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Chary Champagne

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The worst part of Lindir’s day is arguably his time spent on the bus. His home life is easy, boring and limited as it is, and his work life is difficult but something he still perseveres at. The bus ride there is a strange nexus caught in between, wherein he’s still civilian Lindir, but he irrationally feels like everyone who looks at him can see the other, wholly indecent side. Until this job, no one outside of his parents had ever seen him naked, and now he can’t help but worry that his fellow passengers are looking right through his clothes. It’s probably best that those parents haven’t talked to him once since moving back to Andrast.

Unfortunately, as good as Lindir’s job pays, he doesn’t earn nearly enough tips to manage a car, and he’s always considered himself too frantic to be behind a wheel anyway. So he sits in the back corner of the bus and hunches in on himself, alternatively crackling with unease and clawing at lucidity. He has a meeting with the manager before his shift today, and if he falls asleep and misses his stop, there’ll be no saving his already tenuous job.

He’s the only person that signals for his stop, and he doesn’t know what to think about the driver not sparing him a single look as he disembarks the front doors. On the one hand, invisibility is what’s garnered him the meeting, on the other hand, he half wishes he were more invisible.

The alley behind Eriador’s not a particularly grungy one; it’s regularly looked after and monitored. His keycard slides easily through the lock on the back door, and then he’s slipping inside, pausing in the threshold to stifle another yawn—this is ridiculous. It’s almost six o’clock in the evening and he can barely stay awake. Knowing he had this meeting coming up robbed him of all chance at sleep last night, and when it become apparent he wouldn’t even make it through a nap, he spent the rest of the morning obsessively cleaning his tiny apartment. When the yawn’s finished, he slips into the throng of half-naked bodies, wondering if he should bother to go to his station and change before he’s inevitably fired.

Instead, he spots his manager at the end of the room, standing outside his office door and surveying the crowd. As soon as he spots Lindir, Lindir knows it’s over. He makes his way sullenly across without bothering to shed his bag.

Erestor’s office is relatively spacious. It’s as dark as the rest of the club, but the shiny metal filing cabinets that line the back wall somehow make it feel less so. As Lindir slips into the chair facing the desk, Erestor shuts the glass door behind them and comes around to take the other seat. He isn’t a cruel boss, but the weight of the desk makes him feel imposing, and the way he leans over it to cross his arms strikes Lindir as a bad sign. Lindir shrinks into his chair even further and fights with himself to stay completely awake. Adrenaline mostly does the job.

“Lindir,” Erestor starts, in that slow, deliberate way of his that instantly announces something’s wrong, “Are you happy here?”

Lindir blinks. ‘Happy’ doesn’t seem the right adjective to give a job. Torn between what he knows he should say and not wanting to lie, he tries, “I’m not unhappy?”

Erestor waits a moment, during which Lindir wonders if he should just blurt out a plea to stay. Instead, he stays quiet. Erestor sweeps an appraising look over him, pausing lastly at his face, and asks with a touch of concern, “You’ve got dark circles under your eyes.”

“I’m fine,” Lindir insists. “I just had a late night; I’ll cover them with makeup.” Erestor frowns, making Lindir wonder if that was the problem. He doesn’t know what else to say.

“Lindir... I’m sorry, but I don’t know how else to ask this—do you want to work here?”

Lindir’s stomach clenches, but he immediately answers, “Yes. Yes, of course.” It took him months to psyche himself up to apply to Eriador, and though he knows he’s terrible at it, he doesn’t want to, isn’t sure he can, just go back to his shut-in, absolutely empty life. He needs the push, and the anonymity of it suits him, and the late hours are usually good for him. It’s all the safest, most exclusive of the private night clubs within transit distance. But he can’t say to his boss that he took this job specifically because he’s hopeless everywhere else with the subject matter and needs the professional guise, so he just hopes his ‘yes’ is enough.

Erestor doesn’t look so sure. He uncrosses his hands and lets his fingers drum across the tabletop, around an open pen and a few papers. His dark hair, typically long for elves, is bundled up behind his ears, while Lindir, having forgotten in his sleepless stupor, has his messy locks tumbling plainly down his shoulders. Erestor’s crisp suit and glistening earrings make him look every bit the part of an expensive and desirable option, and the contrast makes Lindir all the more aware of how poorly he fits into the environment. He fidgets under Erestor’s firm gaze, until Erestor says, “I am sure you know why you’re here.”

Lindir nods dully but doesn’t elaborate. Erestor does for him, “I’ll be honest—we’ve received complaints about you. Too many. It isn’t that you’ve done anything wrong, but you look uncomfortable, and that makes customers uncomfortable. This isn’t a light club, Lindir. It’s an all-encompassing sex club, and to my knowledge, you haven’t so much as given a single blow job since you got here. Now, I am willing to give you another chance, but I want to make sure that this is the right place for you.”

Lindir can feel his face blushing hotly. He hasn’t even given a hand job yet. Not just in the club, in life. He can’t even remember the last time he let a customer touch him. This job was supposed to change that.

He mumbles in a far too fumbling manner, “I-I’m sorry. I am. I’m just... I’m just shy, but I do want to be here; I’ll do better, I promise...” He trails off when he realizes he’s likely just told a lie despite his best efforts to remain honest with his employer. Erestor looks as skeptical as he feels. He tries, “I just... need my first break.”

To Lindir’s surprise, Erestor sighs, “Alright. I don’t want to fire you, Lindir. You’re one of the few that actually cleans their booths, and the staff like you. But I’m sure you understand that if you can’t actually do the full job, I won’t have much choice in the matter.” Lindir nods emphatically; he completely understand and is frankly shocked he’s not being let go on the spot. “For tonight, I’m going to switch your section. I’m giving you the west VIP section. As I’m sure you know, only premium members will come there, and those have all gone through vigorous background and medical checks. You won’t have to worry about remembering a condom or needing the bouncers.” Lindir realizes the switch is meant to calm him, but the mention of condoms still deepens his blush. He goes through his own weekly tests for this job, though he’s yet to do anything that would change his results. Erestor continues, “Thranduil has his usual table booked for eight o’clock—I’m switching your tables specifically for him. I’m sure you’ve seen him before—he’s quite handsome, and frankly one of our most popular members with the staff, and he also tends to occupy more than one server at once, so you won’t be alone in the spotlight. If Thranduil can’t suck you into loosening up, no one can.”

There’s another pause, wherein Lindir says nothing. He’s seen Thranduil before, of course, and finds him reasonably good-looking, but not exactly Lindir’s type—whatever that is. He’s still determined to make some sort of move, if only to secure his position. He’s still hoping to find, at some point, the wild anonymous release he first got on board for, and it’s not impossible that Thranduil will coax that out of him.

The only problem he has with the situation is that Feren usually covers the west VIP section and won’t be pleased—Thranduil’s his favourite customer. Thranduil’s a lot of staff members’ favourite customer. Unfortunately, Lindir needs him right now more than they do, and ultimately says, “Thank you. I’ll do my best.”

“Good. I need to see progress.” Erestor then straightens out again and gestures for the door, giving Lindir the impression they’re done. Lindir moves to stand and doesn’t realize how fully he’d collapsed in the chair until he’s out of it; his bones are tired all over again, aching to slump down and sleep.

As Lindir’s hand closes around the handle of the office door, Erestor calls, “Lindir.” Lindir glances nervously over his shoulder, and Erestor sternly adds, “Don’t let this pressure you into anything you’re uncomfortable with. If it doesn’t work out within the week, you’ll still be given a good reference letter, and you’re still young and quite capable; I’m sure you’ll land on your feet.”

It’s not about that. But Lindir nods and retreats.

The costumes have been bunny clichés for the past month, slightly less irksome than the leather gear they wore before that and more irksome than the mini-dresses before that. These consist of stockings and a bathing-suit-like torso with a corset back and a fluffy white tail on the rear that looks frankly better suited for women than on Lindir’s lithely shapeless body. He always worries that his package, though not particularly sizeable, is going to fall out of the thong bottom, and the sweetheart neckline stops halfway over his nipples, making it not much of a neckline at all. Some of the other servers have their costume properly covering their chest, others not at all, and Lindir guiltily enjoys the in-between state—every time his nipples get chafed too much, become sore and a little painful, it gives him that forbidden thrill and reminds him why he’s here—he wants more. ...And then a customer will beckon him closer, and Lindir will revert into professionalism with no further interest, leaving him to spend too many nights wondering what’s wrong with him.

His station’s right next to Feren, who tells him unceremoniously, “It’s okay, I forgive you.” When Lindir looks over, he clarifies, “For taking my section.” With a shrug, he adds, “Eru knows you need that premium money more than I do.”

Lindir politely never asks how much the others make in tips, but he’s sure it’s exponentially more than his. He spares Feren a small smile and says, “Thank you. I appreciate it—I know how much you like Thranduil.”

“Thranduil’s coming?” Feren repeats, face whirring away from his mirror. Regret instantly washes over him, and Lindir wishes he hadn’t said anything. But Feren recovers shortly and sighs, “Well, it’s probably for the best. If anyone can seduce you out of your weird shell, he can. You should give him your number sometime—it’s fine, he’s premium, they checked him out—he gives the craziest sexts; I spend half my off days reading them. And he’s an amazing lay. Hey, he usually takes more than one anyway—check if I’m free when he asks for more, okay?”

Lindir nods and is sure that’ll happen. He’s never been asked to join into Thranduil’s orgies, and he can guess why; he’s quite plain-looking, and looks even worse tonight. With one hand holding the front of his outfit against his chest, the other rakes through his hair. Staring at himself in the mirror, he can see how the dark bags under his eyes caught Erestor’s attention. He looks like he feels; ready to collapse. He decides he doesn’t have the energy to bother brushing out his hair and vacillates between wanting to look good and doubting anyone will want him anyway.

Feren seamlessly slides into view behind him and takes up the strings of the corset back. Feren ties it loosely up, and Lindir, like usual, can’t find the courage to admit he wants to feel it tighter. When Feren’s finished, Lindir mumbles, “Thanks.” The headband with the erect rabbit ears comes last.

“Come on,” Feren mutters, slapping Lindir lightly on one exposed hip. “Let’s go get you some tips.”

Two hours into Lindir’s shift, he’s exhausted, and would frankly ask to go home early if his job weren’t already on the line. Instead, he scrubs dully at the bar counter with one eye on his tables, glad that thus far, the only people he’s had at them were quick and on record as not into men. One of the other perks of serving premium members only is the record of their preferences, so he doesn’t have to waste time flirting and failing.

When Thranduil does enter the bar, he’s easy to spot—his elegant white-blond hair stands out amongst the crowd, his silver suit shining under the lights, and he stands particularly tall. Lindir retires his cleaning and sucks in a breath, willing himself to wake up, and fetches a laminated menu.

The three VIP sections are all pressed against the stage, the booths against the walls on slightly elevated ground, each of the three fenced off by velvet ropes. Amidst the see of buzzing patrons and scantily clad staff, it’s hard to see who occupies the black leather wrap-around couch in the farthest corner until Lindir’s stepping into the section.

Then he pauses abruptly, eyes on Thranduil’s table. Thranduil is indeed stretched out there, coat already draped atop the oak countertop. He’s brought a guest with him—one that Lindir’s never seen before, though it’s not unusual for the rich and powerful to bring business partners here for meetings. The man that sits next to Thranduil is undoubtedly one of those.

Dressed in a crisp button up and black dress pants, the man is definitely older, looking even a tad more so than Thranduil, with long brown hair spilling down his back and broad shoulders. He’s overall long, trim, polished-looking, but nowhere near as shiny as Thranduil seems. His expression is soft, his eyes gentle. The more Lindir looks at him, the more he strikes Lindir as unwaveringly handsome, though it’s in a subtle, unique way, perhaps not something Lindir’s coworkers would agree with him on. It doesn’t matter. He’s suddenly struck with an uncharacteristic fluttering in his stomach, his skin warming—he isn’t at all used to this, but he feels the distinct stab of interest that he’s only before felt for the stray movie star or book character.

It takes him a second to regain himself, and he only does so because someone elbows past him and it jars him back to reality. He’s definitely too sleepy to be here—he’s zoning out and misguidedly placing dreamlike feelings on customers. Sucking in a breath, he wills himself back to sanity and returns to the bar for another menu.

Stilettos are common to the servers, and Lindir’s never had trouble walking in them before—he was given instructions during training about finding a relatively comfortable pair—but now he’s hyper-conscious of not tripping in his frazzled state. As he climbs back into the VIP section clutching both menus almost protectively to his chest, he can hear the end of Thranduil’s conversation over the general din and the electronic music. “...don’t offer an alcoholic option anyway.”

“Elrond, that is precisely why I am bringing up such a deal. I assure you, my vineyards—”

“Are the best, I’m sure, but you’re missing the point that I don’t see a need for it.”

Elrond, Lindir thinks, must be the man’s name, and he logs it away as he comes to stand before their table, feeling horribly clumsy. He doesn’t want to interrupt but doesn’t know what to do. Elrond is the first to notice him, looking over as Thranduil continues, “You may not, but your guests—” Then he spots Lindir and stops, raising one expectant eyebrow.

“Um, your... your menus,” Lindir mumbles, surprising himself at just much he’s lost it. He timidly drops both onto the table, painfully aware of how much of his body he’s no longer covering. It takes him a second to remember to add, “Tonight’s special is the Sinadrin cocktail and smaug-sliders. The dance show will be starting at eight thirty.”

Elrond is politely looking at his face, Thranduil looking right through him, until that last part. “Is Bard performing?”

Lindir has to wrack his memory, but he’s sure he saw the rugged mortal dancer backstage on his way in. “I believe so.”

Thranduil’s lips twist into a wide smirk, and he tells Elrond, “My favourite—I come for these shows alone.” Elrond, to Lindir’s surprise, looks as though he wants to roll his eyes. Thranduil seems not to notice and returns to Lindir. “What happened to my usual servers? Are they sick?”

Flushing, Lindir mumbles, “No?” He figured a regular as renowned as Thranduil would notice, and he can see that Thranduil’s not impressed with the change.

Gathering the menus back up without bothering to look, he hands them to Lindir and orders, “Bring two of my bottles to the table, a large linguini for me and a garden salad for my boring friend here, and two more attractive servers.”

While Lindir blinks, too stunned to know how to interrupt that, Elrond turns to hiss admonishingly, “Thranduil.”

“Trust me, this one is unusually plain for them,” Thranduil replies, waving a hand at Lindir and confirming how he meant the statement—servers more attractive than Lindir. It should probably hurt more than it does, but instead it just triggers more weariness. It does warm him to see Elrond glaring at Thranduil on his behalf.

Lindir tucks the menus back against his chest and recites, “Yes, Sir.” He’s suddenly curious as to how all his coworkers find Thranduil so charming but supposes they’re treated better and don’t see how flippant he is with others that don’t meet his expectations. Lindir supposes it doesn’t matter—he’s too tired to entertain anyone anyway.

He’s just turned to go when Elrond tells him, “Please, don’t bring anyone for me. Just the salad will do.”

Thranduil sighs, “Has anyone ever told you how dreadfully dull you are?” But Elrond doesn’t pay Thranduil any mind, and Lindir nods with a strange feeling of triumph—he’s not sure he wanted to see anyone in Elrond’s lap.

Lindir knows he’s failed. He’s made absolutely no progress and has no chance now, and the crushing disappointment of that only adds to his fatigue. He puts in the food order, which will have to be served after the show as servers are discouraged from carrying orders in the dark, and finds Meludir, who's working tonight as a spare behind the bar. When Lindir tells him Thranduil wanted someone, Meludir lights up instantly and practically runs out. When Lindir asks for two of Thranduil’s bottles, Meludir seems to know exactly what that means and fetches them, one for each to carry with matching wine glasses.

As soon as they’re at the table, Meludir sets his bottle down without even bothering to pour it. Lindir pops the cork on his, relieved at how easily it comes off, and sets to pouring some of the dark red liquid into Elrond’s glass. Meludir drifts right around the table and climbs eagerly into Thranduil’s lap, giggling delightedly as he asks, “Welcome back, Sir. Am I going to get to suck your big cock tonight, or would you like me to ride it instead?” It takes everything Lindir has to keep his face neutral and keep pouring.

Elrond stops him before it’s half full with a polite, “That’s enough,” and it makes Lindir wish that they didn’t have such strict touching policies—that Elrond could touch him without Lindir having to initiate contact first. He assumes Elrond must know that rule—new entrants are always briefed before admittance, and the member that brought them would be penalized for their actions as well; a good incentive to keep patrons watching one another—Elrond waits until Lindir’s withdrawn before taking the glass by its stem and drawing it closer.

While Thranduil visibly fondles Meludir’s ass, Lindir directs to Elrond, “Can I get you anything else before the show starts? Unfortunately, your food won’t be ready until the first intermission, but we have quick appetizers...”

“That’s alright—” Elrond starts, but is interrupted by the lights starting to dim. The rate is slow—a warning—and the music fades with it.

Holding Meludir aside by his honey hair, Thranduil interjects, “He still needs someone to play with.”

“I absolutely do not,” Elrond returns, but Thranduil just rolls his eyes.

“Would you live a little? Why do you think I brought you here? Trust me, the show will make you want something to grind into, and the staff here is quite amenable.”

“I’m sure they are, but—”

By now the lights are completely gone, throwing them into pure blackness before the first light dramatically flickers onto the stage. With a frustrated growl, Thranduil insists, “Just take the plain one, will you? He’s right there; it would be rude of you to deny him a chance to earn a better tip—they pay well here, yes, but the servers expect a significant increase from their patrons.”

In what little Lindir can see through the neon glow of the stage, Elrond looks unconvinced, but less adamant. He opens his mouth, likely to protest again, but Lindir blurts, “Please. I would love to serve you.”

Elrond looks around at him in surprise, and Lindir hopes the darkness hides his blush. He’s never been so forward, but this is the stuff of his fantasies—Elrond is, and he knows exactly how rare this feeling is; who knows when he’ll want to sit in a customer’s lap again. He looks at Elrond pleadingly, hoping the lack of options is on his side; the stage music’s started up, and most of the audience is clapping already, whistling in anticipation. It’s very likely that once the dancers come on stage, Elrond will have no interest in Lindir’s mess, so he steps around the table, right against the edge of the couch, biting his lip and trying to resist just crawling forward. Despite his inexperience, the urge is insurmountable, made fiercer by how wantonly Meludir is already grinding into Thranduil. Thranduil insists for him, “Elrond, just take him.”

With a sigh, Elrond nods and reaches out a hand. Bizarrely ecstatic, Lindir takes it. The contact is an instant burst of electricity—Elrond’s hands are larger than his own and feel far stronger, wrapping softly around his slender fingers. He stumbles forward, embarrassed but no good and trying to swiftly recover. He climbs between Elrond and the table’s edge far too awkwardly, spreading his legs around Elrond’s lap like Meludir’s done. The position is exhilarating, though he has no clue if he’s done it right or what to do next. So he just sits there, hoping Elrond’s alright with his failure and silently relishing the proximity. It’s everything out of his dirty fantasies but better, because now he has a face to it, and it’s real, he’s really sitting in a handsome customer’s lap, with that customer wrapping one strong arm around him. He’s a little surprised at how gentle it is—he’s steadied, not pulled in, held at his back instead of his waist or hips. Elrond spares one glance at his chest, nipples now shamefully hard against the top of his outfit, the nubs visibly pushing at the material and the tops exposed. Lindir lays one hand on each of Elrond’s shoulders and wonders how he’s supposed to go about kissing—should he kiss? In his peripherals, Meludir is simply resting his head on Thranduil’s shoulder, giving Thranduil room to view the stage.

The announcer’s talking now, the microphone-enhanced words drowned out in Lindir’s buzzing ears. He wants to ask Elrond what to do, fully knowing he probably won’t be heard, and opens his mouth, only to let out a wide yawn.

A look of surprise comes over Elrond’s face, and Lindir turns completely scarlet, hand darting up to cover his mouth in horror. He’s not sure he’s ever been so embarrassed in his life. But Elrond only dons a soft, kind smile that makes Lindir’s heart clench. He’s glad Thranduil’s too distracted to point out how terrible he is. He doesn’t know what to do.

Then he hears the footsteps of the dancers, quickly swallowed up in more applause. Thranduil swats Elrond’s shoulder, narrowly missing Lindir’s hand, and calls over the crowd, “The scruffy one on the left—watch him.” Bard, Lindir guesses, without turning around to look. He doesn’t need to; he’s seen this show a hundred times, and while the performers are impressive, none of them have enticed him as much as Elrond. But now Elrond is glancing at the stage around Lindir, likely trying to spot Thranduil’s mysterious target, and Lindir is left feeling in the way and hopeless. Elrond’s arm tightens the faintest bit around Lindir’s waist, and Lindir scoots forward, so that his body brushes Elrond’s taut stomach. It gives him a slight hitch of breath—Elrond’s warm and feels so solid, so sturdy. Lindir’s gripped with the inexplicable desire to wrap completely around Elrond. Elrond doesn’t protest to the closeness, so Lindir lets himself draw closer, his head falling aside so as not to block the show.

He’s dizzy from a mix of sensations and has no energy to deal with them, and that’s part of what guides his head to Elrond’s shoulder. He lays it there, hoping he’s not blocking anything, and contemplates grinding into Elrond’s crotch. He wants to. He wants to feel what’s there. But he also wants Elrond to guide him, so he waits in the meantime and lets himself slowly unwind, eventually melting into Elrond’s firm body with a bizarre sense of peace.

Elrond doesn’t touch him beyond the soothing arm around his back. He isn’t rocked back and forth, isn’t stroked, isn’t fondled. He’s almost disappointed about that. But it does make the job easier. All he has to do is wait to serve, likely until the show’s aroused Elrond enough to seek release in the nearest willing body. Lindir forgets himself and inhales the strong scent of Elrond’s earthy cologne and hopes that time comes soon.

The lights occasionally flicker. The songs crescendo and fall, the crowd often jumping in, but Lindir tunes most of it out, his eyes growing heavier. He feels strangely safe here. Mostly, he feels good and light-headed. Elrond is such a lovely pillow and doesn’t move at all. Lindir can feel his rabbit ears flagging against the back of the couch and can’t help but wonder how much of a mess he looks, slumped like this in a client’s lap. He doesn’t care. He wonders what Elrond does—if he’s a rich business tycoon like Thranduil or just a lucky friend. Lindir’s lucky. He’s glad he got this table. Parts of Elrond’s shirt smell abstractly like green tea. Lindir’s distantly aware that he’s thinking nonsense.

Before long, he isn’t thinking at all, just drifting off into a warm, pleasant sleep.

Something’s lightly shaking him. The beach he’s on is growing hazy, slipping out in a murky cloud. Someone’s talking, and he hears a grumbled, “Completely useless.”

“I think it’s cute,” someone else muses, a deep voice coming from above. Lindir blinks his eyes sleepily open and yawns into a stranger’s shoulder.

Only then, too late, does he realize that he’s nuzzling into a stranger’s shoulder.

He jolts upright, eyes blinking at the sudden burst of light, now that dark hair isn’t shielding his view. There’s a steady buzz in his air—the familiar thrum of the club. He recognizes the near-closing-time music. Reality comes crashing down on him; the show’s over. All of them. He slept through the entire thing.

In another man’s lap. Elrond, if he remembers right, though right now he doesn’t trust his brain at all. Lindir glances up at a smiling face, sure his own is utterly red with his blush. He’s still completely in Elrond’s lap, thighs spread wide around Elrond’s waist, his legs half asleep still and his knees buried between the cushions. His hands have fallen down, but he picks them up to cover his mouth, until he can mange to blurt, “I-I’m sorry! Oh, Eru, I’m so sorry.”

“That’s quite alright. You did look as though you needed it. ...And I’m afraid you looked so peaceful once you’d slipped off that I didn’t have the heart to wake you.”

Lindir slept wonderfully. But it completely wasn’t worth this. He finally found a customer he wanted to pleasure, and he fell asleep. He’s ashamed of himself more than he can put into words. He can’t believe how genuinely alright with it Elrond looks—surely any other customer would’ve gone straight to the manager to have him fired. Lindir’s sure he’ll be fired after this anyway. He doesn’t care for the irony of failing on the night he finally found someone he thought he could succeed with.

Lindir murmurs another broken, “I’m sorry.”

Elrond insists, “Please, don’t be. I was glad to play pillow for you.” His smile implies a measure of humour in the statement, but Lindir’s too broken up to laugh. With a sigh, Elrond adds, “Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed this, I really must be going now.”

“Of course!” Lindir splutters, hurriedly scrambling off, immediately missing the contact, and practically tripping backwards on his heels and partially-numb legs. It lets him see more of the table—the empty glasses, Elrond’s full bottle and Thranduil’s empty one, and the finished plates, which gives Lindir another stab of guilt; another server must’ve fetched their food while Lindir was sleeping. He can’t believe how long he slept.

He’s not surprised to see Feren and Meludir on either side of Thranduil, kissing his neck and rubbing along his body, but Lindir is surprised that Thranduil’s clothes are still on. Perhaps it’s out of respect for Elrond. When Elrond conspicuously clears his throat, Thranduil begrudgingly detangles himself, to both Feren and Meludir’s disappointed whines.

Lindir has to step aside to make room for Elrond to get up, and he blurts again, “Really, I’m truly sorry—please do come again, we’ll make up for it—” Even if Lindir won’t be around then, he doesn’t want to sink the club with him. But Elrond waves his hand.

“I promise you, there is nothing to make up for.”

“Sir, please...” But Lindir doesn’t know what else there is to say. He wants to drop to his knees and offer to pleasure Elrond right now, or to go home with him, to blow him in his car or warm his bed or anything really, but Elrond isn’t a premium member, and Lindir really would be fired for that, and Elrond would be banned. And it would be completely inappropriate. He winds up falling into a half-bow, faintly trembling, just to hide his face. He can hear Thranduil getting up to leave. Lindir almost jerks up to fetch the check but remembers belatedly that Thranduil, like most premium members, will likely pay by card at the front.

As Thranduil heads out of the VIP section, Elrond pauses to lay a hand on Lindir’s shoulder and gently guide him out of the bow. Lindir still averts his eyes to the floor, though he wants to memorize everything about Elrond before Lindir’s denied the chance to ever see him again. Elrond gives him a reassuring squeeze and says, “Please, don’t worry about this. I had a pleasant time.” Lindir wordlessly nods, more because he’s entranced then because he agrees.

Then Elrond is leaving too, and Lindir’s left hollowly standing there, wallowing in disappointment.

Both Feren and Meludir spare Lindir the embarrassment of talking about his sleep spell. Feren starts clearing the table, which Lindir gives him a thankful, though shaky, smile for. As Feren takes the stack back, Meludir tells Lindir, “He didn’t touch you while you slept; I kept one eye out.”

Lindir startles at the confession, and half the surprise is that he didn’t expect Elrond to have touched him during that, which, in retrospect, was an awfully trusting assumption. Sighing fondly, Meludir adds, “I thought you wouldn’t like it, though I certainly wouldn’t mind—what an easy way to make a tip.”

Lindir can’t help but twist his nose at the suggestion. Meludir just giggles at Lindir’s face and says, “We’re very different, I suppose. Well, Thranduil’s friend behaved, at least. ...Even if you didn’t.” And then Lindir just feels horrible all over again, and he quickly leaves to fetch a rag for cleaning before Meludir sees.

He’s full-blown sulking by the time he’s buttoning up his shirt, out of heels and back into sneakers. He takes the headband off last, forlornly thinking he’ll miss the ridiculous ears—it was decent fantasy fodder, even if he never got to actually live out the fantasy. Clearly, he’s incapable of it. He’s one of the last left in the back and politely declines Feren’s offer to drive him home—he’s too humiliated to sit with his coworkers for longer than he has to. He wants to just leave, but instead finds himself walking over to the office.

The door’s half open, and Lindir knocks and sticks his head around, half hoping to be sent away, but Erestor looks up and grins at him, gesturing and inviting, “Lindir, come in.”

So Lindir, not fooled by the bright greeting, does. He comes to slump in the same chair he did earlier, feeling exponentially worse.

“I hear you did a wonderful job tonight.”

Lindir’s face shoots up, eyes wide, shocked. Erestor looks completely serious.

“Thranduil’s friend left a sizeable tip for you, and Thranduil was quite pleased to inform us that friend plans on returning. He owns the Imladris Hotel, you know. Quite prestigious. Naturally, we’d love to have another wealthy member, particularly one in the hospitality industry—it’s good for other business connections.”

Lindir’s heard of the Imladris Hotel, of course, though he’s never set foot in the place; he doesn’t make nearly enough or leave the house nearly enough. But the greater surprise is that Elrond tipped him and plans on returning and, better yet, Lindir might actually be around for it.

“It might have taken a while, but whatever you did tonight, I would recommend again. Good job, Lindir.”

Lindir nods numbly, quite sure that Erestor’s not actually recommending he fall asleep on customers. He mumbles a weak, “Thank you, Sir.”

Erestor gives him a warm smile that he completely doesn’t deserve. Nonetheless, Lindir leaves the office with a tremendous swell of relief. Not only does he still have his dream job, but Elrond might come back.

Lindir just hopes it’s on a day he’s working.

Chapter Text

His success is short-lived. It’s been a week, and he’s done nothing else—still technically hasn’t done anything—and Erestor knows it. He gets another soft talking-to and insists he’ll do better, and then he’s out changing into the new uniform knowing full well that he won’t.

Even though he arrived early, he’s still not finished by the time Feren shows up at the station next to his; he wastes too much time staring into his mirror and wondering what’s wrong with him. He feels like such a prude, even as he shuffles into shorts so tiny that they don’t fully cover his ass—and he doesn’t have much of an ass. There are girls across the way with everything spilling out. Beside him, Feren grows in frustration, “Where am I supposed to tuck it?”

On Lindir’s other side, Meludir slips easily into his shorts and chirps, “I like them.”

“Of course you do,” Feren grumbles, still fidgeting with his front. “You don’t have anything to tuck.”

“Don’t be jealous,” Meludir laughs. Lindir manages well enough—unlike Feren, he came in underwear.

Next is a shirt that’s too big for him and even larger on Meludir, but fits Feren well enough. It’s just a plain white thing, and as Lindir brushes his hair out after tugging it on, Feren mumbles, “Do you think these are the same size for everyone? They’ll be stretched skin-tight on some of the dancers...” Meludir’s already finished and wandered off, and Lindir’s too caught up in the newly-formed dark circles under his eyes to answer. Simply because there’s some time left before his shift starts and he’s stalling, he does his hair up in a quick braid. When he checks it in the mirror, it looks terribly misshapen, even though he’s usually very meticulous. It’s hard to be meticulous in the back of a sex club with poor lighting, too little sleep, and anxiety up to his chin.

Before they go out, they’re lined up in the corner. Lindir read the memo and knows what’s coming, but Feren looks totally surprised when buckets of water are upended over the servers one-by-one. How Feren thought he was going to get away with just a plain white t-shirt, Lindir has no idea. By the time the bucket gets to him, he has his eyes clamped shut and his posture rigid. The water sloshes all down this body and slips through his shorts, cold but not too unpleasant in the warm air. They’re barefoot for this, then given towels to clean up anything but the shirt area. He scrubs his feet hardest, not wanting to slip in his heels. Meludir hardly dries off anything—just as much as he needs to to not drip puddles on the floor. As Lindir passes out into the main area, the bouncer tells him to come back for another douse if his shirt dries off too much. Lindir nods and resists the urge to cover his chest from roving eyes—the thin fabric clings to him everywhere and leaves him practically naked.

He slips in a puddle halfway to the bar and slinks back, ashamed, to be granted flats.

He’s about an hour into his shift when Feren finds him at the bar—his table just finished, and while he could walk around and weasel into someone else’s, he still doesn’t have the courage or will for that. So he talks to Glorfindel, the bar manager, and tries to figure out what they’re expected to provide for customers. All he’s learned so far is that mixology is fretfully complicated and requires impressive coordination.

Then Feren shows up at his side and announces, “I am the best friend in the universe.”

Lindir, who didn’t even realize they technically counted as friends and certainly doesn’t have any others, doesn’t protest. At Lindir’s silence, Feren goes on, “Because I’m so amazing, I’m going to switch tables with you.”

Lindir just answers, now a tad miserably, “That VIP money will just be wasted on me.”

“Not this one,” Feren snorts. “He’s waiting for company, and you know how I love Thranduil, but until Thranduil actually shows up, his friend isn’t biting no matter how much I lay it on. Given that he’s the only one I’ve ever seen you get hard for, I figure you may as well take him.”

Lindir can’t help his blush. Feren certainly never saw him get hard.

But if that customer is who he thinks it is, he definitely did get hard over that man, back in the safety of his own bed. He mumbles, “Thanks,” and nods politely to Glorfindel, who gives him a sort of pitying look as though knowing he’ll fail.

He’s sure he probably will. He still heads up to the VIP section in the front, resisting the odd urge to cover his chest and hide his nipples, which completely show through his shirt—he’s already been doused a second time. Why a wet mess would be appealing to customers, he has no idea. But sure enough, he finds a familiar brunet on the couch, this time waiting alone and eyeing the empty stage. There aren’t any shows scheduled for tonight, for which Lindir’s almost grateful—perhaps he can capture Elrond’s attention the whole time.

He’s right at Elrond’s table, greeting Elrond’s small smile of acknowledgement, when he spots Erestor over the back of the couch. Down by the bar, talking to Glorfindel, Erestor pauses to catch Lindir’s eye. Lindir loses his breath immediately. He just hopes he doesn’t get fired in front of Elrond.

With a not at all subtle shake of his head, Lindir looks back to Elrond, already blushing furiously, and blurts, “Hi.” Then he spots Erestor heading his way in his peripherals, and he hurriedly asks, “May... um, I’m so sorry—may I sit down?”

Elrond frowns. But he shuffles over, making room, and Lindir instantly deposits himself there, wincing at how his wet shirt sticks to the back of the couch. Before he can explain, Elrond asks, “Are you well? Do you need to lie down again?”

Now Lindir’s beet red. He half wants to play along and lie right across Elrond’s lap. But he’s always been a terrible liar and he shakes his head, stumbling, “No, I—” he checks conspicuously over his shoulder—Erestor’s moved off to the East VIP section, checking on other clients.

“Is he giving you trouble?” Elrond asks, and it gives Lindir a start to realize Elrond’s leant over him to look, only to settle back again before Lindir can properly enjoy the proximity. Lindir has no idea if Elrond knows who Erestor is or not—maybe he just sees Erestor as a creepy customer Lindir’s afraid of.

So Lindir explains, unable to keep the disparagement out of his voice, “No, I’m trouble.” Elrond lifts an eyebrow, clearly waiting for an explanation, and Lindir tells himself to just shut up but has the oddest inability to lie to this man, and goes on, “I... he’s my manager; he’s just watching out for me, I’ve... I’m not a very good employee...” Then he realizes how bad that sounds, and as bad as his problem is, it’s not like he’s messy or rude or steals. “I-I can’t seem to keep customers happy...” Which is probably the nicest if least accurate way to say it.

Frowning deeper, Elrond slowly clarifies, “So... you hope if you’re sitting down, when he next looks over, he’ll assume you’re making me ‘happy.’”

Lindir smiles sheepishly and realizes too late how stupid a plan that is. But it softens Elrond’s expression, and he slips a tiny bit closer—not touching, but almost—and drapes his arm over the back of the couch. It’s essentially, without making contact, an arm around Lindir’s shoulders. He’s giddy already. Elrond tells him, “We’ll pretend you’re doing that, then.”

Lindir sighs, “Thank you.” This is definitely his favourite customer. Then he remembers himself and hurriedly adds, “Oh—but I should be serving you—would you like anything? Food, drinks?”

“I’m not sure I should before my company arrives. But then, he’s already...” Elrond pauses to check his watch beneath his sleeve—a clearly expensive thing, but not gaudy, still functional—and finishes, “Half an hour late.”

How anyone could stand Elrond up, Lindir has no idea. He’s sure he’d be early to every appointment. Lindir still waits for Elrond to decide, pretending to be patiently listening but really just staring at Elrond’s handsome profile. He’s got a suit on today, brown with a red button-up beneath and his long hair twisted into one tiny braid on either side of his face. When Elrond glances back to him, Lindir flushes darker and admits, “Um... I like your braids.” Then he clamps his mouth shut and wishes he could sink through the floor.

Elrond smiles at him, as gently as always, and Lindir feels the need to explain, “I... I know mine’s messy—I’m not always this bad, I swear, it’s just that I knew they were going to dump water on me, so I didn’t have much time, and I rushed it...”

“I’m sure you usually have lovely hair,” Elrond chuckles, “although I had nothing bad to say about your braid today. It’s held up quite well under the water... which I was wondering about, by the way.”

Lindir just mumbles, “Sorry,” and self-consciously takes hold of the bottom of his shirt, holding it out to unstuck it from his skin. But it falls back into place right after, gluing to him, his pebbled nipples perking against it, at first from the cold water, then the chafing of the wet fabric, and now the closeness to Elrond. Another customer might say they’re not complaining, but Elrond says nothing, leaving Lindir to worry that he finds the entire thing too lewd and is only here for Thranduil. It makes Lindir wish he could rush back and change into something more decent, but that wouldn’t earn him any points with Erestor.

Then Elrond asks, “Is it uncomfortable?”

Lindir shakes his head. “It’s warm in here.”

“It’s a club,” Elrond sighs, giving Lindir the distinct impression he isn’t usually a ‘club person.’ “Loud music and everything...”

“It’s for dancing,” Lindir tries to explain. “They always play things with loud beats for clients that want... want lap dances... and... well, I suppose they couldn’t do classical for that...”

“Classical?” Elrond asks, smile quirking at the ends. “You’d play classical?”

It was just the first thing to pop out of his mouth. But Lindir nods. “Well, I like... um... other things too...” As Elrond just keeps looking expectantly at him, he feels compelled to go on, “I do like soft things... electronica sometimes... I love harp music...”

“Harp music?” Elrond repeats, now with a laugh. “You are full of surprises.”

Lindir just hopes that’s a good surprise and asks, “What about you?”

“Mostly classical,” Elrond admits. “I’m as boring as I look, though it’s certainly more interesting coming from someone as young as you. I confess I also have an affinity for harp music—a very dear friend of mine is renowned for it.”

Lindir wants to ask who it is, but instead opts for, “You don’t look boring.”

“That’s kind of you to say,” Elrond replies, but he looks as though he doesn’t expect Lindir to mean it. Lindir doesn’t know if Elrond could be any more perfect.

He wants to talk about this. Music. Common ground. But while he’s wracking his brain, Elrond muses, “Perhaps it would be best to order an appetizer. Just something small, in the very likely event that Thranduil takes his good time in getting here.”

“I’ll fetch you a menu,” Lindir offers.

Elrond shakes his hand dismissively. “That’s alright. Just order something you’d like.”

Maybe it’s meant as a nice gesture, but it just makes Lindir more nervous, and he checks, “But what about what you’d like?”

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Elrond answers with utter confidence. “It seems you and I have very compatible tastes.”

Compatible. Lindir nods and stares at Elrond, at the cut of his jaw, the depth of his eyes, the way his dark hair frames his face, and then Lindir realizes just how obviously he’s staring and half stumbles over himself to get out of the booth. He’s glad he’s wearing flats or he’d be tripping over the platform.

Thranduil could arrive at any minute, so Lindir orders the quickest thing he knows—fruit with a side of chocolate sauce, which he guesses at dark chocolate for—it’s his favourite kind, and hopefully will be in line with Elrond’s tastes. It’s not a particularly exciting dish, but it’s meant to be drizzled and rolled and eaten off of server’s bodies. He has a feeling this won’t be for that, but he’s still pleased at how quickly it’s brought back to him—he goes directly to the kitchen for it. Then it’s back to Elrond with the tray of different fruit slices and dip.

It’s finger food, too. It doesn’t come with utensils. When Lindir returns, Elrond’s left the wet patch on the couch, and Lindir slips sheepishly back into it. He slides the tray before Elrond, but Elrond eyes it and pushes it halfway over so it’s right between them. “This looks like a bit much for me,” he notes, giving Lindir a warm smile. “Care to join?”

Lindir nods, delighted. It’s an excuse to keep sitting next to Elrond. But he waits for Elrond to start anyway and watches Elrond pluck up a slice of apple, sans sauce, to bring back to his lips.

“I chose dark chocolate,” Lindir mumbles, wondering if Elrond even likes sweets at all.

Elrond tells him, “My favourite,” and drags the next slice through it. Lindir watches some of the chocolate smear across Elrond’s lip, only to be snagged by a quick tongue right after, and he wishes it were his tongue to make that swipe. He knows what other servers do with this platter. He doesn’t know if he can bring himself to.

But he wants to. Moments like this are what he came here for, and it’s so far beyond his expectation, beyond any of his dreams. He sits there for a good few minutes, silently nibbling on grapes and inwardly yelling at himself to do something. He’ll never forgive himself if he wastes this opportunity. Elrond doesn’t like clubs. He might never come back. Lindir can’t just let him get away...

So Lindir, finally, nearly trembling, plucks up the last slice of apple, drags it through the chocolate, and turns abruptly to toss his leg over Elrond’s lap. Elrond pulls slightly back in surprise, and Lindir settles in, trying not to groan and hump Elrond’s crotch. He can feel a slight bulge there—the imprint of Elrond’s cock? Lindir’s shorts are so tiny, he wouldn’t even have to undo them; he could just tug them aside and get fucked in them. He wishes he were bold enough to do that. All he does instead is bring the apple to Elrond’s mouth and holds it right in front, biting his own lip and nervously avoiding Elrond’s eyes.

Elrond seems to hesitate, but then does bite the apple out of Lindir’s fingers. Lindir shivers in sheer desire. His hips buck forward—he can’t stand this. Elrond arm wraps loosely around his back, steadying him again, likely growing damp, and as Elrond finishes the apple, Lindir presses his palms against Elrond’s chest, lightly running down his front, not daring yet to squeeze. Elrond quietly asks, “What are you doing?”

“Touching you,” Lindir mumbles, breathless and desperate, hands running back up to Elrond’s shoulders. He finally forces himself to meet Elrond’s eyes, and he tentatively explains, “So you can touch me?”

Elrond looks, of all things, puzzled. Lindir doesn’t know what to do. He feels useless.

He slips sideways off Elrond’s lap and sits there, arms wrapping protectively around himself, and mumbles, “If you want someone else, someone prettier, I can get someone—”

Elrond sighs, and Lindir knows he’s messed up, but isn’t quite sure in which way yet. He licks his lips and looks back at Elrond, murmuring, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry—” He’s blushing hotly and just wants to bury his face in Elrond’s strong chest.

Then someone’s coming up behind him, and he turns to see Thranduil slipping onto the other side of the couch, not bothering to apologize for his lateness. He pays no mind to the half-eaten food or to Elrond, and instead looks right at Lindir to demand, “Why isn’t Bard’s shirt wet?”

Lindir blinks. It takes a second for him to understand, so wrapped up in Elrond as he is. As there’s no show tonight, Bard will likely be working the bar. Lindir has to remember back to the memo and explains, “Oh, he’s mortal, and the management didn’t want them to get sick...”

Thranduil snorts and rolls his eyes, fiercely returning, “That’s ridiculous. He has muscles that’re twice your size—he can handle a little water. Have him bring us two bottles personally.”

Lindir splutters something back that doesn’t come out coherent. He shoots a forlorn look at Elrond but does leave his place at Elrond’s side, wishing Elrond cared about seeing his body wet as much as Thranduil cared about Bard’s. But then, there are very few mortals that work for them—Bard must stick out like a sore thumb in his dry outfit. Lindir didn’t notice. He hurries off to complete the order.

As he steps off the platform, he hears Thranduil say, “I hear your application for premium membership is in processes.” Lindir doesn’t hear Elrond’s answer, but that’s enough—Elrond will be coming back, and maybe Lindir will have time to apologize.

Maybe he’ll start coming to work with properly done hair and makeup and anything else he can do to be more enticing, just incase Elrond shows.

As soon as Lindir reaches the bar, Bard turns from the back to spot him and snorts, “Thranduil?” Lindir just nods, and Bard rolls his eyes, ducking under the counter and coming up with two wine bottles sporting Mirkwood labels. “Tell him I’ll be there in a minute, and that I’ll be watching his alcohol intake tonight.” Lindir nods, fully knowing he’ll leave off the last part.

So Lindir returns and nervously deposits himself back at Elrond’s side, pleased when Elrond lets him sit ridiculously close and doesn’t pull away. Elrond’s in a deep conversation with Thranduil over business that Lindir doesn’t dare interrupt, so he sits still and tries not to burst with joy when Elrond throws his arm casually over the back of the couch again—this time Lindir boldly leans back to let it touch his shoulders.

Elrond’s business, Lindir finds, is fascinating. There are so many unique components working in tandem to provide the ultimate experience in hospitality, intricately well organized. Whenever he speaks, Lindir listens avidly, but Thranduil speaks far more, and his vineyards interest Lindir far less. By the time Bard returns, Lindir’s dared to lay his head on Elrond’s shoulder, and Elrond hasn’t pulled back, and Lindir’s in danger of dozing off again.

But Bard halts the conversation. He takes both bottles and both glasses one at a time off his tray and sets them on the table, only to tuck the tray at his side and turn to leave. Thranduil stops him by coolly asking, “Aren’t you going to pour it?”

Bard gives Thranduil a blunt look but does it. He did, it seems, get the same one-size shirt, and it stretches tautly over his muscles, evidently not enough for Thranduil. He pours Thranduil’s glass to the top—likely how Thranduil wants it, only for Thranduil to grab the glass and throw the contents right at Bard.

Lindir tenses just from the sharp movement, but Bard takes a step back, spluttering, and wipes the wine off his face. While Bard swears, Thranduil teases, “Come, now, you must’ve known that was coming.”

When Bard finishes scrubbing off his face, he looks furious. Thranduil’s smirking. Bard growls, “That’s it, you’re on probation.” As Thranduil’s grin slips right off his face, Bard orders, “You’d better stay away from my side of the bar for a week, and don’t think you’re getting any of my fellow bartenders.”

Before Thranduil can protest, Bard turns and marches out of the section, leaving Thranduil looking mildly scandalized. Lindir very much doubts he’s been spoken to like that before. If the club weren’t already sporting little puddles from the new uniforms, Lindir would be running for towels. As it is, he shrinks against Elrond’s side, hoping he’s not going to be asked to give a report on this for either Bard’s side or Thranduil’s.

Above him, Elrond chuckles softly, “Well, at least that woke you up. I thought you were about to drift off again for a moment there.”

Lindir looks up at him in horror and rushes all over again, “Oh, I’m so sorry—I really didn’t mean to—I—”

But Elrond just shakes his head with a grin, clearly not minding, and asks in a kind tone, “Do you get enough sleep at home?”

Lindir answers before he can stop himself, “Yes, you’re just very comfortable.” Then he darts a hand up to clamp over his mouth. He’s gong to have to request a muzzle as part of his uniform—clearly his vocal cords can’t be trusted.

Across from them, Thranduil sighs, “You better get laid enough for both of us, Elrond.” Elrond frowns at him, though Lindir doesn’t mind the suggestion, so long as he’s that double order.

There should be available servers besides those Bard will talk to, though, so Lindir offers, “Should I get someone for you?”

“No,” Thranduil sighs dramatically, already sliding out from around the table and grabbing the opened wine bottle. “I’ll meet a few in the back so Elrond can have some fun in private.”

Elrond starts, “Thranduil,” stopping Thranduil with an irritated look. Of course, nothing outside of those back rooms is really private, though the couches are high enough to offer something off it, and the lights are too dim to see very far.

“It’s what they do,” Thranduil insists, gesturing at Lindir with the hand that’s not holding the bottle. To Lindir, he asks, “How much cum have you already swallowed today?”

Lindir turns horribly red and doesn’t know what to say—his mouth falls open, but he has no answer. He hasn’t had any, today or any other night. Thranduil rolls right on, trying, “How many times have you been fucked tonight?” Again, none.

Before Lindir can embarrass himself with an answer, Elrond tells Thranduil, “Leave him alone.”

Thranduil shakes his head as though they’re both hopeless cases. Then he’s marching off, leaving Lindir to cover his face with his hands. He’s probably the worst server this bar’s ever had. Elrond is thankfully quiet and doesn’t demand answers.

It takes a minute for Lindir to gather himself enough to ask, “Can I get you anything?”

Elrond asks, “Better friends?”

Lindir giggles, the mood already better. At least the embarrassment got him alone with Elrond again, and even if he isn’t going to try feeding Elrond any more fruit, Elrond doesn’t seem to mind having Lindir sit next to him. Lindir can still hope.

Elrond takes a minute, then tries, “I don’t suppose you have any tea here?”

“I do in my bag,” Lindir admits, realizing belatedly how weird that sounds. But it’s too late to take it back, so he offers, “I can make you some?”

“I think I’d like that. But please make some for yourself too. I’ll make up for it in the tip.”

Lindir wasn’t even thinking of that. But he nods appreciatively and gets up again, resisting the urge to fetch heavy-duty glue instead to fasten Elrond to that seat forever.

The only kind Lindir had on hand was chamomile, for the days when his failure is too stressful and he can slip a few sips in at break. He hasn’t taken his breaks tonight and definitely won’t while Elrond’s around. This is sort of like a break but infinitely better—the two of them sit at the VIP table, side by side, enjoy their tea and, somehow, discuss the latest books they’ve read. Elrond seems to be up on all the newest releases, generally dramas and mysterious, though not crime-related ones, and especially period stories, while Lindir is mostly still catching up on classics. It seems that Elrond’s already read every book Lindir’s ever had, and he seems to have little trouble recalling even the smallest details to discuss with Lindir. They have similar views on most things, although Lindir tends to focus more on relationships than most. Their favourites both fall into the peaceful category, and when Lindir explains that his ideal novel is two people living in a nice house in the middle of the woods where nothing else happens, Elrond laughs and tells him he’s charming. Lindir’s never had a better time in his life. He can’t help but wonder if this is what sex is like for some people.

Sex, like discussing books over tea with a handsome man. He’s acutely aware of how ridiculously boring he is and can’t believe that Elrond can’t see that. They’re halfway through dissecting Beowolf, a story far too unpleasant for Lindir’s taste but fascinating from a historical context nonetheless, when Thranduil returns. He falls right back into his seat with his hair slightly messier than usual and a thoroughly satisfied look on his face. It stops Lindir in his tracks, and Thranduil takes that first minute to look curiously at their tea bags visible through the wineglasses’ rims.

He asks Elrond, “What’d I miss?”

“Discovering how well-read this delightful creature is,” Elrond answers, smiling fondly at Lindir. Lindir feels like he’s going to melt.

Thranduil rephrases, “I meant what’s in his shorts.”

Elrond answers faster, “Stop it,” and gives Thranduil a warning look that seems to have no effect.

Thranduil just leans across the table and insists, “It’s what they want.” Then he looks directly at Lindir and asks, “Do you want Elrond to fuck you?”

Lindir blurts, “Yes,” and is immediately ashamed of himself.

Elrond says right over him, “He’s paid to say that.” To which Lindir wants desperately to say no, it’s just Elrond, but he is paid and tongue-tied.

Thranduil makes an aggravated noise and insists, “If you won’t do it, I’ll just have to show you what you’re missing. You, come here.”

It occurs to Lindir belatedly that neither of them knows his name. He looks at Thranduil in shock, sure he’s misunderstood, but Thranduil gestures for him to come over. Lindir stares at him, at Thranduil’s beautiful face, his long, shining hair, his expensive suit, and his over all not-Elrond body.

And Lindir just... can’t. He doesn’t want to leave Elrond’s side. He looks up at Elrond, mutters something incoherent, then says louder, “I... I should really clean up this mess!” And grabs for their glasses and the half-eaten fruit platter. Then he bumbles his way out from under the table, painfully jamming his thigh against it. He’s out of the section before he even knows what’s happened.

Then he’s at the bar, dazedly tucking the dishes into the out tray and wondering what else he can do. His front’s drying off. He could go get doused again. But then Thranduil will see his nipples, and Thranduil made it sound like he’d... like he’d fuck Lindir, since Elrond wouldn’t... and Lindir would love to be fucked close to Elrond—maybe he could even touch Elrond during it, but then he’d have someone else inside him and he just... he needs some chamomile tea.

It takes a good several minutes for him to return, but he does. Thranduil holds out an arm, and Lindir slips into the seat next to him, letting his legs bump Thranduil’s first, and trying to smile but probably failing miserably. It seems like Thranduil’s interest has faded, though, because he and Elrond are back to business discussion. Thranduil keeps his arm around Lindir’s shoulders, occasionally grazing his hand over Lindir’s chest, but nothing more. Lindir can’t stop himself from watching Elrond the entire time.

Elrond keeps Thranduil talking. But occasionally, his gaze slips back to Lindir, and then he’s always frowning.

Lindir’s completely dry by the time he’s back at his station, pushing down the shorts and sidling back into pants. Feren asks next to him, “How’d it go?”

Lindir mumbles, “I’m an idiot,” because that’s all there is to say.

He doesn’t have to elaborate, because Bard picks that time to show up and ask Feren crossly, “Did you sleep with Thranduil?”

“Of course,” Feren answers, like he wouldn’t dream of doing anything else. Lindir subtly shifts away from him and pulls on a sweater.

“I told you to cut him off!” Bard snaps, while Lindir hikes his bag over his shoulder and is silently glad he doesn’t have to stop and check his face in the mirror for cum stains like some of his peers.

Feren snorts, “Just because you’re a stubborn idiot with the hottest guy in this club doesn’t mean I have to be—I’ll happily take Thranduil any day.”

Bard makes a growling noise in his throat, but Lindir doesn’t hear the rest of it—he slinks off, head already hung low.

His apartment makes him feel dreadfully alone. He’s always dreadfully alone. He putters about the empty place, having a quick bite to eat and downing some water, using the washroom and brushing his teeth too forcefully. He replays every moment of the night in his head, taken on the roller coaster all over again. He wonders if maybe he should just quit and go apply at the Imladris Hotel, then show up in short-shorts and a wet t-shirt and hope maybe Elrond will take him in a more private setting. Then they can have tea and discuss books like pillow talk. It’d be too perfect.

Lindir’s entirely aware he’ll die alone. So he buries himself in the daydreams and crawls into bed early, clutching tightly to a pillow and pretending it’s Elrond.

Then he flicks the light back on and gets up, going back to stuff his bag full of teabags just in case.

Chapter Text

Every night that Elrond comes in, Lindir’s given his table—Thranduil often calls ahead of time to announce himself and his company, Erestor explains, and while he makes the call primarily to check on other employees’ shifts, Erestor uses it to book Lindir for that section. Elrond is the one customer Lindir never seems to fail, tip wise, at least, and they quickly become Lindir’s favourite nights.

Elrond is always respectful. He rarely orders alcohol, aside from Thranduil ordering for him, and Lindir often brings him tea, Elrond always offering to compensate him for it and tipping far more than the tea is worth. Lindir spends most of that money stocking up on more tea.

Every chance they get to talk, Lindir takes. Conversations come so easily with Elrond, and though Lindir finds him distractingly, devastatingly handsome, his personality is even more alluring. They discuss books, music, current events and fashion here and there, and Lindir eagerly learns everything he can of the Imladris hotel, of all the fascinating nuances involved in the organization of its many facilities—it has a pool, a full spa, a restaurant—everything anyone could need to relax. Once, Elrond makes an obscure reference to an old black-and-white movie before apologizing for the ancient quote, and Lindir practically falls over himself with how delighted he is—all his favourite movies are older or new period pieces. When Lindir fetches more drinks for Thranduil that night, he spends the entire walk willing Elrond to ask him to a movie, though Elrond’s membership is still in process, and Elrond never crosses any lines, even though Lindir desperately wants him to.

Elrond is everything he’s ever wanted, yet wildly unattainable, and it occurs to Lindir one night, as he watches Feren slip beneath the table between Thranduil’s legs, that Elrond still doesn’t even know his name.

He isn’t surprised, of course, when Erestor calls him in again to sigh that Lindir can’t only please one customer. It’s gotten him through a few more weeks, but he’s still in trouble, and he’s finally given the final warning that if he doesn’t make another significant tip by the weekend, they’ll have to let him go. Lindir nods hollowly and wonders if he should just give up.

But then he wouldn’t get to see Elrond at all. He doesn’t think he could bear that. So he promises to do better and sucks in a breath, telling himself that the first person to show interest will get his in return, even if Lindir has to fake the entire thing.

