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A person's value

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“Ouch, FUUUCK!”

Filis’ head spun around when the scream echoed through his apartment. Warily he got up from the sofa, making his way towards the bedroom, where the perpetrator of the noise should have been lying safely in his bed.

He barely recognised his boyfriend these days. Since the skiing accident three days ago Kili was withdrawn and brooding. He declined any help and was in a general bad mood. The worst had been their first evening after they had returned from their holiday, which had been terminated because of the brunet’s injury. Kili had vomited all night as a side effect of the painkillers he had gotten for his broken leg and ribs. So now he didn’t take any medicine at all, which didn’t help with his mood, for being in pain all day wasn’t very cheery.

Fili felt especially bad, because the skiing holiday had been his idea. Kili actually had tried to decline it, but the blond had been having none of it. They had worked so hard for their companies during the last months, they really had needed the break. Now he wished he had listened to Kili who had tried to sway him, stating he would probably end up breaking his neck. For that, he had reasoned, Dain would have his head. He would lose his job and be a poor nobody in the cold world outside of Erebor Inc., the company of his uncle.

Fili had laughed it off, calling Kili a drama queen and a crybaby, All of that had been said in a humorous manner and when they had left a week later, they had been in best holiday mood, all lovey-dovey, just too sweet to be real.

But when Kili was suddenly missing on their first day of skiing, everything went south. He had been right behind Fili, following him slowly curve for curve. But suddenly he had been nowhere to be seen. Instead Fili had seen people gathering on the edge of the slope, where a broken down snow fence indicated that someone had gone right through it. A cold shiver had run down Fili’s spine and he had unbuckled his skiers and hurried as fast as possible to the scene.

Of course it had been Kili. Fili would never forget the fear he had felt when the brunet had been pulled up on a stretcher by the mountain rescue team, unconscious and with a blood-smeared face. In hospital he had learned that his boyfriend had broken his left leg and a few ribs. Furthermore there was a black eye, a laceration of his left eyebrow which needed stitches and a moderate concussion. He had to stay in hospital for one night, in case it got worse. Fortunately it hadn’t, but ever since Fili had picked Kili up from the clinic, the brunet had not spoken a word to him, although Fili had apologised multiple times and did everything to make it comfortable for his invalid boyfriend.

Kili had wanted to go to his own apartment, but the blond had refused. The brunet had just rolled with his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. They were at Fili’s for two days now and the situation had only worsened. The brunet was restless and annoyed by his helplessness. He also suffered from dizzy spells and a headache due to the concussion, which didn’t help to cheer him up.

Fili feared the worst for their relationship. He had never thought that they could actually split up, for they had been deeply in love ever since they had met six months ago. Although they had to work a lot, both being heirs to their companies and employed in executive positions, they had made the best of their free time. Fili had enjoyed his dates and trips with the handsome brunet so much. They had been visiting theatres, the opera, art galleries and multiple interesting towns through their weekends. And with that they had grown together, developing a deep connection and feelings for each other. Feelings beyond the superficial infatuation, the blond usually had experienced. But now he wasn’t so sure of their bond anymore. Kili was obviously mad at him, now that he was in a constant pain even more.

Fili arrived at his bedroom door, sighed deeply and opened the door after a soft knock.
He didn’t expect his injured boyfriend being up and halfway through the room, hopping on his good leg and face torn with pain. His breath came in little gasps since breathing deeply hurt his ribs too much. Apparently he had hit the edge of the bed with his cast, which had caused the cry of pain.

“What are you doing here? You’re supposed to stay in bed. I would’ve come for you, if you had called.”

“Just getting my phone”, Kili grunted through gritted teeth. He didn’t look in his face. The tension was palpable in the room and it hurt Fili deeply. He spotted the phone on the windowsill and gave it to the brunet.

“Here you go. But I’d rather have you to lie down. You know, what the doctors said.”

He didn’t mean to go on his nerves, but Kili’s condition was still delicate and Fili didn’t want him to suffer even more. But the brunet’s reaction was clearly one of utter annoyance. He balled his fists, pressed his lips into a thin line and huffed exasperatedly, then lay back down and scrolled through his contacts. Fili, not willingly to let go so easily of his boyfriend, made another foray.

