated them ever since he overheard a First Order photographer promise a rail-thin, clearly underage model, a career if she sucked him off after the shoot.
Poe only avoided an assault charge because Ben got to him first: punched him with his own camera and broke two of his fingers in the process. It had taken weeks of litigation to keep Ben out of jail and Poe had never loved him more. For him to have taken a job with them after all that leaves Poe's stomach in angry knots—makes him feel uncomfortable and vaguely betrayed.
Ben always talked about moving behind the camera when his modeling career ended—knew he wanted to keep working in the industry that loves him as fiercely as Poe does—but Poe always thought it would be at Resistance Models with him.
But this isn't about Poe.
"You're disappointed. I know you are." Ben sounds miserable and that just won't do.
Poe traces the well-loved lines of Ben's face with his thumbs and kisses his gorgeous mouth with as much enthusiasm and delight as he's capable. As always, Ben kisses back like he's helpless to resist, like he'd rather be doing nothing else.
"You're going to be incredible," Poe says, and he means it, will happily keep kissing Ben until he believes it. "I'm so proud of you."
"You shouldn't be." Ben's smile is tentative in its cockiness, a parody of its usual self. "I'm going to make sure you never work in this town again so you're completely beholden to me."
That would be a welcome change of pace.