He changes into the new uniforms, finding them horribly revealing but probably best for this. He has a relatively early shift, not in the VIP section, and is all too aware of how exposed the rest of the club is. The pink panties he tucks himself into behind one of the curtains barely covers anything. He reminds himself to shave his trail tomorrow just in case. Stockings and a garter belt follow, then a corset that Feren ties for him so loosely that it might as well just be a shirt. The sheer pink camisole that goes over top falls to his upper thighs and does obscure a bit, but not enough, and he can’t get it out of his head how much better Meludir looks in the outfit than he does. He ties his hair up in a somewhat messy bun and stares at himself in the mirror, trying vainly to psyche himself up. Tonight, he’ll please someone. Anyone. If he’s going to be around long enough for Elrond to see him in this ridiculously inappropriate outfit, he has to.

The club’s packed, especially for so early in the evening, and that does help—Lindir’s so busy trying not to bump into anyone that he forgets how thin his outfit is. The first table he gets shows no interest in him—they ask for girls that Lindir easily trades with. He tries not to be relieved over it. But the next table he gets gives him pause. He comes to stand before them, two attractive men with long brown hair, button-ups and denim jackets, and is struck by how familiar they look. The two look like twins, and though they look around Lindir’s age, both remind Lindir inescapably of Elrond.

That could be just what he needs, but it also makes it nerve-wracking. They don’t compare. They just make him think of who he really wants. But he doesn’t have the luxury of sticking to one person, so he sets two menus on the table and forces on his best smile, asking, “Can I get you boys anything to start?”

Both sitting against the booth wall, one slides a menu to himself and the other eyes Lindir from where the table cuts him off to his face. Lindir fights to keep his smile on his face and to not shake or turn red. The man gives him a slight smile and folds long arms over the table, asking, “How about a job application?”

“Elrohir,” the other says sharply, looking up from the menu. “What the heck, we just got here!”

Elrohir, apparently, looks calmly at his must-be-brother to say, “That’s why I wanted to come.”

“Yeah, to check it out. You don’t know anything about it yet other than anonymous sex.”

“Is there more to know?”

The second man rolls his eyes. “Can we just enjoy the visit before you drag us on another wild adventure? I need a little alcohol in me before I can talk about my own brother scandalizing the family by running off to a place that would give dad a heart attack.”

Elrohir sighs dramatically and tells Lindir, “Two shots of whatever.”

Lindir nods, already flustered from feeling like an awkward third wheel, before turning to go. On his way, he catches Elrohir adding, “And I didn’t know it was us, Elladan. You thinking of applying too?” At least that gives Lindir a second name, but he’s gone before he hears the answer.

Knowing nothing about alcohol himself, he doesn’t make a choice, just reiterates to Glorfindel and is given two glasses of a golden-orange liquid. By the time he brings it back, the brothers are onto another aspect of the conversation, and Lindir catches Elladan saying, “The servers probably aren’t allowed to drink.”

Normally, Lindir would say nothing, put down the drinks and go, but he can’t afford that anymore. He sucks in a breath and interjects, “We’re only allowed to if the client requests it, but there’s a two-drink maximum for us and we have to report each one to the bar manager.” He feels out of place interjecting, but the brothers stop their conversation easily to listen to him.

“Reasonable,” Elladan answers, reaching for one of the glasses. He downs it in a single go, which makes Lindir physically wince. He knows he’s ridiculous.

Elrohir reaches for the second glass, but Elladan snakes out and snatches it first, knocking it right back, to Elrohir’s annoyed, “Hey!” and Lindir’s surprise.

Elladan just makes a show of licking his lips and says, “I need it more than you to deal with your nonsense.” Elrohir snorts, and Elladan gives him a broad grin, while Lindir stands stiffly across.

Flipping the menu over to the drink side, Elrohir starts to scan it, but Elladan gestures over at Lindir, and Lindir takes a second to wage an inner war. He should take the opportunity, he knows. And if he has to be drawn to someone, at least let it be to someone who looks vaguely like Elrond, if Lindir squints his eyes and pictures Elrond younger. He feels guilty projecting another customer onto this one, but it’s what he has to do to get him moving. He comes around the table and steps into Elladan’s outstretched arm, letting Elladan pull him onto the seat. The table across from them is recently empty—Lindir would’ve normally gone to clean it up by now, but is instead sitting here, trying to be available—and that encloses their space in. Elladan drapes his arm over Lindir’s shoulders, a little heavy but not unpleasant. His cologne is strong, but Lindir sort of likes it. As Elladan’s denim sleeve shifts over Lindir’s shoulders, bare save for the spaghetti straps of the camisole, the contrast of clothes washes over him again. Elladan seems to like the difference. He eyes Lindir’s body like Elrohir first did.

When his eyes reach Lindir’s, he asks, “Do you always walk around in lingerie?”

Lindir can feel himself blushing. He doesn’t own anything this sexual, but if he ever thought he had a chance of going home with a certain client, he’d spend his tip money on a getup like this in a heartbeat. Assuming that client even liked it; he feels like he just looks awkward. Instead, he tries to interpret the question from the club’s perspective and answers, “Our uniforms change regularly.”

“I can’t see Elrohir pulling this off like you,” Elladan snorts, and his arm curls in for his fingers to trace Lindir’s shoulder, eliciting a shiver. Elladan’s hand is warm, his voice deep. He shuffles a tiny bit closer, drawing Lindir all the nearer, and tilts his head to murmur in Lindir’s ear, “You look like a blushing virgin.”

Lindir is. He hopes the look is a good thing, though the embarrassment only heats his cheeks even more. His whole body feels warm. He’s sat beside customers before, but they don’t usually pay him much attention. Something wet swipes over the tip of Lindir’s ear, and it takes him a second to realize it’s Elladan’s tongue. He’s kissed just beneath it and releases an embarrassing whine, eyes falling closed. He’d like to have more connection with the person touching him, but... it does feel nice. Elladan’s moved his mouth down to Lindir’s cheek by the time Elrohir interrupts, “Are you done, or should I find another server to bring us food?”

Lindir’s about to apologize, eyes flying back open, but Elladan looks over to answer first, “Call another over; I’m investigating this one.”

“Investigating?” Elrohir laughs. “Is that what we’re calling it?”

“Just trying to get a feel for what my baby brother will go through.”

“You were barely a second before me, you dolt.”

“Ah, but you’ll always be a baby to me.”

Elrohir snorts, but his smile is fond, and he slides out from his end of the table, likely to go to the bar himself. It might be best—Glorfindel’s on tonight, and he’d be better to ask about job details than Lindir. Lindir’s not sure how he would feel about having Elrohir for a coworker. Elrohir’s far more attractive than him and thus competition, but he could say that of all his peers.

With Elrohir gone, Elladan drops his hand down Lindir’s shoulders, sliding along his side, and comes to his hip, using it to pull Lindir over. Lindir’s turned closer, until he has to lift a leg to straddle Elladan’s lap. It reminds him all the more of Elrond, and a sudden pang of wrongness shoots through him, but he squashes it down—he needs this. Elladan isn’t bad. If it had to be someone else, better him than someone Lindir couldn’t be attracted to at all or one of the drunks with rough hands.

Elladan gives Lindir a charming smile and lightly holds onto his hips, asking, “So... what’s it really like to work here and put out for strangers?”

Lindir wouldn’t know. He doesn’t know how to answer but isn’t sure Elladan’s really looking for one. He slides around Lindir’s back, scrunching up the camisole between his panties and corset, pulling him closer by it—Lindir’s hands shoot out to steady himself on Elladan’s shoulders. They’re so close. If Lindir just leant a little bit further...

It strikes him suddenly that he hasn’t kissed Elrond yet. He’s kissed others, thought not much, and not since, and for a fraction of a second, he’s terrified when Elladan leans in.

But Elladan ducks to kiss Lindir’s jaw instead, licking down to his neck, all the hair that usually spills around it drawn back in the updo. Lindir finds himself surprisingly sensitive there, and his body arches forward, each of Elladan’s little nips a pleasant burst of sensation. Up to Lindir’s ear again, Elladan purrs, “You’re a sweet thing. ...Could I really just fuck you here, right now?”

Lindir bites his bottom lip. He feels... vaguely overwhelmed. He’s not sure if he wants to be taken like this or not. A part of him screams yes. Sitting in Elladan’s lap makes his panties feel tight. But it’s not...

He mumbles shakily, “With... with a condom...”

Elladan pulls back to kiss Lindir’s cheek, grinning coyly. But then he sighs, “I suppose I should show some restraint given my company that could come back at any moment. ...What about those pretty hands of yours?”

That would be... better, Lindir thinks. Though he’s sure he won’t be any good at it. He nods, wanting to please but feeling so lost. Elladan chuckles like the hesitation is cute and kisses Lindir square on the nose, then reaches to take Lindir’s wrist. Elladan brings it down and places Lindir’s hand over the bulge in his jeans. Feeling the warmth and hardness against his palm makes Lindir let out a little moan. Elladan dons a winning smirk and bids, “Go on, then.”

In a mix of whirring emotions, Lindir’s trembling fingers lift to Elladan’s belt. He’s terrified he’ll do a horrible job, eager to try, wanting to please and to keep his job, and torn about the anonymity of this—he thought he wanted that—but he gets so wrapped up in feelings—but Elladan is hot, and he seems to like Lindir, which seems so impossible...

When the belt’s undone, Lindir pops the button on Elladan’s fly, brings down the zipper, and is met with white underwear. He moves painfully slowly in touching it. But he manages. He tries to think of it like touching himself at home, but it’s nothing like that. He slips his fingers beneath the hem and groans as he’s met with coarse pubic hair and the curve of Elladan’s shaft.

Pulling Elladan’s cock out is a surreal experience. It’s bigger than his own—but most are—thick and long in his hand, flushed pink and stiffly hard. At first, he just stares at it, unsure of what else to do.

Then his foggy brain kicks in—lube, he’ll need some kind of lube. There’s nothing else; he brings his hand back to his mouth and licks it fervently, getting his palm as wet as possible and ashamed of how much he likes the idea of licking the hand that just touched another man’s cock. Elladan stares at him, and Lindir has to look away—he feels so dirty. A part of him thrives on that, the rest shrinking back. He licks his other hand too and brings them both down to the large cock jutting proudly out of Elladan’s jeans.

Tentatively, Lindir wraps his fingers around it. They look so small and pale in comparison. Elladan makes an appreciative grunt, and Lindir gives a little squeeze, then draws up the shaft until he can brush his thumbs along the tip. He indulges himself for a short moment, playing, awe-struck, with the foreskin, then regains himself and slides back down to the base. He licks his lips and repeats the action, up and down, until Elladan grunts, “Harder,” And Lindir tries to obey. He squeezes tighter and moves faster, staring down in full concentration, when Elladan’s hands come to slide over his thighs, touching him between his stockings and panties. His skin feels like it’s on fire. He’s also hard but doesn’t dare ask for this to be reciprocated, and he reminds himself that it shouldn’t be—this is his job; he’s a host to Elladan’s pleasure. Something about that appeals to him, makes him shiver and pump all the harder. Elladan groans, body melting back against the booth.

Lindir does his absolute best. He wills his own hips to stay still and jerks Elladan off with both hands, using every trick he’s ever tried on himself and thoroughly enjoying every moan he wracks out of Elladan. He half wishes Erestor would come by just to see him pleasing a customer. Elladan’s breathing is coming harder, louder, and Lindir’s wonders how long this will take—he has no idea how long it’s supposed to, doesn’t want to count only himself by comparison—and then someone whistles and he pauses, looking over to see Elrohir sliding back onto the couch.

He brings two colourful drinks with him and gives his brother a knowing grin, chuckling, “He’s pretty cute—I guess I can’t blame you.”

Elladan grunts, “Sorry,” without sounding sorry at all, and pats Lindir’s hip. It startles Lindir into continuing—he’s blushing fiercely but forces himself not to look at Elrohir. He can feel Elrohir watching him. He tells himself it doesn’t matter. That’s part of the job. He just hopes he doesn’t look as hopeless as he feels. He keeps pumping Elladan’s cock, relieved that the interruption and the brotherly presence miraculously hasn’t flagged it at all.

It doesn’t take much longer. When Elladan comes, he bites his teeth together and hisses, fingers reaching to dig into Lindir’s hips, and his cock spurts a few milky jets over Lindir’s hands. Lindir has a second of panic over what to do and opts to keep pumping, until Elladan’s growing soft in his hands and he’s left hard and breathing harder and feeling cloudy-headed.

Elrohir hands him a napkin, and Lindir, completely embarrassed, takes it to wipe himself off. He knows Meludir would probably lick it right up. Feren might too. But he doesn’t think he can go that far.

As Elladan slumps back in the booth, looking satiated and pleased, Elrohir asks, “My turn?”

Elladan laughs, “I thought you wanted to be on the other side?”

Elrohir shrugs and sips his drink, grinning at his brother. Lindir doesn’t know if Elrohir was serious or not, so he just stays where he is, perched in Elladan’s lap in a mixture of relief and minor pride. Then he thinks to tuck Elladan back in and does so, carefully putting everything back in place. It earns him a bright smile.

It takes Elladan a minute to recover, then he gently guides Lindir off his lap to sit between the two brothers, squished in close and touching both their legs. He doesn’t do much else while they sip their drinks and strike up another conversation, this time about some trip they plan on taking. At one point, Elrohir tosses his arm over Lindir’s shoulders and lifts his glass to Lindir’s lips—Lindir takes a small sip and tries not to choke at the fruity, bitter taste. A few times, Lindir finds himself glancing at Elrohir’s lap and wondering if his dick looks the same as his brother’s.

By the time Elladan and Elrohir leave, they haven’t spent much on drinks or food, but as Lindir guides them to the register in the front, he hopes they’ll leave enough of a tip to save him.

The next customer he gets is a regal-looking woman who asks for a stronger man, and Lindir does very little beyond ferry drinks. Then Feren comes to fetch him, and he’s told, to his delight, “Your man’s here.”

Sure enough, Elrond’s alone in the VIP section again—now that it’s clear Elrond will come, Thranduil seems to have no trouble being regularly late on him. As rude as it is, Lindir doesn’t mind. He comes to Elrond’s table and slips right into the space Elrond’s left for him, smiling too giddily. Everything that reminded him of Elrond in Elladan and Elrohir’s youthful faces is magnified tenfold in Elrond’s, and Lindir soaks it all in, every little line and curve, the strong cut of Elrond’s jaw and the dark sheen of his hair. He gives Lindir the most beautiful smile and asks, “How have you been?”

Lindir opens his mouth before he has anything to say, then shuts it again, unsure. He was nervous this morning, but he did better than he thought he would today. It should make him feel better, but when he looks at Elrond, he almost wishes he hadn’t given that other customer a hand job. It doesn’t seem right, when he still hasn’t done anything for Elrond. It was just a hand job, he tells himself. Hardly anything. From Elrond, he wants so much more.

He mumbles, “Complicated,” because he’s moved past the empty niceties with Elrond, and returns, “You?”

“Much the same,” Elrond sighs. “And stood up again, it seems, but that’s what I get for socializing with Thranduil at all. ...At least in the meantime, I can listen to what’s complicating things for you.”

Of course he’d say that. Lindir finds himself grinning broadly, unable to help it—it still seems strange to him that anyone would ask with genuine interest about his life, and it’s made even more important by the nature of their relationship—Lindir’s just some nameless host, yet Elrond treats him with true care.

While he looks down at his hands, thinking of what to say, Elrond notes, “This is an... interesting outfit today.”

Lindir can feel his cheeks heating. He nods, but before he can self-disparage, Elrond adds, “You look quite beautiful in it.”

Lindir’s head shoots up, gawking at Elrond. With a somewhat sad smile, Elrond amends, “It is very... revealing, though. I hope you’re comfortable.” Of course he would be concerned about that. Lindir’s stomach is full of large, tropical butterflies. He wonders if Elrond begrudges him the indecency of it. He wants to say that he never wears anything so immodest outside of work.

But then, he would for Elrond. He’d wear anything for Elrond. He plays Elrond’s compliment in his mind again and again and murmurs, tongue-tied, “I... thank you. It’s... it’s very, um... it’s not what I’d normally wear, but...” But it was worth it for Elrond to call him beautiful. He forces himself to laugh, trying to make light of it, and switches to: “I probably need revealing clothes, I... I’m still not that good with, um... attracting customers...” Lindir runs a shaky hand back through his hair, forgetting the bun, and accidentally dislodges a few strands of it. Elrond reaches out as though to tuck it back, then hesitates a few centimeters from Lindir’s face. It takes Lindir a second to remember the touching rule. Of course Elrond would be so respectful.

Lindir, trying not to shiver with pleasure, leans into Elrond’s hand, and Elrond continues the touch to trace along Lindir’s cheek and tuck the fallen hair behind Lindir’s ear. Having Elrond’s fingers there, tracing his pointed shell, has him becoming hard again. He lost it earlier. Now Elrond ignites such want in him that it’s difficult to function. He whines when Elrond’s hand leaves him.

He follows it, moving, again, in a sudden burst of need that overcomes his fear, to climb into Elrond’s lap. Elrond’s breath hitches, Lindir’s bare thighs parting around his waist, the touch as exquisite as it always is—this is Lindir’s favourite place to be. Elrond’s hands come out to clutch Lindir’s hips, a tad hesitant in their own right but strong, and Lindir slides his arms around Elrond’s shoulders, wanting this, all of this.

He brings his mouth towards Elrond’s but can’t finish the distance. So he hovers there, waiting, wanting, eyeing Elrond’s lips and consumed with the thought of what they must taste like. How soft they must be. He loves the natural smell of Elrond. He loves it all.

But Elrond doesn’t close the distance, so Lindir pulls away in a fit of disappointment. Elrond gently thumbs Lindir’s hip and looks at Lindir’s face, eyes drawn together, searching it. Lindir tries to stay strong under the scrutiny but feels like he’s crumbling.

Then Elrond quietly asks, “Is this really the right job for you?” Lindir stiffens, swamped in worry, but Elrond goes on, “Please, forgive me. It’s just that you seem to have such a gentle personality, and this is quite...” He doesn’t finish. Lindir doesn’t have an answer.

He whispers, desperate and hoarse, “I really want you to kiss me.” It has nothing to do with the question. He feels pathetic. He wonders if Elrond thinks he just wants a tip, wants to do well at his job, and doesn’t know how to explain that it’s a much greater want than that.

Still, Elrond looks like he might oblige. His eyes flicker down to Lindir’s lips. But he doesn’t get a chance for anything else—Thranduil arrives, marching right into his usual seat with his commanding air and sharp cologne.

As soon as he’s sitting down, he announces, “The usual.” By now, Lindir knows what that means.

He spends one last second longingly eyeing Elrond, then averts his gaze and discreetly slides out of Elrond’s lap. As he goes, he can hear Thranduil starting, “I do hope the dancers tonight are in the same getup—I’d like to see Bard try to fit himself in those panties.” Lindir can picture Elrond rolling his eyes.

Thranduil orders new things all night—he’ll start with one appetizer, take two bites, and change his mind and order another. Lindir dutifully fetches each new thing, including Feren to sit at Thranduil’s side, and daydreams idly about what it’d be like to have so much money to spend frivolously. He’d probably still be working here, chasing the same illusive dream. Then he entertains the horribly inappropriate fantasy of what it would be like if he were the client and Elrond a server. He might be too small to hold Elrond in his lap. But Lindir would have the money to order whatever he liked, and he’d ask Elrond to be his seat, and though he thinks he’d prefer Elrond in a suit to lingerie, he wouldn’t hesitate to ask Elrond to pull himself out of the lacy underwear and sheath himself in Lindir instead.

Lindir’s practically shaking as he slides the new platter of sushi towards Thranduil and has to will himself to stop it. He’s being ridiculous again. Elrond would never work here. And Lindir could never afford him. And Lindir would probably still be embarrassingly awkward and shy and terrible at everything.

Thranduil slips the first roll into Feren’s open mouth and goes in to messily nip the rice that clings to Feren’s lips away. Part of it strikes Lindir as disgusting, and the rest of him wants Elrond to do that with him. Elrond’s already finished a salad and hasn’t asked for anything more, to Lindir’s disappointment—he wants an excuse to fetch Elrond tea and be useful. Perhaps Elrond abstains out of respect for Thranduil, like how Thranduil keeps most of his clothes on, except for where Feren admiringly slips his hand beneath Thranduil’s shirt and rubs across his chest. Elrond deals with matters on his phone perhaps just to not have to look at Thranduil. Lindir’s just sat down again when the lights flicker, signaling the show. Elrond’s head lifts, phone setting down on the table.

Lindir means to be quiet, to just sit and try to enjoy himself, and for the first few minutes of clapping and moving lights, he is. But he replays Erestor’s warning in his mind, and then remembers Elladan and thinks he can do this, and finally, he turns to ask Elrond over the roar of the crowd, “May I...?” He can’t even finish. Maybe it’s obvious. He turns his body towards Elrond, brings a tentative hand to Elrond’s shoulder, and adds a breathy, “Please?”

Elrond’s sigh washes over Lindir’s ear and stirs some of his untidy hair. Lindir can’t interpret what it means. But then Elrond’s fingers wrap around his wrist, lightly squeezing, and tug, and Lindir glows at the contact, moving into Elrond’s lap again. He wraps his arms around Elrond’s shoulders, lets his body lean in, feels Elrond through the camisole and corset, and lets his moan be swept away in the noise. He murmurs, right next to Elrond’s ear, “I’ll be good, I promise.”

Elrond returns, “You’re always good,” and pets a hand across Lindir’s cheek, smoothing back his hair. Lindir shivers, too pleased for words. He always wants to be good for Elrond. This is all he wants.

The dancers come out to a boom of cheers, and Lindir doesn’t even bother to look. He buries his face in Elrond’s neck and inhales, using the cover of the darkness and sound. He’ll stay awake tonight, he promises himself, will just enjoy this for as long as Elrond lets him.

He wishes he could do for Elrond what he did for Elladan, but he doesn’t think he can. So he melts into Elrond’s body instead. When he relaxes himself enough, lets them touch in all the right places, he thinks he can feel Elrond’s heartbeat.

As Elrond rests one arm along Lindir’s waist, the other hand lying against Lindir’s thigh, Lindir wonders what it would be like to be Elrond’s. Not his server, his host, but his. What it would be like to wake up to him every morning, to make him breakfast, to see him off to work and maybe follow, help with anything he might need, organize his calendar and tidy his place and trail dutifully behind him, to pack him lunch and bring him tea in the evening, to serve him dinner at a nice table and listen to his woes, take off his jacket and massage his shoulders, then settle down with him on the couch to watch an old movie. To snuggle into bed with him. To tangle up with him in the sheets. To just feel at peace by his side. To wear his ring. Lindir barely manages to stop himself short of picking out names for their children, though he’s not even sure he wants any. Elrond might. Lindir would find a way to give him some. Would do anything for him. The more Lindir slips into daydreams, the more his heart races, the more he yearns for this. The fantasy of Elrond is captivating, but the reality is just as enticing.

The show goes on, one set after another, the clock ticking by, and though Lindir does nothing, the time seems to race unsettlingly fast when he wants it to last forever. The music drills into his mind a steady, pounding beat meant for fucking. He can smell the arousal in the air. He wishes he had the coordination to dance.

He can smell Elrond most of all. His hands adjust on Elrond’s shoulders, his hips shifting in Elrond’s lap. He hears Elrond’s slight hitch of breath. Before he can stop himself, he’s pressed the side of his face into Elrond’s. His whole body shivers. He’s growing shamefully hard but can’t seem to stop himself.

He can feel, when he shifts again, that Elrond’s hard too. There’s a distinct bulge pressing against his, right against his trapped balls, his bare thighs scratching against the rough fabric of Elrond’s pants. He wishes that he were Elrond’s husband, and he’d done himself up like this for Elrond, and that Elrond were really here to take him. But Elrond isn’t, and Lindir doesn’t have the luxury of unzipping Elrond’s fly and climbing on. He’d give Elrond more than his hands. He’d take Elrond into his body and squeeze and love it.

He bucks his hips, groaning, and knows he should stop but can’t. At least the darkness hides his blush. He’s disgusted with himself. But he can’t stop. He rolls into Elrond again, hungrily drinking in Elrond’s grunt, overjoyed when Elrond doesn’t stop him. He wishes he could do this better. Could give a proper lap dance. It was in his training, but he doesn’t remember any of it, and he was too shy to take in much of those lessons. Bard would do it better. Maybe he should ask Bard sometime. He knows he won’t do it. So he just rocks his hips as best he can, grinding against Elrond’s body and struggling for some sense of rhythm.

The hand on his thigh reaches higher, not where he wants, but slides around the back, both of Elrond’s hands clutching at him but not hindering his movements. The front of Elrond’s pants feels rock-hard. Lindir rubs into it over and over, until he has to hold one hand over his mouth to stop his awful noises. Even with the show as loud as it is, covering anything he could say for others, he doesn’t need Elrond hearing how debauched he’s become. There’s nothing dignified about the way he rides Elrond’s lap. He ruts his own cock hard against Elrond’s stomach and pictures lying in the creamy sheets of an Imladris hotel room with Elrond bearing over him, stuffing him full and coming inside him.

His balls tighten, and it’s too late—he comes in his panties with a muffled, raunchy moan and his entire being trembling from head to foot. He keeps grinding through it, wild and wanton, dizzy with lust and the wondrous, light-headed feeling of release. Elrond makes a hissing noise, and Lindir thinks there’s a patch of wetness beneath him, but it might be his own spillage. His panties are already clinging to his cock. He’s so embarrassed.

But he’s so turned on, and he whispers into Elrond’s ear, foolish and lost in the afterglow of his orgasm, “I want to lick you clean.” Elrond groans. Lindir feels ruined and lewd but still presses himself into Elrond with abandon.

One of Elrond’s hands lifts to tangle in Lindir’s hair, cradling the back of his head through the ratty bun, and softly tugs Lindir back. Lindir lets out a pathetic whine, only for his face to be brought to Elrond’s again, this time lined up, and through the fluorescent lights focused on the stage, Lindir can see the silhouette of Elrond’s mouth opening for him.

Their lips come together, pressing in for a full, heated kiss that wracks pleasure all through Lindir’s body. It feels even better than his orgasm did. He clings to Elrond’s shirt and presses in as hard as he can, trying to memorize the shape, the texture, the warmth, only for Elrond to open wider and press his tongue against Lindir’s.

Lindir opens immediately, and then they’re making out, two fervent tongues swiping around each other. Lindir surrenders quickly, letting Elrond guide the kiss—Lindir has so little experience, but Elrond doesn’t seem to mind, and Lindir just follows where Elrond goes. Elrond’s hand keeps him close, Elrond’s tongue pressing all the way into him, and it seems to trace every bit of Lindir’s mouth, something he wants to do in return. But he’s not good enough. He can’t even figure out how to breathe, and Elrond parts their lips when it’s clear Lindir’s struggling. He holds his face against Elrond’s instead, their noses side by side, his eyes closed, breathing everything in. He can still taste Elrond—the bitter remnants of alcohol and the slight grease of the salad—and wants to savour it forever.

“Please,” he begs, still breathless, nosing at Elrond’s face and so overwhelmed. “Take me, I—... please, take me, do anything to me,” and then he’s rambling, useless and whining, “please, I’ll be good for you, I promise, I’ll try so hard, even if I’ve never... if I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ll learn, I...”

“You haven’t?” Elrond asks, the curiosity and confusion evident even over the music. They have to keep so close to talk. Lindir’s body is still on fire. Lindir gulps and shakes his head, knowing Elrond can feel it, even if he can’t see it. “You’re a virgin...?”

Lindir sucks in a breath and nods. “B-but I’ll do my best, I will... please...”

“It shouldn’t be like this,” Elrond mutters. Lindir’s heart is sinking, but he knew that would come. “Your first time shouldn’t be here...”

“I want to go home with you,” Lindir whispers. So badly.

“...You shouldn’t do that...”

Lindir whines. Elrond will be a premium member soon, won’t he? Surely his membership’s far through the process? Lindir doesn’t care.

The show’s coming to an end again. The music’s fading. Elrond doesn’t offer any alternatives, and Lindir’s sure he won’t get them. Why would Elrond want to take such a mess home, anyway?

So Lindir slumps against Elrond and buries his face in Elrond’s shoulder again before Thranduil inevitably interrupts and tugs him away.

The club closes soon after the show ends, and as Elrond gets up from his seat, he wraps a quick arm around Lindir’s waist and pecks Lindir’s forehead. It feels conciliatory. Maybe even pitying. But Lindir savours it anyway and murmurs, “Please come back.”

Feren, giggling and glued to Thranduil’s side, follows them out of the VIP section. But Lindir sinks back onto the couch and just... sulks for a moment.

One minute turns into three, into seven, into the time when the bouncers are circling, shooing out the last remains, and Lindir forces himself to get up and collect the dishes. His panties are now uncomfortably stuck to him and a sore reminder. When he closes his eyes, he can still feel Elrond’s hands around his waist and in his hair.

He’s cleared all the dishes and returning with a wet rag when he realizes that Elrond’s phone is still sitting on the table. And he wasted too much time sulking to catch Elrond at the door—Elrond will be long gone by now. And it’s his fault. He distracted Elrond from putting it away.

It sits there, a shiny black rectangle with no distinctive case or markings, sleek and elegantly simple like Elrond himself. Lindir remembers seeing Elrond type on it—it’s an older model with a slide-out keypad, ever more practical than stylish.

Mired in guilt, Lindir wonders what to do with it. The most obvious answer would be to turn it in to management, who will likely call Elrond by his second listed number—they should have it via his application—and ask Elrond to come in and pick it up at his earliest convenience. But they won’t place a call this early in the morning, and by the time Elrond’s able to come tomorrow, he might miss important calls. Worse still, they might not have a secondary number, and then simply wait for Elrond to realize and return. It doesn’t seem right.

It also doesn’t seem right for Lindir to take it, but he does, holding it nervously in his palm. It would be easy enough to switch bus routes to one that goes by the Imladris hotel, and surely it would be open all hours. Surely it would be easier for Elrond to get there than Eriador. Perhaps Elrond even has a penthouse suite there like Lindir’s idea of some rich tycoons. He doesn’t have much longer on his shift.

He finishes wiping down the table and takes the phone back to his bag, changing in a daze.

He’s on the bus when it vibrates. At first, he fishes in his bag for his own phone—he never uses noisy ring tones—only to find Elrond’s phone shaking in the extra compartment Lindir tucked it safely into. His first instinct is to do nothing—it would be incredibly rude to answer someone else’s phone. Even if he is desperate to have some insight into Elrond’s life. But then he thinks it could be Elrond, calling from another phone to see where this one’s ended up. So Lindir taps the blank screen, fully expecting a lock.

There is none. It opens directly to a message titled “Lindir.”

Lindir blinks, staring at it. It doesn’t seem possible that Elrond could know that Lindir has his phone. But then, Lindir might be the logical deduction—it was his table. So he taps the message, which opens into a white screen, the “from” section reading

But the message doesn’t seem addressed to Lindir at all, and reads:

That boring server you seem to enjoy is named Lindir, according to my sources. Not that you couldn’t have just asked yourself, but this is just further proof of how hopeless you are without me. On another note, I just heard you ran into Legolas this morning—why did you tell him I sent my love? I absolutely did not say that.

Lindir’s barely finished reading when the phone vibrates again and brings up an icon signaling another message, but this, Lindir can’t justify opening. He has no idea who “Legolas” is. He doesn’t care. Elrond enjoys him. And wanted to know his name, it seems.

Lindir desperately wants to read through the rest of the conversation. He’s dying to know what Elrond’s said about him, if anything—do they talk about him? Does Elrond think of Lindir even a fraction as much as Lindir thinks of him? It would be so easy. He could do it right now and no one would ever have to know.

But he can’t invade Elrond’s privacy like that. He passes up two more of Thranduil’s messages, leaving them unread, and finds the power button around the brim of the phone. It hurts to turn it off. He wishes he were brave enough to record Elrond’s number.

Instead, he puts the phone dutifully away and resumes staring out the dark window, waiting for his stop. He just hopes he doesn’t pass out before then, but nerves should keep him up. He wishes he could’ve done a better clean up job than what he managed in Eriador’s bathroom.

He stands in the lobby of the ridiculously luxurious hotel for a good five minutes, paralyzed by indecision and fear. The walls are a relaxing cream colour, with elaborate, golden chandeliers hanging from the gold-painted ceiling, crown molding and impressive paintings everywhere he looks. The couches are exquisitely upholstered in pastel fabrics, with fresh flowers on all of the wood-and-glass coffee tables. While he enjoys the taste level, he feels completely out of place.

He doesn’t know what to say. There’s a pretty brunette woman at the reception desk who spares him a single look and nothing after that. He doesn’t know if he can tell her he’s got Elrond’s phone, because surely she’ll ask how he got it, and he can’t simply say that Elrond left it in a sex club.

To top it off, he can hear a faint, lilting tune in the background that he’s fairly certain is from a harp. He thinks it’s a melody he recognizes, but he can’t tell through the muffled walls. He feels so conspicuous.

Another good five minutes of wasted time, and one of the elevator doors opens next to the reception desk. Elrond, of all people, steps out, dressed handsomely up in a black suit with his hair pulled back in a ponytail. Lindir just stares at him, and Elrond takes two steps, smiling at the receptionist, before spotting Lindir and glancing over.

Lindir turns completely red and lifts a timid hand to wave. Elrond frowns and drags Lindir’s heart down with it.

Wherever Elrond was originally heading, he immediately diverts to come draw Lindir aside, guiding him back to the far corner of the grand lobby. Lindir lets himself be ushered over, long out of earshot of the receptionist. Elrond tells him, looking both sad and perplexed, “You really shouldn’t be here. Meeting men outside of that club is incredibly dangerous.”

Lindir almost lets out a sigh of relief over Elrond’s concern, and then he’s touched by it. But he mumbles uselessly, “But... you’re Thranduil’s friend, and he’s a premium member...”

“And I’m safe,” Elrond concludes, “but you have very little to go on to believe that, and the next one might not be.”

There won’t be a next one. Lindir doesn’t say that he’s never met a client outside of work. He looks down at his feet instead, shuffling them and mumbling abashedly, “I... I just wanted to return your phone...” and he reaches into his bag, slung over one shoulder, to withdraw and present the device in both hands. “You... you left it at the club, and... I didn’t want you to be without it...”

Elrond’s quiet for a moment, during which Lindir dares to look up. Then Elrond plucks it out of his fingers and offers an apologetic smile, murmuring, “Oh, dear. I am sorry, I shouldn’t have presumed...”

“Lindir,” Lindir blurts, remembering that Elrond hasn’t gotten the text yet. “I... that’s my name. I’m sorry... there... there was a text, and I thought it might be you checking on your phone, so I opened it... but I didn’t read anything else, I swear.”

Elrond nods with surprisingly sincerity, like he implicitly believes that Lindir wouldn’t overstep that way. Then his smile softens, and he repeats, “Lindir. ...That’s a lovely name.”

Lindir blushes, grins, and generally feels too good to be true.

Elrond’s gaze sweeps over him and adds, “...I confess, it’s somewhat strange to see you out of uniform.” Which, of course, Lindir had forgotten—he’s just in jeans and an oversized sweater, good for the cold journeys home. He wishes he’d gone home to change first. He should be in something... better.

He looks away, towards the direction of the music, and wonders if he could afford to just stay the night here, and maybe the next one, and maybe just never go home.

Elrond follows his look and says, “I’m afraid our concert hall isn’t entirely sound proof. A good friend of mine is playing tonight—I just finished changing to come down and see him.” After a short pause, Elrond goes on, “You did like harp music, didn’t you?” When Lindir nods eagerly, Elrond asks, “Would you care to join me, then? You must be hungry—I didn’t see you eat much this evening.”

“Oh, I couldn’t—” Lindir starts, burning up all over again.

But Elrond lifts a hand and insists, “Please, let me thank you for returning my phone. This can’t have been a pleasant trip for you after a long night. At least let me see to it that you’re well fed.”

Lindir would love nothing more. But he still mumbles, “I couldn’t afford it...”

“My treat.” Elrond waits, and when Lindir does nothing but flounder and try to commit every bit of this moment to memory, he amends, “Unless, of course, you’re tired, which I completely understand—”

“No,” Lindir hurries, never too tired for Elrond. “No, no, I’d... I’d love to.” Another pause, and: “Oh! But I’m not really dressed for it...”

“You look lovely,” Elrond insists with a smile. Then he turns towards the receptionist’s desk and holds an arm out around Lindir’s back, not quite touching, but enough to usher him forward. Together they cross the lobby, Lindir fighting the urge to cling to Elrond’s arm.

The hallway is every bit as exquisite as the lobby, but Lindir knew from the outside how large this place is. It’s no wonder Erestor values Elrond’s membership. The closer they get to the wide doors at the end of the hall, the more Lindir can hear of the music, and he thinks now he knows this number, but he’s sure he can’t be right.

Then Elrond opens the doors, and Lindir steps into a giant dining hall, with round, white tables everywhere and the stage set across the room, the lights dimmed to candles and a spotlight on the lone player. His harp is an elaborate silver piece, his graceful fingers drawing elegantly over the strings. He looks down at his instrument, but his eyes are far away, his dark hair drawn in a braid over his shoulder, his robes the finest silk. Lindir’s breath catches in his throat.

“Maglor,” he breathes, hardly able to believe it. He turns to Elrond and hoarsely repeats, “You’re friends with Maglor?”

“For a long time,” Elrond sighs, looking contentedly towards the stage. They stand there in the doorway, basking in the gorgeous music, unparalleled in all the world, and then Elrond brings Lindir forward, weaving between the tables to an empty one with a little folded piece of paper in the middle reading “reserved.” Elrond pulls out a chair for Lindir, which only compounds the magic. It feels so surreal. Even as late as the show is, the room is packed with expensively dressed patrons. A waiter instantly comes to Elrond’s side, and Elrond leans close to Lindir to whisper, so as not to interrupt the other guests, “Please, order anything you like.” A glossy menu is slipped before Lindir, but it’s difficult to look down and away from the stage.

When he does, the prices freeze him. If he were anywhere else, he would protest, but he doesn’t dare speak and puncture the beauty in the air. His stomach growls at what he reads—one elaborate dish after the other, each equally appealing. He feels like he’s stepped into some exotic film. This can’t be his life.

He gives Elrond a helpless look and finds Elrond smiling softly at him. Elrond seems to read his signal and gathers the menu back, gesturing the waiter down to deliver the order. The waiter nods and disappears, leaving Lindir giddy at Elrond ordering for him. At Elrond paying for him. He’s out to dinner with Elrond. The fact that it’s the early hours of the morning doesn’t ruin it. Perhaps this counts as breakfast. He wants to think of it as dinner. Maglor is captivating. But the magic that is Elrond holds Lindir just as fast.

Another long ballad, and Maglor slides seamlessly into a new number, this time parting his perfect lips to utter words, sung in ancient Quenya. Lindir isn’t fluent enough to catch all of it despite his best studies, but the melody and the sound of it is magnificent. Maglor has often been called the greatest musician alive, and Lindir’s always agreed. Hearing recordings never did his live voice justice. When Maglor dips into a sad lament of leaving the first Elven homeland, Lindir feels tears prickling at the corners of his eyes.

A pesto pasta dish is then slipped before him, a glass setting down and a bottle of sparkling champagne poured into it. Lindir’s sure the bottle alone is worth more than an entire month’s worth of his pay. Elrond’s glass is filled with the same, a similar dish placed before him. Lindir looks at Elrond, speechless, and hopes the gratitude shines through in his damp eyes.

He’s always liked ravioli. These pieces are obviously hand crafted, delicately small, drizzled in just the right amount of sauce. Lindir sets in as quietly as he can, relishing every bite—it tastes as delicious as it looks. He’s conservative with his champagne intake, but it tastes light and easily laps away the oil dressing of his food. It’s easily the best meal he’s ever had.

With the best music and the best company. He eats every last bite, but at a slow pace, constantly caught up in the show, until there’s nothing left but remnants of the sauce. Then the waiter comes to take his plate and replaces it with a smaller dessert plate of what looks like a slice of chocolate cheesecake with a strawberry at the top.

He could cry. He eats the cake in as tiny bites as he can, savouring everything. It’s rich and deeply satisfying. He couldn’t have ordered better.

He’s barely finished when the last song ends, and Maglor’s tireless fingers finally fall away from the harp. He turns to face the audience, which immediately sets into clapping, and Lindir follows, breathless and honoured to be here. Maglor gives the crowd a tight bow and stands from his seat, pausing for the continued applause, and then walks off stage without a word. The crowd immediately dissolves into eager chatter—doubtless delighted discussions of the show. Lindir leans back in his seat, trying to digest it all, and finds he’s almost numb with the swell of sensation.

“Would you like to meet him?” Elrond asks, drawing Lindir’s wide eyes. “I must go pay my compliments, but I would hate to simply leave you here.”

Lindir barely manages to squeak, “I’d love to.” Elrond couldn’t get more perfect.

Elrond rises, Lindir hurriedly following, and gushes on the way across the large room, “Thank you, thank you so much—that was delicious.”

“I’m glad,” Elrond tells him. “It was the least I could do.”

It’s not at all equal. Anyone would’ve returned Elrond’s phone. At the back, Elrond opens a doorway into a smaller, secluded hall, and gestures Lindir in, where Elrond pauses to knock on another door. It opens a minute later, Maglor’s stern face on the other side, but it softens at the sight of Elrond.

“I am glad you made it,” Maglor greets, reaching forward to embrace Elrond in a quick hug. As he pulls back, Maglor laughs, “I thought you might sleep through this show.”

“You know I never miss yours when I can, especially when they’re in my own establishment,” Elrond returns. Then he gestures to Lindir and adds, “Please, allow me to introduce my company, Lindir. He is a fan of yours, I believe.”

Maglor gives Lindir a smile, and Lindir’s absolutely paralyzed. Maglor offers a hand—the hand that played such brilliant masterpieces only minutes before—and Lindir’s sure he’s going to faint. He takes it, trembling, and turns to pudding as Maglor shakes it. “Pleased to meet you, Lindir.” Before Lindir can gush about what a tremendously large fan he really is, Maglor turns back to Elrond and asks, “Is this the cute young thing you haven’t been able to stay away from?”

Lindir’s going to melt through the floor. He dearly hopes that’s him. But Elrond simply sighs, “You have been listening to Thranduil too much.” Maglor chuckles, and Lindir wavers—was it only Thranduil that said that? Is Thranduil just teasing Elrond? It’s amazing to Lindir that even standing next to the greatest musician there is, Elrond still shines like a star.

Maglor gives Lindir another smile and says, “I am sorry I cannot stay to talk more, but I’m afraid I’m quite tired. I do hope to see you in the audience of one of my more reasonably timed shows.”

Lindir blathers, “Of course, oh, I’m honoured to have met you at all, really, your talent is just...” he can’t even finish, doesn’t even have the words. He’s dizzy with his own shock and pleasure.

Maglor nods politely and bids Elrond, “Good night, then. I hope you don’t mind if I postpone our breakfast meeting until lunch.”

Elrond answers, “Of course,” and bows his head respectfully. Lindir bows practically halfway over, while Maglor retreats back into his room. Lindir can’t seem to straighten out again until Elrond tells him, “I’m sorry it was too late for more. Perhaps another time.”

Lindir jerks upright, desperately hoping for another time, and another after that, and splutters, “No, no, this was amazing! Truly, I never thought—he is such a legend—I’ve always—” Again, he trails off. He hates how ineloquent he’s become. He blames the late time. And the proximity to Elrond. The only thing that could possibly make this night any better is going off into one of the rooms with Elrond.

But of course, that can’t happen—Elrond’s back in the real world, in a place where he’s rich and well-connected and successful, and Lindir’s a poor, insignificant wreck. Elrond sighs, “It is very late. I’ll walk you back to the lobby and have a cab called for you. I would offer to drive you, but I don’t wish to be inappropriate.”

Lindir wants Elrond to be wildly inappropriate. But he meekly nods and wishes he had the audacity to ask to crash in Elrond’s room instead.

The walk back is strangely dreadful. The night’s been so lovely, and Lindir’s loath for it to end. But they return to the receptionist’s desk, and after another couple that just left the dining hall finish with her, the pretty brunette turns to Elrond. “A good show?” she asks, as though a show with Maglor could be anything but.

“Wonderful,” Elrond answers. “But I’m afraid it’s grown quite late, and my friend requires transportation home. Could you call a cab?”

“Of course.” The woman reaches for the phone and lifts the receiver, only to pause and turn back to ask, “By the way, Dad, would you mind if I took Thursday off? Aragorn’s taking the train up to Bree for another contract, and I’m afraid if I don’t come with him he’ll wind up buying a horse or something.”

Lindir’s entire world focuses down. Elrond’s answer blurs out. All Lindir hears is the word dad.

This is Elrond’s daughter. She looks vaguely reminiscent of him. She looks about Lindir’s age.

Elrond has children. He probably has a wife. He probably just takes off his ring when he’s at the club like so many married men do. And Lindir spent the better part of the day fantasizing about being in Elrond’s life.

But Elrond can’t have that, of course. He has a family. An entire life outside of everything Lindir knows. Money, success, adult children, a home life. The club is nothing. It’s a side diversion. Lindir’s completely numb as Elrond walks him to the doors and bids him good night. Lindir somehow manages a thick ‘thank you’ and hopes that Elrond thinks him choked up because of the concert. He feels like he’s drowning in ice.

When he gets home, he collapses straight onto his bed. He kicks off his shoes and just... cries. He went through too much in one night, both highs and lows. In one day. He wonders if he has it in him to be a home-wrecker. He hates himself. He loves Elrond so much.

He puts on a Maglor CD, curls back up in the blankets and pillows, and lets the pain lull him to sleep.

Chapter Text

He’s fastening his garter belt at his station in the back when he’s tapped on the shoulder, and Lindir looks back to see a familiar grinning face.

It takes him a minute to remember either Elrohir or Elladan’s name. He’s not sure which one it is. El-something says, “Hey, it’s good to see you again; I was hoping you’d be on my first night.”

“Oh,” Lindir mumbles, before hurriedly finishing with his garter belt and throwing on the camisole, needing some semblance of coverage before turning to greet the handsome man behind him.

Before Lindir can say any more, Feren sidles up out of nowhere to ask, “You gonna introduce me to your friend, Lindir?”

No, because Lindir doesn’t know the stranger’s name for certain. They’re certainly not friends, but Feren’s definition of the term always seems looser than his. The former-customer is still in casual clothes—just jeans and a t-shirt, but he’s got the same sheer lingerie draped over one arm that the rest of them have. Saving Lindir the trouble, the man thrusts out a hand to Feren and declares, “Elrohir. I’m just starting. Well, no, I guess I’m in training tonight—I’ll be shadowing some girl named Meludir.”

“Boy,” Meludir interjects, popping up on Lindir’s other side so fast that Lindir physically starts. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Boy,” Elrohir corrects with a winning smile, offering another hand. “Sorry ‘bout that. I don’t know why I thought the name sounded feminine.”

“You’re thinking of Melody, a mortal name,” Meludir chirps, looking not all bothered and lingering his grip on Elrohir’s larger hand. If anything, he looks pleased at the extra attention, while Feren pouts at being overtaken. The mention of different species prompts Lindir to check Elrohir’s ears again—pointed: Elven. “Welcome to the team, Mister...?”


“Elrohir.” In a heartbeat, Meludir has his arms wrapped tightly around Elrohir’s bicep, tugging him off towards the corner, purring invitingly, “C’mon, I’ll help you change...”

As soon as they’re out of reach, Feren sighs, “He gets all the fun.”

Lindir had some of that fun first, though not much. All he can think is that’s another potential client of his out the window. He starts twisting a braid into his hair while he waits for his shift to start, looking forward to tomorrow—time off from the club and his whirlwind of hope and heartbreak.

Feren pawns off an older elf that bustles his way into the VIP section, claiming to be from Thranduil’s vineyards and drunkenly pawing for more alcohol long after Lindir cuts him off. He isn’t too belligerent, just sloppy, and Lindir sits sullenly next to him and listens to a slew of lewd stories about Thranduil that couldn’t possibly be true. On the off chance the man—Galion, he proudly announces—can afford a tip, Lindir strokes his thigh and lets him fall all over Lindir, more cuddling than feeling up. It’s annoying but bearable, worth it if it buys him more credit with Erestor. He spends much of the evening tuning Galion out and picturing Elrond sipping tea at the other side of the table, even though he swore to himself he’d stop that. He tells himself Elrond’s home life is none of his business. Elrond’s life is none of his business. He’ll have to hope to please Elrond here, when Elrond will let him, and that’ll have to be enough.

Each time he returns to the bar to fetch alcohol—and soon water—he spots Elrohir trailing Meludir about. Trim but well-built, Elrohir looks somewhat silly in his lingerie. Most of the customers that Lindir sees don’t seem to mind. More than once, Elrohir spares him a smile or a wink that always makes Lindir blush and look away. A part of him wants to return the gesture. Elrohir’s cute—it’d be easier to like him. Lindir’s life never seems as easy as it should be.

When Galion finally leaves, and Lindir’s mopping up all the messes he spilled, Elrohir slips into the empty seat. “Meludir’s on break,” he quips, before reaching for the spare rag and helping Lindir with a puddle. “Gosh, that kid gets around.”

Lindir doubts Meludir is much younger than Elrohir, but simply answers, “He’s very popular.”

“Must do well for him here,” Elrohir laughs. “You’ve been here all night, though—you’re a one table kind of guy?”

Lindir’s a one-man sort of guy and shrugs awkwardly, admitting, “I, um... it’s just a thing to do.” What a weird way to say it. It’s a wonder Elrohir willingly talks to him. He tries to explain instead, “I like someone, I just... can’t have them.”

“That sucks,” Elrohir offers. “Married?”

It does seem like the most obvious explanation. Because it’s easier than saying maybe, and it’s also someone rich and handsome and friends with the greatest musician of all time, Lindir answers, “Yeah.”

Elrohir reaches a hand over, laying it atop Lindir’s, and he stiffens—he’d forgotten that rule is for customers. Elrohir tells him genially, “Hey, there’s always physical diversions, right?”

That’s what Lindir thought he wanted. He doesn’t. He nods stiffly and goes back to scrubbing, only for Meludir to waltz into the section and coo, “Elrohir, I said we’re on break!”

“Oh, shit, sorry—I thought you meant you were on a break.”

Meludir giggles like the misinterpretation is adorable, but Meludir’s known for his smile and taking things well. He gathers Elrohir up again in eager hands and shuffles him out of the booth, chirping, “C’mon, silly. I have a few back rooms to show you...”

And then they’re gone, and Lindir’s staring down at his over-polished table, with the sudden, horrid thought that Elrohir’s a replacement for the troublesome server Eriador will surely shed sooner or later: Lindir himself.

At the end of the night, when Lindir’s taking half-empty glasses back to the bar before heading off, Glorfindel collects the glasses for disposal and tells him conversationally, “Hey, I heard that customer you like had his membership go through. Congrats—no more condoms for you.”

Lindir hadn’t needed them anyway, but still finds himself blushing and grinning—Elrond’s a premium member now. He could take Lindir home. The smile abruptly falls off Lindir’s face when he realizes that’ll never happen. He mutters a quiet thank you and wanders dazedly off the floors, head swimming.

As he slips out of his stockings in the back, Elrohir sidles up to him. Lindir does his best to smile and ask politely, “How was your first day?”

“Interesting,” Elrohir answers, then bluntly asks, “Do you want to go for coffee with me sometime?”

Lindir stumbles, putting his foot down just in time and steadying himself against his dresser. He looks to Elrohir in shock, eyes wide—he can’t remember the last time he was asked out on a date. The few times he has been, he always turned them down.

Now he looks at Elrohir’s striking face and has the same instinct on his tongue. While he’s internally fumbling, Elrohir says, “That’s alright—you can have some time to think about it. Meludir told me you’re shy.” Why Elrohir isn’t asking Meludir out instead, Lindir has no idea.

He numbly watches Elrohir’s back retreat again. Maybe he should move on. Elrohir isn’t... bad.

But he’s also not Elrond.

He goes out jogging on his day off, later than he probably should be out alone, but his sleep cycle’s ruined and there doesn’t seem any point adjusting it when he works tomorrow anyway. He tells himself he’ll just go around his block a few times, try to maintain his figure even though he never seems to gain or lose weight anyway, but inevitably finds himself climbing onto the first bus that comes by.

He switches to another, even telling himself over and over not to, and eventually gets off at what, the bus driver tells him, is the closest stop this route takes to the Imladris Hotel. There’s very little chance Elrond will see him, but he still feels conspicuous hopping onto the pavement. Pausing to take out his earbuds again and inevitably putting on a Maglor playlist, Lindir jogs down the commercial street, busy shops on one side and road on the other. It’s getting dark out, and the restaurants he passes are all full of dinner guests. He tries not to remember the best dinner he ever had, even as he heads there. Jogging, he vainly tries to tell himself. He’s just jogging.

He should’ve dressed better. His plain pants are too blah, his t-shirt hardly appropriate for the cooling temperature. At least jogging keeps him relatively warm. While he’s waiting at a light, hopping from foot to foot to keep that up, a raindrop hits his nose. His first instinct is to look up and make sure there’s nothing wet above him, but then the skies open up, and the light patter of rain joins in with the chirping walk signal. Lindir makes his way across, knowing he should catch the first bus home.

But he’s not there yet. There are still a few blocks to go. But the rain only increases, making his ponytail heavier when it slaps his neck on each step, and he has to take his earbuds out due to his paranoia. He tucks them safely into his pocket and zips it up, hoping that these pants won’t soak through enough to damage his phone.

By the time the grand hotel is looming between towering apartment buildings and multi-level banks and offices, it’s pouring so hard that Lindir’s ready to take cover under the first bit of shelter he can. He finally comes to a bus stop, only to read the laminated schedules inside and find that the next bus isn’t coming for another forty minutes. He doesn’t have it in him to stand alone outside in the dark for that long. So he takes another look at the hotel in the distance and sucks in a breath, deciding to run for it. It’s such a bad idea to go there. But maybe he can hide in the corner and safely wait out the bus time. Elrond will never have to know he showed up.

He goes for it, regretting his decision immediately but not enough to turn back. The rain drenches him from head to foot, obscuring his path and creating a palpable river out of the pavement. The noise roars as loud as the club music he’s used to. By the time he darts into the safety of the Imladris lobby, he’s a living lake, and he whines at the pool he drips onto Elrond’s nice carpets. He shouldn’t be allowed near nice things.

He can’t bring himself to look over at the reception desk—what if it’s Elrond’s daughter?—and instead takes a seat in the corner as out of sight as possible. He thinks of opening his phone just for something to do with his hands but doesn’t dare let his wet skin near one of the few relatively costly things he owns.

He’s been there for maybe five minutes when he hears footsteps approaching him and looks up on instinct. It’s Elrond.

Of course it is. Lindir has no luck. He blushes red and wonders how best to apologize for soaking Elrond’s chair. “Arwen called me,” Elrond offers, coming to stand right before him. “I’m sorry to see you got caught in the downpour.”

“I was jogging,” Lindir mumbles, willing Elrond not to ask how far away he actually lives and how impractical a route this is.

Elrond nods and turns to call across the empty space, voice only slightly raised but firm enough to carry nonetheless, “Can you have some towels brought here?”

“It’s wash day,” Arwen calls back, “Do you want me to fetch some from an empty room? We have two vacancies on the third floor that won’t be filled until tomorrow morning.”

Lindir immediately blurts, “Oh, no, please—I don’t mean to be trouble—I—I’ll leave, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have come here like this—”

“You can use mine,” Elrond cuts in, turning halfway towards the elevator. “I’m in the top suite—we can dry you off and call a cab. You heard about my membership from a more reliable source, I assume?”

Lindir would consider Elrond a reliable source but still nods, unable to believe his ears. He’s been invited to Elrond’s suite. ...With Elrond’s child in the lobby and who knows who else home...

Elrond smiles softly and teases, “Good, so you know I’ve been deemed harmless. I promise to do nothing untoward.”

Lindir opens his mouth again, wanting the exact opposite, but Elrond’s already turning, and Lindir’s already following, drifting across the lobby in a dream-like haze.

Elrond’s suite is nothing short of stunning.