“I’m doing the groceries. Is there something you need?” And in a small voice he added, “Something to make it better?”

But Kili only shook his head, not looking up from the phone, so Fili turned and left the room, eyes burning with unshed tears.

~~~

Ninety minutes later Fili returned to his flat, finding it all dark and silent. When he approached the bedroom door, dread rose in his chest. He had to talk to Kili, had to voice his concerns. The overwhelming guilt feelings about the accident and the sheer panic of losing Kili as a result ate him alive and took his breath away. He had spent two sleepless nights on his sofa, twisting and turning, overthinking everything. The fact that he was banned to the living room already said enough about their relationship status, he mused. Although he hadn’t been really banished, actually he himself had asked Kili if he wanted to be alone and had gotten a silent nod in return. Anyway, he had to get that wall of silence out of their way. He wouldn’t be able to spend another sleepless night, asking himself when exactly Kili would split up with him. He needed to know, although the imagination of being dumped was sheer unbearable.

When he reached the slightly open door he could hear someone sniffle inside the room. Was Kili coming down with a cold to add to his bad condition? Surely that wouldn’t help with his sulkiness. It took all the courage he could muster to open the door and what he found behind it, exceeded all his expectations and worries.

Kili sat next to his already fully packed suitcase, the one Fili had unpacked two days ago. A pang of pain shot through his chest as he realised that Kili was about to leave. The brunet had turned his back to the door and sniffled miserably, for he was … crying? Fili tiptoed closer to get a better view.

Indeed, Kili was crying openly, a little bear clutched in his hands. That bear had been a gift from Fili, a good luck charm when the brunet had left for an important business trip a few months ago. The blond didn’t understand. Why would Kili cry if he was about to break up with him and why did he hold on to that bear? With a pounding heart he shuffled closer and whispered his name.

“Kee?”

The other spun around, rubbing his cheeks vigorously, and stuttered nervously.

“F-Fee, w-what are you…? I d-didn’t think y-you’d be b-back so s-soon. I … I …”

“You’ve already packed. I’d never thought we might split up about something like a broken bone.”

His voice was toneless and small, the pain and disappointment too big to think straight. Kili winced at the conclusions the blond had drawn. The last thing he had wanted was Fili feeling responsible.

“N-no Fee. It’s … it’s not that ... It’s just … I … It’s me….”

The brunet felt helpless. Surely Fili thought he was mad because of the accident. But, although his broken leg had set the ball rolling, it was not the reason he had found himself in that hopeless situation. He wished he could just tell him, but as soon as he would spill the truth the blond would probably show him the door.

“Are you in pain?” Fili might have been hurt and frightened, but he was certainly not an arsehole, even if he was close to tears himself.

“Not too much.” That was a lie for sure, but the blond had learnt that stubbornness was a Durin trait and a discussion would be in vain. He inhaled deeply through his nose, closed his eyes, counted to five and exhaled slowly through his mouth. Then he took a seat next to Kili on the bed. The brunet flinched a little and stared down in his lap. Fili saw the puffy and red eyes along with the scattered tissues on the floor. Obviously Kili had been crying for a while. He pushed his own pain aside and put his hand on his shoulder, hoping to sooth the brunet a little.

“Kee, if it’s not the accident or the pain, then what else could it be what made you want to leave me?”

His efforts to keep the sadness out of his voice, failed. At those words Kili started to sob, it hadn’t been his intention to offend FIli’s feelings. He desperately tried to speak, but could only shook his head after two minutes of pointless stammering. He shrugged Fili’s hand off and searched for his crutches.

“I … I should g-go. I’m wasting y-your time here.”

“Do you really think that is fair? To leave me in the dark without an idea what I did wrong?”

He swallowed around the lump in his throat and noticed his sight getting blurry, but he couldn’t prevent the single tear from falling down his cheek. Kili saw it and got even more distraught. His face was torn with pain and he wanted to reach out for Fili, but didn’t dare because he was the reason for the blond’s pain.

“You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just … I…” He inhaled slowly and then spoke again, “I c-called Dain. He was f-furious.”

“What did he say?”

Kili closed his eyes, feeling the searing pain of defeat and loss. Fili would eventually learn through his father or the press. The entire branch would be laughing at him by tomorrow. So, basically, it didn’t matter if Fili would start with it right away.

“Kee?”

“H-he … he f-fired me. And d-diso-owned me. And t-threw me out of my place.”

Kili prepared for the mockery, the laughter and snarky comments. Something he had gotten used to since he had come to live alone with his uncle at the age of twelve. He knew that he was a loser and generally useless, save for his professional environment. The thing was, Fili hadn’t known until now and he had intended to keep it this way, but his pathetic life had had other plans. And so he sat, eyes still closed, on his ex-boyfriend’s bed and awaited his withering derision. But it didn’t come. Fili sat there, mouth agape, perplexed and disbelieving.

“Kee, I’m sure you got him wrong. Why would he do that? That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I am not of use, for I can’t go to work like this.” And in a much smaller voice he added, “I’m worthless without that job.”

Fili couldn’t believe it, but the fresh tears his boyfriend spilled made it very clear that Kili really believed what he said. And so he tried to push forward carefully.

“But you can still work? You need a few days of rest, but you’re still on holiday anyway. Next week you can go to work on your crutches and Dain won’t suffer any loss. And besides, I’m sure he’s relieved that you are more or less okay. After all, your injuries could’ve been much worse.”

He swallowed hard at these words. Alone the thought at what could have happened to him made his heart skip a beat. Next to him Kili only shook his head and snorted sarcastically.

“He wouldn’t have been too upset, believe me. Except when I had survived a bad head injury, for a special-care home is way more expensive than a funeral.”

“What …Kee! How can you say that?”

He was slowly getting irritated with Kili’s strange behaviour. Everything he said didn’t make sense at all and it still didn’t explain why his boyfriend wanted to leave. But before he could ask another question, the brunet spoke again.

“There’s this huge, consequential meeting next week. We’ve been working on it for weeks and there are a lot of very important people coming. I’m in charge for the main part of the presentation of Erebor, but now I’m not presentable for such an event. My suit trousers won’t fit over the cast and showing up in sweatpants is out of the question, let alone showing off that black eye and hobble around on those crutches. And since, according to Dain, appearance is half of the job, he pulled me off. And because I can’t live up to his expectations he just cast me out completely.”

Fili couldn’t believe what he had heard. No one would treat their employees like this, especially when they were family and as outstanding talented as Kili. But when the brunet started to sob again, he got the feeling that he had told the truth. It also dawned to him that there was a lot more to it than Kili was willing to give away at the moment.