It’s no more or less exquisite than the rest of the hotel, but it’s dotted with personal touches—more plants here, gorgeous paintings there, and an array of photos on the hearth that Lindir deliberately doesn’t look at—he’s sure they’ll be family pictures. How Elrond can justify bringing someone like Lindir home, Lindir has no idea and doesn’t dare to question.

He eyes the view past the living room and out across the balcony, showing the blue-black sky amongst the cityscape, and follows down the wide hallway that branches off into different rooms. Elrond’s is the one on the end and boasts, to Lindir’s disappointment, a bed certainly big enough for two. Elrond wanders straight into an attached bathroom, but Lindir stops in his tracks, eyes caught on the nightstand, where a golden ring with a blue stone sits. Lindir knows from looking before that Elrond’s hand is bare. But the ring sits there, turning Lindir colder than the rain.

Elrond emerges again with a fluffy white towel in his arms that he deposits into Lindir’s. As Lindir accepts them, he mumbles, “Really, I’m so sorry about this—”

“Hush,” Elrond tells him, almost like an order, enough for Lindir to shiver, but gentle in its command. Lindir licks his lips and nods, averting his eyes to the ground and moving to dab at his hair.

Elrond moves to the closet. When the doors slide open, they reveal a wall-length space, though Elrond only opens them halfway, absently fishing through hung suits. “I’m afraid I don’t have anything that will fit you. One of the kids’ might, but they’re far too old for it to be appropriate for me to lend out their things without their permission.”

“Oh, these are fine,” Lindir says, trying and failing not to stare at the broad expanse of Elrond’s back, crimson button-up stretched taut over his shoulder blades as he rifles through his wardrobe.

Elrond glances back to insist, “I won’t have you getting sick on my account. Please, at least take a sweater. I’m afraid it may be too big for you, but at least it should be comfortable.” He draws out a cream-coloured knit sweater that does look unreasonably comfortable. Lindir feels both invasively guilty and inordinately lucky.

In an attempt to act as casual as Elrond is, Lindir jokes, “I’m used to clothes that don’t fit.” Elrond chuckles, and it makes Lindir’s chest constrict. He did that.

He’s used to changing in front of people too, and would happily, if shyly, do so in front of Elrond, but Elrond lays the sweater out across the bed and tells him, “I’ll go make you some tea to warm you up.” Before Lindir can splutter it’s not necessary, Elrond adds, “Please, let me. You’ve certainly served me enough.”

It’s Lindir’s job. But Elrond’s gone, shutting the door behind himself, before Lindir has the chance to say so. He’s left alone in Elrond’s bedroom, marveling and honoured at the trust shown by it. For that first moment, he can’t seem to move, just lets his eyes dart about and soaks it in—the large window draped in purple curtains, the large bookshelves bracketing it, the plush rug underfoot, the white bed with a small nightstand on either side, the closet doors that hide a plethora of Elrond’s clothes. Then Lindir’s hurriedly toweling off, eager to be in the sweater.

It does feel good to peel his wet shirt off, and he folds it to place on the floor, unwilling to dampen the furniture. Elrond’s sweater is deliciously soft, and it is too big, but he likes that, likes the way it slips off one shoulder and drapes him in Elrond’s scent. He takes the front against his nose just to breathe in, feeling giddy already. When he lets it go, it covers his upper thighs, and for one sinful moment, he considers taking off his pants and wearing the sweater like a dress.

That would be horribly inappropriate. He’s horribly inappropriate. It’s not like Elrond hasn’t seen him in far less. But what if his family comes home? But Elrond will already have to explain him. And if Elrond is cheating, Lindir really shouldn’t be the one having to hide it...

A few weeks ago, he would’ve timidly poked his head out of the bedroom in sopping wet pants. But he’s had time to warm up with Elrond, and he wills himself forward, thinks of riding Elrond’s lap and kissing him in the club, and shuffles out of the wet fabric. He runs the towel over his bare legs again, comfortably warm in the enclosed bedroom, and entertains the wild fantasy of crawling under the covers and waiting for Elrond to find him in the bed.

He can’t go that far. He emerges from the bedroom at a snail’s pace, ridiculously hesitant and ready to race back immediately.

He finds Elrond in the kitchen, a large space with an open countertop that looks over into the living room. All the appliances are sleek silver or stark white, the cabinets and cupboards a rich mahogany. Elrond stands next to the sink, dropping tea bags into two ceramic mugs. As Lindir sidles into the kitchen, Elrond glances over, pausing at the sight of Lindir’s bare legs.

Lindir mumbles, “Sorry,” at the exact same time that Elrond offers, “I’m sorry, of course, I should’ve found something for your lower half—”

“No, it’s okay—”

“No, it was thoughtless of me—”

“Elrond, please.” It might be the first time Lindir’s directly addressed him by his name, and Elrond’s mouth closes, eyes returning to Lindir’s face. His cheeks might be a tad redder than usual. Lindir’s are burning, and he shuffles closer, coming to a stop an arm’s length away and tugging nervously at the bottom of the sweater. “I don’t mind. I-I know it’s hardly decent, though, and if you do...”

“I suppose I’ve had tea with you in less,” Elrond sighs, to which Lindir grows a small smile—his thought exactly. The stainless steel kettle at the end of the counter clicks, and Elrond reaches over to lift it from its base.

He pours two steaming cups and takes them up, winding back around towards the living room. Lindir follows, grateful to have the soft carpet instead of cold kitchen tile underfoot. As Elrond places the mugs on the coffee table, Lindir deliberately takes a seat on the couch before the fireplace, so he can face the other way and not have to look at the array of photographs that doubtless depict Elrond’s family. Elrond sits across from him. The coffee table is bare, save for the circular, coloured-glass coasters.

At first, Lindir tries to sit up properly, enjoying the splendor all around him and the steady thrum of rain against the balcony’s sliding doors. But it is somewhat cooler in the living room, even when his sweater-covered palms wrap around the mug of hot tea, and he counters it by curling his legs under himself on the couch. Elrond’s eyes catch the movement, and he dons a soft smile, but he averts his gaze to his own tea. They take their first sip in silence.

Lindir doesn’t know what to say. His first thought is more apologies—he didn’t mean to impose, but that feels so redundant. Instead, he tries, just as banal, “You have a beautiful place.”

“Thank you,” Elrond answers, his posture minutely relaxing against the back of his couch. His legs are crossed in something of a business pose, his tailored attire lending to that aura, but Lindir’s casually done up and curled up enough for the both of them. “So, do you jog often?”

“Not really,” Lindir answers too honestly, and neglects to add on that he usually just does it when he’s been too lonely too long and needs to see other living beings that won’t see him half naked in return. With a self-deprecating laugh, he adds, “I picked a bad day to start.”

“I admit to being more a walker than a jogger myself,” Elrond notes. Of course he would be.

“Me too. But I thought I’d try to get my heart rate up. At least running from the rain did that. ...I am sorry, the bus was going to take some time to come, and I thought I could wait in the lobby without bothering you...” There he goes again.

“You’re no bother,” Elrond insists. “You caught me on a rare off day, and there really is no need to apologize; Imladris is meant for hospitality. ...But on the topic of bothering, I do apologize if you didn’t wish for Arwen to call me...”

“Oh, no. It worked out very well. Better than waiting wet and cold for the bus, anyway.” Better company, better tea. Lindir takes small sips to make this last, but goes in more frequently than he would like—the burn is what he needs right now. After he catches himself licking his lips, he mumbles sheepishly, “Thank you again. This is very good.”

“Simply Jasmine,” Elrond fills in. “You’ve given me more variety of tea over our time together than I confess I’ve otherwise had of late.”

When shopping, Lindir intentionally tries to mix it up, to stay interesting, for just Elrond, and says, “I hope that’s alright—I can bring certain kinds instead, if you like?”

“If we are to plan it, I should be bringing it myself. Although I confess, more often than not, Thranduil pulls me over at unexpected times. I appreciate your accommodation.”

“I don’t mind,” Lindir admits, then gushes, “I like serving you, truly. You’re my favourite customer.” He... shouldn’t have said that. He feels awkward even mentioning that Elrond is his customer.

Elrond’s smile is somewhat forced, but he does say, “Thank you.” It’s a compliment, though a strange one. It looks like he wants to say something more, perhaps ask how many Lindir has, what he charges for home visits, if he’s had many home visits at all. But instead, Elrond looks aside, and switches the subject to, “You mentioned the other day, I believe, that you were reading The Lays of Beleriand? Did you manage The Book of Lost Tales?”

Grateful for the change, Lindir sips his tea and answers, “I did, though it was dreadfully difficult to get my hands on the second part.”

“Next time, you will have to tell me—I have several copies of the series. For now, I would be interested in your take.”

And just like that, Lindir’s swept away again.

For the most part, their opinions align just as well on book interpretations as everything else, but Lindir still thoroughly enjoys hearing Elrond’s thoughts. Elrond listens so attentively to Lindir’s in return. They don’t stop at that series, but find another, branching along the same author into other spin-offs, then along the genre to a new author entirely. Lindir goes through his tea and sets the empty mug on the table, curling back up, and the more it goes on, the more he makes himself at home in the plush cushions, Elrond seeming to relax along with him. The bus is far from his mind, like the family photos, the ring, everything but Elrond and the enthralling conversation he weaves.

Then Elrond’s phone vibrates in his pocket, and he pauses mid-sentence, finishes, and plucks the device out of his pocket. He gives Lindir a short, “Sorry about that.”

But Lindir insists, “No, don’t mind me—take it.” So Elrond nods gratefully and taps the surface before lifting it to his ear.

The garbled voice on the other side isn’t loud enough for Lindir to hear, but it must be important, because Elrond rises off the couch, setting his own mug down and answering in a clipped, “Yes. ...No, not that one. We can’t; Daeron’s contract—oh? Please, hold them there. Tell them I’ll be right down.” As Lindir’s heart sinks, Elrond clicks off his phone.

He offers a weak smile, and Lindir knows what’s coming. “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I have some business to attend to at the front desk. It should only take a few minutes.”

Lindir opens his mouth, fully ready to say that it’s late and he should be going anyway, but it registers in the back of his mind that Elrond’s words didn’t sound like a dismissal. And if Elrond isn’t ending this, Lindir can’t bring himself to, no matter how impolite it is. So he just smiles and waits hopefully, pleased when Elrond adds, “Please feel free to help yourself to more tea or the fridge—I’ll be back shortly.”

Lindir says, “I look forward to it,” and hopes he doesn’t sound as eager as he feels. Elrond lingers only a moment longer, then strolls for the door, and Lindir’s left alone in Elrond’s home.

Now it really would be terrifying if Elrond’s family came home to find him. But that possibility didn’t seem to trouble Elrond, so Lindir hopes that means it’s unlikely. Instead, he drapes over the pillow leaning against the arm of the couch and just takes it in. He’s in Elrond’s sweater, on Elrond’s couch, alone in Elrond’s apartment. It’s easy to daydream that he’s meant to be here, and maybe he’s just been naughty and banished to the couch for the night, but he knows his beloved Elrond will eventually come back for him.

He shuts his eyes and lets himself focus on that, on a myriad of scenarios extrapolated from this amazing evening.

But it’s not far from night, and before long, he’s drifted off.

Waking up to Elrond’s handsome features is just as pleasant as it was the first time, though also just as embarrassing once reality catches up to him. Lindir’s first reaction is a groan, and he brings one tired hand up to wipe the sleep from his eyes, mumbling, “I did it again...”

“It was my fault this time,” Elrond tells him, sitting next to Lindir on the couch. “I’m afraid the business downstairs took far longer than I anticipated. I do apologize for leaving you so long.”

“M’fine,” Lindir insists. He tries to stifle a yawn and doesn’t say that he is disappointed in himself for sleeping—he should’ve stayed awake and savoured every minute that he could.

“I am glad of it. But I admit another oversight—I should’ve thought to put your clothes in the dryer immediately. Instead, I did so when I returned, and decided to let you sleep until they finished.”

Lindir frowns at this. He missed the same obvious solution to wet clothes, but in his defense, he was distracted at the time. He’s still distracted. He wishes Elrond had woken him up so they could’ve spent more time together, but now it’s too late, and he mumbles, “I hope I wasn’t a bother.” He doesn’t think he snores or fidgets too much in his sleep, but it still seems... rude... to just lie there and sleep in Elrond’s presence.

Elrond tells him, “You are a delightfully peaceful sleeper.” While Lindir blushes, Elrond rises to his feet. Lindir begrudgingly follows.

They collect Lindir’s clothes from the drying machine in a small room with a few other appliances and an ironing board. His phone sits atop it, ready to go back in his pocket. The bundle of fabric’s piled into his hands wondrously warm and soft, though the static makes him jump at the first contact. Then Lindir’s left to wrack his brain for an excuse to keep Elrond’s sweater on.

Elrond says for him, “I’m not sure a t-shirt will be much good this time of night, and I’d hate to leave you cold, even for a short time. You may keep the sweater, if you like.”

“Oh, I couldn’t—” Lindir starts, even though he wants to.

But Elrond insists, “Please. It’s nothing special. Consider it a tip for keeping a lonely old man company when you really should have had the night off.”

Lindir’s struck speechless for how many things he has to say to that. What comes out first is, “Thank you,” and then a rushed, “But you’re not old, and you were the one rescuing me, and I really do appreciate the tea, and I had a very nice time...” He trails off as Elrond shakes his head. The only thing Lindir didn’t address is loneliness—how Elrond could be lonely, living with a family, at the very least with his daughter right downstairs, Lindir doesn’t understand. But it doesn’t seem his place to ask, and instead he just finishes by repeating, “Thank you.” He already knows he’s going to treasure and wear this sweater as much as he can.

“May I drive you home, then? Normally I would caution you against getting into a car with a customer, but as you’ve already been alone in my house and drank my tea, I don’t think it’s much more of a risk.”

Maybe because Elrond keeps saying things along those lines, Lindir says, “I’ve never gotten into a car with a customer before. ...Or been to their house, or had tea with them.” Elrond looks a little surprised by that, and Lindir sheepishly says, “I told you I’m not very good at my job.” Sucking in a final breath and courage before Elrond can change the subject to complimenting him when he really is a terrible employee, he adds, “And, um... I’d love a ride, thank you.”

Elrond smiles and nods, then retreats, and Lindir remembers to step into his pants, doing so before Elrond’s even left the room—at this point, it hardly matters. He keeps his shirt in his hands and Elrond’s sweater wrapped around his skin, then heads out again, happier than ever.

The ride is mostly quiet, the sky pitch black and Lindir not wanting to impose, already feeling he’s taken up too much of Elrond’s time but loving it too much to pass it up. Lindir doesn’t know much about cars, but he can tell the one they’re in is nice, likely expensive, with comfortable seats and plenty of legroom. Lindir occasionally gives directions, and in far too short a time, they’re at Lindir’s building. In a lame attempt to be funny, Lindir suggests, “If you want to lock me in, now’s your last chance.”

Elrond teases right back, “Don’t tempt me.”

Lindir’s already tempted—even if Elrond weren’t the man of his dreams, being trapped in Elrond’s laundry room would still be a marginal improvement on free reign of his own apartment. He keeps that to himself and says again, full of sincerity, “Thank you. Truly, for everything.”

Elrond answers just as meaningfully, “I assure you, the pleasure has been all mine. You make a lovely guest.”

But a guest is all Lindir is, and it reminds him that this isn’t a date, and there won’t be any goodbye kiss. As he opens the car door, he softly finishes, “Good night, Elrond.”

“Pleasant dreams, Lindir.” Lindir knows he will have good dreams—he now has plenty of material for them.

He exits and shuts the car door softly behind himself. As he turns to walk away, he expects to hear the car pull out, but it lingers until he’s unlocked the front door and is safely in the lobby.

When Lindir arrives for work, there’s a note taped to the corner of the mirror with Elrohir’s name and number on it. Lindir rips it off before anyone can see and stuffs it into the pocket of his jeans, pushing it deep into the recesses so it’ll stay there even after he strips them off. He doesn’t think he could try with Elrohir now. Even if he can never have Elrond, there’s no denying that he’s head over heels, and they share enough moments that he thinks he can survive on that. It wouldn’t be fair to Elrohir to suggest otherwise. But he’ll wait to send a conciliatory text after work—if he whips out his phone here, Feren and Meludir will be all over him.

The new outfits consist of even less than usual. Black latex mini-shorts are the soul piece of real clothing, the rest a thick dog collar and a harness that goes around his shoulders and across his chest. There’s a somewhat thin, fluffy tail to attach to the back and folded dog-ears on a headband, Meludir’s more shaped liked cat ears beside him. On his other side, Feren curls his fingers against his palms and lifts them to his face, fake-panting into the mirror like the dogs they’re apparently supposed to be. Lindir feels more exposed than ever and wishes they had something to cover the front, even if just a portion.

But it’s the nature of his job, and he leaves with the rest of them, whilst trying to resist sweeping his hair over his shoulders to hide some of his chest.

By the time Elrond arrives, Lindir’s done as poorly as usual. He hurries to Elrond’s table like the lovesick puppy he is and smiles brightly at his guest. His stomach twists as Elrond returns the gesture, only to have his eyes fall down Lindir’s exposed front. The look seems to linger, and Lindir discretely moves his hands aside, standing taut and tall, hoping that Elrond likes what he sees. Then Elrond’s eyes lift again, cheeks minutely colouring, perhaps at being caught staring, and he notes, “This is a new one.”

“Not as warm as your sweater,” Lindir admits, then wonders if he should’ve mentioned that. He wore it to bed last night and is sure to do it again tonight. Elrond smiles at the comment, and Lindir asks, “Can I get you anything? Food, tea...?”

“I confess I didn’t bring my own,” Elrond answers. “But I had best not have yours yet, either—Thranduil insisted on promptness tonight, and I assume he isn’t far behind me.”

Lindir nods and struggles not to show how crushed he is. All he wants to do is forget what he saw in Elrond’s apartment and crawl into Elrond’s lap and make out with him again, back in the magic of Eriador where there are no rings or worries. Would that Lindir’s life were so simple.

He’s not sure what to do in the interim, but Elrond shuffles aside to make room and gestures to the empty seat, so Lindir grins broader and takes it.

“I do wonder how this theme would play to those that actually own pets,” Elrond notes.

Lindir, always having been more or less as alone as he is now, asks, “Have you ever had one?”

“No, though the children asked me more than once for a dog.” The mere mention of children makes Lindir’s smile falter, but he struggles to try and hide his unease. Elrond looks aside, voice now a little wistful, and goes on, “We just never got around to it... and the boys were always such trouble, I’m not sure I could’ve handled more...” The boys. At least two, and his daughter. It’s a larger family than Lindir realized—more people whose lives he essentially wants to turn upside down by snatching Elrond away from them. If Arwen is around Lindir’s age, are the boys? Do they look anything like Lindir? It’s a disturbing thought process that he cuts off, all the more so when Elrond looks back at him to chuckle, “I have had you over, but I don’t suppose this is what they meant.”

Lindir laughs at the joke, but he has to hide a cringe with it—without the mention of Elrond’s kids, he would’ve loved to tease about going home like this with Elrond to be his dog. Elrond would likely be a kind master. He has a nice place and lives in a good area—he could feed Lindir well and take him for nice walks. Perhaps let him sleep in that giant, deluxe bed. Lindir has to cut himself off from the image of following Elrond about that luxurious suite on all fours.

For once, when Thranduil shows up, Lindir’s glad of the interruption. He needs it not to make a fool of himself. Thranduil marches in with a purpose, dragging Meludir by the hand and climbing right into his seat, wrapped against the wall. Meludir sits on the open side, like Lindir. To Elrond, Thranduil announces, “I’ve devised a brilliant solution to my being made to, and I quote, ‘keep it in my pants,’ and your inability to loosen yours.” Elrond lifts an eyebrow, and Thranduil turns to Lindir, ordering, “You, come here.”

Lindir’s so surprised at first that he just blinks, but then Thranduil gestures insistently, and Lindir thinks to balk, but then realizes that obeying Thranduil will not only provide more customer diversity for Erestor, but force Lindir to cross Elrond’s lap.

So he moves slowly forward, bending down to crawl his way across Elrond’s body to sit between the two older men on the couch. Thranduil adds smoothly, “Touch me.”

Thranduil,” Elrond warns, having no effect on Thranduil’s stern expression whatsoever. Again, Lindir hesitates. He glances over his shoulder, realizes how obvious he’s being, and quickly returns his gaze to Thranduil. At least, he thinks, if Thranduil touches him, Elrond will be close by. ...And perhaps Elrond might enjoy the sight, might even be jealous, even though it seems such a small possibility, but he did protest...

Lindir tentatively lays his hand on Thranduil’s thigh, and Thranduil smirks. He uses the club-ordained permission to reach for Lindir’s waist, the other lifting to Lindir’s shoulder, and then Thranduil guides Lindir back. Lindir bends until he’s practically lying down on the couch, looking no longer at Thranduil but up at Elrond, and the final push lands his head in Elrond’s lap. He turns instantly scarlet, freezing up, and Elrond looks down at him curiously, then over to Thranduil.

Thranduil pulls Lindir’s legs over his own lap and grabs Meludir by the hair, shoving Meludir down between them. It doesn’t occur to Lindir what Thranduil means to do until Meludir’s face is right over his crotch.

“We’ll have them do it for us,” Thranduil purrs, one hand holding Meludir down and the other stroking over the hump of his rear. Meludir’s face is already flushed, lids half lowered, lips upturned in clear pleasure. He arches his body back into Thranduil’s grip, earning a chuckle at his eagerness.

Lindir’s burning up with embarrassment and lying stock still for fear of his crotch touching Meludir’s face.

He’s fantasized, more than once, about giving blow jobs. They used to just be hazy fantasies, another push to work here, but then they became visions of Elrond, yet, somehow, Lindir never daydreamed much about the other way around. He never thought any one would offer. But Meludir looks very much like a leashed animal, ready to go for it the second his master allows it. Elrond shifts slightly along the couch, the movement making Lindir suck in and hold onto another breath. Elrond keeps his arms now atop the table, carefully touching Lindir nowhere else but also not dislodging him. Elrond’s face looks mildly disquieted, and he tries, “Thranduil, really, I don’t need—”

“You need to unwind,” Thranduil insists dismissively. “What do you think I brought you here in the first place for? You’re far too uptight, so much so that you can’t even enjoy yourself at a sex club. Now, I’m not asking you to do anything indecent, even by your rigid standards.”

Elrond frowns deeply and retorts, “You’re suggesting forcing one poor boy to pleasure another in my lap.”

“It’s not forcing,” Thranduil answers, now with a touch of irritation in his voice, “surely you don’t think that little of me. If you would bother to actually listen to those around you, you would know that this ‘poor boy’ is dying for a taste of your boring server, and even he was quite willing to try my idea, so can you please not be a killjoy for once in your life and just enjoy the show?”

Elrond practically glares. But he doesn’t answer right away, and in the interim, Lindir, shamefully wanting to loosen Elrond, at least for this, as much as Thranduil, mumbles, “Please.”

Elrond’s head jerks down, blinking at Lindir, just as Meludir yanks down Lindir’s shorts and licks right over the hump of his cock.

Lindir cries out immediately, his hands flying to his mouth but not fast enough to stop it. He wasn’t expecting it and has never felt anything like it, and Meludir goes in again—Lindir can tell it’s his tongue, it’s wet and spongy, lapping right around Lindir’s base, flattening the dark brown tufts of hair neatly trimmed between his legs. He can feel Meludir’s fingers digging into his thighs, dragging the shorts lower bit-by-bit, exposing more and more of him, and his face burns with that, with the open air against his crotch and being naked before an audience. He watches Meludir, transfixed, as Meludir kisses all over Lindir’s shaft with little, kittenish licks, occasionally pausing to nuzzle in. Each tantalizing piece of attention is wondrous. Then the final tug comes, and Lindir’s entire cock springs out, hard from both Meludir’s efforts and being in Elrond’s lap, his small, taut balls tumbling out of the latex. Thranduil’s hand lifts Meludir up, and Meludir opens wide, his lips lowering to encircle the head of Lindir’s cock.

Lindir clamps his hands down on his mouth and really does scream when Meludir envelops him. His eyes slam shut, embarrassment temporarily drowned out in a flood of pleasure—Meludir has such a lovely mouth—so hot and wet, tight around him, with no scrape of teeth but the soft brush of tongue. Lindir’s hips try to spasm up, but Meludir’s hands hold him down. Lindir’s trembling. It’s so much better than his hand’s ever been. He wonders if this is what Elrond will feel like when he—

Lindir’s eyes open again, peering up at Elrond’s handsome face. Elrond’s eyes are traveling his body, from his hazy eyes to his arched chest to his bare crotch, half swallowed up in Meludir’s mouth. Meludir pushes forward slowly, taking more and more, hiding more and more from Elrond’s view, and Lindir’s not sure if that’s a good thing or not—he searches Elrond’s face, imploring Elrond to like his body, even though he’s so skinny and plain, has nothing really to offer, no muscles or curves. Meludir reaches the base, fully impaled, and Lindir’s struggling to breathe around his fingers and through his nose. He’s not particularly big, but he doesn’t understand how he could be entirely in Meludir’s mouth—is he down Meludir’s throat? He doesn’t even know how to tell. Meludir makes a happy-sounding, muffled noise, then sucks, the pressure instantly wracking another cry out of Lindir’s body.

“Take his hands away from his mouth,” Thranduil lazily drawls, but Lindir doesn’t look at him, just focuses on Elrond and the feeling of it. Elrond doesn’t answer, busy looking down at Lindir. “Come on, it’s a shame to do all this and not hear all the noises he’s capable of...”

Lindir’s vaguely aware that Thranduil’s talking about him but doesn’t have the coordination right now to move his arms. Meludir starts to pull away, taking his delicious heat with him, and Lindir mewls for it, but then Meludir’s pushing back down, Lindir dizzy with delight—and another comes, then another, until Meludir’s busily bobbing up and down, and Lindir’s entire body is singing with joy, the skin of his neck and shoulders hyper aware of touching Elrond’s pants—he wants to turn his face and nuzzle into the bulge at Elrond’s crotch—he can feel it against his cheek—he wants Elrond in his mouth, wants nothing more in the world than the gorgeous man above him, but then Meludir gives a final suck and Lindir—

Lindir comes horribly fast with a torrential cry, his cock bursting in Meludir’s mouth. Meludir makes a single choking noise but stays on, throat constricting beautifully. Lindir’s completely boneless, dizzy, lost in a world of pure white, pure sensation, for that one, perfect moment.

And then he’s spiraling down again, while Meludir sucks him dry and he trembles in Elrond’s lap.

Meludir’s wrenched off Lindir’s cock with a wet popping noise. Lindir’s legs are messily pushed off Thranduil, turning haphazardly beneath the table instead, while Meludir’s scooped into Thranduil’s lap, his shorts shoved right down his thighs. With quick efficiency, Thranduil shoves two fingers into Meludir’s wet channel, and Meludir squeals blissfully and melts right into Thranduil’s body. Lindir spends one mindless moment watching Thranduil finger Meludir into oblivion.

Then the world slowly seeps back to him, and he quickly stuffs himself back into his own shorts. He feels sticky, sweaty, and strangely empty, though the orgasm was very satisfying. He’s left alone again. Thranduil is toying with Meludir’s beautiful body, and Lindir’s lying in a discarded heap. When he looks up, Elrond’s looking deliberately away.

Lindir’s not sure he’s ever felt like such a mess, which is saying something for him. He feels... completely inappropriate. If Elrond’s sons were like Lindir, he’d probably be ashamed. Maybe he’s thinking of them, and that’s why he won’t look at Lindir. Maybe he’s thinking of the spouse that likely gave him those children and that ring.

Or maybe Lindir ruined their perfect bubble of simple tea and books with clingy attachment and debauched sex. Meludir’s wanton noises puncturing the loud music only make it worse. Meludir’s the normal one here. Lindir’s the one ruining sex with feelings, and he can’t even get the sex right—he came pathetically fast and was completely useless during.

Elrond deserves better. Maybe he has better.

Lindir stumbles up to sit and hurriedly climbs back over Elrond, practically rushing to the bar. Thranduil calls, voice almost disturbingly steady, “Two bottles!” And Lindir obeys and returns with them.

He sends the text at night, and in the morning—or Lindir’s version of morning, which his hours force to be really more of a lunch—he meets Elrohir in the closest coffee shop to Eriador.

At the counter, Lindir orders a strawberry frappe, and Elrohir shows up behind him, startling him and holding out a card to pay. The barista takes and swipes it before Lindir can protest, and Elrohir chirps, “My treat,” before stepping up to order his own coffee.

They take their drinks over to a small table in the corner, Lindir feeling incredibly awkward but mostly determined—this is for the best. He vacillates all the time between thinking he should just be Elrond’s side piece and thinking he should leave Elrond alone. Moving on seems the healthiest choice, but it also doesn’t feel like the right one. It’s difficult to look Elrohir in the eye, even though Elrohir is attractive and seems nice.

The first words out of his mouth are, “I’m sorry, but I need to explain a few things right off the bat—I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”

Then Lindir has to look up, confused. There doesn’t seem to be a wrong idea to have already, but Elrohir tells him quite calmly, “I know this sounded like a date, and it could be, if you’re okay with everything, but mostly I just wanted to talk and to...” he pauses, searching for words, then decides on: “explain things.”

Lindir, still confused, pokes his straw into the white-plastic top of his drink and swallows some of it down just for a distraction. His anxiety over being social with something of a stranger bitters the taste somewhat.

“I’m aromantic, but I need a boyfriend,” Elrohir says, drawing Lindir’s eye back up and a surprised look. Elrohir doesn’t stop for it, just continues, “Eriador’s really a great fit for me—I’m still pretty sexual. Hyper-sexual, if you ask Elladan. But I don’t want our father finding out I work there, so I came up with the brilliant idea of saying I’m out with a boyfriend instead. Since it’s all late nights, it makes sense. I mean, I don’t have to give them a name or anything right away, not unless they start putting the pressure on, but I’d like to have someone so it’s not a total lie, and so I can have someone to take home with me if the questions do mount up too much. I think you’re really cute, and since you said your heart’s off with someone you can’t have, I thought it might work for you too, to not have to be alone but have no romantic pressure...?” He just sort of trails off, smiling encouragingly, while Lindir’s mind reels.

He’s... vaguely disappointed, in a way. He’d thought Elrohir liked him, and that was a self-esteem boost, however small. Especially with Feren and Meludir around for better options. But apparently Elrohir does think he’s cute. It’s just such a bizarre proposal.

Elrohir gives Lindir plenty of time with it. Elrohir patiently sips at his coffee, and Lindir sits there in a whirr of thoughts, how bizarre it is, but how it does, in a way, somewhat make sense. And it does, strangely enough, alleviate his guilt in coming here. He felt bad agreeing to a date with Elrohir while pining after Elrond. But Elrohir, against all odds, is offering him a chance to not be alone without having to change that. He can still want Elrond, feel nothing, other than that pleasant facial similarity, for Elrohir, and it won’t require dishonesty. Then he looks down at the drink in his hands and tries to remember the last time someone bought him something.

Elrond. Elrond bought him dinner.

“You can say no,” Elrohir cuts in, sounding utterly relaxed. There’s something in that stability that’s very reassuring. “But if you say yes, I promise I’ll treat you right.”

“I don’t...” Lindir starts, but then he cuts off, unsure of what he was going to say. What he should say. This is all unfamiliar territory. He swallows and goes back to his drink.

After far too long, he asks, “What would I have to do...?”

“Say you’re my boyfriend, let me use your name if I have to, and maybe come over for dinner at some point.”

That sounds incredibly awkward. But the payoff is that he’ll have someone, even if that person won’t love him. It’s still more than he can have of Elrond. And maybe it’ll still help him move on.

“You’ll have boyfriend rights,” Elrohir adds. As Lindir has no idea what that entails, he’s grateful when Elrohir goes on, “You can call me any time you need, whether it’s to come over and help with something or just to talk. I have a car—I can take you anywhere you like. ...And anything physical you want to try, I’m down with.” Elrohir winks, and Lindir blushes. But he doesn’t imagine that’ll last. Elrohir will get plenty of sex at Eriador—he’s hot and charming; everyone will love him. Feren and Meludir already want him. Even with the flimsy concept that Lindir’s also unable to be romantically involved with anyone else, he seems an odd choice. But then, those do sound like nice ‘rights’, and Feren and Meludir might indeed get attached...

If he takes the sex out of it, it really just sounds like a friend. Except it’s a friend he can tell others he’s with, and maybe it’ll make him seem less pathetic. Elrohir isn’t asking for much.

So Lindir slowly says, “Okay,” and instantly has to fight down a surge of nervousness that swells in his gut. It’s par for the course with new things. Maybe not so much with Elrond, but that’s why Elrond’s so special.

Elrohir’s... okay. He grins brightly, and when it’s time to leave, he offers to drive Lindir home and pecks Lindir on the cheek.

Chapter Text

The first time Lindir texts Elrohir after the coffee, it takes him five minutes to write the tiny “Hi” message and seven minutes to press the send button. It was easier the true first time, when all he had to say was “okay.”

Then comes a nerve wracking half an hour were Lindir putters about his apartment, burying his anxiety in tidying. He has a natural clean streak that flares in times of distress. Finally, his phone buzzes with the answer:

Sorry, was in the shower. What’s up?

Then Lindir’s forced to admit:

Nothing, I...

He actually just ends it in ellipses. He doesn’t know what to say. He hopes Elrohir will understand. Elrohir seems wondrously understanding. He just had to know what would happen.

After a short pause, Elrohir asks, Do you want a naked just-showered pic?

And Lindir giggles to himself, thinking it a joke. It’s not until the giggles subside that he realizes Elrohir might be serious. It’s so hard to tell in writing. Struggling with that confusion, Lindir answers, No, thank you.

Elrohir sends back a little emoticon of a heart that Lindir also doesn’t know how to interpret. He doesn’t send anything else. He’s not sure what he wanted or expected but... it’ll do. At least he knows he can really text Elrohir for nothing and not have Elrohir be mad. He stuffs the phone back into his pocket and returns to dusting the back of the TV.

Freshly into his harness, Lindir sits before his mirror at work and twists in a new braid. Elrohir appears over his shoulder, ducking in before Lindir can properly turn. Elrohir presses a chaste kiss to Lindir’s temple and greets, “’Evening.”

Lindir mumbles, “Hi,” and is acutely aware of Meludir’s eyes on him. Feren’s already left for the floor. Elrohir straights up, examining himself in Lindir’s mirror, and tugs at the tiny shorts that do very little to hide his body.

“Why does he get a kiss?” Meludir asks, pouting sweetly in that way of his that’s earned so very many tips. Lindir opens his mouth but isn’t sure how to answer.

“We’re dating,” Elrohir announces for him. Hearing it said aloud is... odd. Lindir can feel himself blushing and deliberately keeps his eyes on his reflection instead of his coworkers. It still feels...

It feels a little wrong. He feels like he’s lying. He’s not sure who to. Elrohir knows Lindir doesn’t really like him like that. Meludir doesn’t and whines in Lindir’s direction, “Lucky!”

“We’re both lucky,” Elrohir chuckles, before clapping a hand onto Lindir’s bare shoulder—more contact that startles him. “But if it’s Lindir you’re jealous of, I’m sure he won’t mind me playing a little, given where we work. Gotta practice for the job, right?”

Out the corner of Lindir’s eye, he can see Meludir’s hopeful look, even though surely Meludir gets more than enough attention and doesn’t need Elrohir on top of it. But then, most of that attention isn’t from other men on the same foot, and Elrohir does have a certain degree of charm. Lindir, having no real stake in it anyway, admits, “I wouldn’t mind.”

“That’s my boy,” Elrohir says, grinning broadly in the mirror and bending down to kiss the top of Lindir’s head, right between the fake ears. All the little affectionate brushes are so far beyond Lindir’s usual realm that he’s left feeling lost.

Meludir lunges at him from the side, wrapping him in a tight hug and cooing, “You’re the best friend ever!” And then he’s detangling from Lindir’s tense body again and reaching up for Elrohir, who comes down to kiss him hard. Lindir’s eyes are drawn to the movement, and he numbly watches his boyfriend’s tongue snake out into Meludir’s mouth, teeth scraping Meludir’s bottom lip and fingers threading back into Meludir’s honey hair. The headband bearing cat ears is slightly knocked to the side, but neither stops for it. Lindir has the bizarre notion that he should be taking notes—if he could kiss like that, his job wouldn’t be on the line.

But he can’t, and so he just sits, detached, and observes Elrohir fucking Meludir’s mouth with his tongue. Meludir mewls happily and whimpers when Elrohir pulls away. Elrohir keeps hold of Meludir’s face and purrs, “I could never be with you, kitty cat. I’d be so busy fucking your cute brains out twenty-four-seven that neither of us would ever get anything done.” Meludir pouts all the harder, but Elrohir just laughs and readjusts Meludir’s fuzzy headband, then turns to pat Lindir’s back and sigh, “I’m afraid your pure friend is a better fit.”

Lindir’s hardly pure. But he accepts the explanation, and Meludir sighs, “Fine. I guess I’ll just have to go find some other client to suck milk out of.” He gets out of his seat and makes for the door, only to pause a step later and add to Lindir in a bubbly giggle, “You are lucky.”

Lindir’s not so sure. Elrohir offers a gallant hand to help Lindir up, though Lindir doesn’t need it. It doesn’t seem lucky to him to have a relationship without love, without dates, without all the little things he fantasizes about when he pictures Elrond’s face. He doesn’t want to disrespect Elrohir by asking for them. He walks with Elrohir out to the floor, trying to feel at least proud of being chosen over their resident sex kitten.

Elladan comes in again, his identity only revealed by process of elimination; proximity to Elrohir has made it no easier for Lindir to tell them apart. As he slides a menu onto Elladan’s table, Lindir feels obligated to say, in the very likely event that Elladan will wish to leave before he’s scarred for life, “Elrohir’s working tonight.”

“So I gathered,” Elladan answers, looking not at all bothered by the prospect of running into his brother half-naked. “I came in to check on him.” Elladan grins, and it gives Lindir a slight blush and makes him wonder just how much the brothers really do together. But that’s an entirely indecent thought. He tries to erase it and looks directly over Elladan’s head, avoiding eye contact as he waits for an order.

Elladan doesn’t touch the menu, just offers one hand and purrs, “While I wait the night out, I wouldn’t mind putting those nice hands of yours to work again.”

Lindir turns all the redder. The resemblance to Elrond is made sharper by his refusal to look at Elladan directly. He’s not sure if that’s a good thing or not. It makes it easier to grow interested, to drift around the table, but then he looks down at Elladan’s face and reminds himself this isn’t Elrond and it isn’t fair to either customer to think so.

He puts a hand on Elladan’s shoulder and lets Elladan scoop him up and draw him forward—Lindir’s settled in Elladan’s lap, feeling particularly foolish with his lack of coverage. Elladan takes a minute just to squeeze at Lindir’s hips, forcing little gasps, then runs his larger hands up Lindir’s sides to pluck at the dark straps of the harness. Elladan traces them up over Lindir’s chest, falling back to pause at Lindir’s nipples, where his thumbs brush over the rosy buds. Lindir clamps down on his bottom lip to try and save face. Elladan’s eyes flicker to the movement, and he grins at the reaction, thumbs digging in to tease Lindir’s nubs harder, the cold having already started it. Lindir can feel his body warming rapidly, his lap stirring—Elladan chuckles quietly, “You have sensitive nipples...”

Apparently so. Lindir grips Elladan’s shoulders all the harder and vacillates between wanting to run and wanting to buck into Elladan’s crotch. The resemblance to Elrond might be subtle, but Elladan looks exactly like Lindir’s handsome boyfriend. And Elladan’s a paying customer. And Lindir needs this.

He tries to lean forward, thinking he’ll start this with a kiss—a kiss should be so much easier than a hand job—but he stops halfway, frozen. Elladan laughs again and pecks Lindir’s nose, tugging Lindir’s nipples hard enough to make him squeak.

Then his hands run lower, twisting back down Lindir’s sides, and before he knows it, he has Elladan’s hands inside his shorts, cupping his ass and squeezing hard. Lindir gasps and bucks forward, head falling and shoulders hunching—he’s so embarrassed—he can’t seem to hide his reactions, and he’s supposed to be professional. Elladan kneads his ass and retracts one hand, arm hooking around Lindir’s waist, crushing him in close. His head ducks over Elladan’s shoulder, and Elladan purrs into his ear, “On second thought, maybe I’ll be the one to use my hands... maybe I’ll finger your tight hole until you come in your little shorts...”

Lindir can’t stop an eager whine from leaving his lips. The thought both arouses him and terrifies him. He still hasn’t had anything really inside him...

Elladan bends over Lindir’s shoulder and sinks blunt teeth into the soft skin; Lindir cries out and arches into it. It’s not a hard bite, but Lindir’s not used to being bitten at all, and Elladan’s wet tongue laves over him before pulling back, leaving Lindir’s skin tender and trembling in the open air. Then Elladan sweeps some of Lindir’s hair away from his neck, holding it up with one hand, and goes in to bite at Lindir’s throat—

“I’ve had a boyfriend for less than a week, and you’re already marking him,” Elrohir’s voice laughs, which snaps Lindir’s head back and drives him more into Elladan’s teeth. Elrohir’s already sidling onto the couch.

Elladan retracts from Lindir’s neck with an annoyed sigh, hand sliding out of Lindir’s shorts to rest on his hip again. Elladan glances at his brother, only to snort, “Boyfriend? You’ve never been on a date in your life.”

Elrohir comes right to Elladan’s side. Then he reaches for Lindir and tries to extricate him from Elladan’s grasp, tugging him over, Elladan relinquishing his hold to allow it. Lindir winds up sprawled in Elrohir’s lap with his legs over Elladan’s, Elrohir’s arms around his waist. Caught between two gorgeous men, this is the sort of fantasy Lindir joined Eriador for. Now he just feels sort of... awkward.

With Lindir secured against him, Elrohir nips at the tip of Lindir’s ear, wracking out another shiver and squeak. Elrohir chuckles, looking fondly at Lindir, “Who needs dates? I get other things.” And he turns to wink at Elladan.

Elladan just rolls his eyes and notes, “Not exactly the kind you can bring home to dad.”

“Oh, but I can,” Elrohir quips. “Can’t you see how adorably shy he is? Put him in some casual clothes, and no one would have any idea this cutie strips down for money.” Lindir’s blushing up a storm and not saying anything. Elrohir’s not wrong, and it does make the choice of Lindir over some of his coworkers make all the more sense. Elladan doesn’t look entirely convinced, but Elrohir goes on anyway, slipping into a more serious tone, “Don’t tell the family anything about him yet though, okay? Or anything about all this. I’ll bring it up when I’m ready.”

At Elrohir’s sober words, Elladan loses his playfulness. Just as grave, he nods. But a second later he softens and admits, “...I am happy for you, though. That you found someone else with as little interest in romance that you can make it work with.”

Lindir’s sure Elrohir’s smiling over his head, but he’s busy looking away. The guilt swells in him. He does want romance. But, as Elrohir knows, he has no hope of having it, not the way he wants. Elrohir doesn’t say anything about the statement.

Elladan lets out a sigh and decides, “Well, I guess it wouldn’t be right of me to feel up your boyfriend, even if the next customer’s going to get to.”

“You didn’t come here for that anyway,” Elrohir teases.

“You’re right,” Elladan chirps. “I came for the excellent food.”

Elrohir laughs.

Lindir’s somewhat disappointed when Elladan starts to shuffle out of the booth on the other side. He wanted to see if Elrohir’s doing well, and Elrohir is. But Lindir won’t be; he’s losing another customer, one of the very few he ever did well with.

He rises to see Elladan out, but Elrohir grabs his wrist and tugs him back down onto the couch. When Elladan’s long gone, footsteps lost in the pounding music and chatter of other customers, Elrohir asks, sounding more curious than jealous, “Did he do anything before I got here?”

“No,” Lindir answers, figuring surface touching doesn’t mean much in their club.

Elrohir’s eyebrows knit together. At first, Lindir thinks Elrohir doesn’t believe him, but then Elrohir says, “You look relieved.”

He kind of is. It’s so ridiculous. He feels like an idiot. He thinks of telling Elrohir that he just didn’t want to be sexual with his boyfriend’s brother, but it doesn’t seem right to lie to Elrohir when Elrohir’s been so honest with him.

It’s also going to come up eventually, so Lindir admits, wanting to just sink below the table and out through a crack in the floor, “I’ve never, um... I haven’t... really done much more than kissing...” Although, he did get that blow job from Meludir. He can’t bring himself to say anymore so doesn’t mention it.

Elrohir doesn’t look at all put out or judgmental. He just smiles and says, “Well, let me know if you ever want to learn or practice.” Lindir’s blushing again, and Elrohir chuckles at it, adding, “Any time, baby. You got my number. I’ll come right over and teach you anything you like, and you’ll be making tips like Meludir in no time.” He looks completely confident about it, even though it’s a hyperbole in the extreme.

Then Elrohir leans in to peck Lindir’s forehead and leaves to climb out of the booth, off to other tables with clients that can give him so much more than Lindir can.

The first time Elrohir comes over, Lindir’s nervous, but not as much as he thought he’d be. He tidies a bit and spends half an hour debating whether or not to get out of the sweater he’s in—it doesn’t seem right to wear it around his boyfriend. But he also thinks he might need that connection. It doesn’t smell much of Elrond anymore, but it still does when Lindir sniffs it hard enough and concentrates. He’s careful not to sweat too much in it, because he wants to put off washing it as long as possible.

Greeting Elrohir at the door of his apartment is... odd. He’s not used to having people over. Elrohir gives Lindir an immediate hug, terrifyingly intimate right off the bat, then casually lets go and marches right in, kicking off his shoes. Lindir shuts the door and locks it again, now exponentially more anxious.

Elrohir wanders through the apartment himself, eyeing the small kitchenette, the plain living room, and thankfully staying out of the bedroom where the door’s closed. While Elrohir examines Lindir’s bookshelf in the living room, Lindir calls from the kitchenette, “Do you want any tea?”

“No, thanks,” Elrohir answers, which pauses Lindir’s hand. It isn’t...

Elrond would want tea. Lindir puts the kettle back down without filling it and opts to not have any either. Which leaves him just sort of awkwardly standing there, watching Elrohir fall back onto the couch.

As Lindir pads softly into the living room, Elrohir notes, “That sweater looks familiar. I think I know someone else with the same one.”

Lindir, unsure of what to say to that, mumbles, “It’s from a... a friend.” Friend. That’s not right. He doesn’t know how to fix it. It doesn’t seem to matter. Elrohir’s already grinning and extending an arm, not all that different from how his brother was at the club the last time he came in. Lindir fidgets, absently playing with the bottom of the sweater, then sucks in a breath and gravitates forward.

He’s grown used to sitting close to people, and he does it now, near enough for their legs and shoulders to touch, and Elrohir turns to face him, looking striking in the overhead light of Lindir’s apartment, the blinds drawn but the home setting still far brighter than the club lights Lindir’s used to. It’s eerily silent in his apartment. Elrohir brings one hand to Lindir’s cheek and brushes back through his hair, sweeping it over one thin shoulder. Then Elrohir bends down, and Lindir’s breath hitches, knowing what’s coming.

Their lips touch. Lindir’s first reaction is total panic. He doesn’t know what to do. He’s sure he’s a terrible kisser. He’s supposed to be a professional kisser. Elrohir sweeps his tongue over Lindir’s bottom lip and presses at the seam, making Lindir aware that he’s held his jaw clenched closed. He consciously opens, parting just a bit, but it’s enough for Elrohir’s tongue to poke inside. Lindir shuts his eyes and tries to relax, tries to let Elrohir do the work, hoping Elrohir won’t mind. He doesn’t seem to. He uses his grip on Lindir’s hair to gently guide him into it, and at first, it’s a slow, calm kiss that Lindir thinks he can handle.

Then he tries to participate. He pokes tentatively at Elrohir’s tongue with his own, and it encourages more—Elrohir leans further into him, crushing more air out, the smell of his cologne everywhere. Lindir doesn’t know what to do with his hands and fists them in his own lap, tightly clutching Elrond’s sweater. Elrohir traces all of Lindir’s mouth, opening and closing a few times, which Lindir tries to follow, and then Elrohir pulls back to nip at the corner of Lindir’s mouth. Elrohir kisses his cheek and scrapes blunt teeth up to his ear, purring into it, “Now, what should I teach you tonight...? How to suck cock, or how to ride one?”

Lindir shudders almost violently. He’s...

Elrohir shifts a hand to Lindir’s thigh, and Lindir regrets wearing shorts, though they’re nowhere near as short as they would be at the club. It’s still bare skin for Elrohir’s warmth to spread across. Elrohir strokes higher, teasing the last line of skin before fabric, fingers shallowly poking beneath, and Lindir whines, not sure he wants his clothes on any longer. But he still hesitates.

He wanted Elrond to be his first. His first for both, for everything. Even now, he shuts his eyes and thinks of kneeling between Elrond’s legs, behind the Imladris reception desk, and feeling Elrond’s cock in his mouth. The thought makes him moan, but he can’t, doesn’t answer. Elrohir tugs at the shell of his ear with skilled teeth and retracts the hand in Lindir’s hair for his thumb to trace Lindir’s lips. It weighs down the bottom one and pokes lightly inside, his other hand darting across the shorts to cup Lindir’s crotch—Lindir gasps and bucks forward, lips clamping down on Elrohir’s thumb. “Well?” Elrohir coos, rubbing Lindir’s covered cock and petting his mouth, “Which one of these pretty holes wants to be spread open on my dick?”

Lindir’s so confused. It feels good, very good, but panic sets in again, and he pulls off of Elrohir’s thumb, turning his head away, cheeks red and eyes downcast, but his hips still stutter into Elrohir’s palm—he half wishes Elrohir would just shut up and fuck him without room for him to fret and wonder. But Elrohir kisses his neck and waits, and Lindir just flounders in mixed desires.

Finally, Elrohir sighs and pulls away. The hand at Lindir’s crotch comes up to play with Lindir’s hair, both now idly stroking it back as Elrohir offers, “We can save those for another night.” His eyes are kind—he must see Lindir’s hesitation. Lindir’s... grateful.

He feels guilty. But he nods and licks his lips, muttering, “Still... still touch me?” Because he has to learn.

Elrohir grins and nods, going in for another full kiss, harsher than the last. This time he draws Lindir’s waist against him and turns, bending forward, and Lindir’s pushed right to the cushions, Elrohir bearing over him. Lindir’s legs have to part around Elrohir’s body, knees rising to clip to Elrohir’s hips. Elrohir kisses him and grinds down hard, shoving him into the couch. Lindir can feel the thick bulge in Elrohir’s jeans. He thinks he’s a terrible boyfriend—Elrohir’s good; he deserves release.

But Lindir doesn’t give it, just kisses and lets Elrohir’s hands roam. It’s missing a spark, but the sensations are still wondrous. If it had to be anyone but Elrond, this is still a good option. And it’s good not to be alone.

Elrohir humps and kisses and touches him until Lindir’s grinding right back, body very much aroused and head a dizzy mess. Elrohir’s heavy but good about keeping his weight off Lindir’s lungs. He occasionally pushes at Lindir’s sweater, dragging smooth palms across his stomach, but never tries to actually strip the clothes away. Lindir thinks he’d like to have Elrohir naked but doesn’t make any moves. When he closes his eyes, he can pretend it’s Elrond’s mouth he’s losing himself in. But Elrond tastes slightly bitterer, is slightly more controlled, less frantic, stronger. Lindir has the irrational worry that he’s sullying his precious sweater.

More then once, he thinks of asking Elrohir to stay the night. But the words never make it past his lips. By the time the night ends, they’ve both come in their clothes and alternately used the washroom, and Elrohir kisses Lindir’s lips again before leaving, wishing him, “Sweet dreams.”

For once, Thranduil arrives first. As Lindir brings him the typical bottle and glass, looking hopefully at the other seat, Thranduil says, “Don’t get all excited; he’s not coming tonight.” Busy typing on his phone, Thranduil doesn’t even bother to look at Lindir. It’s probably for the best, as it means Thranduil won’t be able to report back Lindir’s obvious crushing disappointment.

He feels like he’s going through Elrond withdrawal. It’s been far too long. He keeps meaning to visit the hotel but can think of no believable reason to. Once, when he had Elrohir draped around him again on the couch, he thought of asking Elrohir to take him there—that’s what couples do, isn’t it? Go to hotels? They never go to Elrohir’s place, because he lives with his family, and as far as Lindir’s seen, Elladan and Elrohir don’t actually have sex in front of each other. But Lindir’s not sure he wants to see Elrond with a boyfriend in tow, even with the ever so slight possibility that Elrond might be jealous.

As he dejectedly goes to fetch someone more to Thranduil’s liking, Thranduil halts him with an, “Oh.” Retiring his phone to his pocket, Thranduil retrieves something bundled up in his coat, unveiling a book that he thrusts forward. Lindir tentatively takes the copy of The Treason of Isengard with wide eyes.

It’s the next one in the series he’s currently going through. “From Elrond,” Thranduil grunts, “if you can believe even he would be so inane as to gift books of all things. He also asked that I tip you, and I will, if only so you don’t get fired while he’s gone and I wind up unable to get him here at all.”

Lindir, quite sure Thranduil doesn’t want him to earn that tip at all, mumbles, “Thank you.” He clutches the book to his chest, more than delighted with the gift, especially if it really is a gift and not something he has to return. It’s a rare find, one of those doubtless easy for a man like Elrond to get but not a poor, bus-constrained reader like Lindir. His mind has a quick flash of wrapping the book in his Elrond sweater and finding a nice place to display them like some bizarre, pathetic alter.

Though Thranduil probably wouldn’t care less if Lindir spent the rest of his shift reading, he takes the book back to his station first, leaving it against his mirror and fairly confident no one here would want it enough to steal it. On his way out again, he catches Feren and asks, “Do you want—”

“To pleasure Thranduil?” Feren cuts in, grinning. “Do you even have to ask?”

Evidently not. The two of them make their way back to the table, only for Thranduil to send Lindir away again to fetch an appetizer. Lindir waits for it at the bar, using the time to just luxuriate in the idea that Elrond’s still thinking of him. And Elrond knows him well. It’s the perfect gift from a perfect man. By the time a runner from the back brings out the plate of chocolate coated lembas, Lindir’s lost in a torrid fantasy of Elrond owning a book store and Lindir, poor even in his own daydreams, a desperate customer who pays for books with his body. He’d have to service Elrond for different lengths of time correspondent to page counts, and at one point he’d order a trilogy and have to stay in Elrond’s bed over the weekend to pay it off, and then the next time Lindir would come in, Elrond, having read everything, would quiz Lindir on the contents, and if Lindir failed, he’d be punished by Elrond’s hand. If he did particularly well on the quiz, Elrond would read the next one aloud to him while he knelt between Elrond’s legs and warmed Elrond’s cock.

He’s in the middle of picturing begging for mercy after spilling tea on a rare first edition when Glorfindel all but shouts him back to reality, and he leaves the bar flustered and fidgeting.

By the time he gets back to his table, Feren’s uniform—today a short skirt and mesh shirt—have been entirely stripped away. He’s bouncing up and down on Thranduil’s lap, screaming incoherently and clutching tight to Thranduil’s shoulders. Lindir doesn’t have to look to know Thranduil’s buried to the hilt inside him, finally free to full-on-fuck his servers without a friend around to witness. Lindir puts the lembas on the table and sits where Elrond usually does, sticking close just so his tip looks more believable later. Feren does all the work. Feren’s ridiculously loud, but Thranduil lounges back like a king and smirks vividly at it, his prowess on full display. Sometimes, when Lindir looks at Thranduil and thinks of all his jealous coworkers and how little attracted to their favourite he is, he wonders what’s wrong with him.

At least he agrees with them on Elrohir. Mostly. He sits quietly for a long while, falling back into daydreams wholly inappropriate for the semi-public surroundings of his job. Thranduil eventually stands to pound Feren right over the table. Even after Feren comes messily between them, Thranduil turns him around, pins him to the surface, and resumes fucking him just as hard. Feren only moans wantonly and presses his hips back up into Thranduil’s cock.