~~~

In the end worming all the dirty details out of his distraught boyfriend took Fili more than two hours. It wasn’t new for him that he and Dain hadn’t been too close, but what the brunet revealed now was outright horrendous. And given that Kili was close to a meltdown it seemed he had never talked about it before.

Kili’s life had been turned upside down when his father had died and he had been left alone in the house with his uncle. Dain had never been very fond of the little brunet, for his brother Frerin had set all business affairs aside to care for his son. But now since he was fully responsible for the boy, he had taken it all out on the grieving child. His uncle had always been very vocal about the burden Kili had been, too loud, too foolish, too clumsy and, worst of all, too young to earn his own living.

In life, only achievement counts, everything else is unnecessary ballast.

That had been his words. He stated openly that Kili wasn’t worth anything as long as he had no accomplishments. From that day on, all what mattered had been grades, exams, degrees and graduation certificates. Being a model pupil wasn’t good enough, Kili had to be far and away the best. The brunet had learnt that he only was valuable as a businessman, the charming heir of Erebor Inc., who would win investors and sell projects like no other could. Dain had only ever seen that in him, an investment.

However, Kili considered himself lucky hence, if Dain hadn’t even seen that in him, he probably would have brought him to the orphanage as soon as the news of his father’s death had arrived. He had made it very clear that Kili was worthless, if it weren’t for his professional abilities, and that only his generosity had prevented him from a paltry and poor life. He had financed the expensive boarding school, Kili was sent to after his father had died. He had paid for his studies, the expensive clothes, the cars. In short, for the prestige he had to give his nephew, otherwise he wouldn’t be accepted in the world of business, so Dain’s opinion.