When the show starts, Thranduil takes his seat again and keeps Feren housing his shaft, but he moves little more than a stray thrust here and there. Poles lower from the ceiling, and Thranduil’s eyes lock straight on Bard. He’s staring unabashedly every time Lindir looks at him, transfixed with the talented mortal on stage. Lindir occasionally glances at Bard’s gyrating hips, his muscular chest and toned legs, the bulge of his cock just barely concealed by a thong, the attractive sweep of his dark hair and the scruff around his chin. His gaze is intense, usually off in the distance, lost in the music, but often rests on Thranduil, even through the darkness of the floor. It makes Lindir wonder again how difficult it would be to learn to dance like that, but then, Bard’s only a few shades less intimidating than Thranduil, and Lindir knows of the other dancers even less—not many also works at the bar like Bard. Lindir can’t help but wish that Elrond looked at him the way Thranduil looks at Bard.

But then, Thranduil also fucks Feren several times that night, and when Meludir wanders over, Thranduil pushes both he and Feren down to lick his cock between them. Lindir feels conspicuous, sitting there doing nothing, but he doesn’t offer to join the worship of Thranduil’s body, and Thranduil doesn’t ask.

After the show, Bard marches out of the back to pull Feren and Meludir away by their hair. They whine, but Thranduil dismisses them with a wave of his hand, and then Bard’s straddling his lap and kissing him with a ferocity that would put a wolf to shame. Lindir looks away and curls up in the couch, wishing he could sleep until the end of his shift, but he doesn’t have his favourite pillow with him and stays painfully awake.

It’s all worth it to get home with his new book. For once, he’s not in the least bit tired, even in the dead of night. He sits against his headboard with a fresh cup of tea and the lamp on his dresser on, using the dim light to set the mood. Wearing nothing but Elrond’s sweater, he opens the book in his lap and begins to binge-read, steadfast ignoring the clock.

He’s only twenty or so pages in when his phone buzzes on the nightstand. He glances at it, half expecting it to be Erestor requesting another meeting, but when he draws it over, the text is from Elrohir. He must know Lindir would be home by now, though Elrohir didn’t work tonight.

It just says: I’m horny. Which Lindir absolutely doesn’t know what to do with.

A part of him thinks to tease that he’s off the clock, but Elrohir doesn’t pay him anyway, and isn’t this what boyfriends are for? He wouldn’t know. He wants to be a good boyfriend and struggles with himself, ultimately returning: What can I do to help?

Invite me over to fuck you.

Lindir seriously considers it. But then he looks at the open pages beneath his lap and knows, wrong though it seems, that he’d rather have Elrond’s book than Elrohir’s body. He hesitates too long, and then Elrohir dismisses the subject as usual when Lindir seems unsure, sending instead: How about a sexy picture? I promise I’ll never share it. Or you can leave your face out of the frame or whatever.

That seems more... doable. He works at a sex club—what’s one picture? He wouldn’t have thought to keep his face out of the frame. In a strange way, even though he hasn’t known Elrohir that long, he does trust Elrohir. It’s not like Elrohir hasn’t had plenty of chances to take advantage. But at home, especially out of uniform and without the atmosphere of sex all around him, he doesn’t know how to be sexy.

He answers, What kind of sexy picture?

Elrohir’s response takes longer than usual. Maybe he’s trying to think of something that won’t scare Lindir off again, which seems to happen far too easily and frequently. Eventually, he gets: Your mouth with your fingers stuffed in it and your tits in the frame.

For a good several seconds, Lindir just stares at the screen, feeling wholly out of his league. He’s not used to people talking about his chest like that. The entire idea doesn’t sound sexy at all. He supposes he’s grateful Elrohir didn’t ask for any pictures of his crotch.

Determined to be a good boyfriend, Lindir sucks in a breath and switches to his camera app. He lets his head stay in the frame, having no dignity to ruin, and slips two fingers into his mouth, wondering if he should have it open or closed. He finally opts for open, then uses his other hand to tug down his sweater enough to show one nipple. It’s not quite what Elrohir asked, but he doesn’t want to take off the sweater yet, and it’ll only reach enough for that. The image he sees on the screen looks ridiculous.

He clicks the button anyway and hurriedly retracts his fingers, wiping them on his thigh before pressing send. Immediately, Elrohir tells him, Thanks, babe. You look hot.

Lindir has trouble believing it but still swells with the praise. He sort of wants to ask if Elrohir’s going to jerk off to it, and that blows his mind, that anyone could come thinking of him. Especially someone like Elrohir, so much hotter, with that slight familiarity of Elrond’s frame, and before Lindir knows it, he’s typing up: Can I have one of you without your face? He hesitates before sending it. Maybe, if it’s from the right angle...

He clicks send.

A minute later, he gets a picture of a man, presumably Elrohir, sprawled out on a white bedspread, the shot taken over his shoulder of a lean but toned back, long, straight brown hair scattered over it, the camera flowing right down to the hump of his ass and spread legs. It’s probably not what Elrond looks like. Elrohir’s much younger, for one thing, but the hair’s the same, and the body shape’s not unbelievable for it, and it is hot. Lindir pretends it’s Elrond in his mind, telling himself that over and over, and it makes it easy to press his free hand between his legs. Elrond’s a premium customer now—they could send texts. If he’d only gotten Elrond’s number when he had Elrond’s phone, he could be sending Elrond pictures of Lindir half naked in his sweater, and maybe Elrond would send him a picture just like this in return...

Lindir’s breathing hard and kneading himself through the bottom of the sweater, staring at Elrohir’s back, when he gets a new message: Show me your empty mouth? I wanna picture my dick in it.

There’s no hesitation this time, because Lindir’s already worked up, and maybe if he can be good enough for Elrohir, learn how to please men properly, some day he could please Elrond. He opens as wide as he can and snaps a picture. Elrohir immediately tells him, Fuck, you look all ready to go. Are you jerking off to my back over there?

Sort of. He doesn’t answer, just flips back to the picture, the one that could be Elrond, who he hasn’t seen in far too long, but Elrond gave him a thoughtful gift. And he’s touching himself with Elrond’s sweater. He squeezes his shaft and pumps, the thick fabric so soft against him. He wishes Elrond ordered home visits. Even if Elrond were too busy to come to the club, Lindir would go to him any time, day or night, to serve him and ride his lap and lick his boots or whatever he wanted.

Another pictures comes through, the attached message reading: Picture this fucking your face. It’s a plain picture of a cock. Without any distinguishing features in the shot, it’s all the easier to pretend that’s Elrond’s dick, and Lindir obeys, saves it and stares, occasionally thumbing to the other picture, then back again. He pumps himself all the harder, faster, and when he receives, Lindir?, he imagines the message being read in Elrond’s deep voice.

He quickly returns, I like it, for lack of anything better to say. He doesn’t want to stop touching himself long enough to think of something. It sounds stupid, but he doesn’t care, is busy pretending it’s Elrond ordering him to imagine he’s sucking Elrond’s cock, and he does, thinks of it jamming down his throat at Eriador while he whimpers and gags to take it. He has no idea how cock tastes, but right now, it looks delicious.

Elrohir asks, Are you touching yourself?

And Lindir, both horny and ashamed, answers, Yes.

You thinking of that married person you want?


If they saw your pictures they’d want their dick in your mouth too.

Lindir hopes so. Either Elrohir’s not in the same state, or he’s amazing at one-handed typing. Elrohir sends another picture, again without the face, and now Lindir, having everything disclosed, has no guilt, just puts it in the same pseudo-Elrond folder and humps his hand to the sight of them all, one after the other. Elrond would never do this. He’s too good, too pure, he wouldn’t send dick pictures to a random server, but Lindir imagines he’s begged for them, gotten down on his knees and pleaded to be shown his master’s cock so he can remember the ghost of that touch when he’s at home, horribly alone. Then he thinks of Elrond chastising him, Elrond’s handsome voice purring that he’s a dirty, naughty boy that belongs in a sex-club and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere else, even though he’s laughably bad at everything and the ugliest one there. Everything he imagines Elrond doing turns him on. Mostly, he thinks of being in Elrond’s apartment and riding Elrond’s cock on the couch, or being pounded into it like Elrohir humped him, of that rock-hard dick on his screen shoving deep inside him—

He comes with a little cry, jerking his sweater away just in time, staining his thighs and hand and sheets instead. His orgasm’s spent wide-eyed, watching the screen of his phone, until he’s slumping back down and his eyelids are dropping, body heavy.

He takes a minute to breathe, then sheepishly sends: Thanks.

Elrohir asks, You come?

It’s horribly embarrassing to type, Yes, but he does it anyway.

Elrohir responds: Smear some on your lip and send it to me?

Lindir just blinks at his screen. Now that he’s coming down, the whole things seems... ridiculous.

But Elrohir is wonderfully understanding and obliged him. So he nervously scoops up some of the mess on his thigh and brings it up to spread across his bottom lip, wincing at the taste. He keeps the fingers there and sends a picture, aware his entire face is red.

Elrohir tells him: One of these days, I’m gonna come in your mouth.

Lindir doesn’t know what to say so doesn’t answer. Instead, he sits there, feeling light-headed, slightly bad, and a little bit pleased with himself for getting photos he can use later. Elrohir occasionally asks for other pictures, and Lindir sends them all. Eventually, Elrohir sends him another dick picture, this one with cum dribbling down the sides, and Lindir hurriedly closes the file before he gets hard again. Elrohir says, Thanks, babe. And then doesn’t send any more.

Lindir reads a bit more of his book but soon falls asleep beside it.

It isn’t long before Elrond comes in again, but it’s long enough that Lindir’s skin is crawling for contact, and he practically runs to Elrond’s table, unable to hold back his smile. He forgets his menu in his haste and blurts a useless, “Hi,” as soon as he’s in range.

Elrond smiles back, looking exactly as exquisite as all of Lindir’s memories. His grey suit fits him well, and his frame, Lindir’s delighted to confirm, isn’t all that different than the myriad of faceless pictures Lindir’s gotten from Elrohir. The memory makes him falter—it doesn’t seem right to do that to him—but then Lindir thinks of the book instead and beams. “Thank you so much for the book!”

“I do hope you didn’t already have it,” Elrond answers, hands neatly folded on the table. “I know how much you’re enjoying the Home series, and it seemed the logical step.”

“I didn’t.” He’d thought of trying to track down the next installment, but they’re never in new bookstores, and it’s hard to make it to used ones when his schedule has him sleeping through half the day. And it’s so much better to have Elrond’s copy. Then he thinks to add, “Oh, I can pay you back—”

“Please,” Elrond interrupts, lifting a hand. “It was a gift. One I’m very pleased to hear you liked.”

“Loved,” Lindir corrects, grin so broad it’s starting to hurt. He can feel himself absently playing with his hair, slipping into foolish habits, and quickly drops his hands to clasp over his front. Today’s outfit is a lace dress, one he opted to wear black briefs under, though a few of his coworkers didn’t bother with a thing. Despite the peeks at bare skin between each black swirl, it feels like more coverage than usual, spanning from neck to mid-thigh. He looks at the empty seat beside Elrond and thinks of taking it, then remembers that he’s supposed to be serving.

Before he can offer anything, Elrond notes, “It’s good to see you smiling. I passed you at the bar on your way in, and you looked quite fretful.”

Again, Lindir falters. He’s sure he did, and for once, not because of his questionable job performance. He looks at Elrond, at the soft, kind features that seem to welcome him in, and it’s very difficult not to spill his heart. He admits succinctly, torn between propriety and honesty, “I... I’m having some... personal difficulties.”

Elrond frowns. “I’m sorry to hear that. I have some time before Thranduil should arrive, if you would like to talk about it.”

Lindir would like to talk about pretty much everything with Elrond, but it seems horribly inappropriate to burden a customer with his woes, and he doesn’t want to scare Elrond away, and in that indecision, he blurts, “Tea?”

Elrond nods, lips quirking in a smile again.

So Lindir takes the excuse to leave, heels clicking on their way, and spends the walk to the back thinking of what to do.

Even telling Elrond he has a boyfriend is risky. Elrond might withdraw, but then, if he’s married, he can hardly judge. It seems foolish, in retrospect, to think that a man so valuable as Elrond would be jealous over Lindir. There’s a table in the back room that serves as a break area, bearing a microwave, compact fridge, and kettle used far more for coffee than tea. Lindir sets the water to boil and sorts through his bag. He buys more expensive teas for Elrond than he ever does for himself. He wishes Elrohir liked tea. Then he could ask for a picture of Elrohir’s dick with a wet tea bag on top, and that thought is so bizarre that Lindir finds himself frozen for a couple seconds after thinking it, just wondering what’s wrong with him. So many things. He sits beside the boiling kettle and goes back and forth, until he realizes that he might have an opportunity here. If he takes it, he’ll likely come off exactly as pathetic and desperate as he really is, but if there’s even the slightest chance it’ll work, it might be worth it.

The kettle clicks, and Lindir fetches generic Eriador mugs from the cupboard and pours a cup for each of them. Before he started here, he would never be able to carry boiling water through a busy club in high heels. But now he has practice, and not spilling is the easiest of his tasks tonight.

He puts the mugs on the table and sits down next to Elrond, who lifts his mug to blow across the surface. He tilts it to take a sip, but Lindir says first, “I’m having trouble with my boyfriend.”

Elrond lowers the mug again, frowning. For that first second, he looks surprise, but it quickly dissolves back into neutrality, the calm, even-keel expression that Elrond usually wears. When he doesn’t say anything, Lindir goes on, having to look down at his mug to keep his nerve up, “He, um... he wants to have sex, and I...” But he can’t say the truth—he wants Elrond to be his first. So he tries a lesser reason that’s not entire a lie: “I don’t want to be so... so inexperienced... with him. He’s very popular and good at everything, and I’m just...” Elrond’s brow furrows, and Lindir quickly adds, “Oh, I’m not cheating—he knows I work at a sex club.” Saying it aloud makes him blush. “So he’ll, um... probably expect me to... to be a little better, and he’s... well, I’d like the first time to be...” Soft. Sweet. Meaningful. Elrohir’s so... ravenous.

Shaking his head, Lindir mutters, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be unloading this on you.”

“You shouldn’t be with someone who wants sex from you when you don’t want it,” Elrond says bluntly, like it’s just that easy. Lindir feels vaguely like he’s being scolded and can’t help but wince, even though Elrond’s tone isn’t stern at all.

Lindir licks his lip and tries to explain, “It’s... it’s complicated... and he’s not forcing me or anything like that; he’s a good person. I do want to. It’s just that I know he really wants to, and... and I wouldn’t mind, I just... for my first, I’d like it to be... to be gentle, and...” He feels so foolish.

Lindir remembers Feren saying that he didn’t remember his first time—it wasn’t particularly special and not that different from most other times. Lindir thinks that the better approach, but from the side of not knowing a thing about it, the first time seems like an insurmountable hurdle, and yet he also feels quite sure that he’s making a mountain of a molehill.

Elrond still says nothing, and Lindir has the words in his head but can’t say them, turns them over in his mind several times, and finally, right when Elrond’s gone for another sip of tea, Lindir mumbles, “I want my first time to be with someone like you.”

Elrond freezes. Lindir feels faint with his own embarrassment, temperature spiking so high that his head thins, and he feels like the world’s closing in on him, but he takes a deep breath and rushes, “I-it’s just that you’re so nice to me, and I know you’d be gentle, and you’re so handsome, a-and I really feel safe with you—and I’m a nervous wreck, I feel unsafe everywhere! B-but it’s different with you—you’re the only one I’ve really... really done anything with, and... and I’m just so comfortable being with you, I am, even though I seem all anxious and skittish, but I’m always like that, and you’re so calm and mature and good to me...” He stops when he realizes he’s turned to Elrond and put one hand on Elrond’s legs, alerted by Elrond’s eyes darting down to it, and Lindir wavers, but it’s too late now, and whispers, voice cracking from sheer fright, “Please... please fuck me?”

Elrond looks... completely torn. Lindir’s sure he’ll say no.

He starts slowly, “Lindir...” Lindir thinks he’s going to break. He can feel his eyebrows furrowing enough to spark a dull pain in his forehead—he just hopes he’s not crazy enough to cry. Elrond sighs and seems to switch tactics, starting again, “I admit I find the idea of you going to someone you don’t feel safe with distressing. ...But this is hardly an appropriate place to have your first time if you’re frightened of sex...”

“But you’re a premium member,” Lindir blurts without thinking, then goes on anyway, “I could go home with you...”

“While I can afford home visits, it’s not—”

“Oh, I wouldn’t charge,” Lindir insists. If anything, he feels like Elrond should be charging. “I-I want it, I really do—it’d be a favour to me—it would mean so much to me...”

Elrond is quiet for a moment. Lindir clenches his jaw tight to prevent himself from saying any more. He’s done enough. Elrond looks away and takes another sip of tea.

Then his gaze returns to Lindir, and he says, sounding firmer, “I want you to sleep on this.” Lindir, confused, tilts his head, but Elrond continues, “If you are still interested in the morning... I admit I would rather make sure you are well taken care of than see you turn to another customer that might, perhaps, turn out to be like Thranduil.” Elrond pauses, but if that was meant to be a joke, Lindir doesn’t laugh. He doesn’t tell Elrond that he’d never go to another customer. He stays quiet, letting Elrond think whatever is necessary to make this happen. Seeming to note Lindir’s rapt expression, Elrond sighs, “I have several free afternoon hours tomorrow that are quite rare in my schedule. If that time is agreeable to you, there is a park near my hotel. We could meet there and... discuss this further, and if you change your mind at any point, we’ll still be in a neutral place very easy for you to depart from.”

Lindir’s... ecstatic.

But he does think, marveling at Elrond’s choice, “Is the hotel a good idea...?” He loves it, of course, but Elrond’s family...

“I will book a room, and, if you still wish to go through with this, we will use that, rather than my suite, where it might be perceived that I have some advantage. I still prefer my own hotel in general simply because I can be assured of the cleanliness and amenities, but if you wish, we could choose another.”

“No.” No, that’s perfect. Everything’s perfect. Lindir feels perfect. He stares at Elrond with what he’s sure is a goofy, horribly unattractive smile, but he’s still too dizzy to do anything about it. Elrond opens his mouth as though to say more, but then closes it and returns to his tea.

Lindir tries to take his first sip but finds his hand shaking too badly to lift it off the table. Elrond looks at him with concern, but Lindir just says, “Thank you.” He’s so happy he could cry.

He might be a homewrecker for this. He won’t be able to keep Elrond after. It doesn’t matter. He zeroes in on that one promise, and everything else melts away.

Several minutes pass, wherein Lindir’s too busy reeling to gauge whether or not the silence is awkward, and then Elrond asks, “Did you get a chance to read much?”

And Lindir starts, “Oh! Yes. There were a few details I wondered about actually...”

And then they’re off, talking, while Lindir plays with the hem of his mini-dress under the table and fights the urge to lunge into Elrond’s arms.

By the time Thranduil arrives, they’re on their second round of tea and fourth book discussion, that Thranduil practically has to shout to break them out of long enough to greet him.

He’s running on very little sleep and is somewhat surprised he got any at all—he finally tired himself out by jerking off to Elrohir’s pictures and thinking of today. He scrubbed himself clean in the shower but still fears he smells like shame and desperation.

He eats an apple and can’t stomach any more, his stomach too frantic, and he spends a good hour going through clothes. He has a single pair of panties, left over from an older club uniform, that he thinks might be attractive enough for this—they’re white with lace sides and a tiny bow on the front. From there, he eventually frets his way into jean shorts, wanting to seem casual though it’s anything but, and then he stares at Elrond’s sweater and wonders how insane it would be to wear it.

Eventually, he texts Elrohir: I’m meeting a customer for a home visit—would it be weird to wear a shirt I got from him? It’s not really a shirt, but he wears the sweater far too much around his house and isn’t sure he wants Elrohir to know that’s the one. He hesitates before clicking send because it feels strange to tell his boyfriend he’s going to go have sex with another man, but it is a customer, so surely Elrohir didn’t expect him to be exclusive. He imagines Elrohir sleeps with people from Eriador all the time. He sucks in a breath and sends the message, also, perhaps, hoping for permission.

A minute or two passes, and then Elrohir tells him, I’d happily fuck you in my clothes. You sure you don’t want any home practice first though?

Lindir takes that as an okay to wear the sweater and answers, feeling guiltier than ever, No, but thank you.

Aight, Elrohir replies, leaving Lindir to try and guess whether it’s a typo or slang, then, Have fun, babe.

Lindir sends another thank you and tugs the sweater over his head, only to stare at himself in the mirror and wonder if it’s too long—it makes the shorts almost disappear. But he’s already been with Elrond pant-less in this sweater. At least now, if Elrond asks, Lindir has proof that his boyfriend’s okay with this, even if Elrond might have a wife that isn’t.

Stuffing his phone into his pocket, Lindir spends the rest of his time waiting for the bus to line up standing in the washroom, finger-combing back his hair. It would probably look nicer if he tied it up, but what if Elrond wants to run his fingers through it? Lindir thinks he’d like to have Elrond pull his hair. So he just obsessively brushes it and tries to breathe like a normal person.

The bus ride is longer than he’s used to—he doesn’t usually go down to the lake where the park is, the closest one to the Imladris hotel and likely the one Elrond meant. It occurs to him belatedly that he doesn’t know where exactly to meet Elrond and has no way of contacting him—in the midst of all Lindir’s nerves and Elrond’s reluctance, they didn’t make a very solid plan. Near the end of the night, Elrond gave a more specific time—noon, likely just to let Lindir catch some sleep—and said a bench by the beach end, but there are likely to be dozens of benches there. Fretting all over again, Lindir texts Elrohir, You know the park by the Imladris hotel?

Yeah, he gets back, followed by: Does the customer wanna fuck you in the bushes? He’s a premium member, right?

No, not right there! But he’s a premium member, yes. If you were meeting someone there, where would it be?

Elrohir responds surprisingly quickly, The bench in all the hedge shade way back behind the beach kiosk—my family always picks that one, cuz it’s quiet. Before Lindir can thank him, thinking to start there, Elrohir adds: Let me know if you need help at all, okay? I can pick you up if anything goes wrong.

Thinking, Lindir checks out the window—there should be another stop or two to go, but he’s unsettlingly close. A part of him is embarrassed that Elrohir thinks he can’t handle a home visit, even though Lindir’s been working at Eriador twice as long as Elrohir, but he knows the caution’s warranted and is also warmed by Elrohir’s care. It feels sort of nice knowing he has someone looking out for him. But he’s sure he won’t need it and just says, Thank you.

Text me when you get home to let me know you’re alive, okay?


G’luck, babe! Get that money!

Then the bus is stopping, and Lindir gets out by the railroad tracks, following the sidewalk past them down to the small beach area already full of people. It makes sense, he thinks, for this to be the best meeting place—it’s the farthest end of the park from the Imladris hotel, and if they plan to walk there, this would be a good starting place. Lindir sticks to the grass and only peripherally scans the sand and water in the distance—somehow, he can’t picture Elrond waiting there in shorts.

Of course, he’d love to see Elrond in shorts. Thin swim trunks that would stick to his thighs when wet. The rest of him glistening as he ascended from the water. Lindir’s already making himself hot, and the thick sweater doesn’t help. He wonders if he should’ve gotten heels for this—his shoes are too plain. Maybe his shorts are too casual. Maybe he should call Elrohir right now and get out while he still has some semblance of dignity.

Most people gravitate to the water, so the grassy area is easier to survey, thick chestnut trees poking out here and there and a high hedge in the distance marking off the border of the park, a forest on the other side of the small lake. A short building with washrooms on one side and a food kiosk on the other passes out snacks to a stone patio, and Lindir keeps his eyes out around it. When he checks his phone, he’s five minutes early, but that’s when the best bus was, and it might take him far longer than five minutes to search the park. His walk speeds up when he passes the rudimentary jungle gym, and then he’s circling around the kiosk. On the other side, he spots the one bench tucked into a groove of the hedges, cast in shade beneath a particularly towering tree, and Elrond sits beneath it, reading a book set in his lap.

Lindir’s steps slow, eyes roving over the man he’s going to share his first time with. Elrond wears a dark grey suit with the jacket unbuttoned and a white button-up below, which seems far too hot for the bright sun but does wonders for his figure. Of course he would look polished and well made up. Of course he would be early. Of course he would be reading in a quiet corner instead of lining up for fries. Lindir’s ridiculously smitten.

Lindir walks closer, and the sound of his sneakers crushing the grass must carry on the wind, because Elrond looks up with a couple meters to spare. Lindir smiles sheepishly, and Elrond’s eyes take a subtle sweep of his body. Then Elrond’s smiling and closing his book, setting it aside to rise as Lindir reaches the bench.

Lindir doesn’t know what to do. He’s never greeted anyone on a date. Not that this is a date. Is it close? Elrond seems to hesitate too, then loops an arm around Lindir’s back and lightly pulls him in for a loose embrace. Lindir has to fight to keep his hands from lunging to hold Elrond back, and then they’re apart again, Elrond wearing a soft smile, and he says with a hint of curiosity, “You’re wearing my sweater.”

Lindir answers hopefully, “It seemed like the right choice.”

“You do look lovely in it,” Elrond says, and Lindir’s insides scream with joy. Then Elrond sighs, “I’m glad you found me. I realized too late that I’d neglected to allocate a proper meeting place—I do apologize, I must’ve been... distracted... when we made our plans.”

“I was distracted too,” Lindir admits, “and I’m glad I found you too.”

Elrond is quiet for a minute, the two of them just looking at one another, Lindir trying not to melt and Elrond thinking who-knows-what. Lindir can’t help but wonder if Elrond’s regretting this arrangement, but then Elrond asks, “Have you eaten?”

“An apple,” Lindir admits, then, before Elrond can offer him another luxurious meal he can’t afford and doesn’t deserve, he adds, “I’m so nervous that I don’t think I could eat any more.” Elrond looks sympathetic, and Lindir hurriedly corrects, “No, no, it’s a good kind of nerves, I’m—I’m very excited to, um...” He trails off in a swell of a blush

Elrond kindly drops the subject. He steps way from the bench, Lindir feeling compelled to follow, though he remembers, “Oh, your book—”

“It was there when I came,” Elrond tells him, and Lindir glances curiously at the title of the book, but the title looks foreign, maybe some kind of Dwarvish, which gives Lindir a sense of awe at the thought that Elrond could read it. Elrond waits for Lindir to fall into step with him, and then they’re heading to the gravel path that winds its way along the water from one end of the park to the other.

The walk is a pleasant one, filled with the distant chatter of people and the squawk of birds, the wind a light breeze and the air sparkling fresh. At first, they say nothing—Lindir is busy committing this to memory. Elrond speaks first, voice low and steady as he says, “Lindir... you must promise to tell me if at any point you become uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter how far along we are—you are free to leave at any time.”

Lindir’s sure he won’t but bites his lip and mumbles, “Thank you.”

“I’ve booked the room for the day, and I’ve instructed Aragorn—the man at the front desk this morning—to call and pay for your cab when you wish to leave. Of course he knows nothing else of this; I simply relayed that you are a guest and a friend.”

The prospect of going to talk to another man to leave after Elrond’s... after he’s... it’s daunting. But Lindir nods and conceals the want to ask Elrond to take him home. It only makes sense that Elrond will want to wash his hands of it after everything’s done, but it’s still...

“And please,” Elrond sighs, looking aside to catch Lindir’s eye, “do not worry about your actions. I know you are nervous. But I will not judge you. You can do no wrong in this. I’ll be understanding, even if you say another’s name during—you’re free to think of someone else.”

More gratitude is on Lindir’s tongue, but instead he answers honestly, “I won’t.” Elrond looks at him oddly but then turns back to the path.

They’re quiet for another few steps, and then Elrond says, “Promise me.” Lindir looks at him, confused, and Elrond clarifies, “You’ll say something if you want me to stop.”

So Lindir says, “I promise,” knowing that won’t happen. Elrond nods, and then there doesn’t seem to be much more to say. The rest of the walk is both nerve-wracking and strangely peaceful, a whirr of sensations, of close proximity to Elrond and not-quite-touching hands. These are the sorts of moments Lindir wants littered about his life, and if he were braver, he’d ask Elrond to take him on his first date too.

They take a room on the first floor, and Lindir just looks around—it feels bigger than his entire apartment. There’s a living space with a kitchen area, a bedroom beyond it, and a bathroom around the corner. Elrond locks the door and sets the key on a counter next to it, telling Lindir, “The locks are one-way; you can’t be locked inside.”

Lindir nods numbly, wishing it weren’t true and that they could get trapped here forever. The bedroom looks out onto a white balcony with potted plants on either side and a dazzling view across the water, the tree-covered mountains beyond it cutting into the clear blue sky. It’s easily the nicest place he’s ever stayed. When he turns back to Elrond, he can’t stop smiling.

He says again, “Thank you,” meaning it with every bone in his body. Elrond removes his own jacket—something Lindir very much wanted to do, and leaves his shoes by the door. Lindir hurriedly rushes off to do the same.

Elrond pauses, half turned to Lindir, for half a minute, then seems to resolve himself and proceeds towards the bedroom, Lindir following. By the bed, they stop, Lindir too overcome with the moment to worry about not knowing what to do. How to start. Elrond is the first to say, “I admit, I haven’t much experience with this sort of... arrangement.”

“I don’t have any experience at all,” Lindir counters, and it makes him proud when Elrond smiles at the semi-joke.

Elrond takes a step closer, his sock-covered toes nudging Lindir’s, and Lindir’s breath hitches. The sweater’s too warm. Elrond lifts a hand, wavers, then brings it to cup Lindir’s cheek, and Lindir lets out a shameful whine, instantly leaning into the touch. Elrond threads his fingers into Lindir’s hair and asks, voice low and deep, “How do you want me to touch you?”

Like a lover. But it feels wrong to say, so Lindir blurts, equally as foolish, “As much as possible.” Elrond smiles again, though Lindir wasn’t joking. Elrond leans forward, and Lindir tilts up, instinct half-closing his eyes, and Elrond’s lips brush over his, igniting an instant spark.

Holding Lindir in, Elrond presses a chaste kiss to his mouth, lingers, then takes an audible breath and tilts, pressing harder, mouth opening—Lindir can feel Elrond’s breath and parts his lip too, a wet tongue instantly swiping along his bottom lip. His hands dart to Elrond’s shirt, and Elrond doesn’t seem to mind, just continues to slide into Lindir’s eager mouth. Lindir lets his eyes fall shut and arches forward, tasting, wanting, each lick of Elrond’s tongue running a shiver down his spine—Elrond tilts again and clutches tighter, fingers now twisting in Lindir’s hair to really hold on. Lindir lets his hands run up, pressing in to feel Elrond’s chest through his shirt, and Lindir hopes they’ll finally get undressed, that he’ll see something of Elrond. He reaches Elrond’s broad shoulders and clings all the harder while Elrond devours him.

He doesn’t want to rush to sex. He wants to do this all day, fall into bed and just explore Elrond’s body, luxuriate in every little detail, but he knows Elrond has a job and a family and can’t afford to put aside too much time for one clumsy sex worker. Elrond’s other hand lands on Lindir’s hip, over his shorts, and slides slowly up to bunch the sweater. Then Elrond’s pushing it past the hem of Lindir’s shorts and touching Lindir’s side, bare skin, and as Elrond parts their lips a fraction to readjust, Lindir gasps and whimpers, “What should I do?” He feels like he should strip. He half wants Elrond to fuck him in this sweater.

Elrond tells him, still close enough for Lindir to taste every word, “Whatever you like.”

“I don’t...” Lindir’s kissed when he takes too long to finish, and he reaches further, wraps his arms around Elrond’s neck over the curtain of dark hair. Another kiss and he begs, “Talk to me?” He loves Elrond’s voice. He needs guidance. Elrond kisses the side of Lindir’s mouth and diverts both hands to his hips.

“I don’t know if I should undress you or not,” Elrond murmurs. Lindir makes an eager noise as Elrond thumbs his waist just above the waistband. “I suppose I may as well admit that I like the idea of you in my sweater...”

Lindir moans, pitching forward—he’s growing hard already—he was worried this would be an obligation, and he’s so glad that Elrond likes anything about him, he wants Elrond to love this...

“But then, you have such a lovely body... is that too forward to say?”

Only Elrond would ask that while palming Lindir’s greedy hips. Lindir’s muffled in another kiss and whines pathetically, “I want you to like me.”

“I do,” Elrond promises, kissing his cheek, then nose, then back to his lips. “I just want you to be comfortable...”

“I’m always comfortable with you,” Lindir groans, wrapping all the tighter and burying himself in Elrond’s shoulders when Elrond’s hands rise beneath the sweater. He means to say more but can’t get his mouth to work, just moans, hips pitching forward.

Elrond runs his hands back down, now following the dip of Lindir’s spine, and asks lightly, “You’re not going to fall asleep on me again, are you?”

Lindir would laugh if he had the wherewithal. Instead, he hides his face and breathes in a strong whiff of Elrond’s cologne, shamelessly rutting into Elrond’s body. Now that he’s started, he can’t seem to stop. Elrond’s fingertips graze the waistband again, threatening to dip below, and Elrond says, “Remember, if I do anything you don’t like—”

“Touch me,” Lindir interrupts, begging and willing Elrond not to ever worry about stopping. “Please, please, touch me and talk to me...”

One of Elrond’s hands pushes between Lindir’s panties and shorts, reaching down to cup Lindir’s ass, while the other lifts to curl beneath Lindir’s chin. Lindir’s brought into another kiss, his moans muffled as Elrond kneads him and digs in blunt fingers, squeezing and releasing and alternating from one tender to cheek the other. The hesitation’s gone—Elrond touches him with surety, and Lindir wishes they were always like this, that Elrond would touch him this way every time they met in the club. While Elrond’s tongue fills Lindir’s mouth, his fingers dig into Lindir’s ass, sliding into his crack through the panties. One fingertip finds Lindir’s hole and rubs over it, and it wracks a violent shiver right down Lindir’s body. Elrond pulls back enough to whisper, “Are you sure you want me to be the first inside here?”

Lindir, unable to speak, nods enthusiastically. He wants Elrond to be the first and last and every one in between. Elrond’s hand spreads to clutch both cheeks again, then slides out and drifts to the front, fingers deftly pushing the button through its hole and bringing down the zipper.

Then Elrond breaks the kiss, Lindir trying to follow, but Elrond pulls away and starts to bend, bringing Lindir’s shorts right down his legs. They hit his feet. Lindir’s straining against his panties, too tight for this, but they’re not visible beneath the sweater. Elrond reaches up anyway and finds them, the lace sides around his thighs, and glances up to Lindir, searching his eyes.

Lindir’s eyelids are dropping, brain already foggy. He licks his lips and nods, and that seems to be what Elrond was looking for; he pushes Lindir panties down the same way. As Elrond rises back to his feet, Lindir steps out of his clothes.

He’s left in just Elrond’s sweater, like he usually is at night when he touches himself to the thought of this. Elrond takes a moment to look at him, Lindir trying not to fidget but aware and embarrassed over how his cock pokes at the material over his crotch. When Elrond’s eyes reach Lindir’s again, they’re full of warmth. Lindir mumbles dumbly, “This is my favourite sweater.”

A wide smile spreads over Elrond’s face. He says, “I’m glad. You look beautiful.” He doesn’t add ‘in the sweater,’ and it makes Lindir’s chest swell. He could die of happiness right now. ...But then he wouldn’t get Elrond inside him, which he wants so badly...

He waits to be stripped of that one treasured garment, but instead, Elrond unclasps his own belt. It draws Lindir’s eyes, and his hands dart to it, stopping short of contact. Before he can stop himself, he’s asking, “Oh... could I...?” Elrond glances at him, and Lindir bites his lip, only for Elrond’s hands to fly away. Lindir sucks in a breath and tentatively takes hold of the golden loop on Elrond’s belt, drawing it forward.

It slithers out to Lindir’s hand. He entertains one wild fantasy of Elrond binding him with it, keeping him tied and trapped in this hotel room for any other day that Elrond should want pleasure. But that’s not for now and Lindir drops it, coming back to Elrond’s shirt.

He pauses on the first button, just under Elrond’s collarbone, savouring the moment and working up the courage to continue. Then he pops it through and moves down to the next. On the third, Elrond asks, “Are you sure you wish me undressed? I am not nearly so young as you...”

He’s an elf; it doesn’t matter. Lindir asks quietly, “Will you strip at the club for me?”

Elrond says simply, “No,” which Lindir knew. So he continues, until he can brush the white fabric over Elrond’s shoulders and stare at the taut body he’s uncovered, thin but broader than Lindir’s, lightly toned with slight, brown hair across the middle. He has a warrior’s body, if one that hasn’t seen battle in some time. He’s like a hero from Lindir’s storybooks, and Lindir dares to press his palms to Elrond’s skin, moaning at the contact.

He whines, “You’re so hot,” and Elrond looks pitying, disbelieving, but bends down to kiss him anyway. Lindir melts into another slew of them and leans against Elrond’s body, until Elrond’s lifting the sides of Lindir’s sweater.

Lindir lifts his arms to help and lets his last line of defense be stripped over his head. It’s dropped to the floor with everything else—with anyone else, Lindir would rather be cleaning up their clothes. With Elrond, he doesn’t even think of it. He stands bare, somewhat awkward and trying not to instinctively cover himself, and Elrond just looks at him with clear approval. He finds himself muttering, “I... I know I am not Feren or Meludir...”

“I would not have brought them here,” Elrond says simply, eyes still roaming Lindir’s body. “...Or wished to see them at all.” Lindir finds that hard to digest, though Elrond sounds so sure, so true, and pecks Lindir’s forehead again before looking into Lindir’s eyes and insisting, “You are the most beautiful creature in that whole place.”

Lindir’s overwhelmed. He doesn’t know what to do or say and falls silent with it. Elrond kisses him again, this time fleeting, and nods towards the bed. Lindir practically runs to it.

He climbs right onto the mattress and crawls across to sit on all fours, then reaches the headboard and starts pushing back the blankets, until he’s left with cream-coloured sheets and looking back, wanting more instruction. Elrond walks around the bed and reaches into the pocket of his pants, withdrawing a condom and a small tube that he places on the nightstand.

Lindir knows he should be quiet but still says, “You’re a premium member; you can take me without a condom...”

“Especially since this is your first time,” Elrond answers, “I want to set the precedent of using one. Anything can happen between tests, and I don’t think you should go raw with anyone you’re not in a committed relationship with.”

Lindir thinks of Elrohir slipping, unwrapped, inside him, and wishes he hadn’t thought of Elrohir at all. He tells himself it’s not that big of a difference—not one he would notice, anyway—and that he knows Elrond’s right; he’s cautious by nature, and this is just basic safety. He appreciates Elrond looking out for him. Elrond gestures and bids, “Perhaps you should lie down—it will be the easiest position for you.”

Lindir does so more because Elrond told him to, and because he’s pictured it this way more than any other. He lies flat on his back, head in the pillows, arms limp at his side and legs self-consciously semi-spread, his hard cock jutting up. Elrond eyes Lindir’s body while he unfastens his pants and pushes them down with his underwear.

As soon as Elrond’s cock is freed, Lindir lets out a languid moan, drawing Elrond’s gaze to his mouth, and he hurriedly clamps a hand over it, but it’s too late. Elrond’s long, thick, veiled, the pink tip already poking through the foreskin. It looks, to Lindir’s strange delight, not all that different from Elrohir’s, which will serve him well for future fantasies, though he’d die for a picture of this one instead. Elrond’s base is a matt of dark curls, a heavy sac hung below. The only thing left on Elrond’s body is the gold watch on one wrist, and Lindir happily eyes all of it. He wishes he could just roll over and impale his throat on Elrond’s cock, and know that Elrond would stay to still fuck him after. He wishes this were really a client meeting, where Elrond had booked the whole day.

He’ll beg to suck Elrond’s cock another day, he thinks. Maybe it’ll work: maybe Elrond will bless him twice. For now, he can’t find words. He lies there, staring, while Elrond climbs onto the bed, taking the tube in hand.

Elrond comes to sit between Lindir’s legs, one hand tapping Lindir’s thigh so that he spreads them wider. He holds his feet to the mattress and bends his knees, drawing his legs up, staring down his own body to see Elrond’s. Elrond places a hand on Lindir’s stomach and draws it down, bypassing Lindir’s straining cock and tight balls, dancing along his inner thigh to press into his cleft and find his hole again. Lindir hisses and clamps his hands tighter over his mouth. Elrond smiles as though about to laugh and murmurs, “A shame. You have a minstrel’s voice.”

He has no such thing. Especially not to someone who’s friends with the great Maglor. But Lindir glows anyway and hesitantly brings his hand away, letting his horrid noises spill out every time Elrond touches him. Elrond prods at his hole with one hand and pops open the tube with the other.

“This may be uncomfortable, at first,” Elrond warns him, “and you must relax to ease that. I don’t wish to hurt you.”

Lindir nods. He knew that. But he can’t help himself—he’s always tense. Elrond recaps the bottle and spreads the lube over one hand, which disappears between Lindir’s legs again. The finger returns, this time cool and slick, to rub at Lindir’s puckered entrance. He squirms under the attention and tries to be still, wishing Elrond would touch his cock, but he doesn’t flag. Then again, he might come if Elrond touched him there, and he doesn’t want this over too soon. Elrond just plays with his brim at first, staring intently down at it, and Lindir wonders if Elrond could enjoy the sight of his hole even a fraction as much as he enjoys the sight of Elrond’s cock.

When the round fingertip first starts to push, Lindir grits his teeth, and it’s horribly slow, but it pops inside, just a centimeter. Lindir’s eyes scrunch closed, his arms spreading out and his fingers fisting in the sheets. Elrond presses incrementally forward, then stops and notes, “You are very tight.”

Lindir whines, “I’m sorry.” He hears the bed creek.

He opens his eyes to find Elrond draping over him, up on knees and one elbow, the other hand still at work. Elrond lines them up, body for body, and strands of his silken hair tumble over his shoulders to tickle Lindir’s skin. His face is cast in shadow against the ceiling light, but his edges are all haloed. He shifts so that the arm supporting him can bring a hand to Lindir’s face, and Elrond gently thumbs his cheek and murmurs, “Open for me, Lindir.”

Lindir whimpers, “Elrond,” and wants to, desperately wants to be good for Elrond. His arms lift to wrap around Elrond again, hands splaying along his back, catching hair here and there. Elrond continues to push deeper, so very slowly, and tilts to kiss Lindir’s mouth.

They’re naked and kissing. Lindir struggles not to hump Elrond. He can feel Elrond’s cock hovering over him. He tries to keep his hips still so Elrond can work, and bit by bit, Elrond fingers him, now drawing in and out and twisting to stroke at Lindir’s walls, coaxing him apart. The kiss distracts him; he loses himself between the dual sensations of Elrond’s finger in his channel and Elrond’s tongue in his mouth. He doesn’t even notice a second finger coming until they’re scissoring him open. The lube helps. It does feel strange, but he wants it, more the idea of it now than any real pleasure, each kiss heating him farther. Elrond works up to three fingers, stretching him, and Lindir shudders each time he’s held too wide, but it never hurts. He knew Elrond would be gentle with him. Elrond’s a patient lover. Lindir’s desperate to be taken but doesn’t have his mouth free to beg.

When the fingers leave, Lindir whines into Elrond’s mouth, feeling now horribly empty, open too much. But Elrond’s shoulders shift, and something crinkles, and Lindir knows what’s happening. He parts them and looks aside to see Elrond opening the condom.

Elrond ends the mass of kisses and lifts high enough to look between them, rolling the condom onto his cock one-handedly. Lindir watches, fascinated. The little hump at the end reminds him that he won’t be feeling Elrond’s cum inside him, and that makes him whine. Maybe if he’s good, Elrond will let him lick it out of the condom.

Maybe he’s sick, and Elrond definitely deserves better. But he obliviously kisses Lindir again and presses the head of his gorgeous cock to Lindir’s entrance, pausing to murmur over Lindir’s lips, “Are you sure?”

“I want you inside me,” Lindir answers instantly. Elrond looks right into his eyes, maybe searching for hesitance that isn’t there. Not over this.

“You’re beautiful,” Elrond repeats, then bends for a long, hard kiss that leaves Lindir completely breathless.

At first, Elrond’s cock just ruts at Lindir’s hole, and his elated sounds are lost in Elrond’s mouth, but then the next thrust drives it in, the tip poking past the entrance, and Lindir breaks the kiss to cry out, mind flooding—he clamps down without thinking and whines all the harder, fingers digging into Elrond’s back. Elrond hisses and stills completely while Lindir trembles, hips jerking beyond his control. Elrond pets his side and runs fingers through his hair in short, soothing motions, until Lindir starts to loosen again, whispers, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry...”

“You’re perfect,” Elrond assures him, kisses his cheek and traces his side. “I would not change a thing about you.”

Lindir would change everything, make himself someone worthy to have this glorious cock inside him every night. As it is, he nuzzles into Elrond’s face and waits, until Elrond starts to push forward again. One tiny thrust in and a slow drag out, and Elrond works into a steady rhythm that’s maddeningly gradual. It feels so bizarre to take someone there—he wasn’t prepared for that. But Elrond is so reassuring, so comforting. Elrond keeps one hand near Lindir’s middle to hold him down, but the other slips out of Lindir’s hair to squeeze between them and trace one of Lindir’s budding nipples. Elrond thumbs it lovingly and pets across to the other, tweaking it the same. Lindir’s a mess of feelings, both physical and emotional. By the time Elrond stops, fully seated in Lindir’s body, Lindir doesn’t know where the time’s gone. He draws his knees against Elrond’s sides, legs wrapping over him, and cocoons in around Elrond’s gorgeous body. He could stay like this forever.

Elrond quietly asks, “Are you alright?”

Lindir nods and mumbles just, “Please.

So Elrond slowly withdraws, only to drive forward again, Lindir’s heart pounding at the drag of it, the rub of Elrond’s cock against his insides, the stretch and the wet squelch of lube. Even through that and the condom, Elrond’s cock is wondrously warm. Elrond’s whole body is. Lindir feels like he’s going to tense up again, concentrating too much on being filled and emptied, but Elrond kisses his forehead and waits it out.

Then, on a new angle, Elrond hits something that makes Lindir spasm with sheer pleasure. His mind’s wiped blank with it, only for Elrond to drive against it again. His thrusts become deliberate, well placed, but still even-paced, steady, and Lindir learns to expect that delight and gets it each time he’s filled to the brim again. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel strange, there’s no discomfort, just right, and Lindir arches up into Elrond’s body, grinds their chests together, his own hard cock sliding against Elrond’s stomach. He doesn’t dare touch himself, doesn’t want to come too soon, but he’s painfully hard and Elrond feels so good. Elrond’s mouth descends on Lindir’s neck, nipping and kissing, then sucking, earning a cry of pleasure aligned with another thrust. Lindir’s worried he’ll leave permanent bruises in Elrond’s back. Elrond licks down to his shoulder, and Lindir moans, “You feel amazing.”

“You feel exquisite,” Elrond purrs right back, rising to kiss the tip of Lindir’s ear.

Lindir squirms and whimpers, “I love having you inside me.” He loves everything about this. Everything except that Elrond isn’t his, which he shoves away in favour of just thinking about Elrond inside him, and he doesn’t have to fantasize, it’s really happening, Elrond’s really on top of him, making love to him. It’s truly that: gentle, beautiful. Elrond returns to capture Lindir’s mouth, and they dance through a messy trail of kisses while Elrond grinds them together.

His body’s on fire. He’s rocking into each thrust, starting to sweat, peripherally aware of that scent joining the thickening stench of sex, the room filled with the slapping noises of flesh-on-flesh. Elrond feels just as hot, soft skin over hard muscle, a perfect mouth on a perfect body for a perfect man. Lindir can barely breathe. He’s never felt so magnificent in his life.

But he’s young and inexperienced and building too soon, foggily aware that he’s nearing his edge but too dizzy to do anything about it—he claws to hold back at the same time he thrusts himself into Elrond’s arms. His balls tighten, and he can’t think.

He comes and screams, Elrond breaking apart to let him—Lindir arches back, mouth wide, hole clenching down on Elrond’s cock while his own bursts between them, his entire frame pulled taut and his vision blurred, blank, head nothing, drowning in pleasure, it’s so good, so incredibly good, and Elrond’s face and name fly across his mind, the only thing he wants in his entire world.

There’s a second or two that he loses in some vague, weightless nothingness, before he’s melting back down. He becomes limp, spent, panting hard with Elrond’s weight still atop him, supported elsewhere but stiflingly hot. Elrond’s gone still inside him.

Lindir clenches and whimpers, earning a grunt, but Elrond doesn’t move again. Lindir wants to go again. His body’s sore though, and his throat feels parched as he spirals back to reality. Elrond pulls out of him too soon, startling Lindir and leaving him horribly, gapingly empty, with none of Elrond’s seed to show for it.

Elrond lifts up to sit, staring down at Lindir with dilated, half-lidded eyes, and wraps one hand around his cock. He pumps himself while Lindir just lies there, foggily wanting to help but also too useless to move. The knowledge that Elrond’s jerking off to the sight of him makes him mewl happily.

When Elrond comes, Lindir tries to memorize every nanosecond. Elrond hisses, teeth clenching, brow furrowing, and pumps his cock all the harder through it. The tip of the condom swells, the clear latex becoming opaque at the end. Lindir watches, enthralled.

Even as Elrond comes down, Lindir’s too satiated to think of what’s next. He can feel his cum cooling on his stomach but leaves it there. He lifts his arms, wanting Elrond to come into them but breathing too hard to ask for it. Elrond looks at Lindir, and his face saddens.

And that kills everything. It reminds Lindir that they’re not lovers. They can’t lie in each other’s arms afterwards, enjoying the afterglow. He drops his tired arms back to the mattress. He wants to say how amazing that was, but instead asks, completely out of the blue, “Are you married?”

He clamps his mouth shut. He hates himself. He can’t believe he just ruined this. Elrond’s frown deepens. He doesn’t answer.

He bends down instead to kiss Lindir’s forehead, then rises again to murmur, “I’m too old for you.”

Lindir winces. That hardly seems here nor there at this point, but Elrond’s already getting off the bed. He walks to the bathroom and returns with a hand towel, the condom off and likely in the garbage. He gently mops up Lindir’s stomach and folds the towel, leaving it on the nightstand, and starts to dress.

Lindir mumbles hopelessly, “You’re not too old.” He wonders if that’s really the only thing keeping them apart. He’d thought it was his own foolishness and Elrond’s greatness and maybe a wife.

Elrond sighs, facing away with his belt halfway through the loops. Once his shirt is over his shoulders, he returns to stand over the bed, looking down at Lindir’s face. He says emphatically, “Your boyfriend is very lucky.”

And then Elrond’s leaving, off to the other room, likely to collect his jacket, and Lindir’s still lying there naked and spent and emotionally drained. He hears the door open and close and knows that Elrond’s gone.

And Lindir’s just... left there. But Elrond did what he said he would. What Lindir asked. That was all it was. He fooled himself with the walk and the foreplay. He wonders if Elrond’s ashamed of what they did.

Lindir draws the expensive blankets over him and curls up in bed, kicking the forgotten tube of lubrication aside.

Memories help. When Lindir shuts his eyes, he can remember what it was like to have Elrond bearing over him. He barely remembers the man at the desk that called him a cab. He thinks it probably took more than an hour for him to leave. He didn’t shower. He wanted to feel Elrond on his body.

And now he texts Elrohir to say he’s okay, and when Elrohir asks if Lindir wants him to come over, Lindir says he does, and isn’t particularly surprised by how hard Elrohir kisses him at the door. He thinks Elrohir is genuinely fond of him.

But no one loves him.

Elrohir touches him all over and asks where the client did, but Lindir says he doesn’t want to talk about it, and Elrohir apologizes and listens. Lindir’s already changed out of the sweater. He doesn’t want to spoil it with... this.

He makes tea for himself and then has Elrohir fuck him on the couch. It feels different having Elrohir inside him. All different. Still good. Not good enough. Not the same. He clings to Elrohir’s back and stares up at the ceiling, wanting to pretend it’s Elrond’s cock, even though Elrond’s older and gentler and wears a more mild cologne. Elrohir comes inside him and tells him he’s cute.

Elrohir stays the night, at least. Lindir asks him to, feeling about to cry from his roller coaster of a day—how happy he was, and how nothing he tries can bring him anywhere near that again—and Elrohir hugs him and says okay, whatever he needs. Lindir spoons Elrohir from behind and still pretends, which is easier when the lights are off. He worries he’ll never sleep.

But he’s exhausted and gone in seconds, clutching tighter to memories than his boyfriend.

Chapter Text

His days are a constant ebb and flow of tension until Elrond returns, and Lindir can breathe again—he didn’t scare Elrond off forever. He comes to Elrond’s table in his lace mini-dress and tries not to trip over his own relief, now greeting shyly, “Hi.”

Elrond gives him a thin but warm smile. Where Lindir should ask what sort of drinks Elrond wants, he asks instead, “Can I bring you tea?” He’s the worst employee this club’s ever had—he sells so few of their wares. But they get Elrond’s membership at least, and Lindir needs something to soothe the nerves that are now coming apart at the frayed edges, freshly sliced after being taut so long.

Elrond nods, and Lindir turns, heading back to stifle a smile.

He makes the tea in the back and stares at the kettle while it boils, thoughts too far away to worry over superstitions. Elrond, at least, didn’t look at him much differently. Having had Elrond inside him doesn’t make him feel any more awkward around Elrond than usual. If anything, as the kettle hisses louder and the steam gathers above it, Lindir’s body calms. This is their normal. It’s not what he wants, but it’s Elrond in his life, and at least he now has the memory of touch.

He brings the tea back to Elrond’s table, pleased to find that Elrond has moved over to make room for him on the couch. Lindir takes the invitation, though he doesn’t know what else to do. What Elrond wants. He can tell by Elrond’s reserved posture that they won’t slip right into sex now that it’s happened once. He knew that wouldn’t become part of their routine; he just hoped.

Elrond blows across his cup and asks, broaching the subject first, “How did it go?”

Lindir swirls his own tea around his cup just to stall. He’s not sure what to say, how much to say, so finally settles on a lackluster, “Okay.” He knows he looks disappointed, and he’s sure Elrond can see that.

Sure enough, Elrond asks, voice full of concern, “Lindir, are you alright?”

So Lindir has to nod quickly and explain, face heating in embarrassment, “Yes—no, it’s not that he’s... he’s a good person...” then he pauses, having not mentioned his boyfriend directly, but surely Elrond will know that’s what he means, and surely that’s what Elrond meant—he sucks in a breath and tries to fix, “It’s just not, um... the same.” And that sounds awful, but it’s already out of his mouth. He winces and wonders if it’s even possible to sound any more desperate.

Elrond pauses, then says levelly, “For some, the first time always seems special.” And then Elrond opens his mouth again, maybe to apologize for it—his face looks self-deprecating—but instead, he’s quiet, and turns back to tea.

It’s not that it was his first time. Lindir knows that but doesn’t say it. He just mumbles, “Thank you,” and wracks his brain for other subjects—light ones that won’t accentuate his problems. He sneaks a glance at Elrond’s hand while he thinks, noting the usual absence of a ring. When he takes in all of Elrond, someone fair and calm, mature and almost regal, he wonders how he wound up with someone so very different. Elrohir is a constant ball of sexual energy. It would be easier, in some ways, if Elrond had even a tenth of that need. Lindir would happily send Elrond dirty pictures in the middle of the night, or offer him over for sex, or make out with him in the back between shifts.

Then Elrond leans against the couch and asks, capturing Lindir’s gaze, “Have you heard the new piece Maglor released over the weekend?”

Lindir breathes, “Yes,” in instant reverence, having already severely overplayed it. He tries not to think of all the times he lay in bed at night with his eyes shut and Maglor’s many compositions drifting over him, while he touched himself and imagined Elrond making love to him. Then he’d turn it off when Elrohir came over—Elrohir isn’t for that kind of sex.

“It’s exquisite,” Lindir starts, “The ballad-like quality to the bridge left me breath—”

“Why is Bard in jeans?”

Lindir nearly jumps out of his seat at the intrusion, head jolting around to spot Thranduil, standing behind him with hands on hips. “What’s the point of a lace dress if you’re going to let him wear pants underneath it?”

“Um...” Lindir starts, then ends, because he really has no answers.

“Thranduil,” Elrond sighs, “Lindir doesn’t set the dress code.”

“He can answer for his peers,” Thranduil huffs.

Lindir really can’t. So he just cowers in Thranduil’s shadow, looking guilty, until Thranduil rolls his eyes and takes his usual seat on the other end of the couch. Tapping the table, he demands, “Have him bring my drinks. I’ll take them off myself.”

Lindir wrinkles his nose but nonetheless rises, pausing once to send Elrond a forlorn glance. Then it’s off to the bar, where he bypasses Glorfindel to warn Bard, “Thranduil.”

“Let me guess,” Bard sighs, distractedly shaking a cocktail for a greasy man with a unibrow leaning half out of his bar stool to get closer to Bard. “He’s pissed about the pants.”

Lindir sheepishly nods, and Bard rolls his eyes and unceremoniously drops his drink to the counter. The patron sneers as he takes it, but Bard’s already leaving him in favour of grabbing a Mirkwood bottle and two glasses from the wall. Lindir, feeling vaguely useless, leaves without waiting for Bard to come around the other end.

He finds Thranduil and Elrond lightly arguing over expenses and slides right into his seat, shrinking back as Bard approaches. Thranduil stops mid-word to reach for Bard’s fly, but Bard just steps away and places the bottle and glasses on the table. With his lace dress stuffed into his pants, it looks more like a sheer top than anything, which apparently offends Thranduil’s delicate sensibilities. Elrond ignores the unfolding scene, simply sipping at his tea, and Lindir follows suit, his whole body turning defensively towards Elrond instead. While Thranduil hisses, “Do you even know what a dress is?” Lindir watches Elrond take a sip, Elrond’s own gaze diverted over all their heads. How he puts up with Thranduil’s antics, Lindir has no idea, though Bard’s little better.

“Like you need the help to know what my legs look like,” Bard snorts, forcing a blush onto Lindir’s cheeks. He wants to tune them out, but they’re loud, having to be louder still to be heard over the music with the arm’s length left between them. Elrond sets his cup back onto the table, and Lindir follows the movement down, eyes sliding along Elrond’s suit, over his lap, his legs slightly spread—now Lindir knows what those legs look like bare, what that crotch looks like.

Thranduil snaps, “And I came here to see them again.” If only Elrond thought like that. If their positions were reversed, Lindir would come every night to see Elrond. He wouldn’t mind if Elrond wore jeans though, especially tights one, that would show off his prominent bulge every time Lindir managed to arouse him, and Lindir would try so hard to do that. He regrets now that he didn’t see Elrond’s legs more up close, that he didn’t get to kneel between them and lick Elrond’s thighs...

“How about you take some of your clothes off for me, and you see how stupid you feel walking around in just a shirt.” Elrond probably wouldn’t look quite right in just the minidress, and it would be more like a long shirt, like it is on Bard, but at least it would be easy for Lindir to duck underneath it and wrap his lips around Elrond’s cock—

Thranduil snarls, “I’m not getting paid to wear a uniform.” Lindir’s lost, staring, hearing but not really paying attention to the fight going on around him—he’s busy trying to remember the exact shape and texture of Elrond’s cock and wishing he could see right through the fabric.

“And I’m not getting paid just to pamper your entitled ass.”

“Yet you expect me to tip you for a stray glance when I pass the bar, where you’re not even remotely undressed?”

“You can see my nipples!”

Thranduil gives a dismissive snort. “I see your nipples all the time.”

They stop for a moment, and Lindir checks once to see Bard glaring. Lindir’s eyes fall back to Elrond’s lap, still transfixed. He half expects Bard to just storm off, but instead, Bard growls, “Fine. You can take them off... if you do it with your teeth.”

Thranduil answers just as fiercely. “You think I won’t?”

Elrond interjects, “You won’t while I’m here.” It gives Lindir a start, gaze wrenching up and cheeks flushed, hoping Elrond didn’t catch him. Thranduil and Bard, at least, are still staring one another down.

After a solid minute, Bard turns to leave, calling over his shoulder, “Don’t pretend you’re not ogling my ass enough to warrant a tip!”

Before Bard’s fully left their booth, Thranduil’s returned, “It’d be a bigger one if I could actually see that ass!” But Thranduil is staring, and judging from the rumours about him Lindir’s heard, he will leave Bard a substantial sum. It’s equally as likely that Bard will return later, and the two of them will tumble into the back to fully work out as large a tip as possible.

In the meantime, Thranduil resettles in his seat, and Elrond sighs, “Must you be such an animal?”

“At least I say what I want,” Thranduil comments flippantly, now taking the bottle to pour himself a drink.

“Excuse me,” Elrond starts, voice warning, but Thranduil carries on before Elrond gets any more out.

With a flick of his hand in Lindir’s direction, Thranduil notes, “This one’s been staring at your crotch since we got here.”

Lindir’s fairly certain his entire face is red. He sits stiffer than ever, trying to will himself to drink some tea to calm down but really too tense to move. Thranduil takes a sip of his wine and leans elegantly back in the couch, drawling with a dawning smirk, “The poor thing looks like he’d die for a taste of your dick.”

“Thranduil,” Elrond hisses, though it’s true, and Lindir says nothing in his own defense.

Thranduil ignores Elrond and tells Lindir directly, “Well? Are you going to beg your customer for what you want or not?”

Not, if Thranduil hadn’t said anything, but Thranduil makes it sound like an order, and that makes it sound so much easier—Lindir lets his mouth fall open, head fogged over, and he obediently begs, unable to meet Elrond’s eye, “Please, I do want...” but he can’t say the rest, and his gaze falls to his tea, lost in the subtle ripples the thrum of the music gives it.

Elrond doesn’t even glance at Lindir. He tells Thranduil in a hard voice, “He has a boyfriend.” Lindir flinches.

Thranduil asks for him, “So?” But a minute of tense silence later, he sighs, “Alright, go dry for all I care.” And he downs his drink in one go, pouring another. They tightly resume a business conversation, and Lindir wills himself not to look at Elrond’s crotch for the rest of the night.

He’s numb again by the end of his shift and is vaguely looking forward to seeing Elrohir, who he hasn’t caught a glimpse of all night—Elrohir’s like Meludir in that he always seems to have a smile. Meludir’s not working tonight, and Feren’s already leaving as Lindir gets to his station, huffing over some old man from Mirkwood who keeps tossing the name around but never tips. Lindir half listens and waves as Feren leaves.

He’s just pulling into his shirt when Elrohir appears, flopping down into Feren’s empty seat and looking, somehow, even more put out that Lindir. “Worst night yet,” he sighs, looking genuinely weary. Lindir finishes straightening out his civilian clothes and looks at Elrohir with sympathy, trying to think of a way to help that isn’t sex. He doesn’t think he could handle sex right now.

He just asks, “What’s wrong?”

“Oh,” Elrohir, mutters, trailing vaguely off before refocusing and trying to explain, “I saw this guy I know came through the doors—well, my father knows—and the last thing I need is for him to tell my dad I work here. I had Glorfindel tell me which section he sits in, and then I spent the whole night avoiding that side of the floor. Had to switch with Nellas. She has the worst section.” Lindir just stares blankly at Elrohir, not wanting to admit that he has no idea what her section is despite having worked here longer than Elrohir, and also that he’s not completely sure which server ‘Nellas’ even is. “Anyway,” Elrohir resumes, waving a hand, “I’m glad it’s over.”

“I’m sorry,” Lindir says, because it seems like the right thing. Elrohir just shrugs. He’s already changed into his regular clothes and just stays there for a minute or two, slumping and recuperating, and then straightens up again and gets to his feet.

He offers, “Want a ride?” And Lindir nods gratefully—he’ll always take the privacy of Elrohir’s car over the bus. Elrohir gives him a small smile, and by the time they reach the parking lot, Elrohir seems to have bounced back to his usual self. They spend the ride there talking about a television show Lindir’s never seen but Elrohir thinks he would like. Lindir politely listens and answers questions and keeps the knowledge that he’ll never bother to himself. At Lindir’s apartment building, Elrohir gets out and walks him right to the doors, kissing him there. But Lindir’s clearly not in the mood, so a kiss is all it is, and then Elrohir’s gone again, and Lindir’s alone.

The white crop-top looks, to Lindir at least, better on the servers with full breasts—his just sort of hangs limply over half his body and exposes far too much purposeless midriff. The tiny jean cut-offs he pulls into don’t properly cover his ass, and that’s worse—he doesn’t even have much of an ass, but he can feel the open air against the bottom of his cheeks. It takes him very little time to get into the new uniform but lots of time to pick at and adjust it.

Meludir’s off helping one of the larger dancers into their too-tiny clothes, and Feren’s applying mascara. Lindir had plans for this—for catching one or the other alone, as both at once are sure to be overwhelming—but he’s still not sure how to broach the subject he wants. Finally, he gives up on covering himself and asks bluntly, though as quietly as possible, “Feren, do you have any tips on, um...” Except he wavers, until Feren glances over at him, and then Lindir coughs and finishes meekly, “giving blow jobs?”

“Don’t sneeze,” Feren says, and when Lindir just blinks at him, he snorts and shakes his head, retiring the mascara for lip gloss. “Are you actually going that far? I’m proud of you.”

Lindir doesn’t answer, because technically, he’s not, and Feren turns back to the mirror and continues, “Be mindful of your teeth—you scrape too hard and you can kiss your tip goodbye.”

“Some people like a little scrape,” Meludir adds, flittering over and likely dooming Lindir. Meludir sits down in his own chair, Lindir now stuck between two perfect servers infinitely better at the job than he is.

Feren snorts. “Don’t be an idiot—no one wants teeth on their dick.” Feren reaches over to slap Lindir’s arm, drawing his full attention, and continues with an air of complete knowledge, “Corkscrew on a bit; it’s better than going straight. And always swallow. Even if they say you don’t have to, they all want you to swallow.”

“Pfft,” Meludir snorts. “That’s so not true! Half the people here would rather come on your face.”

“They just say that in the moment—as soon as they’ve come down, they don’t want to look at that.”

“Of course they do—I get tipped twice as much for facials.”

“You do not, you liar.”

And just like that, they’re off in a verbal tug-o-war that goes completely over Lindir’s head. So he just sits there, staring at himself in the mirror, feeling no more knowledgeable than before. He’s not sure if he’d rather swallow Elrond’s cum or wear it on his face. Both sound shamefully appealing.

Once Feren and Meludir devolve into calling other, less-awkward-than-Lindir servers to demonstrate on, Lindir’s hurriedly scurrying out of his chair. He wonders just how frightful looking up this sort of thing would be. Maybe he should just get a book for it.

Maybe he should just suck off Elrohir until he’s confident enough to beg Elrond for it. Except he knows he’ll never be that confident.

By the next shift where Elrond shows, Lindir hasn’t done a lick of research but still has the same thing on his mind. He brings the tea preemptively, mostly hoping to find either Feren or Meludir in the back on break to ask, but Glorfindel’s the only one at the staff table, and Lindir doesn’t know him well enough to ask this sort of thing. Glorfindel looks at him funny while he pours the tea, and he tries to explain, “Special order.” Glorfindel gives him an awkward smile, and Lindir hurries off with a mug in each hand.

As soon as he’s setting the mugs on the table, Elrond’s shifting aside for him and saying, “Thank you, Lindir. I’m glad to find you first—I wanted to apologize for Thranduil on our last visit.”

Lindir’s already sitting down and looks at Elrond in surprise, blurting, “Oh, no, that’s alright—he wasn’t wrong—” As usual, he stops himself a fraction too late. He holds Elrond’s gaze through his blush for a minute or two, then hurriedly looks down to swallow a sip of osmanthus tea.

It takes Elrond another moment to sigh. “You should really be doing this sort of thing with your boyfriend.” He doesn’t add instead of me, but Lindir hears it. He sloshes the hot water around his cup and stares at the swirls.

“I will, I just... don’t want him to be my first.” Which sounds so weird. Taking in a deep breath, he looks back at Elrond’s face. He wants to explain, but the depth of Elrond’s eyes pulls more words out of him than he means to give. “It’s just... I enjoyed what we... when you, um... made love to me... so much... I mean, I knew I would, but now, everything else is...” Elrond’s sitting so close to him. They always are here. Elrond’s only a little taller, one broad shoulder a hairsbreadth from Lindir’s, Elrond in a proper, crisp, expensive-looking suit, and Lindir in some cheap, skimpy rags meant to be torn away. He finds himself mumbling quietly, “I wish I was worthy of more.”

Now Elrond’s the one to suck in a breath. His face looks pained, but his eyes look heavy, and he shifts forward, down, maybe to whisper, but Lindir shifts too, reaching up. His lips brush over Elrond’s in a tentative kiss, more full of hope than anything. Elrond pauses, then kisses him back.

They share a few small, chaste things, noses gently nudging one another aside and lips barely connected but enough, tongues occasionally swiping out—Lindir mewls, trying to lean in further, take more, but Elrond tilts away, his forehead pressing into Lindir’s.

Elrond’s hand rises to cup Lindir’s cheek. Lindir shivers and leans into the touch, nuzzling against Elrond’s palm. Elrond murmurs, “Alright.”

“Alright?” Lindir dazedly repeats, so full of want that he can’t process much else.

Elrond traces an open-mouthed kiss along Lindir’s cheek and elaborates, “Just once. Your first, again, so I can make sure you’re taken care of, because you are worthy. You’re worth so much more than you know...”

He’s not, but he shivers again, wanting to cling to Elrond for dear life. He can’t believe it. He wonders if Elrond really means right here, right now—in the VIP section, with the stage empty, no one will see. It wouldn’t matter to Lindir if they did, but he thought Elrond wouldn’t want that chance. Elrond kisses the side of his nose and tells him quietly, “The first one is always hard. It’s difficult to take much when your gag reflex isn’t used to it, and you shouldn’t take more than you’re comfortable with, even if your boyfriend tries to tell you otherwise.” Lindir nods slowly, unable to believe this is happening—Elrond is giving him blow job tips. But of course it’d just be ones about his own comfort. Elrond slips his fingers into Lindir’s hair and uses the hold to tug him lightly back, looking straight into his eyes to insist, “If I’m the one to do it first, I can make sure you don’t take too much. I don’t want you to.”

Lindir wants all of Elrond in his mouth and throat. But he nods like he understands, promising to obey. He wants to ask if Elrond would prefer him to swallow or not, but he doesn’t want to ruin the magic. He just breathes, “Thank you.” Elrond uses that strong grip to tug him in for another kiss.

Then Elrond’s hand is falling away, and Lindir’s sliding off the couch before Elrond can change his mind. Lindir settles down at Elrond’s feet and sucks in the quick rush of that position. Elrond’s legs spread wide enough to accommodate, and Lindir presses right between them, chest flattened into the couch. Elrond’s crotch is tented. He hopes he did that.

He lifts trembling fingers to work at Elrond’s belt. It’s another fantasy come true. Elrond drapes both arms over the back of the couch, posture relaxed, probably trying to not be intimidating, but kneeling at Elrond’s feet feels right, like being with Elrond always does. Lindir gets the belt open and goes for Elrond’s fly, pausing to look up at Elrond’s face—he wants permission just to be sure, and he has to see this again, see Elrond’s face, he’s so in love. Elrond gives him a warm but tight smile.

So Lindir pulls down the fly, stares at the hump of Elrond’s white underwear, and goes underneath to wrap his fingers around Elrond’s cock. It twitches in his hands, and he gasps, delighting at the sudden warmth, the firm but soft texture, the slight river of a vein under one thumb. He takes it out in awe, until he has one long, hard shaft jutting up in his hands, the half-veiled tip in the midst of crowning.

Lindir lets out a filthy, wanton moan from the sight and smell alone. He can’t let go—all ten fingers stay wrapped around the base. He stares at the head through half-lidded, foggy eyes, and wrestles with the urge to rub it all over himself. He wants to stick it under his flimsy crop top and run Elrond’s leaking tip around his nipples, squish his flat chest around it and have it poke out the neck-hole to soak Lindir’s chin. He wants to pull the thong-like bottom of his shorts aside and have Elrond fuck him right through them. He wants to choke on it and have it come enough to bathe him, and in a swirl of lewd fantasies that pale in comparison to the real thing, Lindir leans in to open his mouth wide, tongue flattening over the tip. Elrond lets out a sudden groan, drawing Lindir’s eyes up, though his lips stay parted. He watches Elrond’s flushed face with a sudden swell of pride and swirls his tongue around the head, tracing the circle of foreskin. Then he’s lapping all down the side, taking in long, broad strokes to suck up all the flavour he can.

It’s a sort of bland taste, not unpleasant, but intoxicating just for what it is, and Lindir, at first, can do nothing but lick and kiss. He lavishes Elrond’s shaft all over, fingers occasionally lifting to play with the foreskin, tongue often joining in. He has no idea if he’s doing alright, but Elrond gives him no instructions, so he just keeps playing—he was worried he’d freeze up with no knowledge of what to do, but he wants to touch and taste everything he can and does so, opening his mouth against one side to suck at the delicate flesh. Then he nuzzles into the base and just lets it slide along his face, closing his eyes and moaning, hands firmly on Elrond’s thighs instead of touching himself—he’s hard already but doesn’t want to come from this: he wants this to be about Elrond’s pleasure. Finally, he pulls back again and returns to lapping at the tip like a kitten with milk.

Elrond mumbles a shaky, “Lindir,” and Lindir makes an apologetic noise. Right, there’s a way he’s supposed to do this. He kisses Elrond again and rises to the tip, opening his mouth as wide as he can, minding Feren’s advice and trying to be conscious of his teeth. Then he starts to lower, feeling Elrond’s thick warmth slide along his tongue.

He doesn’t even get halfway before he’s choking suddenly, stilling where he is, unwilling to pull off. Elrond drops a hand to pet back through Lindir’s hair, making it entirely worth it, and soothes, “Lindir, stop there...” So Lindir obeys, even though he wanted Elrond far down his throat.

It takes him a minute to master his gag reflex, and he only moves when he’s confident he can. He slides off and pushes back down, half because it’s the way he saw this on television once or twice and because that’s what his body’s telling him to do. Essentially, he fucks himself on Elrond’s cock. But he can never manage more than halfway, and he keeps having to pause to breathe and not choke, which Elrond’s always patient through.

Elrond’s rock-hard. His hands sliding through Lindir’s hair are wildly pleasurable to Lindir, even more so than Elrond’s delicious noises, subdued moans and sharp hisses. Lindir bobs up and down at a steady rhythm, not particularly fast but the fastest he can manage, while his hands clasp onto the shaft. It’s a wet, sloppy process, with sick squelching noises that would disgust him in any other situation. For this, he doesn’t mind drenching his lips and having saliva building up and draping down his chin. He doesn’t mind the soreness that comes into his jaw. All he cares about is being good for Elrond, and it sounds like he is.

Then Elrond stops him suddenly, one hand fisting in his hair and holding still. Lindir, half-impaled, whimpers around his mouthful and looks up through bleary eyes. Elrond’s looking over, and Thranduil stands beside the booth, chuckling, “I’m proud of you, Elrond. Took way too long, but you finally got there.”

Elrond doesn’t seem to have anything to say. Lindir whines and tries to burrow closer to Elrond’s crotch, but rather than pull him away, Thranduil bids, “Stay down there, boy. Now that Elrond’s got you in your place, I won’t have you leaving it.”

Elrond sighs. But his hands tug Lindir away, and Lindir has to let Elrond’s cock slip out of his mouth with a wet pop and a trail of spit. He whimpers more but tries to control himself, tries to sit where he is. Elrond starts tucking himself back into his pants, his cock, which was once so hard for Lindir, already flagging. And Lindir didn’t get either a stomach full of Elrond’s cum or a facial, and he’s incredibly disappointed for that. He remains sitting on the ground and slumps forward against Elrond’s leg, earning a slight start from Elrond.

Elrond doesn’t tug him back up. Perhaps Elrond thinks this is better, appeasing Thranduil and not having easy bait for him at eye level. ...Or maybe Elrond likes having Lindir at his feet as much as Lindir likes being there.

Lindir stays submissively against Elrond’s legs for a long while, Feren drawn over to serve instead. Eventually, a set of strong legs that Lindir thinks belong to Bard come to take Thranduil away, and then Elrond tugs Lindir gently up and uses a newly-brought napkin to dab at Lindir’s still-messy lips. He wishes he could finish what he started.

But instead he says, “Thank you,” and fetches more tea, despite his knees being weak and his body rearing to please.

Thranduil’s gone an unusually long time. A short show comes and goes, Bard conspicuously missing from the stage, and that confirms for Lindir whose legs he saw—he doesn’t think Bard and Thranduil have gone off in the back together before, so he supposes it makes sense that this would take so long. He and Erond are silent during the show, sitting close with Lindir fighting the urge to drape himself all over Elrond’s lap, and then it’s over, the lights come back on, and Thranduil’s still gone. They discuss some of Elrond’s work, which Elrond dismisses as boring but Lindir insists is fascinating, until he winds up asking mid-conversation, “Can I finish?”

Elrond halts, his sentence falling off. He opens his mouth, only to close it, then sighs and nods, and Lindir blushes and hurriedly corrects, “I-I mean, if you don’t want me to—”

“Lindir,” Elrond gently interrupts, donning a sympathetic smile, “I promise you having a sweet young thing wanting to blow me is no great inconvenience. It’s you I worry for.”

Lindir, blushing just as much over the compliment as the prospect of having Elrond in his mouth again, lies, “I... I don’t think I got enough practice.” Elrond lifts an eyebrow, and Lindir gets the distinct impression that Elrond can see right through him.

But Elrond already agreed, and Lindir’s not going to waste that. He climbs below the table again, trying to mentally calculate how long they have before closing—before Thranduil comes back and Lindir vainly begs to be taken home with Elrond—and hopes he can do well in that time.

Kneeling between Elrond’s legs is just where Lindir belongs, and he risks wasting a few seconds on just basking in that again, hands landing on Elrond’s knees and tentatively running up his legs. It doesn’t feel right to touch him with free reign, but he doesn’t stop Lindir, so Lindir goes until he’s reached Elrond’s fly. Then he’s bringing down the zipper anew.

Before he’s pulled anything out, Elrond lightly tugs at Lindir’s hair. Lindir’s breath hitches, a moan in his throat, and he looks up to find Elrond gesturing at the seat. “Perhaps it would be best to stay off the floor—we’ll have a better chance of straightening out again when Thranduil comes back.”

Lindir nods and tries not to show his disappointment, but then, as he crawls out from under the table again, bending down across the couch isn’t so bad either. Lindir sits on the other side than usual to have more room, and he bends himself over Elrond’s lap, noting that he can’t see much from this angle. He’ll have to settle for feeling, tasting, smelling. And knowing he’s being good, listening to Elrond’s wishes. That’s more important than anything, and Lindir’s smiling again as he frees Elrond’s cock. It’s just as hard as before, to Lindir’s other delight, and he licks an appreciative line from base to tip for it.

Above him, Elrond grunts, “I’m afraid we might not have much time for foreplay if you want to finish—I’m assuming he’ll return before the place closes.”

Lindir nods and mumbles a, “Sorry,” into Elrond’s crotch, kissing the tip for his apology. Elrond’s hands return to his hair, weaving between strands to gently caress his skull. Lindir’s so hard he half expects to peak out of his shorts, but his body’s turned down, so Elrond won’t see, at least. He can touch himself later. Now, he wants to touch Elrond.

He holds the base with his hand and descends back over the shaft, opening wide and hoping to go lower this time, but again, he can’t seem to get more than halfway before he’s too uncomfortable to move. Elrond gives his hair a soft tug and murmurs, “Please, Lindir. Don’t push yourself.” Lindir would nod, but his head’s held in place by the rod in his mouth.

He tries to rub the bottom of Elrond’s cock with his thumb, his fingers wrapped thickly around it, while he sets to bobbing up and down again on the rest. The first few mouthfuls are a giddy sort of bliss for him, but then he remembers what he’d meant to do, and he gives an experimental suck—Elrond makes a gasping noise, fingers tightening against Lindir’s skull. Lindir mewls around his mouthful and does it again, sucking harder as he withdraws, then blowing as he spirals down. On the next rise, he hollows out his cheeks, pouring his all into it—he’s determined to make Elrond come in his mouth, and he gives everything he can for that. It’s already worth it for the way Elrond grabs at his hair and the lust-clouded noises. Lindir absolutely worships Elrond’s cock with everything he has.

It still takes a good while for Elrond to come, but Lindir’s glad for it, savours it, and then, when Elrond makes a final grunt, it feels too soon. Elrond warns, “Lindir—” But Lindir stays where he is, stilling suddenly with his lips firmly locked around the head, and sure enough, it bursts a second later—something hot and slick splatters Lindir’s tongue. He makes a noise of surprise but doesn’t let go, just takes it as one jet after another fills his mouth. He’s glad he pulled off enough not to choke as some splatters the back of his throat, and he swallows that down, earning another moan from above.

Lindir dutifully swallows it all. It tastes a little salty, the consistency of it stranger than anything else, but he loves the idea of it so much that it’s easy to take. He stays on until there’s nothing left, and even then, he suckles hopefully at the tip, before pulling off to lick around it and make sure none’s escaped.

Lindir doesn’t straighten up again until Elrond makes him. He’s pulled up by his hair, arched over Elrond’s lap with a stretched-wide jaw and wet lips, eyes hazy and brain completely melted. Elrond looks at him for one burning moment, face looking just as flushed. Then Elrond pulls Lindir forward, and they’re kissing again. Somewhere in the back of Lindir’s mind, he knows it’s dirty—Elrond just came in his mouth, surely he shouldn’t be kissed like this—but he enjoys it too much to say anything. He eagerly kisses Elrond back, mewling rapturously when Elrond’s tongue snakes into his mouth and explores the freshly licked-clean cavern.

Before Lindir knows what’s happening, he’s being pulled into Elrond’s lap. Having Elrond’s spent cock against his thigh makes him even harder. Elrond breaks the steady stream of kisses to ask, voice husky, “May I touch you?”

“Yes,” Lindir whines, hips already bucking into Elrond’s crotch. “Please...”

Elrond pulls Lindir forward again and reconnects their mouths. Lindir’s arms wrap around Elrond’s shoulders, keeping them together, and one of Elrond’s loops around his waist, the other hand pressing between their bodies. Without once pausing the kiss, Elrond pops open the buttons of Lindir’s jean shorts and reaches inside with no trouble. His hand encases Lindir’s cock, and Lindir cries out into Elrond’s mouth—he could come from that alone. Elrond fondles him, expertly stroking and squeezing him, and it’s the hotel all over again, such passion, but such love; Elrond touches him with respect and skill and everything Lindir craves, until Lindir’s balls are tightening and he’s shamelessly humping Elrond’s hand, coming all over it.

His moan is swallowed away. He’s pumped right through his orgasm, his body a shivering wreck. His head is completely blank. All he knows is Elrond. His mouth becomes slack, Elrond guiding him through kisses, until Lindir’s completely done and slumping, satiated and panting hard. Then Elrond disconnects their mouths, more saliva draping between them, and Lindir just trembles and tries to breathe.

Elrond stares at him. The look is hard to read in Lindir’s present state, but he stares back, knowing, at least, what he wants, and it’s this. He doesn’t know how he ever lived without Elrond in his life.

Elrond breaks the spell first, glancing down at his own cum-soaked hand. Lindir, blushing furiously, hesitantly takes Elrond’s wrist in his hand. He wipes Elrond’s hand off on his own thigh—he’s supposed to be a mess anyway. Elrond lets Lindir move, and afterwards, Elrond’s hand still glistens wetly, and Lindir mumbles, “Sorry.”

Elrond pecks his cheek. He wishes he could just fall asleep in Elrond’s lap again and have Elrond take him home.

He stays there, feeling numb but prickling here and there with microscopic spasms of joy, until Thranduil returns, looking particularly smug and reeking of sex. Ignoring Lindir as usual, Thranduil tells Elrond, “Told you I’d make it back by closing.” In the background, Lindir can hear Glorfindel hoarsely shouting last call.

Elrond nods. Thranduil doesn’t seem to notice his state and turns to go, already out of the booth by the time Elrond shifts. Lindir begrudgingly shuffles off his lap, and this time, Elrond pauses before he leaves. He leans forward, and Lindir hopefully leans into it, but the kiss comes to his forehead. Elrond murmurs again, “Your boyfriend is very lucky. I hope he treats you well.”

Elrond leaves before Lindir has a chance to say anything, though he has no words anyway. He unfurls along the couch and waits out the dying down music and the shuffling of final patrons, just existing in the moment. He can still taste Elrond on his tongue.

He’s so glad he works here.

He takes twice as long in the shower as usual, busy daydreaming and running his hands through shampoo suds the way Elrond stroked him in the club. When he shuts his eyes, he can pretend the slight tug to his scalp is from Elrond’s strong hands, and he arches his body into the spray, losing himself in yet another fantasy. He pictures Elrond behind him, finger-combing out the bubbles and running the soap bar across Lindir’s skin. But then, Lindir reminds himself, he’s the one that’s for hire, and he’s the one that should be washing Elrond. It’s not really what he’s for, but for Elrond, he would amend his title to a personal assistant, there to provide everything personal Elrond could ever need. And Lindir would happily suds him up and wash him down and kneel between his legs under the hot spray and swallow him down, letting Elrond’s release fill his stomach and never be wasted on the drain.

Then he thinks of wandering out of the shower to curl up in Elrond’s bed and just lie there. Maybe on a cold winter’s night, Elrond might even bring him a warm cup of tea, and they’d curl up under the sheets, still a little damp, and read a book together. Even the domestic fantasies make Lindir yearn, and he doesn’t pull himself back to reality until the shower’s noticeably cold.

Lindir’s wrapping a towel around his freshly wrung-out hair when he hears the faint clatter of his phone vibrating against the counter. Even in the privacy of his own bathroom, he stops to cover his body in a towel before he answers, stepping back into the shower nook so as not to drip on the rest of the floor. Of course, it’s Elrohir—one of the only people that ever texts him. He sees another missed text (just ‘Hi’) that must’ve been lost under the roar of the faucet and his daydreams, and he types a quick: Sorry, was in the shower.

Elrohir returns, Pics?

And Lindir automatically answers, No, sorry, even though Elrohir’s told him time and again that he never has to apologize for saying no. He’d throw in a polite qualifier in person, he thinks, and it’s hard to not just type the way he talks.

Elrohir switches to, Listen, you know when I first asked you out, and I said I might have to introduce you to my family? Lindir blinks at the screen; of course he remembers that. The question must be redundant, because before Lindir can answer, another comes through: Could you do that soon?

Lindir appreciates the question, giving him room to say no. He agreed back then, but he thinks Elrohir’s learned since then that Lindir’s... not the best with people. While he hesitates, knowing he’ll go but still not wanting to have that commitment in writing, Elrohir sends, They’re nice people, I swear, and it’s not a big family. But I don’t want to pressure you into it; I can make an excuse.

He shouldn’t have to. Lindir knows he should just go. At least he knows Elladan already. Hopefully Elladan wouldn’t say over the dinner table that the first night they met, Lindir gave him a hand job.

Eventually, he types, Okay.

You’re the best. I promise they’ll behave. I’ll behave.

I’ll behave too.

You’re not capable of not behaving.

Lindir giggles at that, and somehow, it makes him feel a little better. He knows Elrohir will take care of him. If he gets overwhelmed, Elrohir will likely notice and let him leave.

Elrohir asks, My family runs its own business, so their schedule’s flexible, and I can get someone to cover my shift no problem. When’s good for you?

A part of Lindir’s tempted to put if off for a while, but the rest of him thinks about ripping off the bandage, and for him, he knows it’s the best option—he’s a worrier, and the longer he leaves it hanging over his head, the more he’ll fret. So he admits, I’m off on Thursday.

Thursday it is. How’s seven sound? I know they’ll be able to get free by then. I’ll pick you up.

What should I wear?

Nothing Eriador gave you.

Lindir giggles again. Elrohir clarifies, Something casual but nice, I guess. It’s fine; they’re not scary. Just please don’t mention Eriador at all, okay?

Lindir has absolutely no desire to tell the outside anything about his ‘wild’ professional life, so easily returns, I promise.

Cool. How about I take you to a nice hotel after and we can celebrate tricking my family into thinking I’m a good boy?

Again, Lindir hesitates. He rejects Elrohir’s advances about as much as he accepts them, but the mention of the hotel room...

He thinks of Elrond, only a few hours earlier, and wonders if it would hurt too much to return to the Imladris hotel. But Elrohir looks so much like him sometimes, and Elrohir never seems to mind when Lindir thinks of other people during sex—one other person, though he never betrays who. Maybe if they turned off the lights, and he felt the same bed, and Elrohir didn’t talk and went slow...

Burning with shame, Lindir sends, This might seem weird, but... I really like the Imladris hotel.

It does seem weird. He wishes he could take it back. But Elrohir sends a laughing emoticon, which Lindir doesn’t quite understand. Before he can start properly worrying if Elrohir’s laughing at his weirdness, Elrohir adds, It’s not weird; it’s the best in town! I’ll book us a room.

And just like that, his fate’s sealed.

His next shift, the Wednesday one, compounds his nerves, and those finally overtake the happiness blowing Elrond gave him. He winds up in Erestor’s office again, sitting stiffly with his head town, biting back excuses. He has no good ones. He knows he’s a failure.

Erestor’s very kind about it. But he explains, “I’m sorry, Lindir, but one consistent member isn’t enough. You have made some progress, and I’m proud of you for it. ...But that progress hasn’t continued any further, and I’m afraid I have to give you another official warning.”

Lindir nods numbly. He knows.

“Is there anything we can do to help you? Perhaps lessons—if this is an issue of confidence in your skills, I would be happy to assign you a mentor.”

But Lindir just shakes his head; that sounds terrifying. He feels already too spread thin with Elrohir when all he wants to be is for Elrond, and he can’t handle another person in the mix.

He doesn’t tell Erestor he’ll do better, because he knows he probably won’t. But the thought of leaving, of never seeing Elrond again, is petrifying. At least the talking-to comes after his shift, so he can leave quickly, and no one has to see how hard he shakes. He stands in the alley outside, waiting to calm down before he heads to the bus stop—he doesn’t need anyone else seeing him like this.

Elrohir comes out a second later, the last server to leave, and says, “I saw you go into the office, so I figured I’d wait for you, but you ran out so fast—you okay?”

Lindir nods even though it’s not and mumbles, “Can you drive me home?”

Elrohir pats his back and nods.

Elrohir spends the entire ride home telling Lindir complicated bar jokes. Lindir understands less than half of them, but it still calms his nerves. He’s not shaking anymore by the time they reach his apartment building. He still doesn’t tell Elrohir what’s wrong. He’s vaguely embarrassed at how badly he’s doing when Elrohir, a new recruit, is flourishing.

Elrohir doesn’t ask to be invited up, but says, “At least you’re off tomorrow. I’ll buy you a great dinner, and we’ll go to a nice hotel, and we’ll pretend we’re on vacation with no managers or annoying clients or too-attractive married people.”

Lindir, who’s having trouble with two out of three of those things, says with a genuine smile, “Thanks.”

Elrohir pecks his nose, and Lindir gets out of the car. He knows just how to self-medicate, and when he’s back in his apartment, he climbs right into Elrond’s sweater and stretches out with the book Elrond gave him, rereading it for the second time.

Lindir sleeps in until five, when his alarm blares and insists he come to life. Even in the middle of the day with the sun blaring through his curtains, he feels ridiculously tired. His schedule’s a mess. But he’ll need to be awake for dinner, so he makes himself and starts in on coffee before realizing that probably won’t help his nerves.

He showers first, then frets over what to wear for way too long. His wardrobe doesn’t have much variety, but it’s enough to fuss when he’s in that mood. He winds up in black dress pants and a tight-fitting green-sweater that isn’t half so comfortable as Elrond’s. It’s the most in-between casual and formal, so it seems the safest bet. Then he stares at himself and braids his hair over one shoulder whilst debating putting makeup over the dark circles under his eyes. Like he does more often than not, he opts to forgo the effort, figuring he’ll probably shake too much to hold his hands straight and do a job anywhere near decent.

He’s ready with an hour to spare, which he occupies with cleaning, despite knowing it would’ve been better to do that before showering and dressing. He can’t let himself sit still. He knows nothing about Elrohir’s family. If they’re all like him and Elladan, Lindir’s in for trouble.

It strikes him as ironic that yesterday he wasn’t social enough for work, and today he’s not social enough for his home life. But thinking of his talk with Erestor just makes it worse, so he throws himself into scrubbing the kitchen floor until his phone’s buzzing.

He locks his door when he leaves, tests it to make sure it’s really locked, then makes it a couple steps away before coming back to test again. It makes no sense, but he’s frantic. He finally forces himself into the elevator.

Elrohir’s in the lobby, in jeans, a tee, and a blazer, looking comparable to a magazine model. He gives Lindir a wide smile that Lindir stumbles to return. Then he’s enveloped in a warm hug and told, “It’s going to be okay.”

Lindir nods against Elrohir’s shoulder. Elrohir pulls back to kiss Lindir’s cheek and offer, “I already got an excuse. If you’re getting too freaked out and want to bail, kick my leg twice, and I’ll pretend to get a call from the bank saying one or both of our credit cards may have been compromised over the joint phone plan we applied for.”

Lindir just blinks—that seems an absurdly specific and unlikely excuse. But then, he’s not the one that has to remember it, and Elrohir usually seems to keep a cool head. And it’s his family, anyway—he won’t be freaking out.

So Lindir mumbles, “Okay,” and, “Thank you. I... I’m sure I’ll be okay.” That might be a lie. But the intention’s true. Elrohir gives Lindir’s back a quick, one-handed rub, then shoos him for the doors.

It’s a bright, beautiful evening, the sun and heat just at the edge of waning.

The route they take is somewhat familiar, and though Elrohir tries to start small talk, Lindir stares more out the window than listens. By the time they’re driving by the lakeside park, it’s getting too close for comfort, and then they pull into the Imladris parking lot, and Lindir looks over at Elrohir in surprise, wondering if there was a misunderstanding. “I thought we were going to the hotel after...?”

“The room’s for after, yeah,” Elrohir answers without looking, busy guiding his car into a spot in front of the shade-providing hedge. “Gave me a laugh when you picked this one, actually.”

Then the car’s stopped, and Elrohir gets out of his side, while Lindir just sits there, lost. Elrohir comes around to open Lindir’s door, and Lindir fumbles with his seatbelt before stumbling out. He wishes he’d brought his bag. He feels like he’s going to need nerve-calming tea.

As Elrohir locks the car and starts off towards the hotel, he asks, “Have you been in the restaurant before?”

Just once. Lindir nods. He’d thought they would be eating at Elrohir’s house, but at least the restaurant does seem a better option—it’ll be easier to escape from. Provided he doesn’t see a certain someone, of course. He finds himself matching pace with Elrohir, standing on the opposite side of him from the building, and half-consciously trying to hide in his shadow.

It gets worse when they enter the lobby. Lindir’s torn between wanting to avoid the front desk at all costs and checking if Elrond’s daughter’s there, but Elrohir takes them right past it and asks the scruffy man at the counter, “Joining us, Aragorn?”

“Can’t; somebody’s gotta run this place,” the man answers, giving Elrohir a wink. As Elrohir chuckles and takes Lindir off, the man throws at Elrohir’s back, “Good luck!”

As soon as they’re out of earshot, Elrohir assures an increasingly-terrified Lindir, “He’s kidding; we won’t need luck. They’re fine, I swear.” But Elrohir thinks so differently than Lindir on pretty much everything else that Lindir feels no assurance.

They cut into the dining room. There’s no show today, and the stage has a crimson curtain drawn across it, the wide hall entirely taken up with tables. Almost every one is full, the wait staff circulating everywhere, the air full of a quiet hum of chatter and lilting, low-volume violin music. Lindir wraps both hands around Elrohir’s arm and finds himself tightening that grip with each step.

Then he spots the table Elrohir’s headed to, and his heart drops to his stomach.

Elrond’s sitting there.

Elladan is on one side of him, his daughter on the other. There are two empty seats. Lindir stumbles and can feel his knees giving out. But Elrohir smoothes his way and keeps him going, and he can’t seem to stop—he’s stuck in a trance—they reach the table, and the conversation dies for all three brunets to look up. Lindir only has eyes for Elrond. Elrond looks at him, and...


Lindir completely understands. For that split second, Elrond’s face is utter shock. Lindir thinks he’s going to be sick.

Elrohir pulls out a chair for him, and as Lindir’s ushered into it, Elrond’s expression is already closing off. Lindir doesn’t have that skill. Elrohir takes the seat beside him, next to Elladan, and greets, “Hey, family. This is the boyfriend I was telling you about—Lindir. We met at work. Lindir, you’ve already met my twin brother Elladan. But this is my sister, Arwen, and my dad.”

His dad. Lindir slept with his boyfriend’s dad. He can’t stop staring, even though he longs to wrench his gaze away. In his peripherals, he can see Arwen wearing a light frown, but she doesn’t say anything.

Elrond asks tightly, “You met him at... his work?”

“Yeah,” Elrohir answers casually, clearly having no idea what he’s giving away. “He helped me out a bit on my first day.”

Lindir wants to cover his face with his hands but is too paralyzed to move. He feels like he should say something, but he can’t, and Elrond reveals nothing. Elrohir seems oblivious; he’s already joking with Elladan, the words falling away and unable to breech Lindir’s pounding skull. He practically jumps out of his seat when a waitress appears over his shoulder to offer a menu.

The rest of them order drinks, and Lindir stutters, “Water.”

Elrohir flips through the menu and asks, “The rest of you know what you want? We don’t have to wait.” Except he asks Lindir, “You know what you want, babe?” Lindir doesn’t have words, just opens his mouth and flounders, and Elrohir, blessedly, offers, “I’ll order for you—I know what you like.” To the waitress, he says, “Veggie pizza for me and garden salad for him, please.” Salad is probably the only thing Lindir can stomach right now.

While the rest of the table orders, Lindir tries to will himself to kick Elrohir’s leg. He needs to get out of here. He feels like the worst person ever. He was already a wreck. But he’s slept with his boyfriend’s father and he desperately wants to again, and this whole thing is wrong—he should be sitting at the table by Elrond’s side, meeting Elrond’s children, but even that’s wrong; he’s the same age as Elrond’s children. He notes vainly that there’s no mother. Maybe she left. Maybe she’s dead. He feels horrible for thinking that. Maybe they were all adopted or something else or—

“So, this is it,” Elrohir’s saying as the waitress gathers up their menus to leave. “Mum left and moved far West a long time ago, but the rest of us are pretty close. You never talk about your parents—where are they from?”

She left. Lindir can’t tell if that’s good or not. No competition. But it shouldn’t matter. Elrond will never want to talk to him again, he’s sure, because this is all so wrong. He mumbles, foggy-headed, “Um... they live abroad. We’re not... not that close...”

“That’s a shame,” Arwen adds. At least she doesn’t know the full extent of his sin. Then, to Lindir’s horror, she says, “Your job must be a lot of fun to tear Elrohir away from ours—the rest of us stick to the hotel. I suppose he told you dad owns it?”

Lindir nods, meaning to say how impressed he is, as soon as he can unglue his tongue from the roof of his mouth, but Elrohir jumps in, “I was never going to work here anyway. Nice to know you miss me though, sis.”

“Pfft,” Arwen retorts, rolling her eyes and blessedly looking away from Lindir now. “I just meant that you’re leaving us all the work!”

“Poor thing, I know how much you need me—”

“Oh, stuff it! I always liked Elladan better than you.”

Elladan erupts into laughter, Elrohir looking mock offended, and Arwen grinning in clear jest. Elrond’s quiet. Lindir’s quiet. He looks down at his own lap to avoid the temptation of Elrond’s face. He doesn’t want to see if there’s betrayal or disappointment in Elrond’s eyes.

An arm drapes around his shoulders. He knows it’s Elrohir’s. Elrohir’s saying something to Elladan about him, and Lindir sits there and takes it, wishing Elrond couldn’t see him like this—wishing he could explain that he doesn’t love Elrohir. But that might be worse.

By the time dinner arrives, Elrond still hasn’t said a thing, and Lindir’s burning under his skin. He’s forgotten the signal, but he drops his hand beneath the table, landing on Elrohir’s thigh, heedless of what that looks like—he needs help. He squeezes Elrohir’s leg, and Elrohir seamlessly pulls his phone from his pocket on the other side, announcing to the table his elaborate excuse that Lindir only hears half of. He hasn’t eaten any of his salad. Elrohir had maybe two bites. But Elrohir puts money on the counter anyway, covering both his and Lindir’s, and gets up, then offers a gallant hand to Lindir.

Lindir says a sheepish goodbye and finds himself looking at Elrond again, their eyes catching. Lindir can’t hear anything else in the room—it’s just him and Elrond, so intense, and yet he can’t read what Elrond’s thinking, because he’s too busy drowning.

Elrohir says a cheery goodbye and guides Lindir out.

In the corner of the lobby, Elrohir asks Lindir quietly, “Do you want to go home?”

But Lindir shakes his head and picks lightly at Elrohir’s sleeve, looking down at his shoes, and mumbles on the verge of tears, “Can we go to that room now?”

He tries to lose himself in Elrohir’s body. He asks Elrohir to fuck him hard, not at all like Elrond and making love but just brutal sex, and Elrohir listens, though Lindir can tell Elrohir’s still holding back. He wonders how fragile Elrohir thinks him. How fragile he really is. It’s overwhelming. But it’s easier to be overwhelmed by physical sensations than emotions.

While Elrohir’s buried to the hilt, looming over Lindir in the center of the mattress, Lindir mutters, “Sorry about your dinner.”

Elrohir pants, “I’ll order up,” and kisses Lindir hard, then stops long enough to pull out and roll Lindir over. He pushes back in, forcing out a cry, though it doesn’t hurt, is just so much, and Elrohir resumes fucking him again. Lindir buries his face in the pillow and rubs his front shallowly against the mattress, but Elrohir does most of the work. Elrohir nips at his ear and pushes his braid over one shoulder to mouth at the other. Lindir wonders if this was really the bed Elrohir wanted, or if he’d planned to fuck Lindir in his own room in Elrond’s suite. That would be so much harder. Elrond’s probably retired to that suite, only a few floors up, in this very building, maybe walking about in just a robe and marveling over fucking his son’s boyfriend.

Elrohir comes inside Lindir, then reaches under to jerk him off until he’s spilling weakly in the sheets. Then Elrohir reaches for the phone and orders some food. He eats in bed with the television on while Lindir curls up next to his lap and tries to sleep. It’s probably the last night he’ll spend in an Imladris room—he knows he can never come back again.

Chapter Text

Lindir’s a terrible friend, if he even is one to anybody. He’s even more withdrawn than usual, quiet and skittish, always downcast. He’s a worse boyfriend. Elrohir is cheery and kind, and Lindir keeps his wretched secret out of shame and just sulks to the point where Elrohir stops texting him entirely, except for the rare occasion when Lindir will send him something first. But Lindir’s the worst host, and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to make himself smile.

Several times, Thranduil comes in, and every time, Lindir panics, only to find out that Elrond isn’t coming. He fears that Elrond’s never going to come back. It’s the only point of contact they have. Had. He keeps buying new teas anyway. He still guiltily slinks into Elrond’s sweater. He still plays Maglor and reads books Elrond’s mentioned and fantasizes, but now they’re more scenes of comfort than sex. He only thinks about asking Elrohir over once, but after he writes the text, he never sends it. It would be so wrong to lie in Elrohir’s arms and think of his father. Elrohir deserves better. Elrohir deserves someone like Meludir, who tells Lindir at the bar, “At least you’re cute enough to still look cute with a frown.”

Lindir twists his face and is vaguely surprised and relieved to have someone tell him he’s not as ugly as he feels. Glorfindel gives him a shot ‘on the house,’ but Lindir won’t drink it.

Lindir blankly serves Thranduil again, in a purely professional capacity, and does nothing else while other servers drape happily over his lap. Without Elrond around, Thranduil gets lewder—he fucks his giddy partners over the seating, over the table, has Bard give him a lap dance and then, to Lindir’s mild surprise, lets Bard fuck him on the couch. Lindir just stays out of their way and brings drinks and snacks when he’s asked to. He feels invisible.

Finally, Elrohir corners him in the back and gives him a hug. He clings back but won’t say anything, and then it’s over, and he’s still ruined.

Elrohir doesn’t usually cover the VIP section, but he shows up at Feren’s station and tells Lindir with the usual smile, “I’m covering the east VIP section—my first shift up there!” Lindir just blinks at him, and he elaborates, “I wasn’t even going to work tonight, but Feren called and asked if I could cover him—poor thing’s out sick—so I told the family I was out with you, and here I am, ready for that legendary VIP money I keep hearing about.”

Lindir does his best to smile but is sure he isn’t managing—he’s stomach’s sinking. Elrohir used him for an excuse. He doesn’t want Elrond thinking of him out with Elrohir at all.

As usual, when Lindir doesn’t rise to the conversation, Elrohir politely detracts. He pats Lindir’s arm and wanders off, likely to change into his own negligee—a thin, sheer thing that looks sort of like a pale pink dress. Lindir wears matching pink panties under it—having picked them from a provided list of options—and nothing else. Nowadays, he tends to wait until the last possible second before he has to go out. He still has a few minutes, so he wastes them eyeing his matted hair and the bags under his eyes in the mirror.

Meludir shows up with barely two minutes to go and drops his pants in record speed, his shirt going flying and landing in Lindir’s lap, the negligee over his head a second later. As Lindir transfers Meludir’s shirt back to his counter, Meludir breathlessly straightens out his slip and mumbles, “Hey.”

Lindir opens his mouth to answer, but Elrohir interrupts, shooting back into Feren’s empty chair so fast that Lindir nearly topples over in surprise. Both he and Meludir look at Elrohir, his face in a new expression that Lindir’s never seen on him before: complete panic.

He says, blunt and strangely serious, “I need someone to switch sections with me.”

Lindir just looks at him, still caught off guard, but Meludir chirps easily, “Which section?”

“East VIP.”

“Ooh, sure. I’ve got the corner by the kitchen.”

Relief floods over Elrohir, and then he’s out of Feren’s chair, walking around Lindir to scoop Meludir into a tight hug that leaves Meludir looking as confused as Lindir feels. But Meludir, being a known fan of Elrohir’s body as he is, returns the hug and burrows happily into Elrohir’s shoulder.

When Elrohir pulls back a few seconds later, he kisses Meludir’s forehead and breathes, “You’re a life saver, babe.”

Meludir chirps, “Sure.” He doesn’t ask why, just grins, and Elrohir nods, looking a little better but not entirely. Something’s spooked him, and Lindir makes a mental note to ask about it later—right now, they’re all one minute late for their shift.

He leaves first, Meludir behind him, and Elrohir, for once, bringing up the rear.

As soon as Lindir reaches his section, he knows why Elrohir freaked out. Elrond, for the first time in a long while, is sitting at Thranduil’s table.

He looks thoroughly unhappy. A part of Lindir yearns to fix that, but the rest hesitates, wanting to run and find someone else to replace him, even though Meludir’s already committed and apparently Feren’s gone, and Lindir doesn’t know anyone else well enough for favours. He wants to be near Elrond, but he’s not sure he can face judgment, and he frets in place for far too long before finally sucking in a breath and insisting to himself that he can do this. At the very least, he can’t not go to Elrond’s side.

He drifts towards the table, dragging his feet, sure he looks sullen, and then he quickly detours back to the bar and returns with a menu so he can clutch it protectively over his chest, half-exposed through the sheer negligee. He misses the confidence of carrying tea instead, but those days are gone. When he finally reaches the table, he deliberately doesn’t meet Elrond’s eye, looks dejectedly down instead and mumbles, “Can I get you anything...?”

Thranduil makes an aggravated sigh, as though Lindir’s lackluster performance is already a problem. Instead of requesting the usual bottle, Thranduil gets off the couch to announce, “I’ll fetch him myself.” Lindir doesn’t ask who ‘him’ is—he can guess—and watches helplessly as Thranduil marches off, leaving Lindir alone with the one person he can’t face right now.

He wants to run. He splutters, still refusing to look at Elrond, “Um, can I fetch you anything—water? A-a drink—”

“Lindir,” Elrond interrupts, and it snaps Lindir’s head around to look. “...Please. I think we should talk.”

Lindir blurts, “I’m sorry,” for nothing in particular, but it only deepens Elrond’s frown.

He shuffles over, making room, and Lindir fingers the edges of the menu, eyeing the empty space like it’s a trap waiting to swallow him up. But he can’t resist Elrond’s pull and ultimately takes it, careful to leave a large space between them, even though Elrond’s cologne is no less alluring than usual and Lindir traitorously still wants him...

“I was told you were out with my son tonight.”

Lindir grimaces. He doesn’t want to lie to Elrond as much as he doesn’t want to betray Elrohir, so he says nothing, despite the heavy urge to confess.

In the face of Lindir’s silence, Elrond concludes, “...He works here too, then. I’d hoped I misunderstood.” Lindir’s knuckles are turning white around the side of the menu. Elrond asks, “Does he know that you... with customers...?”

Lindir nods sheepishly and looks up again, red and wanting to cry—but that he has to say something about; he can’t have Elrond thinking Lindir’s cheating on his son. “H-he knows,” Lindir mumbles, trying to explain, “W-we’re open, I... I guess, I don’t... we’re complicated... I’m not...” He can’t explain because, he realizes belatedly, he doesn’t know. They never set parameters. For all he knows, Elrohir fucks Meludir every night that he’s not fucking Lindir. Or maybe Elrohir goes home with customers all the time—takes them to his hotel and lets them do whatever they want, wishing the whole time that Lindir were so limitless. But Lindir’s not and adds quietly, “I know I’m not... the ideal boyfriend for your son, b-but he asked, and I just wanted to help, and I swear he knows that I’m in love with someone else, I never lied—” He shouldn’t have said that. His mouth slams shut. He’s trembling so hard that he feels like his limbs will detach like some worn out doll.

Elrond’s face is no longer stern. Now it’s sympathetic, caring, and that doesn’t help—Lindir can feel tears prickling at the corners of his eyes. All in one go, he jerks his way off the couch, stumbling on his heels, drops the menu and runs, straight down the stairs and off through the crowd, weaving swiftly in and out of larger bodies, until he’s barreling into the back room and still walking, slowing but unable to fully stop. He finds Elrohir standing near the costume racks at the end, hands on a different outfit that must’ve been requested. Lindir doesn’t stop until he’s wrapped around Elrohir’s middle, clutching so tightly to Elrohir that it must hurt. When Lindir’s as dizzy as this, Elrohir almost smells like Elrond. Lindir chokes back a sob, then can’t help himself and wails into Elrohir’s side, soaking through the negligee.

Elrohir starts mumbling soothing things and turning to him, but Lindir can’t hear properly. Elrohir pats and rubs his back, and Lindir just trembles and hates himself. He can’t believe he just ran off on a client, crying. He feels like he’s going to faint.

But Elrohir holds him up, and eventually, the sobs subside, and Lindir’s able to loosen his grip enough to let Elrohir go. A wet stain’s left on his chest. Elrohir, wearing the same expression Lindir just left behind, looks so much like his father.

He asks, “What’s wrong?” Then, face darkening, adds, “Did a patron hurt you? Point me to them, I’ll break them—”

Lindir shakes his head emphatically and chokes out, “No, I... I’m just...” A terrible person. He feels like he is, even though he can’t put his finger on why. Elrohir just looks miffed.

He kisses Lindir’s forehead and squeezes Lindir’s arm reassuringly, and Lindir tries to rein himself in. He wants to believe he can do this. He has to go back out again. He doesn’t want that to be the last thing Elrond ever sees of him.

Elrohir starts to say, “Listen, you should go home—I’ll tell Erestor you were sick—”

But Lindir insists, “No, I... I can go back... I just... needed a minute.”

Elrohir doesn’t look convinced. They stand there for one awkward, silent moment, and then Elrohir finishes taking the skimpy Elven armour costume he was in the midst of choosing. He keeps his eyes on Lindir as much as possible while changing into it, which is almost comical. There’s no shame in Elrohir’s movements, but Lindir doesn’t ogle him; Lindir’s seen Elrohir naked before, and he’s not in the mood for it right now. When Elrohir’s finished, he asks in a clear attempt to lighten the mood, “How do I look?”

“Like the easiest target on the battlefield,” Lindir weakly jokes, referencing the complete lack of top between the strapped-on shoulder armour and the way the metallic skirt barely covers Elrohir’s bits, let alone anything else. Elrohir just grins and pats Lindir’s arm again.

Lindir still needs a minute or two to just breathe, and Elrohir waits with him, until Lindir finally nods. He mumbles, “Okay, I... I think I’m alright.” And Elrohir sweeps him up in one arm to lead him out.

As soon as they’re on the floor, they have to part again, Elrohir heading a completely different way.

And Lindir’s trudging back to his section, half expecting Elrond to be gone already.