In return, no one had liked the shy boy. He had been bullied in school and eschewed in university. But when he had started to work for his uncle and had been moreover successful, people suddenly appreciated him. Dain, now a little less harsh, had given the most posh penthouse in one of his buildings to his nephew. All signature furnishings and decorated with modern art, a dream in glass and metal, just fitting for a wealthy tradesman, according to his uncle.

Although the brunet hadn’t liked the fashionable front, he had played along with it, too happy to be finally of use. He loved his job and the company. He had even made some friends there and was quite popular in his department. Receiving credit for his work also helped to gain self-confidence, at least in the office and in front of clients. And in the end, all what Dain had told him had proofed right. Only achievement mattered in life, nothing else. Although when he had met Fili, the heir to Oakenshield & Co., Kili had found himself incapable of looking away.

~~~

Fili had listened to all that and was outright appalled. Boiled down to the essence, Dain had drilled and shaped Kili until he was the accomplished, charming and outstanding businessman he was now. He had formed the perfect instrument to gain influence on the market and keep his employees in check. Dain had held Kili as prisoner, had denied him the affection he had deserved, had pushed on him. And he had put those stupid ideas of a person’s value into his head. That was nothing but outright abusive.

Given how distraught his boyfriend was, it was everything he had ever believed in. Success, prestige and hard work were the only things which made him useful in his own eyes. Fili had no idea how to convince him that there was so much more to it.

“Kee, that’s horrible. You never told me.”

After receiving no response, he tried again to keep the conversation running.

“So Dain cut you out of his life once you can’t fulfil his wishes?”

“Fili, please. It’s an extremely important meeting and I knew he needed me there. That’s why I was so reluctant with those holidays. I’m always so clumsy and I use to fuck things up. I should have known …”

”Stop! This downward spiral will lead to nowhere. Kee, you are not worthless, whatever Dain has told you, he was wrong. And nothing of that is your fault.”

“I am nothing without this job, only another loser who didn’t try hard enough. My uncle gave me a home, an education and a job and I fucked it all up. I also ruined your holidays and our … relationship. I’m so sorry Fee.”

Wide chocolate brown eyes looked into Fili’s blue ones. The blond had never seen an expression so full of agony and sadness on the brunet’s face. It was heart-wrenching and at the same time enraging. How could anyone do that to their relatives?

It didn’t help that Kili’s tears were back, the quiet snivelling only fuelled Fili’s own boiling emotions.

“I have to go now”, the brunet sniffed and tried to get up again. “I’m sorry I wasted your time in such a way.” And in a small whisper he added, “do you mind if I keep the bear?” And then he was shrinking as if he prepared for being shouted at.

“Kili, I still don’t understand. Why do you want to leave me? I know it’s my fault you had this accident and I’m really sorry about that. But breaking up with me over this….”

His voice cracking made Kili look up again. Aghast he saw the blond tearing up, that was something he had definitely not expected. Mockery, shouting and laughter, yes. But that, no.

“N-no, it’s not your fault. I lost control in that curve. I don’t b-blame you.”

“Then why have you been so distant and cold during the last days? You were already thinking about leaving, am I right?”

Fili couldn’t possibly contain his emotions any longer and started to cry as well. Kili looked down in his lap. The bear was still in his hand, but he put it on the nightstand, knowing he didn’t deserve to keep it. Reluctantly he let go of the little reminder of the best time he probably had in his entire life.

“I … I actually did, but not because of those reasons. I knew Dain would flip and you would eventually find out. And then … you would’ve turned you back on me anyway. I knew I could never bear you breaking up with me or laughing at me. I can deal with a lot from Dain, but not from you. You ... you are so very special to me.”

The last words where whispered and Kili was barely able to breathe. His chest was tight and ached in a way he had never experienced before. Again he had lost everything what was dear to him and this time no one would be there to catch him. Fili in the meanwhile was close to a breakdown himself. Had Kili really wanted to leave because he feared Fili would end their relationship over a stupid job?

“I wouldn’t have broken up with you because you lost your job, or because Dain had made you his marionette. Kee, you mean more to me than business and money!”