But Elrond’s still sitting there alone. He half rises when he sees Lindir, but Lindir comes to the edge of the table, and Elrond lowers back into this seat. He looks at Lindir in full concern, nothing else, and Lindir doesn’t know if he can handle that, even if it’s better than being judged negatively for how he is with Elrohir. He mumbles, “I’m sorry—”

“Please, stop,” Elrond cuts in. “You have nothing to apologize for.”

Lindir closes his mouth, shuffles his feet, and tries again, “I can... get a different server for you...”

Elrond shakes his head, looking away, and Lindir notices his fist tighten against the table. He sighs, “I’m sorry, Lindir. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’ll leave—”

Somehow, that’s even worse, and Lindir falls apart again immediately, rushing to say, “No, no, please—”

“It’s your work, I shouldn’t have presumed—”


But Elrond’s already climbing out of the booth, and Lindir steps instinctively aside, giving Elrond room. “I’ll give Thranduil a call and insist he meet me somewhere else.”


And just like that, Elrond’s walking out of Lindir’s life. He leaves without a second look, while Lindir stares and tries to stop his knees from giving out. He knows that once Elrond’s through those doors, he’ll likely never come back.

Spent, Lindir slips into Elrond’s seat and cries himself out, grateful for the privacy of his section.

By the time Thranduil returns, Lindir’s spilled every drop of water in his body. Thranduil, thankfully, either doesn’t notice or care how red Lindir’s eyes are, and he’s already scrubbed the tearstains away. Thranduil orders food and spends the rest of the night on his phone, until Meludir wanders over, having no one in his own section for the moment, and drapes himself over Thranduil’s lap. He distracts Thranduil for Lindir. Lindir actually takes a sip of alcohol when Thranduil drunkenly offers him that, but no more.

By the time his shift’s over, he feels like he’s lost all ability to function. Elrohir stops him to ask if he wants a ride, but then Erestor shows up and asks for a word with Lindir, so Lindir tells Elrohir to leave without him.

Erestor gives him his final warning despite, apparently, the usual large sum that was left for him tonight. He knows Elrond must’ve left it. The fact that Elrond tipped him after that mess just makes him feel worse. He takes the bus home and crashes down, falling asleep immediately, and waking up no better.

His next shift is as uneventful as usual, his patrons visibly annoyed with him for refusing to touch them or respond to their advances, even verbal ones that he used to marginally counter for the sake of his job. It’s a busy night, and neither Feren nor Meludir come to bail him out. Elrohir looks uncharacteristically exhausted by the end and is gone in a heartbeat, Lindir left to trudge into Erestor’s office when he’s gestured over.

He knows what’s coming. He slips into the familiar seat and stares at a midpoint on Erestor’s desk, while Erestor sits and tells him in a sympathetic voice, “I’m sorry, Lindir, but... this just isn’t working.”

Lindir has no defense. He nods.

“There was a while there where you showed promise, and you even brought us a substantial client. ...But that client has cancelled his membership, and without his tips, we really won’t be getting any steady contributions from you.”

It doesn’t seem possible for Lindir to feel any more terrible, but hearing that it’s official, that Elrond won’t be coming back, is the final straw. Lindir’s beyond tears. He just says, “I understand.”

“I’m sorry. We’ll still give you a good reference. You’re punctual and clean; I’m sure you’ll find other work easily.”

Other work that won’t involve sucking Elrond off. Not that this job is currently providing that. He doesn’t even know where he’ll look. He’s terrified to even think about it. The irony is that Elrond gave him his only solace—the tips he’s saved from Elrond will at least cover him for a little while until he can pull himself together enough to crawl out of this pit.

If he ever does.

Erestor doesn’t say anything more, so Lindir mumbles, “Thanks,” and dismisses himself.

There’s nothing to pack up at his station. Feren and Meludir are already gone for the night. Lindir halfheartedly considers leaving them a note with his cell number on it—maybe he should at least retain friends. But being attached to people was what got him into this.

He leaves on his own.

He heads to the bus stop but gets on another one—if there’s any time he could use ‘boyfriend privileges,’ it’s now.

He finds, to his immense relief, Elrohir in the lobby, chatting with Elladan off to the side. They look like they’re about to head out, even though it’s the middle of the night. Lindir’s overtly aware he’s underdressed for such an exquisite place in only jeans and a loose white shirt that keeps slipping off one shoulder. As he gets closer to the brothers, he picks up what they’re saying—an argument, it sounds like—and then Elladan spots him over Elrohir’s shoulder and grimly nods.

Lindir, puzzled by the expression, halts at their side. Elrohir blinks down at him, looking completely taken by surprise, and Lindir opens his mouth to explain his presence, but can’t.

He’s not even sure he looks as ruined as he is. It’s been so many things that he’s just sort of... numb... with it. He still hasn’t decided if he wants to spill it all and cry on Elrohir’s shoulder or bottle it up and ask Elrohir to fuck him for a distraction.

Before he can choose, Elrohir sweeps him up and draws him away from Elladan, mumbling, “We need to talk.” To Elladan, he calls, “If he shows up, just tell him I’ll be a few minutes.”

Lindir doesn’t understand. He’s taken all the way over to the other side of the lobby, vast enough that they won’t be heard if they’re quiet, and Elrohir gestures for him to take a seat on the thickly upholstered couch. Elrohir follows, sitting close, and takes Lindir’s hand in his.

Lindir stares down at it. When he looks back at Elrohir’s face, Elrohir looks like the troubled one. Lindir’s chest clenches, and Elrohir starts, “I’m sorry, Lindir, I am. You’re a great guy. A really great guy. And I’m just... not.”

Lindir blinks. He’s lost.

Elrohir seems to be waiting for him, but when he says nothing, Elrohir goes on, “You’re really sweet, Lindir. You don’t just want sex—you want romance. I know that. And if you’re ever going to get over that married person and move on, I... I shouldn’t be holding you back from that.”

“You’re not—”

“I am. I’m sorry, I was selfish. I really thought it could work, and I really do like you, but I don’t love you, and the longer we’re together, the more I see how much you need to be loved. You deserve to be loved. You have emotional needs and I’m just not able to meet them.”

Lindir’s head is spinning. He can’t believe this is happening now. He whispers hoarsely, “You’re breaking up with me.”

“I’m sorry,” Elrohir insists, looking genuinely tortured, even though he never loved Lindir in the first place and Lindir’s the one with his whole world coming apart at the seams—his crush, his job, his boyfriend... “I was going to tell you after work the other day, but then you were so upset, and I couldn’t, and then tonight I was actually going to drive by your place for a bit—I didn’t want to do it by text—aaand I just realized right now that it’s pretty telling you were coming here, shit—sorry, whatever you need, babe, I’m still here for you—we’ll still be friends—”

Lindir hiccups. It’s the precursor to more tears. He doesn’t know why. He doesn’t even love Elrohir. Being with Elrohir is part of what ruined everything. But Elrohir was all he had and now he has no one. He bursts into torrential sobs.

Elrohir looks horrified. Lindir wants to reassure him but can’t, is busy crying, and somewhere in the background, he can hear Elrond’s voice, puncturing through everything. Of course; they must have been waiting for him. Lindir tries to will the tears back into his eyes, but more come out instead. Elrohir mutters, “Shit, Lindir, I’m sorry—”

“S-s-s’not your f-fault,” Lindir sobs. His hands dart up to scrub away the tears, but they come faster than he can stop them. He’s trembling violently.

Elrond’s voice is the next one to say, “Lindir,” and Lindir looks over to see him standing beside the couch, looking so perfect, and all Lindir can do is hiccup and cry. He can feel his nose running. Only sparing Elrohir a single glance, Elrond demands, “What did you do?”

“Broke up with him, but I swear, I didn’t think he’d be this upset—we weren’t in love or anything—”

Elrond gives him a furious look, only to melt again when Lindir wails, because there was a cry stuck in his throat he had to get out, and now he can’t stop it. Elrond drops down in front of Lindir, petting his hair away from his wet face and reaching around his shoulders—Lindir lunges forward, clinging to Elrond tight and ruining Elrond’s suit with the waterworks he can’t turn off.


“Just go.”


“You broke up with him, Elrohir; I’m not sure how much good you can do right now.”

Elrohir makes a few more noises of protest, but Lindir says nothing, agreeing; he’d rather have Elrond any day, and Elrohir was going to be his comfort but is now part of the problem. And Elrohir still has his job. And Elrohir isn’t bogged down with the kind of love Lindir is, could never understand, at least not this, and Lindir’s not sure he could let go of Elrond anyway, even if his life depended on it. He feels like it does.

He’s vaguely aware of Elladan and Elrohir leaving, but he doesn’t turn to look and can’t see much anyway—his eyes have become frosted glass, decorated by tears, and he can’t let go of Elrond to wipe at them. Elrond stays bent over him until Lindir’s stopped making that horrid whining noise and is just regular crying.

Then Elrond gently lifts him off the couch, and Lindir lets himself be helped to his feet, still thickly intertwined with Elrond’s body. Elrond pets him softly and murmurs, “The lobby might not be the best place for this. Would you be alright to come up to my suite...?”

Lindir nods furiously, sniffing, “Y-yes, p-please...” That’s the only place he ever really wants to be any more. He’s at least glad for the late hour—during the day, there’d surely be more witnesses to his breakdown. But Elrond is the only one and takes him slowly towards the elevator. The entire walk there, Lindir mumbles apologies, but Elrond hushes them all.

Elrond’s place is just as Lindir remembers it. Just as clean and tidy. He knows now why Elrond doesn’t seem to worry about bringing him home—Elrond’s once-wife is apparently long gone, though Lindir doesn’t know if they’re technically separated or not. From the way Elrohir made it sound, they must be. It doesn’t matter. Lindir didn’t see if Arwen was at the desk or not. He’s still crying as he stumbles out of the doors, but it’s less. Elrond’s presence feels soothing again, like it used to, and Elrond’s body is so warm against him, Elrond’s arms strong and reassuring. Elrond takes Lindir into the living room and sets him on the couch, then cups his cheek to lift his face and promises, “I’ll be right back. I’m going to boil some water—we’ll have tea.”

Lindir might cry all over again. It doesn’t seem possible that Elrond could be so perfect. He leaves, but Lindir can still see him over the island, filling and setting down the kettle, and then Elrond’s back and stepping out of his shoes and sitting down on the couch. Lindir hurriedly pushes his own shoes off, muttering a new, “Sorry.” Elrond ignores them, even though the discarded items are so out of place against the rest of his home’s splendor.

“It’s going to be okay,” Elrond tells him, in a voice so genuine that Lindir almost believes it. He sits close, their knees touching, and puts one hand on Lindir’s leg to give a little squeeze. It wracks the final hiccup out of Lindir’s body.

He sniffs, “I know.” Then he rubs at his nose with his sleeve pulled over his knuckles and adds, “It’s not... not Elrohir’s f-fault... he was good to me...”

“He shouldn’t have left you there,” Elrond insists. “For you to have come all the way here in the middle of the night clearly meant you needed something, and he should’ve listened to you first. ...I’m listening now; you’ll at least have that.”

It’s not Elrond’s burden. Lindir means to be quiet but breaks anyway, “I-I just got fired, and it’s my fault, I knew I should be, I only ever did anything with you, and then you left because of me—”

“Lindir,” Elrond cuts in, sounding as pained as Lindir feels. “I’m so sorry. ...But please, don’t think it was your fault—I had to leave. I couldn’t keep frequenting a sex club where my son works. ...If I’d known you would be fired for my leaving...”

Despite his relief to at least know it wasn’t entirely his fault, Lindir shakes his head and mumbles, “N-no, I was a terrible host, I...” But he should’ve thought of that, of Elrond not wanting to see his own son in compromising positions. Lindir sniffs again and starts scrubbing at his damp cheeks.

“Elrohir shouldn’t have left you at a time like this,” Elrond says. His voice is a tad bitter, and that concern warms Lindir’s heart.

He still jumps to defend Elrohir. “He didn’t know...” Another involuntary shiver. “A-and it’s okay, really, I didn’t... he’s right; we didn’t love each other, and I felt so guilty being with him anyway, knowing I was in love with someone else, and then he invites me to dinner with his family and I realize that someone else is his father...” He trails off, realizing belatedly that he just admitted exactly who he’s in love with.

Though Lindir’s sure he’s always been obvious, Elrond looks shocked.

Lindir timidly adds, “I-I didn’t mean to, of course, I didn’t know you were... but ever since the first time you came in, and... and you’re so good to me, so kind, a-and it feels so right when I’m with you—you like tea and Maglor and reading, and talking with you is just so natural, even though everything’s unnatural to me, but with you I just...” He’s going to cry again. He can feel it. His eyes are wet, vision blurring. He feels like he can’t contact his limbs, can’t understand proportion and weight and distance, is just sort of fading into the recesses of his own mind and is probably going to pass out...

Elrond reaches over to gently thumb the tears away. He comes closer, one of his knees poking between Lindir’s, his hand staying on Lindir’s face, burning. “Lindir... the other reason I stopped coming is that I realized some time ago I was starting to care too deeply for you, and I couldn’t be around you, knowing I wanted to be with you, while you were dating my son.” While Lindir gapes, Elrond winces and adds, “I thought it was bad enough that I was twice your age, but now I have to live with knowing I slept with my son’s boyfriend...”

“Iwantedyouto,” Lindir mumbles so fast it slurs together, unsure if Elrond could even understand him. He can’t even understand him. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” And then he’s falling into that mantra again, and the tears are falling loose. The emotions are eating him alive. He doesn’t know what to think, what to feel. He wonders vainly if he’s hallucinating, if his mind’s broken down so much in his panic that he heard what he wanted to hear. The tears come streaming down his cheeks, and Elrond tugs Lindir forward, wrapping him in another crushing hug.

Lindir sobs against Elrond for far too long. He topples himself, is so overwhelmed that he can’t hold himself back, and when unconscious comes clawing at his exhausted mind, he can’t do anything to fight it. For the second time, he falls asleep in Elrond’s arms.

Chapter Text

For the first few blurry moments, he isn’t really dreaming, but he stays snuggled under the covers anyway, clinging to the last vestige of sleep. The covers are thick and warm, the mattress unduly soft, and Lindir nuzzles into the pillow, breathing in his favourite scent. It’s not one he gets often, but the sort of thing he treasures when he does. It’s sort of like his favourite sweater.

And then, bit-by-bit, Lindir remembers that he isn’t wearing his sweater—he’s not even at home. He doesn’t have any blankets that feel like this, and his bed isn’t this wide. He squints his eyes open through the hazy light and sees a book on the nightstand. The walls aren’t the colour he remembers, but that could be the poor lighting—he rolls over to see it slinking through drawn curtains. It isn’t quite that pitch-black tone of the dead of night, but the early start of the morning.

It’s definitely not his bedroom. But he’s been here before. With a self-deprecating groan, Lindir wilts deeper into the blankets. He’s in Elrond’s bed. That explains why it smells so good.

He guiltily inhales again and tries to remember the mess of last night. He’s officially unemployed. He’s single. But Elrond said...

He’s afraid to even touch on that part of the memory, because he was so upset that he could’ve misheard anything, and there was so little talking before he just burst again. He can feel the imprint of his phone against his leg and digs under the blankets, unzipping his pocket.

He means to just check the time, but there are three unread messages from Elrohir that he flicks through—I’m so sorry, I hope you’re okay. I mean it, I still want to be there for you. And, I totally get it if you don’t want to talk to me or need space or whatever, but I wanna know you’re alive, sorry about sticking you with my dad—I didn’t know what to do, but he’s really good at helping people I swear. And finally, Called Dad and he said you’re okay, but you were fired. I’m so sorry I did it then! I’ll help you find a new job if you want, okay? You’re a good person, Lindir. You’ll be fine.

Lindir rereads each a few times before replying to the last one, I’m fine. It’s okay, I don’t blame you. I’m not upset with you. Thanks.

Wherever Elrohir is, he’s probably asleep, and a new response doesn’t come through, but Lindir feels relieved anyway. He doesn’t really know what he wants his new relationship with Elrohir to be like. It all sort of depends on what happens with Elrond. And he doesn’t know what to do with that, so he hides under the blankets and stalls for a bit longer. He wonders if Elrond slept out on the couch. It doesn’t seem fair. And there’s room in the bed for two...

For a few minutes, Lindir just listens, hoping to catch some noise beyond the bedroom door that’ll tell him what to do, but it’s quiet, and eventually, his mouth is too dry to go on. Still too scared to venture far, he slips into the attached bathroom to scoop up water with his hands. His face is a wreck in the mirror, and he washes it off, wiping away the evidence of tears. At least his eyes aren’t red anymore. His mouth still feels stale, and he eyes the single toothbrush in the mug next to the faucet, knowing it must be Elrond’s. There’s a tube of toothpaste he eventually squeezes onto his finger, hoping Elrond won’t mind. He wonders what doing home visits is like for servers—does Meludir wake up and wander into stranger’s bathrooms all the time? Feren doesn’t seem like he would, but Meludir might. Elrohir would. A part of Lindir knows he was never cut out for that line of work anyway.

But it lead him to Elrond, and he’ll always be grateful for that. He tugs at the loose shirt that can’t cover both shoulders at a time so sort of slips over the ends of both. He doesn’t look his best, but it’s something. Then he finger-combs his hair out and tells himself he has to leave eventually. Besides, as much as he likes the fantasy of being in Elrond’s bedroom, he wants to see Elrond.

So he timidly pokes out of the door, sort of relieved when the hallway is empty. He’s fairly certain Elrond’s children live with him, and Lindir’s not ready to face them. He wanders all the way out to the living room and finds Elrond seated on the couch, sorting out papers across the coffee table. He has a thin pair of reading glasses on that somehow make him look even more distinguished. He looks up as soon as Lindir appears in the doorway, and Lindir mumbles for a sheepish greeting, “Hi.”

Elrond smiles wide, deep, with more warmth than the blankets offered. Lindir finds himself beaming back, unable to stop it, but he still just fidgets in place until Elrond gestures him over, asking, “Did you sleep well?”

Lindir nods. He wanders closer, instinct driving him further than he means to. Elrond slips off the reading glasses to place on the table atop the papers, giving Lindir his full attention, and Lindir blurts an automatic, “I’m so sorry.” He slips onto the couch anyway, sitting half an arm’s length from Elrond and taking everything in—dress pants, and a maroon knit-shirt that looks unduly comfortable. A few strands of Elrond’s long hair are clipped together in the back, the rest pouring down his shoulders. Staring at Elrond’s hair prompts Lindir to twist his fingers into his own messy locks, self-consciously combing them out more and resisting the urge for Elrond’s instead.

Elrond gives him a fond look and returns, “Please, it’s no trouble—I’ve grown used to guarding you while you sleep.” Lindir’s sure he’s blushing a hot pink. Before he can apologize again, Elrond rises from the couch with a subtle stretch of his arms. “I’ll fetch you some tea. Are you hungry?”

He is—hasn’t eaten since before last night’s shift, but he doesn’t want to be away from Elrond for the time it’ll take to make food, and he doesn’t want to impose. So he just shrugs. Elrond gives him a knowing look, and Lindir gets the distinct impression that Elrond can see right through him.

As soon as Elrond’s walking towards the kitchenette, Lindir gets up to follow. He knows he’s acting like a lost puppy but can’t help himself, and Elrond doesn’t seem to mind. He guides Lindir into the kitchen and sets the kettle to boil, then opens a drawer next to the dishwasher that holds a wide range of tea boxes. Elrond waits for him, so Lindir giddily chooses an athelas blend. Elrond fetches two clear mugs to drop the tea bags into, then opens the fridge and asks, “What would you like?”

“Oh, I don’t want to be a bother...”

“You aren’t one.”

“Maybe, um... toast?” Elrond’s fridge, like Lindir’s, is mostly plain, raw things that require actual cooking, though Lindir never seems to have much time to invest in that, and he doubts Elrond has any at all. But then, Elrond lives atop a restaurant.

Elrond draws out a loaf of bread and asks, “What would you like on it? Butter, marmalade...?”

“Is that strawberry jam?”

“It appears to be.”

“Then that, please. Thank you.”

Elrond extracts the jar and shuts the fridge, only to open it again after he’s placed two slices in the toaster. Lindir ventures a timid, “And you...?”

“I ate while you slept.”


For a moment after, they’re quiet. Lindir doesn’t want to be the one to broach the subject that must be on both their minds, and he’s content to just enjoy the domesticity of it—this is the stuff of his fantasies. Of course, in those, he’d usually be the one cooking for Elrond, and he’d be wearing nothing but an apron, and he’d serve Elrond before eating his own breakfast off Elrond’s lap...

The toast popping up interrupts his daydream, and Lindir does his best to keep it down. Elrond fetches a plate for him and spreads the jam across it, pausing once to ask, “Is that enough?”

Lindir nods and tries to contain how ecstatic he is over the simple concept of Elrond preparing his toast at all. The water boils not long after, and Elrond carries the two steaming mugs back into the living room.

Then they’re on the couch again, and just as Lindir lifts his toast to his mouth, Elrond says, “We should talk.” His tone is soft, unobtrusive, but Lindir still tenses. He has to force himself to take his bite like normal. Lifting his hand to cover his mouth as a crumb or two clings to his lips, Lindir nods. But he puts the toast back after. Before he can set his plate on the table, Elrond tells him, “Please, go on. I just want to... to clarify a few things first. I don’t think it’ll be anything too upsetting.”

A great deal of things that are normal for everyone else are upsetting for Lindir, but he trusts Elrond’s judgment and dares to keep the plate in his lap. He still hesitates to take the next bite, and Elrond lets out a long breath and starts.

“You seem to be under the impression that I might be married. I’m not. But I was, and I’m afraid I haven’t had anyone since to give me that push to clear out a few things—the ring, for instance. I did love her, and she was the mother of my children, all three of which you’ve now met. For that, she’ll always be a part of my family. ...But she was more like them than me in some areas, most noticeably in her extraversion. She was quite active and lively, and I am... not.” He pauses, hesitating, during which Lindir’s heart skips a beat—he’s not either. Finally, Elrond continues, “We just wanted different things out of life. She moved far west, across the ocean. We still write to one another occasionally. But the marriage, as it were, is over. ...Which leaves me not taken, just old. And the father of your ex.”

It’s an incredible relief, in a way, and Lindir takes a moment to soak that in before he mumbles, “We were, um... just a thing of convenience, really.” Elrond lifts both eyebrows but doesn’t argue—perhaps he knows his son well enough to expect that. Then Lindir fidgets and turns back to his toast, only to add after half a bite, “And I really don’t care about your age. I love everything about you.” Elrond’s expression softens, and Lindir buries himself in another few bites.

“You really are very sweet,” Elrond sighs.

Lindir takes the compliment and basks in it, eating a little faster for it. When he’s finished his first slice, he moves the plate to the coffee table, too busy with more important things to go through the second, and takes a sip of tea. He needs the extra time to psyche himself up to turn to Elrond and say, “I... I don’t want to leave and never see you again.”

“We are hiring,” Elrond admits, which instantly brightens Lindir up, though Elrond adds right after, “but that might be a little much if you’re truly interested in dating me.”

“Both,” Lindir insists. He can feel himself grinning so broadly that it almost hurts. “Really, I’d take almost any position—I really love your hotel, it’s just so beautiful!” And he wants to say a lot about the other thing but loses his voice just thinking about it. After a second of hopelessly opening and closing his mouth, he sighs, “I just... love every minute I spend with you.”

Elrond’s smile is so wondrously fond that Lindir breaks to think he could inspire it. Elrond reaches out a hand to sweep a few strands of dark hair over Lindir’s shoulders and lingers to caress his cheek. Lindir practically mewls and leans into the touch. “I find it difficult to believe,” Elrond quietly starts, “that such a gorgeous creature could be interested in me.” Lindir means to say just how very interested he is, but Elrond goes on, “I don’t believe I’ve ever enjoyed literature conversations so much, nor has the simple act of sharing tea with someone given me such joy. You come to me soaking wet from the rain, and I enjoy you, dressed like one of Thranduil’s pets in an embarrassingly public place, and I enjoy you, you fall asleep in my lap, and still, I enjoy you. You appreciate fine music, you listen so well, and you say the sweetest things. It broke my heart to take you, knowing that you would go home to another, and yet I couldn’t say no when you came to me again... you are a true gem, Lindir. You don’t seem to know it, but you are.” With a laugh, he adds, “You must be, for you managed to lure me into a sex club again and again—I’m sure any of my children would leap to tell you how dreadfully out of character that is.”

Lindir’s absolutely melting. He feels like the entire world’s fading away to just this couch, his skin prickling with the magic of their connection. He mumbles sheepishly, “Elrohir did think a boyfriend would be a good cover story for working there, so he wouldn’t have to tell you...” Then he realizes he’s just betrayed Elrohir, but even more importantly: “Oh, I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have helped a lie to you...”

Elrond just chuckles and leans forward to kiss Lindir’s forehead. He does that too often, when Lindir wants it lower.

As Elrond pulls back, Lindir shifts up, darting to hover just before Elrond’s lips, and Elrond, blessedly, closes the distance for a real kiss. It’s just surface, soft, until Elrond’s arm runs down from Lindir’s shoulder to encircle his waist, and Elrond’s abruptly tugged forward into Elrond’s lap—a place that he hopes becomes even more familiar. Sitting there feels so right, and Lindir cups Elrond’s face in his hands, delightedly running his fingers back through Elrond’s hair and asking, “Really? We’ll really be...?”

“I will be yours,” Elrond promises, kissing Lindir’s cheek before nuzzling his nose into Lindir’s and purring, “and you will be mine.”

As far as Lindir’s concerned, he’s been Elrond’s from the day Elrond first stepped into the club. He tosses his arms so tightly around Elrond’s shoulders that he’s almost afraid he’ll leave damage. He squeezes Elrond so close, absolutely glued together, and Elrond kisses his ear and pets back through his hair. Lindir can only groan, “I’m so happy!”

“You are too precious,” Elrond chuckles. He gives Lindir’s hair a little tug, and Lindir gasps, pulling obediently back so Elrond can kiss him again. This one is full, and Lindir lets his tongue slide into Elrond’s mouth. Elrond immediately licks at it, sucks it deeper, and pushes back to claim Lindir in return. Lindir means to bury Elrond in just kisses, but his hips buck forward of their own accord. He grinds into Elrond’s stomach, and one of Elrond’s hands strays down to the back of Lindir’s jeans. They’ve done this all backwards, but Lindir wouldn’t change that, because now there’s no reason to hold back. He doesn’t want to take it slow.

He wants Elrond in him now, and he gasps between kisses, “Please,” but can’t get any more out, because their mouths are so busy with one another and he doesn’t have the heart to stay away for long. Elrond’s hand squeezes at Lindir’s rear, and it pours a languid moan into Elrond’s mouth. Lindir squirms in Elrond’s lap, feeling the bulge below and pressing eagerly into it. He detangles his hands from Elrond’s hair just so he can run down Elrond’s chest, feeling him through his clothes, though when Lindir reaches Elrond’s pants, he doesn’t dare undo them. He wishes he were back in the club with no coverage—at least that would start things and mean less fabric between them. He wonders vainly if he can get Eriador to give him some of their costumes. But then, if he does get a job again soon, he’ll still have tip money he can spend on whatever outfits Elrond likes.

By the time Elrond’s got both hands on Lindir’s ass, kneading both cheeks at once through Lindir’s jeans, Lindir’s a breathless mess, and Elrond pulls back to mutter, “Unfortunately, I do live with others...”

Lindir nods and almost invites Elrond back to his place. That’s what he always did with Elrohir.

But Elrond hikes Lindir up and climbs right off the couch, Lindir yelping and locking his legs tight around Elrond’s middle. It feels ridiculous, but it’s not far to the bedroom, and Elrond carries him straight there, Lindir awkwardly shutting the door again over Elrond’s shoulder, the light still off but the morning a dim glow through the curtains. As Elrond falls onto the bed, crushing Lindir under him, he promises, “I will take you on genuine dates, I promise.”

“You bought me dinner,” Lindir reminds him, though of course more would be welcome. Endless ones.

Elrond goes on, “Maglor has a concert coming up. It would be quite easy for me to secure another ticket.”

“I love you.”

As soon as he’s said it, Lindir wonders if he should’ve, if it was too much too fast, even though Elrond surely knows, but Elrond merely smiles, kisses Lindir lightly and murmurs, “I have fallen rather deeply in love with you as well.”

Lindir tosses himself into another wild kiss, pulling Elrond down against him, because he thinks he’s going to cry and needs a distraction. It’s too good to be true. Elrond tastes just as perfect as Lindir remembers, now with a hint of athelas tea, and he feels as strong, as sturdy, as right in Lindir’s arms. He covers Lindir in a slew of kisses and asks against the side of Lindir’s face, “Now... what do you wish me to do to you?”

At first, Lindir just makes a useless noise, because Elrond’s crotch is grinding into his and he’s helpless under that feeling. But he sucks himself back in and mumbles, “Oh... please, I... I liked it when you were a client... when you bought me...”

“I bought a service,” Elrond corrects, even though that still isn’t right—Lindir always offered first.

Lindir struggles and continues, blushing up a storm, “No, I... that’s why I applied at Eriador in the first place; I wanted to be... to be used, but then I couldn’t go the distance... and then I met you, and I wanted you to use me...” He doesn’t know how to explain it any better. But Elrond’s quiet like he understands and kisses Lindir again—a long one, full of tongue, that leaves Lindir writhing beneath the mattress and Elrond’s firm body.

When they separate, Elrond murmurs, “I’ll try to accommodate.” More kisses, and Lindir’s drowning in them, worried he’ll come from the attention alone.

But Elrond starts to leave Lindir’s mouth, and Lindir tries to follow, only for Elrond to push him lightly back. Lindir submits instantly, lying back while Elrond kisses down his chin, then his neck, opening wide to suck at his adam’s apple and lick across his throat. Lindir gasps, and Elrond stops to slip an arm under Lindir’s waist, hiking him up until his head’s safely nestled in the pillows. The blankets are already disheveled, and Lindir squirms around them, Elrond pushing them away—Lindir regrets not making Elrond’s bed properly, before more little licks sweep him away. Elrond uses one finger to tug down Lindir’s top, kissing his collarbone, then purrs across Lindir’s skin, “May I remove this?”

“Everything,” Lindir insists. Elrond’s hands take hold of Lindir’s shirt from either side, scrunching it up, and then Lindir has to lift up to help as Elrond rips it off. It’s tossed over the edge of the bed. As Lindir settles back down, he adds, “Anything—I’ll wear anything you like...”

“You did have a few delectable options,” Elrond tells him, now licking across the top of his chest. Elrond’s hair falls down to tickle his sides, and Lindir doesn’t know where to put his hands, so just lets them stay on Elrond’s shoulders. “But I think, for now, I’d prefer you bare...” Lindir groans, head tossing back as Elrond makes his way to the first nipple.

A few licks in a circle around it, and Elrond laves over the left bud, pulling it into his mouth to suck. The pleasure is exquisite. Lindir squirms in the pillows, biting his bottom lip as he twists his fingers in Elrond’s hair, trying not to tug, but each time Elrond sucks him, the jolt of bliss is too much. Elrond suckles him nearly raw before releasing the pebbled nub and licking soothingly over it.

Lindir lets out a breathy, “Elrond,” as Elrond laps over to the next nipple, treating it just the same—he tongues it, sucks it in, makes Lindir writhe and moan. It’s far too good already, and he thrusts his hips against Elrond’s chest, ashamed but uncontrolled—Elrond robs him of it. He could lose himself in this, but he tries to keep his eyes open, tries to watch Elrond’s face.

When Elrond releases the second nipple, he gives it a light nip that makes Lindir gasp, and he murmurs, “You’re very sensitive there...”

On sheer instinct, Lindir mumbles, “Sorry.”

Elrond kisses his chest and insist, “I adore it.” He gives Lindir a sincere smile and ducks down to lick lower, straight down Lindir’s flat stomach, fingers tracing Lindir’s lithe sides, and then Elrond’s dipping his tongue into Lindir’s navel, and Lindir really can’t believe this is happening. His hips are shaking. Elrond strokes them, thumbs hooking into the unused belt loops of Lindir’s jeans, and he looks up again to ask, “May I?”

“I’m yours,” Lindir moans. “Yours, all yours...”

Then, to Lindir shock and delight, Elrond plucks at the zipper with his teeth, dragging it straight down as his hands pull down the sides. Lindir’s jeans are smoothly opened and taken down his thighs in one smooth go, leaving behind the pink panties he wore to work last night. He’s embarrassed all over again, ready to explain, but Elrond smiles at the lacy concoction, eyeing the little bow on the front. To Lindir, he sighs, “Is there no end to your treasures?” Lindir would still explain, but Elrond bites into the top and uses his teeth alone to drag them down, following Lindir’s jeans, until Lindir’s hard cock springs out and Lindir’s wringing his thighs together, horribly ashamed and turned on all at once.

Elrond rises enough to pull the pants and panties the rest of the way off, leaving Lindir utterly naked. Elrond’s hands quickly return to Lindir’s outer thighs, tracing up them, the long digits digging lightly in to squeeze, and Lindir absolutely falls apart. He mewls and bucks up, trembling and rock-hard. Elrond strokes in between Lindir’s legs, carefully avoiding Lindir’s crotch, and asks, “When was your last test...?”

“A few days ago,” Lindir mumbles, unable to put together time right now. “I-I haven’t had anyone since! I only had... you and... um...” He doesn’t want to say it, not now, and before that can spoil Elrond’s mood, he begs, “Please, I won’t have anyone else again! Even if I hadn’t been fired, I wouldn’t have—only you, I want you so much.”

Elrond leans down again to nip at Lindir’s hip and reply, “I haven’t had anyone else either. ...So I suppose you may remain raw for this.”

“Me...?” Lindir squeaks, only to see exactly what Elrond means—Elrond turns his face and lowers, nuzzling right into the base of Lindir’s cock. Lindir squeals, hands leaping to cover his mouth, only for Elrond’s eyes to flicker up, and Lindir diverts his hands to the sheets, remembering Elrond telling him last time not to hide his noises. Elrond sticks out his tongue to lick Lindir’s shaft, sliding right up. One hand stays on Lindir’s thigh, and the other slides down to cup Lindir’s balls, rolling them gently, and Lindir arches off the bed, crying out. He can’t believe this is happening. But Elrond licks and licks at him, then rises and opens wide, popping right onto the head of Lindir’s cock.

Lindir screams. The sudden pressure, the heat, the wet tongue that laps over him is too much. He’d buck up, but Elrond’s firmly holding him down. Elrond gives the head a little suckle that makes Lindir see stars, then slides lower down, about halfway, and pulls off to bob back on again. Elrond does this a few times, then pulls off with a slick noise, and Lindir whines, broken. Elrond licks consolingly at his cock and kisses down to nip at his balls. Lindir’s back to squirming uncontrollably. Elrond’s hands circle around, under Lindir’s legs, and push at them, until Lindir lifts both, and Elrond ducks to lick between.

“E-Elrond...” Lindir shakily mumbles, completely lost, as Elrond licks his crack. He wouldn’t have even imagined such a thing. But Elrond pries the cheeks of his ass apart with two thumbs and licks right over Lindir’s hole, wracking out the largest shiver yet. Elrond covers it in surface licks and kisses, until Lindir’s begging, “Elrond, please—” He’s terrified he’s going to burst before he gets to reciprocate.

When Elrond stops, Lindir thinks he’ll cry. Elrond keeps holding Lindir’s legs up, but he rises back to sitting and leans right over Lindir, reaching for the nightstand. It hits Lindir again that Elrond’s still fully dressed, and Lindir plucks lightly at Elrond shirt while the drawer rustles.

Retracting, Elrond pulls his shirt over his head, evidently understanding Lindir’s wordless pleas, and goes back to fetch a clear tube and a bar of chocolate. Lindir just stares at it, while Elrond unwraps the end and admits, “A guilty midnight snack. Not exactly enough to make this sanitary, but it should at least give a better taste.” He pops a single square into his mouth, starts chewing, then breaks off a second to hold in his teeth. That he lowers down, and Lindir plucks it from Elrond’s mouth, letting the supple dark chocolate melt across his tongue. It’s a little bitter—the expensive, well-made kind, not the overly sugary convenient store brand. Chocolate during sex. It doesn’t seem fair that anyone could be that perfect.

The next time Elrond kisses him, it tastes just of chocolate, though Lindir doesn’t think he would’ve minded being kissed after being licked below—Elrond kissed him after a blow job. But he’s not complaining. Elrond keeps kissing him and rubbing their bodies together, that single pair of pants in the way, while he deals with the lube. Lindir feels damp fingers probing at his rear, and he tries to spread his legs wider for it, tries to give Elrond room. Elrond rubs over his hole and breaks the kiss to purr, “I’d open you with my tongue, but I wanted our first time whilst dating to last.”

“I would’ve come,” Lindir mumbles, even though Elrond’s finger popping inside him might be just as bad. Elrond’s slow, always so gentle, and pushes gradually in, a little bit deeper at a time. Lindir moans and presses his mouth to Elrond’s again, licking away the last bit of chocolate.

Another finger joins the first, then a third, and Elrond opens him with three, gradually working, until Lindir’s nearly sobbing and begging whenever he gets the chance, “Please, Elrond, ohh—” Elrond, always so good to him, obliges.

Elrond comes over Lindir on all fours, unclasps his trousers, pushes them down enough to free himself, and presses at Lindir’s dripping hole. Before he enters, he diverts one hand to stroke Lindir’s face, and he purrs across Lindir’s lips, “You are everything I could hope for, my Lindir.”

Lindir bursts again, “I love you,” and Elrond smiles and pushes inside.

Even as shallow as the first thrust is, it’s just as amazing as Lindir remembers, the sensation still odd but right at the same time; Elrond’s inside him and it’s half that, half the overwhelming feeling of being penetrated that makes him dart his hands back to Elrond’s shoulders. Elrond pauses, then pushes a little deeper, only to pull out, and works in that little bit more each time. Lindir’s dizzy already, lost and clinging to Elrond for support, grateful that he’s allowed to lie in the bed, because he wouldn’t have the strength to hold himself up. Halfway inside, Elrond grunts, “You’re still very tight...”

“Fuck me,” Lindir returns, nonsensical but unable to care. “Please, please...”

“Don’t let me hurt you...”

“I won’t,” Lindir moans, even though he would, but it doesn’t hurt now, not really, just burns a little in a nondescript way. Elrond prepared him well. Elrond does everything well. He keeps going, until he’s buried to the hilt and just adjusting, wriggling in, and Lindir keens with being full of Elrond.

In that space of just letting them both get used to it, Elrond nips at Lindir’s cheek and suggests, voice admirably steady, “Perhaps we could title your new job... my personal assistant?”

“Oh, yesss,” Lindir groans, instantly loving it. He could do everything Elrond needs for the hotel, and still be Elrond’s host, server, whatever... Elrond grins and runs a hand through Lindir’s hair, playing with it, until Lindir nuzzles into Elrond’s face and pleads, “More, please, I can’t...”

He’s rewarded with Elrond pulling out and swiftly thrusting back in. He gasps with the force, arching again, and Elrond lingers before repeating the action, a little slower, at a new angle, and a few more, and he hits the right spot; Lindir chokes on his cry. Sheer rapture ricochets through his body, and the more Elrond drives into that spot, the more Lindir can’t think, can only feel, only good things. He’s burning up but wouldn’t change a thing. He thinks his voice is broken, coming out strained and high-pitched, and he buries his face in Elrond’s shoulder, only for Elrond to pull him back by the hair and kiss his jaw, his cheek, his mouth, telling him, “You make the most delicious sounds.”

Lindir keens and nudges at Elrond’s face with his nose, until he has Elrond lined up for another kiss—it swallows his next cry. Elrond takes him at a slow but steady pace, rhythmic, and he thinks harder than last time but can’t properly compare, not now, when this just feels like the best he’s ever felt in his life. He can hear the springs of the bed protesting, along with the slap of flesh-on-flesh, Elrond’s pants still caught between, and the wet squelch of Elrond’s cock pressing through the lube. Elrond’s breath is ragged, but Lindir feels far more wrecked. He’s as emotionally drained as physically, driven farther when Elrond purrs against his lips, “You cannot know how much I’ve wanted this, wanted you.” Elrond is all Lindir thinks about, but he can’t fathom it working the other way around. But Elrond makes love to him and sighs, “Having you in my bed is a dream, my beautiful, sweet Lindir...”

Lindir’s eyes sting. His body’s a mess all over—his hips are moving beyond his control, jerking up into Elrond’s in time with their thrusts, and Lindir doesn’t think he could stop them. His chest keeps clenching, and his knuckles are almost sore from clinging so tightly to Elrond’s back, but he can’t let go. He thinks his eyes are wet in the corners, and the more Elrond kisses him, all over his face and deep into his mouth, the more he can’t seem to stop them—tears start trickling down his cheeks. He lets out a tattered sob, and then he’s really crying, and sniffs, trying to hold it back, and breathes, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I love you so much...”

Elrond’s smile is the most magnificent thing he’s ever seen. Elrond shifts his weight, hips still going, still filling Lindir up, but now balanced on elbows and knees, and he threads all ten fingers back into Lindir’s hair. Holding onto Lindir, he brings their mouths together, and that lasting kiss is all Lindir can take. He peaks in a wealth of pleasure, of warmth and love, and screams into Elrond’s mouth, fingers fisting in Elrond’s hair, knees squeezing at Elrond’s side, and he’s glad Elrond didn’t touch his cock because he never would’ve lasted this long, but now he splashes between them one wave after the other. He’s completely overwhelmed and lets himself drown in that feeling.

Elrond continues thrusting into him a few times, then slowly pulls out, and that snaps Lindir enough out of his dizzy reverie to whimper. He’s still crying, still consumed. But he comes slowly back down, panting for air, and feels suddenly empty for Elrond’s absence.

Elrond doesn’t go far. He lifts up and climbs over Lindir’s waist, straddling him and looking down like the sight of Lindir just post-orgasm is enough to finish. Lindir watches, satiated and boneless, as Elrond pumps himself to the end. By the time Lindir finally manages to lift one hand to join Elrond’s around Elrond’s thick cock, there’re only a few strokes left, and then Elrond’s coming. His eyelids fall half closed, but he looks down at Lindir the whole time, his lips parting for a quiet moan. He tries to cover his tip with his hand, but Lindir brushes it away so the release splatters his chest and chin. It’s the best view to have in his afterglow.

For another minute or two, they stay like that, both breathing hard, eyeing one another, and then Lindir’s gaze drops to Elrond’s body, taking in his shirtless chest, memorizing each taut muscle. It breaks the spell enough for Elrond to climb down onto the mattress on Lindir’s side. To Lindir’s delight, Elrond kicks off his pants, leaving them both bare. Then he reaches for the blankets, pulling them back up and trying to smooth out the surface. Even as hot as it is, Lindir likes the cover, likes being with Elrond under the cover, and snuggles ridiculously close to him.

Satisfied with the makeup of the bed, Elrond turns to Lindir and gently thumbs the tears from Lindir’s cheeks, which prompts Lindir to mumble, “Sorry,” again.

“You apologize more than you smile,” Elrond sighs. “We’ll have to ease you out of that habit.”

Lindir almost apologizes again by instinct but quickly catches himself. He tries to explain, even with his voice raspy from overuse, “I’m just... really happy.” Which doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Elrond answers, “As am I,” and kisses Lindir’s forehead. He throws his arm over Lindir’s waist, their knees poking together, bodies still sticky and Lindir still a mess, but they can deal with that later. As Elrond settles back into the pillow, he asks, “I don’t suppose you could go for another nap, after just sleeping?”

Lindir could, actually, because the emotional roller coaster has been just that exhausting, but instead of saying that, he thinks to ask, “How did you sleep?”

“I didn’t,” Elrond admits. “I wanted to keep watch for when you woke, so I could make sure that you were alright.”

Even through the guilt that brings, Lindir’s happy, honoured that Elrond put him first. He would say sorry if he hadn’t just been called on it. He opts for, “Thank you.” Elrond smiles like it’s no trouble and gives Lindir another peck on the lips. Then he settles back, and Lindir whispers, “Good night.”

It isn’t really the night. It’s barely morning, but that doesn’t matter. Lindir completely spent. He lies happily in Elrond’s bed, draped in Elrond’s arms, just enjoying the feeling of Elrond’s body.

And for the first time, he gets to see Elrond fall asleep first against him.

Chapter Text


Lindir almost never dreams of his parents, and he’s fairly certain he isn’t now, although the dream’s dissolving around him. He gives a little grunt and buries deeper into his pillow, then rolls over, finds a more solid, warm thing in front of him, and nuzzles into that instead. But someone knocks on his door again and calls, “Dad, are you in there?”

Lindir blinks his eyes open, finds it fairly dark in the room, and has to fight the urge to sink into Elrond’s body and fall back to sleep. Elrond’s body. Elrond’s lying next to him, sharing the same pillow, an arm thrown haphazardly over Lindir’s hips, under the blankets. Elrond makes an irritated noise, but when another knock comes, he lifts his head and calls, “Sorry—just... having a nap.”

While he yawns, Arwen’s muffled voice answers, “Well, you better wake up fast. Thranduil’s downstairs—he says you have a dinner meeting?”

That opens Elrond’s eyes properly, and he sits up straighter, calling, “Yes, of course—please give him my apologizes and tell him I’ll be right there.” But even as her footsteps retreat, Elrond climbs over to the end of the bed, reaching down to fish his phone out of the pocket of his pants. Lindir just lies where he is, guiltily eyeing Elrond’s naked body, now only the bottom half covered in blankets. He watches the muscles flex in Elrond taut back as he bites back a curse and starts rapidly typing, likely answering a slew of missed texts.

As soon as that’s done, he lies back properly, head returning to the pillows, and turns to look at Lindir. Lindir gives him a timid smile, glad when Elrond returns it.

“I don’t think I’ve ever slept in so late in my life,” Elrond muses, his voice a little sleep-addled and one hand coming to rub at his eyes.

Lindir, knowing it was his fault, mumbles, “Sor—” But Elrond cuts him off by kissing him, the not-really-morning breath a small price to pay for the intimacy of it. Lindir forgets all about his apology, about their problems, and kisses back, squirming tighter against Elrond and wishing they could just go on forever.

But there’s still Thranduil, and Elrond pulls back to sigh, “I suppose we better get up. Even without the nightclub in our lives, it seems we’re trapped in the city’s night schedule.”

Lindir doesn’t want to get up. He doesn’t want to leave this bed. He certainly doesn’t want to go home, even though he could probably use a shower and a change of clothes. In their moment of silence, Elrond brushes another kiss over Lindir’s cheek that makes Lindir giggle.

Elrond’s the responsible one. He sits back up and mutters, “I suppose I’d best have a shower.”

Lindir knows he shouldn’t but still asks, “Can I come?”

“Only if you promise not to tempt me,” Elrond answers. His affectionate expression looks like he’s already tempted, and he drops one hand to idly twist in Lindir’s fanned-out hair. Lindir doesn’t sit up specifically so he won’t dislodge that. Elrond corrects, “That may not be possible, actually. ...But I really don’t have time to fool around.”

“I’ll be good,” Lindir promises.

Familiar, Elrond replies, “You always are,” and bends to peck his forehead.

Then Elrond’s climbing out of bed and offering a hand, and Lindir follows, letting himself be drawn to Elrond’s naked body. The first step towards the attached washroom makes him wince, and Elrond catches it, noting with a new frown, “I’m sorry, Lindir, I should’ve cleaned you up last night...”

“No,” Lindir insists, moving again and finding it unpleasant but not unbearable, “I was glad to keep your cum in me.” But that sounds horribly ridiculous, and he blushes hot right after saying it. Elrond grins and wraps an arm around his shoulders, guiding him along.

The bright light of the washroom is difficult to take at first, so Lindir just stands there and rubs at his eyes, adjusting while Elrond brushes his teeth. Lindir uses his finger again, though Elrond notes, “We have plenty of spares.”

Lindir spits out his mouthful and mumbles, “Too late.” But he’d love to have a toothbrush in Elrond’s washroom later. Next time. Elrond rakes a hand fondly through Lindir’s hair and goes to turn the shower on.

It’s so surreal to do this, to walk about naked with someone, but they crossed most barriers before they were even together, and Elrond seems comfortable. Lindir can’t believe how comfortable he is himself. He still has to pause here and there to take in Elrond’s body, to savour it. Elrond runs his hand under the spray until there’s steam rising, then shakes it out and reaches for Lindir’s hand, pulling it closer to do the same with. “Is this too hot?”

“No, it’s fine.” He likes it hot. But he’d probably say the same thing if it were ice cold. He feels too good to be anything but agreeable. Before they go in, Elrond fetches two hair ties from the drawer by the sink. He gathers his own into a tight bun atop his head that makes Lindir grin at the unusual cuteness, and then he draws Lindir’s up to do the same. Lindir doesn’t think he’ll ever grow tired of having Elrond’s hands in his hair.

Elrond’s shower is an enclosed space with smooth rock walls that look like a riverbed, though bottom’s plain white and the doors are rain-glass. It’s probably twice the size of Lindir’s. Elrond steps in first, under the wide-cast spray, and Lindir tentatively follows.

As soon as Elrond shuts the shower door, Lindir wants to turn and crush them together. The washroom’s already warm, but the water’s wondrously hot, and Elrond’s so alluring. He has to reach around Lindir to get the white bar of soap that that sits in the metal rack hanging from the faucet, but he pauses in withdrawing it.

“It’s tempting,” Elrond starts, right over Lindir’s shoulder, “to wash you down instead. ...But then I fear I’d never make my meeting.”

Lindir nods because he doesn’t have any words. He steps aside, knowing Elrond needs to be finished first, so that the water’s uninterrupted and hits Elrond’s chest, streaming down his handsome form. As Elrond draws the soap across his shoulders, Lindir mumbles, “But... washing you would be a good job for a personal assistant.”

Elrond gives him a wry smile but continues, and Lindir stands with his private fantasies, barely touching both Elrond and the water. The faucet has good pressure, but it’s nothing compared to watching Elrond scrub himself down, covering creamy skin in bubbling suds, only to be slicked away, everything left glistening and tinted pink from the heat. Twice, Elrond has to hook a finger under Lindir’s chin and lift it, because he’s looking too low, and they don’t have time for wear that leads. Lindir’s half hard anyway, but he tries to control it.

When Elrond’s done enough, he passes Lindir the soap, kisses his still-dry forehead and promises, “We’ll do this properly sometime. For now, I really must get ready.”

Lindir nods, because he knows, but once Elrond’s clambered out, Lindir’s quick in washing himself. As much as he’d like to linger in Elrond’s personal shower and savour the images he’s earned, he doesn’t want to miss Elrond leaving. So he only does a surface wash, mostly erasing the evidence of last night, and climbs out quickly after, using the extra towel that’s likely for Elrond’s hair. Elrond’s already brushing his hair out and applying cologne, towel around his waist. Then they return to the bedroom, where Elrond selects a grey suit. For Lindir, he offers a new sweater, which Lindir happily takes with a breathy, “Thank you.” He’ll treasure this one just as much. This time, he pulls on his pants from yesterday—they’ll have to do if he’s to leave in broad daylight.

As Elrond adjusts his tie in the mirror, Lindir tugging happily at the fluffy green knit around him, Lindir notes, “You have a lot of meetings with Thranduil.”

“We’re exploring a new deal,” Elrond admits, finishing to turn towards Lindir. “This is my original location, and you’ll hear the most about this Imladris hotel, but I do own several others, and he’s interested in our newest branch that will be opening soon.” At Lindir’s astonished look, Elrond continues, “To be honest, I don’t visit the others as much as I should, but Thranduil has a way of... getting around. And while he may be difficult, he is a good businessman. ...Even if he wants to cross-promote his vineyards a little too much for my taste.”

Lindir should’ve known that Elrond would have more than this—the Imladris seems too expensive to not be a chain, but it’s still strange to learn that Elrond’s even more successful than Lindir knew. Despite the familiar feelings of inadequacy, Lindir asks, “Is there anything I can help with?”

“I do have some things I could use sorting out, but we’ll have that discussion another time.”

Facing the in-between times without Elrond now seems a nuisance, but Elrond’s heading for the door, and Lindir falls into line. They slip out of the bedroom together, and Lindir tenses at the sudden prospect of running into Elrond’s children again, but the way is clear to the elevator downstairs. As it descends, Lindir sighs, hating to make it real, “I guess it’s time to go home.” He’s sure his voice betrays exactly how much he doesn’t want to.

“Perhaps I could pick you up tomorrow for a proper date?” Elrond suggests, to which Lindir bursts into a bright smile and nods.

The doors open, and Lindir steps out, Elrond following, only to pause next to the reception desk and start, “Oh, but I haven’t got your number.” He fishes his phone out of his pocket, passing it over, and Lindir hurriedly types his in.

He doesn’t ask for Elrond’s back, because Arwen is at the reception desk, and he can feel her eyes on him. He can only imagine what she must think. It’s obvious he must’ve been there during Elrond’s “nap.”

But there’s no time to explain it to her now, not for Elrond, and Lindir certainly isn’t going to. He gets a final kiss goodbye, a chaste thing on the lips, and then he’s headed back to the real world.

He starts getting ready an hour early, because he knows he’ll waste time fretting over what to wear and he wants to clean up a bit before Elrond arrives, just in case Elrond comes up. After fishing through half his wardrobe and deciding he has nothing even worth trying on, he gives up and decides cleaning will come first. For that, he just tugs on cut-off jean-shorts and an old t-shirt; the sort of clothes that are one step away from rags themselves, and thus it’s okay to get dust and grime on them. He ties his hair up in a messy bun and sets to scrubbing off all his kitchen counters. He’s just fetched a broom to fix the floors when he hears his phone buzz in the living room—the jeans are too tiny for their pockets to be phone-safe.

He never got Elrond’s number, but he has it now; the text, though it shows up as anonymous, is signed. And no one else would start it: My dear Lindir.

Lindir finds himself smiling just at that, but the rest of the message wipes his face clear again. I’m sorry, but there’s been a complication. I had a long talk with Elrohir, and it ended in his abrupt departure. He isn’t answering my calls, but I’d like to locate him before our dinner if possible.

Lindir’s stomach twists. He understands, of course, and wants to say that, but his hands don’t want to move—he’s not even sure what he feels the most terrible over. Maybe Elrohir’s feelings, or maybe putting Elrond through this. He knows he should try texting Elrohir before answering—maybe Elrohir will answer an ex rather than a father. And Lindir owes him just as much explanation. But it’s such a frightening concept, because he doesn’t know how Elrohir will react, and it’s just... scary.

He’s still hesitating when someone knocks on his door. The noise makes him nearly jump out of his skin. There’s only one likely person to be standing out in the hall, and the thought of that almost has Lindir fainting.

He fights with himself for a good minute before another knock comes, and then he moves because he has to. He leaves his phone on the coffee table and goes to stand on his toes and peer through the peephole, just in case Elrohir looks like he’s fuming, but he doesn’t. It is Elrohir, and he just looks... bothered.

It’s always hard to tell through the little fisheye socket. Not that Lindir’s had much experience. He opens the door at a snail’s pace and sticks his head around it, and all he can do is squeak, “Sorry.”

“A girl downstairs let me in,” Elrohir mutters, though Lindir wouldn’t have even thought of that, too caught up in this. “Can I come in?”

Lindir judges the half-sullen, half-confused look on Elrohir’s face, then timidly nods and steps back, taking an extra few seconds to remember to open the door wide enough. Elrohir grunts, “Thanks,” and wanders right in to kick off his shoes.

Then he turns to stare at Lindir, and Lindir doesn’t know what to do, so he just stares back and says again, “Sorry.”

Elrohir shrugs his shoulder and mumbles, “S’not really your fault, I guess.” He looks like he has more to say, but brushes a hand back through his hair instead, then sighs, “Can we go sit down and talk?”

Even though Lindir would prefer to race out the door and off to dinner with Elrond, he says, “Okay,” and leads them to the couch.

They’re just sitting down, an arm’s length apart, when the phone buzzes again. Lindir hurriedly picks it up, repeating, “Sorry,” and finds, of course, that it’s Elrond, asking if he’s alright. He returns, I’m fine, sorry. Elrohir’s here.

To which Elrond responds, before Lindir’s even put the phone back, I’ll be right there.

“My dad?” Elrohir asks. Lindir just nods. “You told him I’m here?” Another nod. Elrohir lets out a dramatic exhale and wilts back into the couch, one hand rubbing at his eyes. Lindir sits and stews and wishes they taught awkward breakups in school, although he admits it’s unlikely anyone could’ve predicted this scenario. Eventually, Elrohir straightens again and starts, “Look, I know I can’t really be mad. You didn’t know—wait, you didn’t know, right?”

“I didn’t,” Lindir confirms. He tries not to be offended that Elrohir thinks he’d knowingly date his crush’s son.

Elrohir nods and continues. “Right, you didn’t know. I guess you found out at dinner. ...Which pretty much coincides with where you started being... I don’t know, sadder? And then I just went and broke it off when you got that way, at probably the worst timing possible, so I mean, it’s not like I’m totally innocent...”

“You didn’t know,” Lindir adds. The breakup hurt, but at the same time, he knows it could’ve been worse—they only ever saw each other at the hotel, work, and here, and it would’ve sucked at work, and he stopped inviting Elrohir here. Elrohir gives him a pitiful smile and goes on.

“I don’t know. It’s really weird. I want to be mad, but you didn’t really do anything wrong. ...To be honest, I thought about finding and fucking your dad out of spite, but it’s probably easier to have all your friends.” His eyes say it’s a joke, and Lindir lets out a tiny laugh. He doesn’t have real friends he cares about anyway. And Elrohir could’ve fucked them anyway. And the thought of Elrohir even ever meeting his father is so absurd there’s no point thinking on it.

Trying to be consoling, Lindir offers, “You can sleep with all of my friends. Um, I’ll help you, if you want. I sort of know what Feren and Meludir like... and that’s sort of, well... that’s about it... but you could probably have them anyway.”

Elrohir just looks at him blankly. Lindir fidgets on the couch. The thought of Elrohir with one of his coworkers makes more sense to him than he ever did.

Another minute or two of that awkward silence, and some of the tension slips off Elrohir’s face, and he says with half a smile, “You’re really hard to be mad at.”

Lindir, again, just mumbles, “Sorry.”

Elrohir actually laughs. A small thing, but enough. He runs another hand through his hair, looking away. “I dunno. It’s weird. I need some time.”

“I completely understand. I’m really sorry.”

“You don’t really have anything to be sorry for.”

“I’m sorry anyway.”

“Was he the one you met in the park that day?”

Blushing, Lindir nods.

“And you wore my dad’s sweater... which I thought looked familiar, because it was... and holy shit, I fucked you in my dad’s sweater...”

Lindir lifts his hands to signal that he has absolutely no explanation, and Elrohir groans, “He had you first. Augh. Was he better than me?”

“What?” Lindir blinks, and that’s finally something he could elaborate on but absolutely doesn’t want to, so he just turns red instead and mumbles, “Well, um...”

“Obviously he was,” Elrohir answers his own question, face twisting into a look of disgust. “You picked him over me! You picked my old, stuffy, boring dad over me. My boring dad who apparently attended a sex club before I did...”

“To be fair, Thranduil usually dragged him,” Lindir fills in, even though he knows that absolutely doesn’t help.

Elrohir looks at him with full incredulity, still stuck on the former subject. “How could you pick him over me? Even mom thinks he’s boring.”

Lindir really doesn’t want to go there. So he doesn’t touch on the subject of Elrohir’s mother and instead says, “I’m boring.”

Elrohir just looks at him, and Lindir picks a random part of his arm to start scratching so he can look away. Elrohir groans, “Ugh, and you’re too cute for me to even spitefully throw your boringness back at you!” He tosses his hands up in the air, and Lindir blushes hotter, bizarrely glad that Elrohir still thinks he’s cute. They can’t be on the worst terms, then. When Elrohir sinks back down again, he adds with a begrudging note, “I guess at least I know you’re well taken care of.”

On a whim, Lindir hopefully adds, “And at least he can’t judge you for working at Eriador...?”

“If he weren’t my own dad and I didn’t want him nowhere near me there, I’d fuck Meludir right over his table out of spite,” Elrohir grunts. “I mean, I purposely got an innocent-looking boyfriend and everything to throw him off, and then he gets in there and fucks that boyfriend first! Tell me I’m at least bigger. Ugh, wait no, don’t answer that, I don’t even wanna know—why did I even bring that up? Oh for the love of—I need to stop thinking about this all together.” This time, when Elrohir covers his face with his hands, Lindir dares to pat him consolingly on the shoulder. It does sound like a rather traumatizing mess.

“Be with lots of other people a lot,” Lindir suggests. “Forget all about me.”

“I can’t exactly do that if you’re coming over to my house for dates,” Elrohir throws back.

Lindir retracts his hand and wishes he had a solution for that. Other than just never go over to Elrond’s house. He doesn’t want to think that that was the last time he’ll share Elrond’s bed. His house just doesn’t seem good enough for Elrond, but then, he reminds himself, compared to their earlier hurdles, this one isn’t so bad.

He and Elrohir have been sitting in silence for a short bit when the phone buzzes again, and Lindir fetches it to find a message saying, I’m downstairs.

Over his phone, Lindir sheepishly asks, “Can I, um... let Elrond up?”

Elrohir’s face twists, but he concedes, “Yeah. I’ll... I’ll get going. I just wanted to clear the air, I guess.”

As Lindir gets up to go to the panel that’ll let Elrond into the lobby, one-handedly sending Elrond his apartment number, he replies, “Thanks for being so understanding.”

“Oh, I understand exactly zero part of it,” Elrohir grunts. But he doesn’t sound any angrier than before, and he gets up to follow.

He’s still tying up his shoes when a knock comes on the door, and this time, Lindir immediately answers it, subconsciously stuffing his phone into his pocket. Elrond waits on the other side, smartly dressed in a black suit, though he looks a little flushed and breathless, making Lindir wonder if he ran, and then worry how fast he drove. He looks relieved to see both Lindir and Elrohir. Elrohir stiffly rises to grumble, “Dad. I, uh... I should go. I got work soon.”

Elrond’s face instantly drops into a frown, and his fight not to say anything is visible. As Elrohir passes him into the hallway, Elrond breaks and tells him, “Stay away from Thranduil.”

Elrohir quips, “I dunno—I’ve heard he leaves big tips.”

Elrond just glares, and when Elrohir’s disappeared into the elevator halfway down the hall, Elrond mutters under his breath, “Brat.”

But he completely softens when he looks at Lindir. Lindir hurriedly steps aside to let him in, and the second the door’s closed, Elrond asks, “Are you alright?”

“Fine,” Lindir decides, even if it’s not one hundred percent true. At least he can say, “He’s not angry with me. Just, um... miffed.”

“I’m sorry. I’d hoped to deal with it enough that it wouldn’t fall back on you.”

A familiar smiles tugs at Lindir’s lips; the thought of Elrond trying to protect him washes the rest away. But: “I was the one to date him.”

“I was curious about that, as he’s told me he’s aromantic, and you seem to want romance.”

“I do,” Lindir agrees, “from you.” He blushes as Elrond smiles, then quickly adds, “Oh, but... we had an, um... mutual understanding, so... he wasn’t...”

Elrond lifts a hand and sighs, “Lindir, as admirable as it is that you always speak well of him, my point was that it was clearly not going to work long-term. Which, at least, can alleviate some of my guilt.”

And Lindir’s. He just nods.

And then he remembers that they’re standing in the middle of his cramped hallway, Elrond dressed for dinner, and Lindir in cut-offs that barely cover him and a t-shirt strictly regulated for cleaning. Not to mention his hair. He can feel his face growing hotter and hotter, then finally explains, “Um, I—I didn’t have time to change, I was going to clean a bit, but, um...”

“We still have plenty of time for you to change before we go. Although,” Elrond pauses, his eyes overtly sweeping down Lindir’s body, “you look quite cute in this too.”

Lindir’s completely scarlet and glowing again. As nice as Elrohir was, he never did that. Lindir bites his lip and tries to control himself, turning back to the living room, then adding, “Oh, sorry, please, come in, I’ll just be a moment.”

He guides Elrond into his apartment, wondering if he should talk about it like it’s a tour, even though there’s really nothing to tour. He makes it a step or two away from the couch before his phone topples out of the tiny pocket of his shorts, and Lindir jerks to try and catch it, only for it to hit his knee and go sliding across the floor. It knocks its way under the couch, and Lindir stares at the space in horror. He’s paranoid enough that he has a protective case on it, which hopefully will have saved the screen, but did nothing to save face in front of Elrond.

Elrond says a sympathetic, “Oh dear,” and Lindir seriously considers just leaving it there and stubbornly pretending no such embarrassing thing ever happened.

Rationally, he realizes that’s not an option, and he mumbles, “Sorry, sorry—just a second—” while he pushes the coffee table out of the way. It gives him room to bend down and peer under. The light is poor below, but it’s enough to see a thin layer of dust despite his constant cleaning, and a rectangular silhouette near the wall. He can’t reach far enough from the angle he needs to look, so he has to turn away and shift his shoulders.

That gives him a look over his shoulder, where he can’t help but notice Elrond staring rather fixedly at his rear. He remembers belatedly just how little of that rear is covered by his shorts, made all the worse by bending over and wriggling under the couch. The white briefs he’s wearing, very Eriador-esque, probably show around the thin sliver of denim between his legs. By the time his fingers close around his phone, his mind’s somewhere else entirely.

Elrond catches him looking and dons an awkward smile, noting. “Those are... quite the shorts.”

While Lindir slides his phone out towards him, ass still stuck in the air, he tries to explain, “I, um... only wear them for cleaning, when I know I’m going to get dirty...” He realizes too late how poorly he’s phrased it. Even after he has his phone safely free, he doesn’t get back up, just stays on all fours, looking at Elrond over his shoulder, and wonders if this is a bad time to dare to tempt one of his club fantasies. Every time he wore things this short around Elrond at Eriador, he’d want Elrond to fuck him right through them.

And now Elrond looks like he very much wants to, and Lindir mumbles quietly, “You can... ah... use me...” Another set of poor phrasing. He doesn’t know how to do any better. Elrond’s quiet for an extra minute, then comes forward.

“You said you wished me to pretend I was still your customer,” Elrond recalls, slowly sinking to his knees behind Lindir. “But I don’t want to overstep...”

Lindir repeats, “Use me, please.” He’s completely red but doesn’t take it back. Elrond reaches one hand out to cup Lindir’s ass, long fingers sliding over one round cheek, and Lindir keens and pushes back into the touch. Elrond’s other hand retrieves his own phone from his jacket. A second later, it’s dialing, and Lindir bites his tongue to not make any more embarrassing sounds while Elrond caresses his rear.

The voice on the other side isn’t clear enough for Lindir to detect, but Elrond answers, “I have a table for two booked at seven under ‘Elrond.’ Would it be possible to push that reservation back an hour?”

That makes it very hard for Lindir to be quiet, because he can imagine what they’ll do for that extra hour. The voice on the other end, which must be a receptionist at the restaurant, answers something, and Elrond finishes, “Thank you,” and clicks his phone off.

It’s swiftly deposited, and then both hands are on Lindir, squeezing tight while the tips of Elrond’s thumbs poke into the thin strips of material running between Lindir’s thighs, bypassing both shorts and underwear. Lindir lets out a filthy moan as Elrond pulls his cheeks apart and dips along his crack, one thumb prodding at his puckered hole and the other drawing the fabric away. Elrond takes a moment just to stroke both places, idly drawling, “You really are a vision, my Lindir...”

Lindir, an embarrassing mess with no skill or tact, blurts, “I love you.” He ducks his head in shame right after saying it, but not fast enough to miss the fond smile that spreads across Elrond’s lips.

An even more pitiful noise spills out of Lindir’s throat when one of Elrond’s hands leaves. Lindir can hear some fabric rustling, maybe searching in another pocket, and then Elrond’s draping close over his back—he can feel Elrond’s hair spilling onto his shoulders, and Elrond’s breath ghosts over his ear. “I hope you don’t think it too presumptuous of me that I brought lubrication, but for someone who seems so innocent, you can be very tempting at times...”

Lindir groans, delighted for the foresight, and especially the thought that Elrond assumed they would do this. That Elrond would want to. Lindir bucks into Elrond’s hands, and Elrond kisses the back of his ear, then wraps an arm under his waist. He’s hiked up and slowly turned, his upper half moved to drape over the couch. He’s grateful for it—it’s easier than having to try and keep himself up. But his knees stay on the floor, back arched to get his ass as close to Elrond as possible. He grips the cushions for support, but he can’t decide whether he wants to bury his face in them or stare at Elrond.

When Elrond’s second hand returns to Lindir’s rump, several fingers are damp, and they dig right into Lindir’s crack to rub over his entrance. Elrond starts to talk, but Lindir lets out a mewl, and Elrond waits for him to finish before asking, “Would it be alright to take you through these...?”

“Please, please do,” Lindir moans. He doesn’t have the wherewithal to express how very much he wants that, how often he thought of it. One of Elrond’s fingers finally pokes inside his hole, eliciting a little cry but going slowly. Elrond carefully pistons it in and out, until he’s fully inside and able to push a second digit in. Elrond returns over Lindir’s back to nip at his ear and reach between him and the couch, pressing into Lindir’s crotch. Elrond palms him through his shorts, and Lindir whimpers, “Please, oh... I don’t want to come before you’re... i-in me... ahh...” It’s hard to talk with Elrond fingering him so wide. Elrond makes a soothing noise and nuzzles into him but keeps cupping his erection, now just holding rather than rubbing, but it’s still too good.

He’s painfully hard by the time Elrond’s fingers retreat, and being left empty makes him shiver, but more rustling, and he can feel something wet and spongy poke into him, his jeans and underwear being held aside again. There’s a moment where Elrond just presses against him, and Lindir looks over his shoulder to see Elrond staring down. When Elrond catches Lindir’s eye, he murmurs, “You’re beautiful,” and kisses the back of Lindir’s head.

Then he pushes inside, and Lindir groans, the sensation of being filled swamping him again—his whole body flushes, rear tensing, fingers tightening around the couch cushions, but he tries to relax. Elrond holds still, just that tiny bit inside, and palms Lindir’s crotch again until he’s trembling too much to think of anything else. Elrond returns to sliding gradually inside, and Lindir arches back to lean his head on Elrond’s shoulder. His cock now holding the fabric aside, Elrond uses both arms to wrap around Lindir’s middle, drawing him close—Lindir’s drowning in sensations.

Elrond gets completely inside with a little jolt and a grunt. Lindir tries to adjust, making a little choking noise to breathe—he’s so full. He missed this. He clamps down on Elrond’s cock just to feel it, and Elrond hisses and kisses his cheek.

“You’re very good to me,” Elrond murmurs, right next to Lindir’s ear. Lindir shivers with the praise. “Such a sweet thing...”

As Elrond starts to slide out again, his arms adjust, the one hand spreading wide over Lindir’s crotch to encompass his entire cock, still trapped, and the other pokes beneath Lindir’s shirt to caress his chest. Lindir’s breath hitches, and Elrond begins re-entering his body, only to brush over his nipples and stimulate them too—when Elrond is fully seated again, he plucks at Lindir’s left nipple and gives it a little pinch—Lindir cries out, writhing in Elrond’s grip. Elrond nips at his cheek and works out again, falling into a steady but firm rhythm, thrusting in and out of Lindir’s body at new angles, until it finds the one that makes Lindir scream. Each thrust after hits the same place, and Lindir squirms and whimpers as Elrond fucks him hard over the couch, rubs his cock and plays with his nipples—he’s burning up again, swamped in too many points of ecstasy. It’s harsher than when Elrond took him in bed, stronger, not brutal yet but insistent, and Lindir’s happy to melt and give in to that, to give his body over. The both of them still fully clothed, Elrond fucks him right over his couch, almost to the point of tears.

He’s near a choked sob, sure he’s going to come, when Elrond squeezes tightly and doesn’t let go—Lindir cries out, his cock held captive. Elrond holds Lindir at the edge, and his teeth scrape over Lindir’s ear, his arm possessively clamping over Lindir’s chest and flattening both pebbled nipples, his thrusts doubling. Lindir’s thrown forward with every one, wailing on each rush of cock, his mind lost, struggling to take it—but it’s so good, so overwhelming, everything else melting away. He’s sweating and burning and starts babbling, “Elrond, oh, please, oh—yes! Right there, please, ohhh—” And then it’s too much. He clenches down hard on Elrond’s cock, earning a grunt, and bursts inside his shorts, ruining his underwear, while Elrond keeps plowing into him.

His orgasm is a delicious, giddy thing, and he’s fucked right through it. He’s too lost to hear his own scream. A few more, and before he’s come down, Elrond’s rams him into the couch and stays there, pinning him down, and fills him right up with a rush of cum.

Dizzily, Lindir savours each jet that Elrond pumps into him. He feels like he’s going to faint but concentrates on that, on Elrond’s release, buried as deep in him as possible. He clenches his ass to try and help, and Elrond grunts and tightens his hold. Lindir can barely breathe.

When Elrond’s done, he collapses, one arm letting go of Lindir to steady then against the couch. Elrond clearly tries to keep his weight off Lindir, but Lindir can still feel that moment of satiation. He’s tremendously light-headed himself. He has the sudden, wild wish that he had a plug, so he could keep Elrond’s cum in him all night.

After a few minutes of them both just lying there, draped across the floor and couch, panting and sweating, Elrond mutters, “That... may not have been wise, given our reservation.”

“Was it at Imladris?” Lindir asks foggily, wanting a nice hotel room right now.

“No, somewhere new.” Elrond doesn’t clarify where, and it doesn’t really matter. When Elrond pushes off, Lindir misses his weight. Lindir stays draped across the couch for a minute or two, and Elrond asks, “Would you kindly point me to your washroom? While we didn’t take the full hour, I believe we will need some time to clean up...”

Lindir points vaguely without bothering to look, then slumps back down and waits for Elrond to help him up.

The restaurant is decidedly out of Lindir’s price range. It’s almost unsettlingly elegant, the rich purple walls accented with gold crown molding and elaborate chandeliers hung frequently about, lavish columns lining the lobby and gigantic, exotic bouquets placed on every table. Half because he’s intimidated and half because he wants to, Lindir clings to Elrond’s arm as they approach the maitre d’. They’re shown to their table—a relatively small circle covered in a white tablecloth—and immediately presented with a wine list.

Lindir figures he’s tipsy enough around Elrond as it is and opts for water. The waitress leaves the drink menus with the dinner ones, and, alone again in the busy crowd blanketed by live violin music, Elrond asks, “What would you like?”

“Cheaper prices,” Lindir jokes, before realizing how ungrateful that sounds and hurriedly correcting, “N-not that I don’t appreciate it—”

“It’s alright,” Elrond chuckles. “I’m paying. Truth be told, I hardly eat like this regularly myself, but given what I’ve put you through, I think you deserve the most I can offer.”

Lindir’s sure he’s put Elrond through worse, but just falls quiet and looks over his menu, because he doesn’t want to break the magic with another low-self-worth-fest. Everything on it looks delicious, though he’s never heard of a few choice things. When he finally locates something near reasonably priced, he only half recognizes the name, and checks, “Spätzle is a pasta dish, isn’t it...?”

“A kind of egg noodles,” Elrond concurs. “It’s quite good here. It originated with dwarves, you know.”

Lindir says, “Oh,” and privately decides to look at something else, because he has absolutely no concept of the Dwarven palette and doesn’t want to risk ordering something he won’t like when Elrond’s paying. The crepes, a more traditionally Elven dish, is probably a sure bet, though he checks, “Are the breakfast dishes still available?”

“If you meant the crepes,” Elrond answers, once again showing the uncanny ability to nearly read Lindir’s mind, “the ones listed here are not the breakfast variety—with the vegetable fillings, they’re more like a sweet and savoury wrap.”

Lindir answers, “Thank you,” and starts combing through the ingredients listed in each of the options.

By the time their waitress returns, Lindir’s decided on, “Rosemary crepes, please.” She nods politely as though memorizing it and collects his menu.

Elrond orders, “The sage linguini, please,” and then she’s collecting his and gone again.

In that space, Elrond reaches into his jacket to withdraw a folded collection of papers from the inner breast pocket. He has to shift their elaborate centerpiece aside to make room on the table directly between them, which Lindir’s grateful for for the unhindered view, and unfolds them across it.

“Now,” Elrond starts, “please do tell me if you don’t wish to discuss business now, or if you’ve changed your mind—”

Lindir quickly interjects, “I haven’t,” because he wants to be as integral to Elrond’s life as possible.

Elrond smiles and continues, “I have non-business news as well—I’ve secured our tickets for Maglor’s concert on the twenty-first. In the meantime, while I was speaking to Thranduil the other day, I did mention that I may be taking on a new assistant, and he so happened to have a contract on hand; he claims he’s been looking for his own for some time, although to be quite frank I don’t believe he’ll ever actually dismiss the one he has—he thinks she’s too interested in his son, but to be honest, he thinks that about everyone. ...And now I’ve rather digressed into unrelated gossip, my apologies.” Lindir just tries to stifle his grin; that all sounds very much like Thranduil to him, though he doubts he’ll ever see Thranduil again to relay that he heard such news. But then, perhaps being Elrond’s assistant will bring him into Thranduil’s path just as much as Eriador did. “Anyway, I will draft my own when I get the chance, but I just wanted to give you some idea of what the general job usually entails.”

Lindir nods his understanding and slides the papers closer. Skimming the first sheet reveals more or less what he expected—an open schedule, an aptitude for filing, organization of the employer’s calendar, and so forth—and then he flips to the second, and one paragraph in, he stops to look up, blush, and ask, “Should I really attend ‘casual Fridays’ in lingerie?” He already knows before he says it that it’s not right, but he can’t help bring up that particular line.

Elrond’s brows instantly knit together, and he swivels the papers around to him, flipping to the second page to rapidly skim it. A second later, he lets out a long sigh and drops his head into one hand, shaking it and muttering, “Thranduil...”

Elrond finishes going through the papers, then collects them back, and grumbles, “I should have known better.”

Lindir risks noting, “I wouldn’t mind.”

Giving him a knowing but wry look, Elrond says, “Don’t tempt me,” and folds up the contract to replace in his jacket. “I’ll have a more accurate description written up.”

Lindir debates asking if lingerie can be optional in it, then decides he’s been overly wanton enough for one day. Instead, he does his best to look professional and asks, “What duties were you thinking of?”

And Elrond starts to explain, pausing only when their food arrives, and then they fall into eating, sharing little bites, and laughing over Thranduil’s nonsense.

His first official day is thrilling and not as scary as he’d feared. He comes in black dress pants and his newest Elrond-sweater, hair neatly braided with a clip on either side to make sure it stays out of his way. He’s not sure it’s really fancy enough for the Imladris, but he’ll be mostly behind the scenes, and when he steps into Elrond’s office for the first time, Elrond tells him, “You look lovely,” and kisses his forehead. Lindir can’t stop smiling.

He’s told several times, “You really don’t have to do this,” and, “Please, do let me know if it’s too much,” but Lindir finds the work interesting and the proximity to Elrond perfect. He thinks if he were physically glued to Elrond’s side, they’d still manage just fine.

The office isn’t nearly so neat as Elrond’s suite. Lindir itches to clean it, but Elrond first shows him how to answer the phone—calls sent directly to him as the owner or redirected from the front desk, though he explains certain arrangements will come through his private cell. Then Elrond takes Lindir through the hotel’s booking system, through the employee lists, and through the monthly maintenance reports, though financial and employee personal information isn’t accessible to him. He’s not ready for that much responsibility anyway. Elrond tells him it’ll take some time to familiarize himself with it all, but Lindir takes diligent notes and pays attention and hopes to have it all worked out quickly.

Once the day’s schedule is worked out, Elrond gets distracted with a phone call from the office landline—which Lindir dutifully answers before passing on—and then Lindir’s free to flitter about the place and start organizing the mishmash of papers everywhere. He has no formal training, but a lot of it is just common sense, and Elrond politely answers all of his questions. Lindir’s given a small desk with a swivel chair across the relatively tight space from Elrond, and Lindir happily sits at it while he sorts, enjoying Elrond in his peripherals.

When the office is utterly pristine, Lindir goes through more of the computer’s systems, with Elrond rolling his chair up to help from over Lindir’s shoulder. It isn’t until Arwen knocks on their door to mention a dinner guest that’d like to speak to the owner that they realize how late it is, and then Elrond hurriedly apologizes and offers to drive Lindir home.

When Lindir takes too long to answer, Elrond suggests, “Or I could join you for dinner after this? Consider it a first day bonus.”

And Lindir nods, quite happy, while Arwen takes him out to a table.

There are times, here and there, where it’s difficult, seeing Elrond all the time but always having to part—they try not to go up to Elrond’s suite, and Lindir’s apartment feels so... not good enough. Elrond, despite his former habit of Eriador, tries not to stay out too late and doesn’t stay the night often, but whenever he does, it’s thoroughly worth the tiny-and-plain-apartment embarrassment for Lindir to wake up with Elrond in his bed.

He learns the Imladris’ workings quickly, though it’s more Elrond he helps—Elrond’s personal schedule, memos that get directed to but don’t really need Elrond’s attention, and general sorting. Arwen runs so much of the hotel already, her brothers and her boyfriend occasionally helping, that Lindir’s never overwhelmed with it. The biggest hiccup he has is the first time Thranduil shows up in the lobby for a meeting, and Lindir goes to greet him and bring him to Elrond, only for Thranduil to not recognize him at all—“Oh. My apologies; you look rather indistinguishable with clothes on.”—and take a good convincing to follow.

He keeps a hard copy of Elrond’s calendar in the office and a digital file shared between them. On his phone, careful not to let the changes sync over to the one accessible by Elrond, Lindir adds a few ridiculous heart emoticons around the date of Maglor’s concert. Every date with Elrond is special, but for that one, Elrond had him book a limousine, and Lindir knows it’ll be extra special.

A day before, he arrives at the hotel to find a suit being delivered in his name. He splutters dazedly over it, only for Elrond to come down and tell him it’s for the concert and it’s no trouble. With his new paycheck and his frugal spending, he could, technically, afford it, but it still feels beyond his means. Certainly too much for a random gift. Elrond takes him into the office to help change him into it, and tells him with a radiant smile, “You look absolutely ravishing.”

Lindir doesn’t know what to say, so just lunges forward and hugs Elrond tightly. He feels so spoiled sometimes. No one’s ever spoiled him before. And it’s not even about that—it’s about the way Elrond soothingly rubs his back and murmurs into his ear, “I couldn’t ask for a better partner to bring.”

Then Arwen knocks and they pull apart, back to work, Lindir changing back into his usual clothes but throwing looks at the suit all day.

Lindir’s still toying with his hair in the washroom when Elrond arrives, fully dressed in a crisp black tuxedo with his hair neatly drawn back in an elaborate set of braids. Lindir answers the door with half his own braid coming undone over his shoulder, and Elrond greets, “Good evening,” before reaching up to finish the job. Lindir wordlessly offers the tie to fasten the end, and then Elrond steps back to sweep his gaze over Lindir and conclude, “You look beautiful.”

Already blushing, Lindir answers, “Thank you. You look stunning.” And he does: the most handsome man Lindir’s ever seen, here to take Lindir to see one of the most respected musicians in the world. He spends an extra few seconds in that awe before he thinks to step out of his apartment and lock the door. The black suit fits him like a glove, and it compliments Elrond’s outfit perfectly, though Lindir wishes he could say the same of the rest of him.

The limousine waits downstairs, the polished surface gleaming under the building and parking lot lights, already illuminating the evening. Elrond holds the door out for him, and Lindir slips onto the plush seats along the back, Elrond following suit. Another long seat sits opposite of them, against the black partition that must section off the driver, and a small mini-bar lines the wall across from the door. Once the door’s shut, Elrond notes, “I’d offer you champagne, but you don’t seem much of a drinker.”

“Do they have tea?” Lindir jokes, only for Elrond to chuckle. Lindir certainly couldn’t handle anything mind-altering right now—he already feels on the verge of fainting from the high of reality alone.

The drive to the concert hall is mostly a quiet one, with Lindir sighing here and there, “I’m so looking forward to this,” and Elrond responding in kind. The only trouble with the spacious limo is that it leaves enough room for Lindir to imagine them celebrating their excitement, which of course would be dreadfully inappropriate, and he has to push those thoughts away, even though Elrond is incredibly tempting, stretched out in such a luxurious space and finally Lindir’s. When they finally reach the venue, Elrond pulls Lindir over before they exit, giving him a lasting kiss that Lindir never wants to end.

But it does, and then they’re stepping out and heading up the marble stairs lined in red-rope stanchions. There’s a fountain on the main level, bubbling in an intricate Elven sculpture with recess lighting washing the whole area in gold. Other well-dressed patrons are flowing in here and there, and Lindir has a sense of the surreal—he’s walked by here only a few times and always admired the architecture but never thought he’d have occasion to go inside. Inside, the lobby looks like it’s preparing for a red carpet event, and Elrond leads them through like royalty. They bypass much of the goings about, bee lining straight for the doors of the concert hall, where a redheaded elf collects their tickets from Elrond and ushers them inside.

The hall is huge, but Elrond takes Lindir right down to the front row, ushering him in past a few already-seated patrons. To Lindir’s surprise, Thranduil’s right next to where Elrond sits down, Bard crisply dressed on his other side. Lindir offers Bard a small smile that Bard returns, and Elrond quietly sighs, “So this is why you insisted on tickets.”

“You know I enjoy the finer things,” Thranduil quips, though he never struck Lindir as one for harp music.

Bard adds, “Clearly,” and Thranduil snorts, though Elrond’s quiet, and Lindir only hopes they don’t do the sort of things here that they would at Eriador. He tells himself that of course they wouldn’t. But he also has very little idea how either act in regular-public. Hopefully they’d at least sneak off to the washroom if they meant to do something untoward, rather than spoil the show. And at least Elrond sits between him and them, and when Elrond lays a reassuring hand over Lindir’s on the armrest between them, he knows it’ll be alright. It doesn’t matter. Elrond’s what matters, even more than the legendary musician they’ve come to see.

Thranduil and Bard chatter amongst themselves while they all wait for the show to start, the room already low-lit but with a steady buzz of waiting voices. Elrond tries to remove his hand again, but Lindir quickly snatches it back, intertwining their fingers, and Elrond smiles softly and allows the touch to remain. Once, just before the curtains rise, Lindir whispers, “Thank you.”

The timing leaves no chance for Elrond to respond, but he squeezes Lindir’s hand, and that’s enough. Then the stage is cleared, the lights falling even lower, and the stage is lit properly, a gorgeous pedal harp sitting in the center, arrayed in a golden design of leaves. As soon as Maglor steps out from the side, a spotlight is on him, and the audience begins preemptive applause, Lindir joining in. So close, Lindir has a perfect view of his classical features, his jet-black hair drawn back with a simple ribbon. His suit looks very similar to Elrond’s outfit, and when Maglor bows for the audience and runs his gaze along it, that gaze lingers on Elrond. The fact that Elrond could know Maglor and yet date someone like Lindir takes his breath away.

There’s no one and nothing else on stage, and it isn’t needed. As soon as Maglor takes his seat at the harp, a hush falls over the crowd. Lindir can feel the anticipation bristling along his skin. Then Maglor begins to play, and Lindir’s hand squeezes Elrond’s—he’s in a dream.

Lindir never wants it to end. The music transports him, fills him with such beauty, drowns out the rest of the room and the world. It washes over him in inspiring waves, and when he feels it ebbing back, he doesn’t want it to go, wants to lift his arms to clutch at the ephemeral notes and drag them back, beg Maglor to keep playing, but it reaches its end all the same. That first moment when Maglor’s hands still across the supple chords, there isn’t a single sound in the entire hall.

Then the place erupts in applause, and Lindir joins in, still breathless and physically leaning forward, soaking in the experience. Maglor stands, to the heightened enthusiasm of the crowd, and then he bows and departs without a word. It’s over so quickly, as it was before, but Lindir keeps clapping with the rest as the curtain falls down again. He wishes he’d had time to stand, but it wouldn’t have mattered—he knows Maglor comes, performs, and leaves. So Lindir turns that awe to Elrond instead, breathing over the ruckus, “That was magnificent.”

“He always is,” Elrond returns, clapping just the same. His eyes are lit with the fire Lindir feels, that stir of pure art that’s still sinking in. Lindir hopes he can remember all of it for as long as he can—he owns all of Maglor’s commercial pieces, but it won’t be the same as hearing it live, as sitting front row before the genius himself. Lindir can’t even feel disappointment over the night’s end, because he’s still giddy over all he’s heard.

As the audience begins to rise and filter out of the hall, Bard and Thranduil are quick to shuffle past them, Bard letting out a quiet yawn and Thranduil scoffing, “How crude—I take you to a nice show, and you practically fall asleep.”

Bard snorts, “You didn’t look any more interested,” and then they’re swept up with other patrons, their squabble lost in the general hum of the crowd.

Though Maglor’s music is often calming, and the last scores was of such wondrous peace, Lindir feels thoroughly alive. He waits for the bulk of the crowd to leave before he tries, because he doesn’t have the wherewithal right now to make it through obstacles. Elrond lifts a hand lightly to Lindir’s back to guide him, and that completes the picture: the perfect music with the perfect man.

In the lobby, Elrond keeps his hold on Lindir and guides Lindir along the edge of the theatre, while Lindir gushes, “He has such presence, even though he’s so focused on his music—it’s as if we were each in a private session without a big audience at all, just watching this intimate revelation between Maglor and his art.”

“He’s always been a natural player,” Elrond returns, ducking them into a hallway that the security on either side lets them wordlessly into. “I quite agree with you that that quality comes through when he performs, though I’ve told him on occasion it might be nice to play to the audience more.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of imposing.” The thought that Elrond’s close enough to Maglor to offer constructive criticism like that is mind-boggling to Lindir. “I’d be too terrified he’d withdraw and not play for me at all! So many of his pieces just seem so... so personal.”

“He has much life experience to draw from, and he uses them fully. Maglor’s seen wonders you and I can only dream of.”

Lindir nods, though he doesn’t really understand, he knows that from the qualities portrayed in Maglor’s songs. It does seem like he’s basked in a light none of them have, and he’s been blessed for it. When they stop at a stage door and Elrond knocks, it suddenly occurs to Lindir what they’re doing, and he looks quickly at Elrond in fright and surprise. Sure enough, the door opens, and Maglor looks out at them again.

This time, not quite so late in the evening, he steps aside and gestures into his dressing room, inviting, “Elrond, come, please. And you’ve brought your boyfriend—I was hoping you would manage to work things out.”

“I tried to protect his youth,” Elrond sighs, gently giving Lindir a little push inside because Lindir’s feet have stopped working. “But alas, he wasn’t having it.”

As Maglor shuts the door behind them, he laughs, “You’re too proper for your own good, Elrond. You are an elf, for goodness’ sakes, and if I were to think like you, I could have no one in this city.”

Elrond lifts his hands to signal he’s at a loss and thankfully doesn’t add any of the other complications—Lindir’s job or Elrond’s son. Lindir takes a quick look around—it’s a spacious but plain room, with a dresser, a rack of clothes, a couple miscellaneous things and, most noticeably, a collection of smaller harps atop a white table. Lindir’s gaze lingers over each design, some sleek and some elaborately carved, before he’s inevitably drawn back to Maglor. He doesn’t know what to say, though Maglor regards him with a soft expression, and then he blurts, “Oh, you were so amazing! I’m such a big fan, but this is only the second time I’ve heard you live, and you were absolutely exquisite—when you slipped into that mournful ballad near the end, I almost cried, but then you swept into that delightful classical piece with the jazz influence and my heart was just swelling! I can’t tell you how honoured I was to be here. The instrumentals alone were breath-taking, but your vocals are absolutely transcendent! And you have the most poetic lyrics; I so admire your way with words! I—” He’s rambling and forcibly stops himself, but still somehow adds a final, “I loved it.”

“I’m glad,” Maglor returns, grinning at the compliments, though he must get them all the time—Lindir can’t help but wonder if he’s being humoured but can’t care. To Elrond, Maglor says, “You picked a partner with good taste.”

Elrond responds, “You have no idea.” He gives Lindir a knowing look that results in a quick blush. “I’m just glad my connections are being put to good use for once.”

“Speaking of those connections going to waste, your blond friend looked ready to fall asleep.”

Elrond lets out a little sigh and shakes his head, though Maglor looks merely amused. “That is Thranduil, for you, though I’m sure he’ll enjoy telling everyone he attended a high-end function and could easily shake your hand if he wanted. It’s a shame, really—I’d meant his ticket for Galadriel and Celeborn, but they had some trouble with the travel arrangements, and an empty seat seemed a waste.”

“I’m playing in Lothlórien anyway next month, so they needn’t have bothered. But enough of elves that aren’t here. This one—Lindir, isn’t it?” Hearing his name spoken in Maglor’s voice is a dreamlike moment, and Lindir jolts immediately too attention. “Do you play? I tried to teach Elrond when he was younger, but alas, he was better with a sword.”

Lindir’s so stunned that it takes him a few moments to respond. He’s not sure what’s more shocking—the thought of Maglor knowing Elrond so long, the idea of Elrond trying to play the harp in his youth, or the image of Elrond with a sword. Lindir wants to just ask about that, all about Elrond, but makes himself answer Maglor’s question. “I... I used to, but when I moved out, I couldn’t afford my own, and I’m not that good, and, um, shy...”

Elrond’s the one to say, “I’d love to hear you some time. I’ve often thought you have a lovely voice for singing.”

“Oh, I don’t—” Lindir starts, but it’s already in motion—Maglor sweeps an arm around Lindir’s back and draws him towards the table of harps, several different styles with all different looks.

“Pick one,” Maglor offers. “I played for you—it’s your turn to play for me.”

Lindir’s nothing compared to Maglor. He doesn’t feel worthy enough to even touch one of the harps. But when he turns back to look at Elrond, Elrond gives him an encouraging smile, and that instills in him the strength to reach for a Gondolin model. It’s small and light, the wood carved with fountain-like swirls that gives it a whimsical air. He can’t bring himself to do more than stroke his fingertips reverently across the top. But Maglor plucks it right up and holds it out to Lindir, so that Lindir has to take it in his arms.

Maglor gestures to the chair at his dresser and insists, “Play.”

Lindir opens his mouth to refuse, but can’t, and drifts to the chair instead. He spends a good several seconds looking at Elrond, and Elrond patiently waits, Maglor quiet next to him. Then Lindir draws his fingers up and across the strings, testing them. He doesn’t know where to start. His favourite pieces are all by Maglor, and it seems foolish to try and attempt one of them after hearing it from the master.

So he takes an older one instead, a classical piece by Daeron that he learned when he was young, one on the simpler side that he can recall most of. He plays for a short little while, the light song lilting through the small room, before he opens his mouth and starts to sing, just one stanza’s worth, all he can remember. He stops the song after, barely halfway through, and ducks his face to hide his blush.

Maglor claps politely, and Elrond sighs, “Delightful.” When Lindir looks up at him, Elrond’s face is full of approval and sincerity. It more than makes the embarrassment worth it.

Lindir rises again and tries to pass the harp back, but Maglor steps away and says, “Keep it.”

“N-no,” Lindir instantly splutters, “Oh, goodness, I couldn’t—”

But Maglor insists, “Please. Consider it a thank you present for making my stiff old Elrond happy again.” Elrond gives Maglor a stern look, but Maglor’s gaze is unwavering, and Lindir’s knees feel weak. He holds the harp against his chest and doesn’t even know where to start. It isn’t even that it’s such a quality, obviously expensive model, but to have one of Maglor’s harps is unthinkable. But Maglor looks firm.

And Lindir mumbles, “Thank you.” He can express how much he means it.

“We really must meet earlier sometime,” Maglor says, already changing the subject like the gift is nothing much. “Perhaps when I finish my current tour, we can all go for drinks, and I can regale you with tales of Elrond as a child.”

“Oh, please,” Elrond groans, but Lindir’s already nodding eagerly. He still isn’t exactly sure of their relationship, but he’d certainly be interested to learn. With that, Elrond wraps up, “I think that’s our cue to take our leave. You’ll need your rest—you’re heading out to the Shire tomorrow, I hear?”

“Yes,” Maglor sighs, “and to be honest, a stranger place I haven’t yet been—how the world’s changed! We’ll talk more when I return. Oh, and I’ll pick up one of those odd little Hobbiton pipes for Aragorn.”

“You’re a gem,” Elrond quips, and reaches out for a brief hug that Maglor fondly returns. To Lindir, Maglor offers a hand, and Lindir shifts his harp to shake it.

He blurts again, “Really, thank you so much, and the concert was just lovely—”

“Keep this one,” Maglor laughs to Elrond.

Elrond answers, “I plan to,” and Lindir sheepishly leaves on Elrond’s arm, his new treasure cradled close.

He sets the harp lovingly down on the seat across from them in the limousine, because he fears if it’s close to them, it’ll get knocked over. As soon as the harp’s in place and Elrond’s appraised the driver, the opaque-glass apparition up again, Lindir climbs right into Elrond’s lap. He can feel the subtle shake of the car as it pulls away from the curb, but Lindir isn’t worried about falling—Elrond will catch him. He slips his arms around Elrond’s neck and leans in to take Elrond’s mouth, that first kiss already desperate. His whole body’s thrumming with excitement from the night, with so much passion from the music and meeting such a legend, and he needs to express it. Elrond’s hands instantly take hold of Lindir’s hips, fingers digging in tight through the new clothes, Elrond’s tongue meeting Lindir’s right back. Lindir covers Elrond in one fierce kiss after the other and gasps in between, “You’re the best boyfriend ever.”

He can feel Elrond’s smile against his lips. He can taste Elrond’s pleasure on his tongue. Elrond lifts one hand to pull away the tie in Lindir’s hair, the sharp tug making Lindir stop to whimper, but then Elrond’s fingers are threading into his hair and it’s worth it. Elrond has to take a fistful of it and hold Lindir at bay in order to free his mouth long enough to talk, where he promises, “I assure you, this was not my motive.”

Lindir laughs, nuzzling forward in lieu of kissing—for that, he waits to be freed. Elrond tilts him to the side and nips hungrily at his jaw. As Elrond grazes blunt teeth along his neck, Lindir whines, “Please...”

Lindir’s reward is better than he thought. Elrond lets go of his hair, and that free hand runs down his body, tracing the dip of his spine and lifting the bottom of his jacket, fingertips sliding inside. Then both of Elrond’s hands are slipping right between Lindir’s underwear and skin, all ten fingers cupping his rear and giving him a firm squeeze, hiking him higher—he’s pushed harder against Elrond’s mouth. His moan is swallowed, but he makes it clear with the rest of his body. His hips buck forward, and his fingers tangle in Elrond’s hair to make up for Elrond no longer pulling his. Each kiss they take is as fervent as the next one.

Hopefully the partition is soundproof, because as soon as Elrond’s index fingers press into Lindir’s crack, he’s groaning loudly, then letting out a muffled cry as Elrond finds his hole. Elrond rubs over the furrowed opening, fingers still dry, but Lindir doesn’t care—he thinks he’d take Elrond raw right now, if he could, intellectually knowing it’s foolish but emotionally not caring, because he can’t fathom Elrond feeling anything but good.

Elrond bites at Lindir’s bottom lip and pulls back to purr, “Left jacket pocket.” Lindir doesn’t even think to ask what that means, just runs a hand down Elrond’s chest to find the left pocket, and inside, there’s only a small tube. He retracts it, glancing down at the familiar lubrication, the label just barely distinguishable in the low lights of the limo. Elrond kisses his cheek and retracts one hand from Lindir’s ass—to Lindir’s whimpered annoyance—to hold in front of Lindir. He nips at Lindir’s ear and continues, “I wish we had the time to properly express the emotions music gives us... but I fear your apartment isn’t far enough away, and we’ll have to settle for less... if you’d kindly prepare my hand, so I can keep the other on you, I’ll still fill you the best I can...”

The words make Lindir shiver, and he hurriedly obeys, popping open the tube and squeezing a little out into Elrond’s palm, while Elrond kneads his rear with the other. It doesn’t quite seem fair to him, him getting off and Elrond all alone, but Lindir wouldn’t know how to finger anyone, and he’s too far-gone now to learn. It’s not lost on him that Elrond’s brought lube again. He slicks up Elrond’s fingers as best he can, and as soon as he’s putting the lube back, Elrond’s hand goes back to where it belongs—Lindir’s ass.

In a heartbeat, he’s got two wet fingers circling his hole, tapping and pushing until one can poke inside. Lindir’s breath hitches, his efforts redoubling. He grinds all the harder into Elrond’s lap, their mouths connecting again. Elrond gently pushes in a bit at a time, even though Lindir wants it all. The steady movement of the car only amplifies his own rocking, his body practically dancing. He can feel exactly how hard Elrond is, and he can’t stop rubbing against it. He can’t stop kissing Elrond’s mouth, touching Elrond’s shoulders and hair, thrusting himself back onto Elrond’s finger. At the knuckle, Elrond crooks his finger until he’s tapping the right spot. Lindir sees stars, flattens forward and clings to Elrond for dear life, buries his delighted screams into Elrond’s face, and Elrond takes him over and over.

“You are so beautiful,” Elrond purrs, quiet now, low enough that Lindir can hear the sound of traffic outside, and all he wants is this. Elrond spreads him open on two fingers, constantly rubbing at his prostate and twisting against his walls. “My beautiful, sweet Lindir, with all the right words, and such a pretty voice, and now I know that you are a songbird, as well...” Lindir makes a hopeless sound; he can’t take praise right now, not in Elrond’s deep voice, with Elrond filling him up, and all of Elrond here for him to touch. “Such a help you’ve been to me, both as my assistant and the light of my life... you cannot know how proud I was to bring you here, show you off on my arm...” Lindir groans. He’s overwhelmed with the brilliance of the night. But the magic of the concert and even Maglor fade away under this, the connection between the two of them. “...And all of this I enjoyed; I took you on a date that could easily have been only for myself, and yet you kiss me for it, reward me with your gorgeous body... what have I done to deserve such a treasure?”

Lindir whimpers and goes in for another kiss, stifling the compliments because he can’t take it; he won’t even last all the way to his apartment, not like this, with three of Elrond’s fingers now fucking him at once, and his erection trapped but grinding into Elrond’s, and when he pulls back to look at Elrond’s face, he can’t—

He comes with a pathetic whine, body pitching forward to cocoon around Elrond’s while he ruins his new suit. He can feel himself wetting right through his underwear and can only think of Elrond. He can hear Maglor’s greatest crescendo in his head. He loves Elrond so much but has lost all ability to speak.

They still have a ways to go, he thinks. Even as he’s coming down, panting and boneless, he tries to remember how long the drive here was. Then he realizes it won’t matter—the limo can wait in the parking lot of his building, because Lindir can’t leave his Elrond unsatisfied. He gives Elrond a messy, lasting kiss, then stumbles right off Elrond’s lap, landing on the floor.

He sits between Elrond’s legs and leans into Elrond’s lap. He wishes he had the dexterity to undo Elrond’s belt with his teeth. But he doesn’t, so his hands fly to it, even as Elrond runs a hand through his hair and mutters, “Lindir, love, you don’t have to—” But Lindir’s already got Elrond’s cock out, and the next second, he’s impaled himself on it. It feels so right to have Elrond in his mouth.

He gorges himself on Elrond’s cock far after they’ve pulled into the parking lot, where the driver patiently waits for Lindir to drink his fill.

He said he’d cook just because he likes the idea of it—he likes the idea of doing anything for Elrond. The one downside about Elrond already being rich and important is that Lindir’s presence isn’t really a help in his home, when Lindir would sort of rather Elrond lived somewhere remote and slow and in need of a helper.

Instead, he lives in a prestigious hotel in a large city, and Lindir feels vaguely silly offering to cook dinner. As soon as he’s hung up, he remembers he isn’t that great at cooking and it was probably a terrible idea. He figures he’ll make pasta—something he hopefully can’t mess up—and will just try to throw in enough spices and vegetables for it to look fancy. He considers texting Elrohir for help, then realizes a second later how awkward it would be to ask him for help seducing his father.

Lindir’s down the pasta isle, trying to decide whether farfalline or penne rigate looks more impressive, when his phone buzzes in his pocket. He pulls it out to find Elrond’s sent, Sorry, I’m afraid I’ve been held up—an old family friend seems to have given some rather rowdy Dwarven guests the impression I offer private translation services. Would we be able to push dinner back an hour or two?

Elrond’s often delayed and occasionally has to cancel all together, and Lindir always understands—Elrond’s busy, important. And worth waiting for. Lindir sends back, Of course. Good luck.

Thank you, I’ll need it.

The conversation’s technically over, but, as usual, Lindir has trouble ending it. He’s never the first to hang up unless expressly dismissed. After a second, he thinks to add, I’m sorry I’m not there to help.

There’s a pause, during which Elrond might be busy, which gives Lindir a pang of guilt, or he’s just thinking. I’m glad you’re not; the mess of their boots alone would’ve given you quite a fright.

Lindir can’t help but quirk a smile; he thinks Elrond might be teasing him over his anxiety with messes, which does flare under stress, which ‘rowdy dwarves’ would’ve likely caused. Trying to be consoling, he sends, I’ll have dinner waiting for you when you’re finished, but I can make you tea and give you a massage after if you like.

I think you might secretly be a Maia sent by the Valar to bless me.

Absolutely beaming, Lindir responds, You would deserve it.

Naturally, Elrond has to say, You’re delightful. But I’m sorry, I must be going now. I look thoroughly forward to coming home to you. They don’t really live together, and Lindir’s apartment is far from Elrond’s home, but the expression makes him melt. Lindir spends a good few minutes staring at his blank phone long after it’s timed itself out. Life is just too good now.

It’s good, even if trying to make a nice pasta dish is intimidating and even just choosing the right pasta is scary. Elrond’s restaurant probably makes it from scratch. Lindir already knows he can’t do that. He drops a bag of penne into his basket and heads down the isle, only to pause and think again about getting his old outfits.

The only contact he has at Eriador is Elrohir, and again, he couldn’t do that. But he does text Elrohir: Hi, sorry, do you have Meludir or Feren’s number?

When he’s in the produce section picking tomatoes, he gets an answer.

I have all the numbers, but if you want them for booty calls, we’ll need to have another talk.

The homemade sauce—courtesy of an internet recipe—is simmering on the stove when Meludir and Feren buzz up. Lindir lets them in with a sort of begrudging trepidation—it often feels strange to have others in his home. He already cleaned up in anticipation of Elrond, and he’s half annoyed that it’s still not much and half worried they’ll mess it up again. But they only give peripheral looks around and don’t comment on the place. With their tips, they could probably afford double his rooms.

Each comes with a bag of clothes in hand, which they deposit on the couch, and Feren says, “We’ve been saving them for you, since you left without them—Erestor said it was alright. We can’t recycle all the lingerie stuff anyway.”

“But more importantly,” Meludir asks, “How are you?”

In jeans and an Elrond-sweater, Lindir’s sure he doesn’t look like much, but for once, he doesn’t have to force a smile. “Really well, actually.”

“You look like you’re getting laid,” Feren chuckles. “How’d you manage getting kicked out of a sex club and only getting that just-laid glow after?” Meludir laughs, but Lindir blushes, not sure he should say.

Meludir’s the one to ask, “What about the customer you used to like? He never comes in anymore.”

“Thranduil does, though,” Feren notes, to which Meludir instantly lets out a wistful sigh. Clearly, things haven’t change there since Lindir left.

Lindir hesitates at first to disclose anything, because there’s a good chance Elrohir will have told them Elrond’s true connections, but the information’s too hard to keep in—Lindir’s proud of who he caught. He admits, “We’re together,” and Meludir instantly lets out an ‘awwww.’

Feren teases, “Little old for you, don’t you think?” But Meludir swats his arm.

“We’re happy for you, Lindir, really. I’m glad to hear you’ve moved on from Elrohir.”

“Ulterior motives much?” Feren snorts. When Meludir gives him a quick glare that Lindir doesn’t understand, Feren elbows Meludir.

Meludir wrinkles his nose and turns to Lindir, muttering, “Um, well...” then he wilts all at once, eyebrows drawing together and all his cute features working in full-force to be their absolute most charming. “I’m so sorry, honey, please don’t be mad! But Elrohir and I have sort of been having fun, and I did hope you wouldn’t mind, he said you had a mutual understanding and he didn’t break your heart or anything, but of course I wouldn’t want to hurt you and didn’t mean to steal your man!”

Even when they were dating, Lindir’s not sure he ever considered Elrohir his man. If anything, he feels sympathetic for how worried Meludir looks—it touches him that Meludir would even care what he thinks. He shrugs and admits, “So long as you don’t touch my current man, you can steal all the others you like.”

Meludir smiles wide and makes a cute mewling sound, leaning forward to envelop Lindir in a tight hung. Lindir tentatively returns it, even though physical touch from not-Elrond-people is still not his favourite thing. The club might have been good for that, at least; it desensitized him somewhat, but now he doesn’t have that even, and no one touches him but Elrond. When Meludir withdraws, Lindir’s standing stiff as a board. Neither of his ex-coworkers seems to notice.

Meludir playfully swats at his shoulder and suggests, “Maybe we should introduce Feren to Elladan, and we can all have one from the family.”

To which Lindir groans, because clearly Meludir knows full well what Elrond is. Meludir just grins, Feren snorting and giving him a light shove. Lindir’s at least grateful they don’t tease him any worse.

Before they go, Feren says, “Really, we’re happy you’re doing well,” and gives him another hug.

Elrond’s two and a half hours late, but he texts as soon as he can to say when he’s coming, so Lindir holds no grudges. At the door, he’s met with a tired hug, and Elrond shrugs off his jacket to sigh, “I am sorry about this. Honestly, it took longer getting them to give me the thing they wanted me to translate than it did to actually translate it.”

Lindir once heard that dwarves are stubborn, argumentative things, but he heard that from Thranduil, and thus didn’t consider it particularly reliable information. Now he wonders if Thranduil had anything to go on for that, or if Elrond was just unlucky. Lindir’s never had much experience with dwarves, but then, he’s never had much experience with people in general. He tells Elrond, “It’s okay,” and, “I’m glad you’re here.” He gives Elrond a kiss on the cheek that seems to wash away all the trouble in Elrond’s eyes.

Lindir’s set the table in the living room and rearranged the furniture a bit to give more room, the plates and silverware out but not the meal—he didn’t want it to get cold. Everything’s been waiting on a low heat, and as Elrond takes his seat, Lindir goes to fetch it, coming back to serve them both a fair portion of his pasta, in the end not much fancier than the regular tomato-sauce kind. His table is too small for a centerpiece, but he doesn’t have anything nice enough for that anyway. His new harp is sitting on the coffee table, because he has nowhere better to display it. Basically, it’s nothing like the dinners they’ve had out. But Elrond tells him, “This looks wonderful,” and he knows that Elrond means it, however impossible.

For the first few bites, they’re quiet, Lindir wanting to let Elrond settle. Then Elrond asks, “Did you make this sauce yourself?” He looks impressed, though Lindir’s sure the recipe would be very simple to a normal person not fretting over company.

“Yes, though I didn’t make the pasta itself, sorry.”

Elrond waves his fork dismissively. “No, no, I wouldn’t expect you to. And it’s very good, thank you. I haven’t come home to a freshly-cooked meal for some time.”

Again, he’s said home, and Lindir bites his lip to hide his smile over that. He pushes the pasta around his plate and sheepishly admits, “I like cooking for you. I-I’m not that good yet, just alright, but I’d like to learn. It’s just that the hotel’s so busy—oh, but I love my job, I’m not complaining—”

“We live in a busy world,” Elrond sighs, showing, like always, that he understands. “And it seems the Imladris is the heart of that.” Lindir nods.

Elrond takes a few bites, and Lindir considers, then finally says a thought that’s been on his mind for some time, “You do work very hard. Perhaps, now that I’m there, you could take some more time off...?”

Elrond takes a second to finish his forkful, chews, then says, “That’s very sweet of you, Lindir. But I don’t know if you’re the one to pick up the slack.” Immediately, Lindir’s face falls, but just as quick, Elrond continues, “Oh, please don’t misunderstand. I’d just hoped that you would take that time off with me.” As Lindir lights up again, Elrond explains, “Arwen, I think, is quite capable of running the place for a few days—oh, and with my boys, and Aragorn—I’ve still been meaning to introduce you to him, come to think of it; I almost consider him one of my boys sometimes—anyway, the Rivendell branch is opening next month, and I’d hoped to take something of a vacation there. It might still be one of my hotels, but the valley of Rivendell is quite small, more a tourist destination for the mountains and river than a bustling city like we have here, and I think it should prove relaxing. I would be quite pleased if I could take my assistant with me.”

Lindir says immediately, “I’d love to go,” without even processing the rest right away. He’d go anywhere with Elrond, and the thought of taking a vacation with him is wonderful. Then the specifics of that location sink in, though Lindir doesn’t know much beyond the description Elrond already gave him—he’s only heard of Rivendell fleetingly. He’s not really one for travel and never listens much to tales from abroad. But he’d like a quiet place, especially if it means relaxing at Elrond’s side.

“Wonderful. I’ll start relaying some of the details to you—we’ve mostly stuck to Imladris, but as I do occasionally have dealings with my other branches, it would be a big help to me if you understood them too.”

Lindir, always eager to learn more of Elrond’s dealings, nods. “Of course. Please, fill me in. I want to streamline all your business as much as possible.”

“At the office,” Elrond suggests. “For now, let’s focus on this delicious you made and our evening together—hopefully, I should have the rest of the night free.”

Lindir hopes so. But now all he can think of is going away with Elrond. It’ll be nice, he thinks, to have somewhere to stay that isn’t this tiny apartment or shared with Elrond’s children, as nice as they are. A part of him wants to pull up pictures of Rivendell on his phone right now and start booking them appointments in spas and things, but the rest wants to wait for what Elrond wants to do, because that always seems to serve him well.

They finish dinner early, neither that hungry, Lindir because of the butterflies Elrond’s rekindled in him. He takes the dishes to the kitchen and puts the rest of the pasta away, only for Elrond to start the sink while Lindir’s back is turned. As soon as the pot’s in the fridge, Lindir’s by Elrond’s side, insisting, “Oh, I can do that—”

But Elrond’s already rolling up his sleeves and squirting soap into the rising water. There isn’t much to do, just their two plates, forks, glasses, and the ladle—Lindir already did the dishes from earlier. Elrond says, “It’s no trouble,” and scrubs everything off, while Lindir fetches a cloth and sets to dry them and put them away. There’s something far too attractive about the whole thing, about the way Elrond’s sleeves bunch around his elbows, the ease with which he does Lindir’s chores, the efficiency of his quick but thorough work. He’s too good. Lindir’s too lucky. He has a spotless kitchen again in no time.

Then Elrond’s drying off his hands on the dishtowel and saying, “I would ask what’s next, but unfortunately, I didn’t leave us time for much—it’s already quite dark.”

“And you’re tired,” Lindir fills in. “Do you want tea and a massage?” He’d be happy to do it. The thought of getting his hands on Elrond’s naked back is very tempting. But Elrond chuckles and pecks his forehead.

“You are far too good to me, my Lindir. But I fear if I lie down, I’ll fall right asleep, so I’d have to ask if that’s how you wish to end the evening.”

It’s not, thought it would still be nice. Lindir thinks for a moment, eyeing Elrond, enjoying that, this, and eventually decides, “Could you wait in the bedroom? I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Elrond steps closer, tosses one arm around Lindir’s waist, and pulls him in for a kiss that leaves Lindir’s knees shaking. He doesn’t want to let go. But Elrond pulls away again to obey, turning to head for the bedroom, and Lindir’s left wondering if he should ask Elrond first how to proceed—he has a few different choices.

In the hall closet, he has several old Eriador outfits neatly folded—the ones big enough to fold, at least. He left them out here instead of his bedroom for this purpose. In the end, he selects a pink negligee with matching panties, changing quickly and then fussing for a minute or two. Even after how many times they’ve been together, how many times Elrond’s seen him in these skimpy clothes, it still gives him butterflies. When he’s ready, he sucks in a breath to follow his boyfriend.

The light’s already off in his bedroom, but the one on the nightstand is on, and it washes a faint golden glow over Elrond’s body, lounging in his bed, everything gone but the pants. Propped against the pillows, Elrond eyes Lindir with clear interest, from his loose hair spilling over his shoulders to his chest, visible through the sheer negligee, to the outline of his panties underneath them. Lindir shuts the door behind himself and turns again to say, “I, um... got a few of my old outfits from the club. I can change into any one you like...?”

“I was always fond of this one,” Elrond says. He reaches out an arm, beckoning Lindir in, and that’s all the confirmation Lindir needs. He practically skips towards the bed, the carpet too cold under his bare feet but not a worry with the bed so close. As soon as he’s at the side, Elrond tugs him forward, and he moves to straddle Elrond’s lap, climbing over his lean body to rest at his crotch. Lindir can already feel a bulge waiting there and bucks his hips into it.

The lube bottle is already waiting on the nightstand, but Elrond doesn’t go for it right away. He rests his hands on Lindir’s hips and runs up and down Lindir’s sides, scrunching the negligee up and thumbing the skin he reveals underneath. Lindir splays his hands on Elrond’s chest and gently rocks their bodies together, each slow grind making Lindir all the harder. The panties are a tight fit, but he has practice tucking himself in, and he doubts Elrond would mind if he poked out. He just tries to be cleaner than that. But he hopes they won’t last long on him anyway.

“If you’re really tired,” Lindir mumbles, pausing to gasp when Elrond reaches under the negligee to rub his nipples, “we can sleep...”

“Mm,” Elrond hums, maybe thinking of it, but then his gaze lifts from Lindir’s chest to his face. “I may be low on energy, but if you’re willing to do the work...”

Of course Lindir is. He grins wide and leans down, Elrond lifting up just enough to meet him. Their mouths connect, the kiss lingering longer than Lindir means to, because Elrond’s tongue swipes over his, and that’s always a trap. But he manages to pull back again, and he goes for the nightstand, fetching the lube. He often likes to take Elrond in his mouth first, apply a layer of spit, but he’ll keep it calm and quick for Elrond tonight and bypasses that for now. When he lifts up on his knees to start pushing down his panties, Elrond tugs them lower, and it forces Lindir to shimmy out of them completely, leaving his hard cock parallel to Elrond’s body. Elrond gives it a gentle tug with one dry hand, and Lindir keens, bucking forward to drag himself along the front of Elrond’s pants. He leaves the negligee on and goes for Elrond’s fly, unfastening and scrunching them down with the boxers below. Elrond starts to kick out of them too, which might be for the best if they’re just going to pass out after.

When they’re naked save for the negligee, Lindir can concentrate on Elrond’s cock. He pours an ample amount of lube into his hands and goes straight for it, wrapping around and stroking up. Elrond groans and lifts his hips into the movement, though he mutters, “Opening yourself is more important...”

“I know,” Lindir concedes, before leaning down for another kiss. “But I just can’t hold back from touching you...”

He has to force himself away from Elrond’s cock, but he does it for the sake of having Elrond inside him. He always prefers Elrond to finger him—Elrond does it better; his touch is gentler, and he has patience in this that Lindir doesn’t. He puts the first finger in too fast, grunts and whines around it, but eventually adjusts for a second, a third. Elrond usually encourages him to take as many as possible. That’s his limit. He kneads himself open with three wet digits and can’t stand not having Elrond in him instead, and then he pulls out his hand and wipes it on the sheets, already knowing he’ll have to wash them.

He hovers over Elrond’s cock, reaching under to line them up, and looks at Elrond’s face. Their eyes connect. He mumbles, “I love you.”

Then he drops on and cries out, having taken too much already but not willing to pull off. Elrond’s hands fly to steady him, clutching tightly at his hips, and Lindir sucks in a breath and tries to relax, open himself wider. On trembling knees, he lifts a little higher and pushes farther down, trying to suck more into him. It’s slow going, but he rocks his way on, determined, wincing where it’s uncomfortable but enjoying the burn, the stretch, the sensation of being filled. Mostly, he likes feeling Elrond under his hands, eyeing Elrond’s body, Elrond’s handsome face. Elrond won’t let him go too far at once. But then he’s all the way, fully seated, and he needs a moment just to take it.

A shaky breath, and he lifts, drops again, adjusts, and tries another, and a few more in and he finds it, the right angle, and he bounces faster for it, but misses it on the next try. He can’t fully concentrate on that, because he’s busing taking Elrond in. But he catches it here and there, a little burst of pleasure every time, quickly ingrained in the overall throes of it, so that it’s all one big sea of feeling good.

There are no words this time, not beyond Lindir’s first, but they say it all with their bodies. Lindir bounces dutifully up and down on Elrond’s cock and squeezes when he can, watching the little shivers reverberate up Elrond’s body. His own thighs are trembling. The air fills with their pants and gasps, the slapping noise of Lindir landing on Elrond’s body, the stench of lube and sex, and Lindir’s heartbeat loud in his ear. Elrond guides his thrusts, but Lindir does the real work. He rides Elrond properly. It’s exhilarating.

Then Elrond slides his hand across Lindir’s stomach and wraps his fingers around Lindir’s cock, giving a little squeeze that leaves Lindir desperate. Elrond starts pumping him in time with the thrusts, a little bit of sweat easing the way somewhat. The rest gives it just enough edge to keep Lindir from bursting right away. Lindir goes as long as he can, putting everything he has into it. His entire body’s arching and swaying with his thrusts. He rides Elrond like it’s all he’s ever wanted.

And then Elrond gives his cock another squeeze, and it’s more than Lindir can process—he tosses his head back to cry out, his balls tighten, and he spurts across Elrond’s chest. Elrond pumps him out, Lindir fucking himself on Elrond’s cock right through it, only for Elrond to follow when Lindir’ just at the edge of coming down. The feeling of Elrond coming inside him melts him the rest of the way. He clenches to milk it out and still rocks right through.

His hips don’t putter to a stop until they’ve both spilled everything, and Lindir’s panting for air, cock flagging in Elrond’s hand. He’s about to collapse when Elrond runs his hands up Lindir’s body again, gaze full of admiration, and murmurs, “You must be the most beautiful creature alive. ...And you ordain to play with me. I’m honoured.”

Lindir, dizzy as he is, could almost laugh from the irony of Elrond thinking that. Elrond helps him rise, lifting his hips, and then Lindir shifts down to lie at Elrond’s side. He snuggles up close to Elrond’s body, hooks a leg over Elrond’s and an arm over his chest, and nuzzles into the crook of his neck, pillow forgotten. Elrond’s the one to reach for the blankets.

As he’s tucked in, Lindir yawns, “I love you.”

“And I love you,” Elrond returns, kissing Lindir’s lips before they both drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Despite being someone prone to fretting over ever little thing, Lindir doesn’t have much to pack. He doesn’t own that much to start with, and things like his new, beloved harp and his collection of books certainly don’t need to go. Normally, he’d probably bring at least one story for the road, but Lindir doubts he’ll need a distraction for this—he’d prefer just to spend every minute soaking in Elrond’s company.

For clothes, he packs a small variety, though he’s unused to travel and not sure what he’ll need—the city is fairly temperate, but Rivendell is a day’s drive away in somewhat different terrain. Then again, he imagines they’ll spend most of their time in the hotel, and of course an Imladris establishment is going to be the perfect temperature. He thinks of bringing a few of Eriador’s outfits, but, despite having now tried out several of them, he’s not sure which are Elrond’s favourites, and short of asking Elrond, he’d have to just bring them all, and that’s far too much to pack. He stands with his phone for a few extra minutes, wondering if it would be worth the embarrassment to ask, but ultimately opts out. He does, after all, enjoy being taken in regular clothes, various states of undress, and being completely naked just as much. He’ll take Elrond any which way.

Most things he already has ready, but he has to stuff his toothbrush and toothpaste into a little baggie in his backpack at the last minute, tossing in his hairbrush after another quick comb-through. Then he starts piling in some fruit and sets to making sandwiches. He imagines Elrond will simply buy food on the road, but Lindir’s the assistant and feels he should come prepared lest either of them grow hungry too far from a stop. He makes the sandwiches with a multitude of greens, other vegetables, and hummus, placing them next to a cold pack when he’s done.

Even after everything’s completely packed and he’s changed into loose pants and a long-sleeved, off-the shoulder purple shirt, he still makes the rounds of his apartment. There’s nothing left to do. He has no pets or plants to need taking care of. Once he’s off with Elrond, his prized harp will be the only thing worth coming back for. But that was the idea. Elrond suggested they could catch a flight that would be faster, but Lindir doesn’t want it faster; he wants to waste a day in the car with Elrond, with no work or children or other people. He’s already daydreaming about it when he gets a text from Elrond: I’m in the parking lot. Do you want help taking your bags down?

No, thanks; I only have two, Lindir answers, hiking his backpack up with the suitcase at his feet. He leaves his apartment alone and locks the door, thinks of telling a neighbour, anyone, that he’ll be gone for a few days, but he doubts anyone will miss him. There’s a week and a bit left of the month, but he’s paid his rent, and he’ll be back with plenty of time before the next cheque’s due. He doesn’t see anyone in the elevator down, and then he’s rolling his suitcase out into the parking lot, with Elrond waiting for him next to a green car. It’s already a sunny day, though too early to properly gauge the coming heat. Elrond smiles as Lindir pulls up, then pops the trunk and helps tuck the suitcase in with all of Elrond’s luggage.

As they close the trunk and walk around either side of the car, Elrond notes, “You travel light.”

Lindir slips into the passenger side and teases, “You’re all I need.” It’s cheesy and makes him blush to say, but Elrond chuckles and grins at him, making the overt move decidedly worth it. Elrond pulls them out of the parking lot, the street bizarrely slow with the hour; it’s not even time for the morning rush. They take the next turn, and Lindir sighs, “I’m looking forward to this.”

“I am too,” Elrond starts, then looks sideways and adds, “Oh, but before we get too far—did you pack a pillow?”

“Won’t the hotel have one?”

“Yes, but it’s a long drive—you may want to rest on the way.”

Shrugging, Lindir goes for the gold with a second overly-forward joke in only a few minutes: “If I must nap, can’t you be my pillow?”

Elrond laughs all the harder, and Lindir realizes belatedly why it’s so funny—it’s not like he hasn’t slept on Elrond before. Elrond genially answers, “As much as I do enjoy those moments, I don’t think I should have you in my lap while I’m behind the wheel.”

Lindir agrees but is still sad to say, “Understandable. I’ll be okay, though.”

He wants to offer the same back, but can’t, and it only hits him then how unfair it is that Elrond won’t be able to take breaks from driving. He sheepishly mumbles, “I’m sorry I can’t drive, by the way...”

“I can teach you, if you like,” Elrond replies as easily as ever.

Only because it’s Elrond, Lindir agrees, “Maybe,” then admits, “I’m sort of afraid of it, to be honest, and I figure in our day and age, public transit is convenient enough...”

Elrond shoots him an understanding look before turning back to the road. “It can be intimidating, I suppose, but you’re quite responsible, so I think you’ll do alright. But especially given the expense of gas and insurance, you’re also right that public transit is a decent alternative.”

“And boyfriends,” Lindir sheepishly adds.

Elrond grins at him and pulls onto the freeway.

An hour out of the city, on a clear, twisting road through green hills, they reach civilization again, forewarned with one roadside billboard after another. Most of their wares are unappealing to Lindir, but a few signs whimsically catch his interest—another hotel, a local clothing company, a water park. Once they’re driving through a small town with no buildings over three stories, Elrond asks, “Would you mind stopping for coffee?”

Naturally, Lindir will agree to anything that extends their time together, and so agrees, “That sounds nice. Do you know anywhere?”

Elrond slows the car considerably and answers, “Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it; when I came with family, Arwen usually got her pick. Let’s keep an eye out.”

“The Prancing Pony?” Lindir suggests, reading off a sandwich board as Elrond cruises even slower down what must be the town’s only main street.

Elrond shakes his head. “That would be the one she and Elladan liked, but I doubt you will.”

Lindir nods, and across the street, spots a hand-painted cup in the window of another shop. “The Green Dragon?”

“Let’s try it.” Pulling up to the curve, Elrond has plenty of space to park. A few people do mill along the street, but it’s a lot less traffic than Lindir’s used to. He’s also not used to the flat scenery with no taller buildings poking out, and the older looking architecture without so much smooth chrome and metal. They’re not far from home, and it’s already... different. Lindir, though he’s never been big on travel, finds it quaint.

Lindir first fishes his wallet out of his backpack to stuff in his pocket, then tucks his bag under the dash so as not to tempt any thieves. Then they’re both climbing out of the car, Elrond locking it with a button on his keys. Elrond waits on the sidewalk for Lindir to come around to his side, and they approach the stout shop together. Elrond holds the door out for Lindir, a tiny bell chiming above it, and Lindir tries to hide just how much Elrond’s gallant efforts affect him. It seems there’s no escaping that charm.

The Green Dragon has an oddly round theme—the tables are all circular, the backs of the chairs follow suit, and the walls are done in homely murals of hills with little round houses stuck into them. Wooden pillars hold up the wooden ceiling, lower than Lindir’s used to. One thickset man sits in the corner, a steaming mug half-hidden in the folds of his enormous beard, and Lindir rudely stares before realizing he’s a dwarf and hurriedly looking away.

The woman behind the counter is the shortest person Lindir’s ever seen but doesn’t have the facial hair associated with dwarves. She’s polishing a mug and stops to smile when Elrond approaches. Blowing a few honey curls out of her eyes, she asks, “What can I get you boys?”

“A tall iced coffee, please,” Elrond says without hesitation—a simple drink for a long drive.

Lindir glances up at the board behind the barista, trying to read the flowery cursive. Elrond waits patiently, and the barista just keeps cleaning out the mug until Lindir slowly decides, “A blended cappuccino, please.”

The barista nods genially and puts down the mug to type at her old cash register. The price comes up, and before Lindir can pull his wallet out of his pocket, Elrond’s holding out his card, the drinks still totaled up as one order.

“Oh, I don’t...” But Lindir’s faint protest is too late, and the payment’s already gone through. As Elrond tucks his card back into his wallet, Lindir tsks, “You always pay for everything...”

“And I give you your paycheck,” Elrond notes with a knowing smile, “so in a way, I would be doing so anyway.”

It’s not the same, but Lindir just says, “Thank you.” He’s glad now that he didn’t order anything too fancy and expensive.

The barista hums to herself as she makes the drinks behind her counter, while Elrond and Lindir shuffle over to glance at the snacks on display—mostly pastries and a few select sandwiches. With his voice lowered so as not to carry to the barista or the one other patron, Elrond tells Lindir, “Everything at the Prancing Pony came heaped in extra sugar, and the drinks were mostly foam, although I admit our last trip was some years ago.”

“This is fine,” Lindir returns, though he hasn’t had his drink yet. It looks like if they don’t like their drinks here, they’ll just be stuck with it; unlike in the big city, they won’t have the luxury of simply crossing the street and finding a dozen other coffee shops to try.

“Perhaps we should pick up some snacks for the road,” Elrond suggests, eyeing some of the plainer baked goods on the far left of the display.

Lindir admits, “I did make us sandwiches and packed some fruit...”

“I should’ve known my assistant would take care of me,” Elrond chuckles, before looping one arm around Lindir’s waist and tugging him just a little bit closer, enough to kiss his forehead. Lindir turns before he can stop himself, saintly kissing Elrond’s cheek, then wills himself to get a grip and not devolve into the make-out fest he wants right in the middle of a store.

When the barista turns back to slide both drinks across the counter, Elrond points to an oatmeal cookie and asks, “Could I add one of those, please?” To Lindir, he says, “We have a long way to go; perhaps we should save your rations. Would you like anything?”

Lindir tells the barista, “Make that two oatmeal cookies, please.” And then he hurriedly shuffles to the register before Elrond can, whipping out his debit card. Elrond clicks his tongue, but both cookies together are cheaper than Lindir’s one drink, so Lindir has no trouble covering it. They’re each given their food in small paper bags. Lindir turns to consider the tables, wondering if they have time to sit and savour it or if they should keep going.

Elrond heads towards the door, so Lindir followers, though Elrond says, “Perhaps we could walk around for a moment—this is a little messy, and I’d prefer no crumbs in the car.” Lindir quite agrees.

They go for a short walk down the block, Lindir noting with surprise that there seems to be only one more block after that before the street turns back into a more residential district. They cross the street at the end, heading back in the direction of the car and finishing off their cookies before their drinks. Half a block from the car, they pass a used bookstore, obvious from the more shabby look and lack of chain branding, and Lindir asks, “Could we stop in there a moment?” He would like some sort of souvenir of this trip itself, and book shopping is probably the easiest kind for him.

Elrond answers, “Of course,” and once again goes to open the door for Lindir.

Inside, the place is a mess—it’s a cramped, singular room with misshapen shelves piled ceiling-high with tattered volumes, the floor equally as scattered. An old man sits behind a desk at the side, dressed in all brown with deep wrinkles and a long, grey beard. He gives Lindir and Elrond a smile before looking right back down at the hedgehog in his lap; he seems to be reading it a story. Lindir catches himself again staring a moment longer than is polite; things get so weird outside the city.

Elrond walks around the stacks, Lindir following, grateful when they’re out of sight of the old man. It doesn’t seem sanitary to have live animals in a public shop, but then, Lindir knows he’s more meticulous than most. Elrond says nothing of it and skims the shelves, muttering, “One thing I enjoy about used book stores, as opposed to new ones, is the older date of the books...”

“Same,” Lindir agrees, it being his favourite part. He can already spot a few covers that look like they’ve survived from the beginning of the age.

Elrond steps back to observe another shelf, and Lindir skims a few titles before realizing the entire section is old harlequin romances. He has a brief flash of curiosity—it seems like something he’d enjoy—but then, he’s already got his own inordinately tidy romance, and he doubts a fictional one could ever live up to his truth.

“Perhaps we should get something you can read aloud,” Elrond says, turning to brush his fingers along the other side. “It might make the time go quicker...”

Though Lindir likes the sound of that idea, he points out, “I’m not the best reader...”

“I adore your voice,” Elrond instantly counters, piercing Lindir with a look that seems to dare him to say otherwise. Then Elrond melts into a softer expression and gently coaxes, “I would enjoy it.”

Lindir would too, so nods, biting his lip and turning away from the romance section. Those might just make him want things he shouldn’t try to have while Elrond’s driving.

Browsing the historical section one shelf over, Lindir asks, “What kind?”

“I’m not a fan of modern stories,” Elrond says.

“I’m the same. Perhaps... fantasy? Or historical fiction...?”

“That is my usual realm, although, I wonder...” He pauses, and it gives Lindir time to turn and look at the row Elrond’s on. “I haven’t read much sci-fi.”

“Neither have I.” Honestly, Lindir hadn’t even thought of it. It seems like the complete opposite of his usual go-to stories; he tends to go for things set in the past, when everything’s simpler.

But for Elrond, he’d try anything. So he comes over to Elrond’s side, while Elrond pulls out one particular book and says, “We may as well try the adventure of a new genre together.”

That’s a good way to put it. Lindir waits for Elrond to finish reading the back cover, but then Elrond tucks it back and notes, “I’d prefer nothing about interstellar war, however.”

“Same.” Lindir sets in to skimming titles, chooses another volume that looks particularly worn, and pulls it out to read the back cover: a confusing mishmash of made up words and unnecessary exclamation points. It does look benevolent, but too nonsensical for Lindir’s tastes.

Elrond extracts another, takes it in, and passes it to Lindir, who agrees, “This looks alright.”

Elrond nods, only to turn and pluck a different book out of a box on the floor—the elf riding the dragon on the cover gives away its genre. He tells Lindir, “Just in case,” and Lindir grins and nods. According to the penciled-in price on the inside of the book jacket, they can certainly afford two.

They head to the counter, where Elrond puts the books down, and Lindir hastily slides them away from the hedgehog. The old man coos at it while Elrond produces enough loose change to cover the cheap price. Then they’re headed back to the car with only partially depleted drinks and new supplies.

The next stretch of road is pure road, wherein Elrond deems it safe to read; the highway is, after all, mostly straight, with few cars on it, and the worst Elrond could do would be to detour into a field for a few paces. So Lindir reads their new science fiction book aloud, having to pause here and there so they can collectively figure out how the invented world works. It seems set in a nonsensical future where “Earth” has achieved total peace, save for one lone, mad scientist that the heroine must chase across the galaxy in her apparently-fuzzy spaceship. She spends more time changing outfits than she does pursuing the criminal, and she stops to flirt with almost every other character she encounters, but the imaginative elements surrounding the fantasy planets she crosses do make the story enjoyable for Lindir. A few lines make Elrond laugh, a few make Lindir blush, and quite often neither of them can puzzle out certain words at all. It’s overall a fun experience that Lindir gets easily lost in.

But finally a little house-like structure pops up in the distance, and signs foretell a rest stop. Elrond pulls into the gravely lot, parking next to the building that appears to be washrooms. They take turns going and watching the car, and then Elrond takes a short break to eat one of the sandwiches Lindir packed for him. It’s nothing complicated, but Elrond looks perfectly happy to eat it and tells him, “Thank you. It’s quite good.”

“Good.” Lindir nibbles at his too and wishes he’d packed a lot more. The book stays in his lap, marked by a scrap of paper torn out of a notepad in his backpack. While they eat in relative silence, Lindir asks, “Have you driven to Rivendell much?”

“Not too often,” Elrond admits. “I did enjoy it each time, but it’s a different sort of vacation when you’re with children, and I always had ties to other things tugging me away.” There’s a moment of quiet while he chews another bite, then he adds, “I believe you’ll like it. It’s a beautiful valley, just big enough to still offer all the amenities of the big city without being over-large, and is thankfully within driving distance. It also has a noticeably slower pace.”

It does sound like something Lindir would enjoy, although he doesn’t need things necessarily within driving distance—unlike Elrond, he doesn’t have a family and business back in the city. Just Elrond, and he could follow Elrond anywhere.

Elrond finishes his sandwich, Lindir only two bites behind. Elrond starts the car up, and Lindir opens their book again.

Occasionally, inns and lone farmhouses pop up along the way, sometime with road-signs in advance and sometimes not. Lindir stops reading here and there to rest his voice and eye the rural scenery. During some intermissions, they discuss other things, and at one point, Elrond puts on a CD, and they enjoy a few songs. When it becomes clear that they can’t stop talking over it, both now invested in their strange science fiction story and hypothesizing to one another, Elrond turns it off and Lindir returns to reading. The climax is a complicated hodgepodge of various characters and technical jargon surrounding the villain’s mechanized compound, though, given the publishing date of the book, Lindir suspects much of the technological terms are entirely fictitious. It doesn’t lesson the enjoyment, because every time Lindir stops to wonder about something, he has Elrond to ponder with him.

Then the headlights wash over a sign for an approaching restaurant, and as the sky’s starting to darken and they’ve exhausted their supplies, Elrond suggests, “Should we stop for dinner?”

“We should,” Lindir decides, mainly because: “You should stretch your legs.”

“I can managed,” Elrond chuckles, throwing in, “I’m not that old.”

They have to take a side road off the main stretch, following various signs, to even spot the restaurant. It’s a rustic, wooden building jutting out of the general forest, the dusty windows of the side showing a few other patrons. Elrond parks the car, and they get out again, the temperature now a little cold for Lindir’s attire, even with the long sleeves. His shirt dips too far off his shoulders and won’t stay up when he tugs it higher. But they’re around the building and inside soon enough, and a fireplace on the far wall keeps the large room toasty. There’s only one counter at the front and an array of tables everywhere else, so Elrond and Lindir approach the counter first. A dark, impossibly large man stands behind it and grunts, “Table for two?” As soon as they nod, he’s marching around it and guiding them over, ushering them onto a long wooden table obviously meant to seat more than their small company.

They sit down anyway, across from one another, and the server disappears and returns a moment later with two paper menu he leaves with them. They’re topped with the title “Beorn’s Lodge” and an ink picture of a black bear, the same logo as the sign outside.

The food isn’t anything fancy, just natural, manageable dishes, most of which make Lindir think more of breakfast or lunch than dinner, but given how far the next restaurant likely is, there’s no room to be picky. Lindir finds and settles on a garden sandwich. He puts his menu down, finds Elrond’s already laying flat, and then the same man’s back to look inquiringly at him.

Lindir looks to Elrond first, who obliging starts: “I’ll have the quinoa salad.”

Lindir adds, “The garden sandwich, please.”

The server promptly nods and collects the menus back. He makes it half a step from the table before a party at the back of the restaurant—Lindir turns to see a large group of dwarves and hurriedly looks the other way again—calls over, “Have you got any chips?”

The large man, easily twice any dwarf’s size, stomps away without answering. This restaurant doesn’t strike Lindir as one to allow menu substitutions. Elrond passively eyes the dwarves over Lindir’s shoulder.

Mainly just to draw Elrond’s gaze back, Lindir says, “It’s been a pleasant trip thus far.”

“It has, hasn’t it?” Elrond rhetorically returns, now fully focused on Lindir again despite the loud ambiance. “I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a long drive so much.”

Lindir’s never enjoyed being on the road with anyone else at all. He says for probably the hundredth time, “Thank you again for taking me.”

Elrond smiles and quietly tells him, “To be honest, I’ve gotten to the point now where I’m not sure I could’ve managed coming without you, Lindir. As time goes on, I only find you more and more vital, both as my assistant and in my life.”

Lindir’s too touched to say anything. Elrond seems to understand, and they just sit like that for a moment, until Lindir sighs, “I couldn’t have imagined a better life.”

Elrond reaches across the table to put his hand over Lindir’s.

Then he has to retract it when their server returns with two plates of heaping food, enough to feed them for days. When the server’s out of earshot, Lindir jokes, “I could’ve imagined more appropriate proportions.” Elrond laughs and takes a bite of his salad, before offering his fork to Lindir. They share the meal and pack the rest, the stars out by the time they leave.

There comes a point where it’s much too dark to read, and holding his phone up to the pages can only do so much. Lindir retires it and keeps adjusting in his seat instead, resisting the urge to lean on Elrond’s shoulder. He tries to keep awake for Elrond’s sake, but Elrond tells him more than once, “You can take a nap.”

Lindir checks in, “How much farther?”

And Elrond answers, “Only a few minutes now.”

That perks Lindir up, and sure enough, when they reach the top of the hill, Lindir can see civilization on the other side. There’s still a fair stretch of trees and general wilderness to drive through, but now the telltale signs have popped up again, and stray buildings dot the sides of the roads. Before long, they’re turning into a residential area cleared of the general canopy, and Lindir can make out the mountains. The town they reach is a quaint one, made mostly of wood and sporting flowers everywhere, with more cobblestone paths than pavement. The whole place has a natural beauty to it that the bigger city couldn’t touch, and Lindir finds himself looking every which way out the windows.

There aren’t many tall buildings around, but one or two others help the Imladris not stand out like a sore thumb. Lindir recognizes it from various plans and a similarity to his local one. It’s a little smaller, less grand, but just as artful, just as tasteful. Elrond parks in a lot around the back lit with tall lamps decorated with hanging flower baskets. As soon as Lindir steps out of the car, he’s hit with the cool air and the sound of crickets in the distance. He takes a moment just to stretch, then collects his backpack and comes around the car to ask, “Should we take our bags?”

“The staff will get it,” Elrond answers, to which Lindir nods. Elrond straightens out his jacket, buttoning the front, and offers an arm to Lindir, who happily wraps around it.

The grand opening is tomorrow, but there’s already a decorative banner above the entrance and sandwich boards proclaiming the upcoming menu and rates. The glass doors are locked, but Elrond produces a master key from his pocket and manages to open them. The lights are already on in the lobby, the setup familiar, though the furnishings are a little more to the local aesthetic. A few vases are empty where fresh flowers will likely be added for tomorrow, but even with those waiting details, it looks exquisite. Elrond takes them straight through to the front desk, where two elves are dressed in crisp black uniforms and chatting quietly with one another. They look up for Elrond and smile, and the one in front steps forward, his long, silver hair tied up in a wealth of braids. He extends one hand when Elrond stops before him, greeting, “Welcome to the Rivendell Imladris. I’m glad you could make it before the opening day.”

“Thank you, Círdan,” Elrond smoothly returns, before looping an arm overtly around Lindir’s waist. “I don’t think you’ve had a chance yet to meet my assistant and partner, Lindir.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Círdan says with a little half-bow that Lindir quickly returns.

“You as well.”

“Círdan will be this branch’s general manager,” Elrond adds. “So if you have any trouble, you need only to ask him. ...Though I would also say the same the other way around; Lindir has become as well-versed in the operation of our own branch as I am.”

Círdan smiles at this, and Lindir tentatively mirrors it, both pleased with Elrond’s praise and hoping it’s enough for Círdan. He wasn’t quite expecting their relationship to be disclosed so early, and he half expects Círdan to say what everyone must think and mention the age difference, but Círdan doesn’t miss a beat over it. Lindir has no idea if he and Elrond are close. Lindir imagines he’ll find out soon enough—as much as he’s sure the staff must be well chosen, he thinks it’d be quite surprising if their vacation didn’t turn out more work than play.

For tonight, Círdan doesn’t seem to have need of anything, because he skips right to, “Shall I show you to your suite? We had the penthouse prepared.”

“Thank you,” Elrond answers, and then they’re being ushered over to the elevator, Círdan instructing the other elf to have their bags fetched. While the doors are closing, a yawn escapes Lindir’s mouth.

As much as he’s been looking forward to having a private hotel room to lounge about with Elrond in, it’s been a long day, and they head straight to bed. They don’t even change—just strip down to underwear, and though Lindir wore cute ones, Elrond only smiles and chastely kisses his cheek. Then they’re tucking under the covers, Lindir already loving the softness of the sheets and the warmth of it all, and Elrond flicks off the light.

They’re asleep in minutes. Lindir dreams of being trapped on a strange new planet full of only very short people with short hair and hairy feet, only for Elrond to ride in on a white horse and save him.

In the morning, Elrond’s voice is what wakes him, though it’s kept hushed and on the far side of the room. Lindir can hear Elrond’s footsteps, pacing back and forth, and a whispered, “—for the arrangements. They mentioned so in their last letter; you know how old fashioned they can be—no, it was their idea—come, now, I’m not that bad—” He pauses for a short chuckle, and Lindir realizes that he must be on the phone.

Lindir would open his eyes, roll over and wake up properly, but the bed he’s sprawled across is so very comfortable, and he’s twisted up just right in the sheets. Elrond continues, “He’s still in bed, actually. I haven’t the heart to wake him; he looks so cute when he sleeps.” For that, Lindir smiles, guessing exactly who Elrond’s talking about, and then Elrond chuckles, “On the contrary, I quite enjoyed myself. We stopped to pick up an old book, and he read it to me. Anyway, it was certainly more fun than being stuck in a car for hours with a certain other minstrel I know.” Lindir can tell from the phrasing that Maglor must be on the other end, and he’s likely talking, because Elrond waits a minute or two before sighing, “Of course, I’ll look. But if you’d been free to serenade our grand opening, you could’ve looked yourself.”

The next few scraps of conversation fly over Lindir’s head, and Lindir respectfully withdraws from it, letting himself drift in and out of consciousness. He can feel the morning sun testing his eyelids and sliding along his skin where his body’s exposed, pleasantly warm. He can smell Elrond’s cologne on the pillow next to his.

Then Elrond says, “Alright, I’d better get going. I want to surprise Lindir with breakfast, which means I better go find out what supplies our kitchens have. No—the restaurant’s.... Downstairs. Of course there’s one... oh, don’t be silly. I’ll talk to you later, Maglor. Enjoy your concert. Thank you. Bye.”

There’s the telltale blip of a connection dropping, and then Elrond’s footsteps are growing fainter, farther. Lindir stays where he is and squeezes his pillow in delight. A part of him wants to race after Elrond and offer to help, but the rest says to just wait here and see what Elrond will bring him.

There’s a long stretch of time where Lindir stays curled up in bed, occasionally fidgeting into a new position and always settling back again. He didn’t get a proper look at the room last night, as sleepy as he was, but he doesn’t bother now—he figures he’ll do that later when he has Elrond by his side again. He waits until he can hear the door of their suite opening several rooms over, and then some footsteps on tile, and then the soft hum of a radio. Still, Lindir just lounges happily in place, though he does start to get hungry.

Eventually, his stomach’s growling, and he just can’t wait anymore. He stifles a yawn when he tries to wake up, but another bursts out right after it. He stretches his arms and legs, kicking the blankets aside, and finally looks about the bright room, not so very different than the Imladris hotel he’s used to.

He finds their bags in the closet, and he fishes about his suitcase for a shirt, finding one long enough to almost act as a dress, making him decent enough to at least explore the suite. Around the bedroom’s partition, he finds a spacious living room with glass doors leading out to a balcony and a stunning view of the mountains beyond. Lindir means to wander closer, to properly take it in, but then he hears Elrond shuffling about, and that redirects him to the small kitchenette half blocked by a waist-high counter and low hung cabinets.

Elrond pauses in flipping a sizzling slice of toast over the stove to come give Lindir a one-armed hug and kiss his cheek, murmuring, “Good morning.”

Lindir smiles in response and looks at the pan, then a stack of other slices and a bowl of yellowish liquid. He asks, “French toast?”

“I’ll be finished in a few minutes,” Elrond promises. He returns to stick his spatula under the latest slice, and Lindir follows deeper into the kitchenette, coming up so he can hug Elrond from behind. Elrond’s a little taller than him, but he still manages to hook his chin over Elrond’s shoulder and wrap his arms securely around Elrond’s body. His mouth is stale and needs washing, but he lingers for a few seconds anyway, just savouring the sight of Elrond making him breakfast.

When Elrond finishes that piece to retire it to the plate and substitute a new slice of bread into the batter, Lindir begrudgingly detangles himself to let Elrond work. He goes to dig his toothpaste and toothbrush out of his backpack, only to find Elrond’s already in the washroom. Lindir contemplates a shower, but doesn’t want to be away from Elrond that long, and it seems rude not to wait until Elrond could join him. So Lindir just dresses as he is, coming back out to find Elrond with one slice left. Lindir holds him through it.

Then Lindir helps Elrond carry plates and cutlery out to the living room, though Elrond goes past that, right out onto the balcony. There’s a small white table there and two patio chairs, a Jacuzzi mounted in the corner and a white railing encasing it all. Once Lindir’s put his things down on the table, he takes a moment just to walk to that railing and soak in the view. He can see most of the town, of the olden roads and buildings, of the lush greenery, trees and gardens everywhere, different clumps of flowers making for pops of extra colour. He can see the river, ballooned out like a small lake, coursing along the base of the mountain, and a white bridge crossing to the other side. Elrond comes to stand behind him, and all Lindir can say is, “It’s breath-taking.”

“Yes,” Elrond admits, “I’ve always been fond of Rivendell. I’m glad you feel the same.”

Lindir couldn’t imagine a more picturesque place. It takes considerable effort for him to pull away, but his stomach urges him back to the table. He takes the first slice of toast onto his plate and drizzles it with syrup, Elrond telling him, “I apologize for not having any more toppings—I usually melt berries for it, but I didn’t want to take too much from the kitchen.”

Lindir waves his hand to show he doesn’t mind, his mouth already full. Once he’s swallowed that first bite, he sighs, “It’s delicious.”

Elrond says, “Thank you,” and starts carving up his own.

Lindir takes another bite before thinking to ask, as he’s finally with someone who might actually know the answer, “Do you know why it’s called ‘French toast’? I’ve never heard that word, outside of fries.”

Elrond pauses, looking lost in thought for a moment, before answering slowly, “You know, when I was young, Maglor told me that it was a type of mortal. It gave me terrible dreams for some time, thinking that anyone would equate mortals with food. He said they came long like baguettes and tasted of cheese. In retrospect, I’m sure he was teasing me.”

That strikes Lindir as intensely adorable. It’s difficult to picture Elrond as a child, falling for such jokes and fearing cannibalism. It’s equally difficult to think of Maglor, someone so refined, as the type to play pranks. None of it answers his initial question.

But it doesn’t matter. He enjoys the view and the food, until Elrond suggests, “Perhaps we should try for a swim before the opening—the ceremony won’t come until dinner.”

“I’d like that,” Lindir says, but he savours breakfast here first, his foot touching Elrond’s under the table.

The town is small enough that if they wanted to walk all the way from one end to another, they could get there and back in one day. The main part—where the parks and shops are clustered—is only a few minutes from the hotel, so they leave the car parked. There aren’t a lot of other cars on the meager roads, but there are people walking about, still less than the city. Elrond gives them two options for detouring through the main street, and Lindir picks the longer, more scenic route, that takes them down one lane after another of tall houses comprised of dark wood and slanted roofs. Almost every one has a well-kept garden out front, and several sport baskets of flowers lining the windows. The architecture is simple, but charming in its rustic way, and Lindir finds himself looking every which way to take it all in. He keeps his hand in Elrond’s and comments here and there, “Oh, what a nice porch,” “Those begonias are beautiful,” “That’s an odd choice of paint for the door...”

Elrond returns similar comments, and it lets Lindir slip into the unfounded fantasy that they’re house shopping together. After the third house Lindir pictures living in with Elrond, he has to stop himself, because it’s too easy to drown in that longing, and he wants to just enjoy the moment for what it is.

Eventually, they reach a square of shops, the cobblestones underfoot feeling more for pedestrians than cars, though walkways are sectioned off with wrought iron railings in patches. Tomorrow, Lindir thinks, they’ll have to go shopping, but today, the bag slung over his shoulder is already stuffed full with his towel and sunscreen. Most of the window displays sport distinctly Elven clothing or jewelry, looking more artisanal than factory-made, and a few restaurants have quaint little tables right out in the street. Every one would suit Lindir for a date spot, but they already have dinner plans. And before that, Lindir plans to get Elrond shirtless and wet.

The forest just beyond the shopping district is presented like a park, with various wooden walkways and bridges through the dense foliage. They pass a hiker or two on the trail, and Lindir spends much of the time still marveling at the scenery and breathing in the fresh air. The path splits more than once, and each time they stop to decide. Elrond admits, “It’s been some time since I walked this trail, but I believe... left?”

“I think I can hear the water that way,” Lindir agrees, though he isn’t at all certain of it. They head left anyway, then a right, then left again, and finally, they can see and hear the river through the trees. The path keeps going, but they wander off down the dirt slope and onto a bed of smooth rocks that dips into the water.

The river, in this part, isn’t so wide, though still too far for Lindir to comfortably swim on his first go and with later plans on the horizon. A few elves dot the far shore, and more are down the way from them, too distant for their voices to carry. Elrond peers at them and asks, “Should we go a little farther...?”

But Lindir would rather have Elrond to himself and says, “I think this is alright.”

Elrond nods and sets his bag atop a particularly large rock, Lindir wandering closer to do the same. Both wore their trunks under their clothes, and Lindir’s change is just a simple stepping-out-of-pants and pulling-off-his-shirt. Elrond has more pieces, and he’s only managed his jacket and belt by the time Lindir’s bare. It gives Lindir a chance to watch the rest—Elrond starts unbuttoning his pressed shirt button by button, and Lindir can’t resist stepping closer to help. Elrond manages his fly on his own, and then they’re both stepping out of their shoes. They leave everything on the rock within view, and though Lindir hesitates to have his phone away from him in public, Elrond assures him, “I wouldn’t worry—the crime rate in Rivendell is nearly non existent.”

In such a pleasant place, it’s easy to believe it. Lindir nods and follows Elrond down to the rocky shore, where the riverbed gets progressively, bluntly deeper. The water flows gently by them, the current barely enough to move them at all, but the pressure of it is sort of soothing. Lindir wades out until he’s shoulder-deep, his hair growing heavy and slick down his back, Elrond right beside him. It’s the perfect day for it, with the sun shining brightly overhead. The surface of the water glistens with an almost blinding sheen. When they’re just swimming in place, parallel to their clothes, Elrond stretches out and tilts his head back, soaking all his hair. Then he sucks in a breath and ducks under, and Lindir watches him resurface and shake out again, hands wiping off his face to leave glistening trails behind. He couldn’t look any more handsome.

Lindir swims up to him without a second thought. Elrond stays indulgently in place while Lindir leans in to peck him. It’s difficult to linger with them both having to keep themselves up, but Elrond reaches out to cup Lindir’s cheek, the dampness of it cool despite the warmth of the water and the sun. He tilts forward and holds Lindir in place for a proper kiss, one Lindir’s all too happy to return. He doesn’t quite dare wrap his arms around Elrond’s neck like he wants to, but he does touch Elrond’s chest beneath the water, tracing familiar muscles. Their legs occasionally kick together, mingling as much as the rest of them. Lindir can feel some of Elrond’s hair sticking to his cheeks and wetting his own. When Elrond tries to part them, Lindir swims forward to reconnect their mouths a second later. It’s one kiss after another, the rest of their wet bodies sliding here and there. The constant movement keeps it exhilarating. He wants to find a steeper shore to press Elrond against to take this further. Or maybe they could find a sandy patch amidst the rocks and lie there. It’s almost a shame they have the hotel to go back to, because Lindir would be quite happy to stay like this until the stars came out.

Bubbling laughter interrupts them, and they end the kiss to eye the shore, where a group of children are racing one another out of the path. They’re accompanied by one bored-looking teenager on a phone. The guardian just picks a rock to sit on while the kids go splashing into the water. None pay attention to Lindir and Elrond’s bags. Lindir gives Elrond a final, quick kiss, regretting they can’t do anymore. But Elrond runs his fingers along Lindir’s waist under the water and murmurs, “Perhaps we can find a more secluded spot.”

Lindir turns back to confirm that his bag’s still being ignored. He doesn’t want to bother getting out to retrieve it, but there are trees hanging over the water not far from them, so they can probably stay within sight. Lindir agrees, “Let’s go,” and sets off swimming, Elrond right behind him.

Whatever water their towels missed, the sun takes care of, and Lindir’s crisply dry and warm as they wander back through town. The shops are a little busier now, buzzing with the rush of the lunch crowd. Lindir finds himself stopping outside a small clothing boutique to eye the ceremonial robes on the display, the mannequins topped with golden diadems. “That sort of headpiece would suit you well,” Elrond comments. Lindir blushes and doesn’t mention that he was just thinking it would look perfect on Elrond: something of a crown.

“I suppose a hotel opening isn’t the right sort of occasion for such robes,” Lindir sighs. But, perhaps: “Do they have the sort of festivals around here that would warrant it?”

“I don’t know,” Elrond admits. “I’ve never spent a full year here, so I can’t claim to know all the seasonal practices. But I imagine they must, if they sell these.”

Lindir thinks, “Perhaps new years?”

“We’ll have to return then,” Elrond decides. “That would seem to suit this style.”

Then the smell of pastries gets to Lindir’s stomach, and he tugs Elrond away by the sleeve. They pass a too-busy bakery and come across a street vendor with fresh bagels that Elrond eyes. Lindir pales when he realizes he hasn’t packed his wallet, but Elrond draws his out of his jacket pocket and says, “Two of the everything bagels, please.”

Lindir was indeed looking at those, and the vendor hands him one in a little white paper bag. It’s still warm and soft, and Lindir tells both the vendor and Elrond, “Thank you,” before taking his first bite. He has to hike his bag further up his shoulder, now that that hand’s occupied, because the other slips through Elrond’s arm.

They walk a little farther, checking out more storefronts, before they find a bench to sit down on. A statue of Yavanna arches up behind them, a bouquet of fresh flowers tucked into her hands. The bench looks out onto the street, and more than that, the mountains beyond the buildings, all rolling green hills and blue sky, wadded here and there with fluffy clouds. Lindir has no trouble deciding, “I love it here.”

“As do I,” Elrond agrees around a bite of his own bagel. “But I’m glad to find you share the sentiment.” It can’t be that surprising; their tastes coincide far more often than not.

Lindir could easily spend all their time here like an exotic vacation. But the various businesses around him remind him of their work, and it prompts him to ask, “Is there anything we should pick up for the hotel?”

“Nothing Círdan won’t have already. He’s something of an old friend, and I trust he’s hired decent staff, though of course, they won’t have our experience, and I do like being here for the first few nights in case they should have need of an owner.”

“They’re not going to want to give you back after that,” Lindir predicts, to which Elrond chuckles. Unlike the Rivendell branch, they won’t have three of Elrond’s children to go to when he’s gone. There’s always the phone, but it’s not quite the same as being there.

And Lindir, shamefully enough, likes being here without those children, as nice as they all are. It’s more than that. He likes being out of the city, in a place where he can just walk to everything, where he doesn’t have to worry about sitting on a bus with old customers from his more awkward days. And he likes having a nice bedroom to go back to with Elrond and Elrond alone.

At least, he tells himself, it’s not far from the city. It’s drivable, doable, probably bus-able, though that would be more costly. He hopes Elrond drives them again next time they visit here.

There’s still time before the opening, so they sit and eat their bagels, just taking in the sights. They’re both only a bite or two away from finishing when Elrond gets a call from Círdan, and then they head back to do what they can.

After overseeing a few last minute details, they have to return to their suite to properly dress and hang up their wet towels. Then they head back down in full suits, hair brushed and neatly braided—after a conversation and a promise to braid each other’s tomorrow morning, when they have more time to enjoy the act—and Círdan is ready in the lobby with his crew at work.

Even before they reach the doors, Lindir can see the crowd gathered beyond them, the parking lot stuffed full of excited-looking patrons. Elrond finally unlocks and slips through the doors, Círdan and Lindir behind him. He addresses the crowd with a pleasant speech, outlining the origins of his business and his goals within the community, the standards they’d like to uphold and how important the guest experience is to the Imladris. When he’s finished, there’s a round of applause that surprises Lindir with its enthusiasm. He’s surprised by just how many people there are. The town looks more than happy to welcome the new edition, and as Elrond waves everyone inside, Círdan tells Lindir, “We needed this, you know. The town makes a lot of its money on tourism, and I was quite glad when Elrond agreed on a location here.” Lindir’s glad too. He stands between the owner and manager while everyone flows inside, directed to the dining room. One older, mortal woman with round ears and white hair stops to ask Lindir if they have vegan options with the food, and he assures her that they have a wide variety of the highest caliber.

There’s a head table in the dining room where Elrond and Lindir are seated at, though Círdan immediately goes off to oversee the kitchen staff. Lindir’s more than familiar with the menu, having overseen it when changes were forwarded to Elrond, and it’s not so different than their branch back home. The only significant variant is the prices: lower for an overall less rich town. This Imladris is quainter, a little smaller, with not quite as expensive amenities, serving for most of the smaller town’s population than any one subset. He knows the food, in particular, is locally bought. It suits Lindir better, though he knows tonight’s dinner isn’t being charged to him. He and Elrond sit mostly for show, while the local staff does the real work, but Lindir orders things in smaller proportion anyway. As he’d suspected, Elrond gets up while they wait and does a few rounds of the dining room, checking on various tables. Lindir mostly watches from afar and admires the way Elrond looks at work. Every table he touches smiles warmly at him, and Elrond points back to the head table often. Lindir can imagine what he’s saying: if there’s anything you should need, don’t hesitate to ask for me. Elrond slips back into place by the time his server’s come. A few other special guests line the head table that Elrond then talks to, though Lindir remains quiet. It’s a lot to take in. The servers look closer to his age than the special guests.

But it still feels right. This hall, this place. The food tastes just like the samples he had at their own location. Elrond gives a toast halfway through the night that Lindir stands for, and when it’s finished, his favourite Maglor CD starts wafting quietly out of the speakers.

The night is a success, as Elrond deserves and Lindir knew it would be.

Lindir’s socially exhausted by the time they return to their suite, where the two of them climb out of their jackets and shoes. Lindir has a mind to climb into bed, where maybe they can read a bit before they slip off, but Elrond suggests, “Would you care for a soak in the Jacuzzi?”

Because the balcony looks so inviting, out under the stars in the cloudless night, Lindir says, “I’d love to,” and fetches his trunks from earlier. They both change in the washroom, Lindir carefully not looking over because he’s not sure if he wants to start anything, and seeing Elrond naked will inevitably lead to that. The Lindir bundles up his hair with a tie, Elrond doing the same. Elrond’s is, perhaps, just a fraction longer: that much more time to braid. Lindir’s more than looking forward to the morning and that activity.

It’s now a little cold as they head across the living space, but Elrond fiddles with a control panel on the inside wall of the suite, and soon the water of the small tub’s bubbling with warmth. It’s quite hot when Lindir first sticks his foot into it, but it’s a welcome heat: a good contrast to the night air. Elrond slips in beside him, the enclosed space just enough to fit both of them. It helps that Lindir doesn’t mind sitting ridiculously close. He positions himself as best he can to take in the view, and then he leans his head on Elrond’s shoulder and breathes it all in.

“I’m very proud of my staff here,” Elrond notes. Lindir nods, sure Elrond can feel it. They did an excellent job with tonight’s dinner and bookings; it went off without a hitch. Yet Elrond adds, “But to be honest, I can’t help but think a little more training would be useful for them. So much can go wrong in the first few months of a new business, especially with an absent owner. And by the same token, the original location is well established, and Arwen’s interested in taking it over with Aragorn. They’re planning on getting married soon, you know, although I’ve been hearing that for some time.”

Lindir was never specifically told of their engagement, but he’s seen them together once or twice and throws in, “They’re a lovely couple.”

“Thank you,” Elrond chuckles. “I am rather fond of Aragorn, and I think they’ll do well together. Which is part of why I feel comfortable with my decision.”

Lindir rolls his head back, craning up to look at Elrond, and Elrond tilts just enough to brush their lips together despite the odd angle. It makes Lindir’s face feel just as warm as the parts of him submerged under the water. Elrond’s hand wraps around to stroke Lindir’s arm, and he goes on, “I’ve been considering moving here for some time, you know.” Lindir’s already frowning, but then Elrond says: “And as we’ve been together for a good while now and seem to do so well at one another’s side, I was hoping you’d be willing to consider moving in with me.”

That straightens Lindir up. He slips off Elrond’s shoulder, turning to face Elrond instead, his knee having to hike over Elrond’s thigh. He catches Elrond’s gaze, holding it, trying to see if Elrond is serious. He looks as genuine as always. As handsome, as strong, as enticing. Lindir mumbles dizzily, “Here...?”

“Here,” Elrond suggests, “Assuming you’re alright with living where we work. We could also get a little cottage in town—it wouldn’t be much of a commute...”

“But we’d live in Rivendell and work here. Just you and me.”

“Well, I do plan on keeping the rest of the staff,” Elrond teases. There’s a glimmer in his eye, his smile wider. It must be obvious how much Lindir wants this.

Lindir bursts anyway, “Yes, I’d love to!” He tosses his arms up and around Elrond’s shoulders before he can stop himself, pitching forward, digging Elrond back into the brim of the Jacuzzi. He has to squirm to get properly in Elrond’s lap, but it’s worth it; he envelops Elrond as tightly as possible. He doesn’t know how to express that Elrond’s just promised him everything he’s ever wanted.

So he just holds on instead. It’s probably the longest hug they’ve ever shared, save for the ones where Lindir fell asleep atop him. Elrond returns it and strokes Lindir’s back, leaving little droplets to cool in the open air. When Lindir pulls back again, he thinks he might be shaking.

He presses his mouth to Elrond’s, means to stop right after to talk through all the details this will entail, but instead goes in for another. He licks at Elrond’s lips, kisses harder, pushes his way inside. His tongue tangles with Elrond’s, and he opens as wide as he can to taste it. The rest of his body stays glued to Elrond’s skin. He kisses Elrond with everything he has and pitches his hips forward, dragging all of them together. Another tilt of his head, a new angle, and he rocks into Elrond again, then again, building up into a fluid movement of kiss after kiss, writhing in Elrond’s lap. Lindir grinds into Elrond with a steady rhythm that has the water noisily lapping at the edge of the Jacuzzi. Elrond’s hands trace down his sides, touching him all the way down to his thighs, and there, Elrond gives him a little squeeze. Lindir gasps into Elrond’s mouth, and Elrond uses the reprieve to murmur, “Perhaps we should celebrate in bed.”

“Or you could take me here,” Lindir moans, just as much from the overwhelming emotion that’s bubbling up in him as the physicality. He kisses Elrond’s cheek and presses their foreheads together. “And then the bed, and the couch, and the coffee table, and the kitchen counter...”

“We have to save some things for the day we move in,” Elrond chuckles, though he’s now running his hands up and down Lindir’s thighs, aiding the bucking of Lindir’s eager hips. “Unless you want that cottage, of course, which would have even more rooms to explore...”

“I don’t care,” Lindir admits. He can feel Elrond’s breath across his lips. He catches Elrond’s bottom lip in his teeth, sucks on it once, and ducks back over Elrond’s shoulder to nip at Elrond’s ear and hug him so close. “I’d move into Eriador’s basement with you if you wanted. I just want to be with you.”

Elrond sighs, “I love you,” before scooping Lindir right into his arms and standing out of the Jacuzzi. Lindir’s carried back inside and over to the bedroom, where they fall into the bed that may soon be theirs.