His hope of Kili calming down and thinking more rational turned out to be in vain, since the brunet just couldn’t get out of his self-destructive mindset. He smiled sadly, the red eyes puffy and full of tears.

“Fee. Believe me, you would. Maybe not immediately, but with time you would have noticed that I am nothing but an empty shell without that job. There’s nothing behind this façade of charm and smugness. I’m not culturally educated. All the things you love, theatre, opera, art, skiing and diving. I know nothing about that. You’re way out of my league and you deserve better. You are such a vibrant person, full of joy, so intelligent and funny. You deserve someone who proves to be equal to you. I’m not even good enough to stand in your shadow.”

The blond couldn’t say a word. Had he really heard that right? And how had he not realised that his boyfriend thought so little of himself? And that he wasn’t comfortable with all the leisure activities they had done through the last months? All the stuff he really had enjoyed. Fili felt close to fainting when Kili’s words truly sank in.

“I .. Kee, I … I’m sorry. I feel terrible. I have imposed my life on you the entire time and didn’t even realise that. I forced myself on you. If I had known it made you so uncomfortable, I would never have suggested any of that. I’m so sorry. I … I … It wasn’t my intention to invade your space like that. I really thought you liked it, too.”

He seemed lost and so deeply hurt that the brunet almost choked. Never had he meant to hurt his beloved with his words. The feeling of failure, a familiar companion during his entire life but now increased beyond measure, was nothing compared to what he felt now. What a despicable prick he was.

“No, Fee! You never forced your interests on me! You always asked and I never declined. And do you know what? I never felt happier than with you. Suddenly there was someone who seemed to be interested in my opinion, who laughed about a joke I made. Who really wanted to know how I felt about something or how my day had been. And you took me to all those beautiful places and I had an amazing time, learning all those facts about a life I never had the time to experience. Please, never feel bad about this, you showed me what it meant to live … and to love. I will always be grateful for that, I thank you so much”, and with a heart-sickening sob he added, “but now you have to carry on and find a man worthy of you, for I am not that man, as much as I wanted to.”

“No Kili, no! You are that man, no one else. I don’t care if you had never had the time to experience the joy of non-work interests, like art or drama. It’s not your fault that your life actually had been taken from you. The last six months had been a blast for me, but not because of what we did together, but because we did it together. I never had more fun in my life. You’re so witty and smart, so creative and dedicated. How could one not love you?”

Kili didn’t say anything, he could only cry. Never had he heard such affectionate words addressed to him. And for the first time after his father had died, he considered that he might be truly loved by another person, unconditionally. But nevertheless, he couldn’t do that to him. What would a person like Fili, heir to a successful company, smart, well-educated and socially-skilled, want with a mere nobody like him? He would only be in the way, dragging him down.

“Fee …”, he whispered, “you really are the kindest person I’ve ever known, but you need someone, who fuels your drive, not who holds you back. And I am not this person. You deserve way better.”

Kili, though trying his best to pull himself together, wept inconsolably at the mere thought of losing Fili. He was nothing without a job or his company, but without his boyfriend he would be outright destroyed. He would be a mere shadow, an empty shell, a wraith. He didn’t know how he was still breathing, for he felt an unknown pressure on his chest like he was about to suffocate out of sheer pain.

“It isn’t Dain’s Business-Kili who makes me laugh out loud because of his witty comments. It isn’t Business-Kili who makes my heart melt because he’s crying over the death of a fictional animal in a film. And it is definitely not Dain’s Kili who brightens my life every day, who makes me smile when I wake up in the morning and who is the last person to think of, when I go to sleep.”

Fili wasn’t even surprised at his own outburst. He had been so tensed through the last days, always afraid of being left by his love, that it was no wonder his feelings erupted from him in such a way now.

Kili stared at him in astonishment. Was Fili really willing to fight for him, even if he was of no use at all? He didn’t have the chance of contemplating this question too deeply, for suddenly a very emotional blond boyfriend (had he really considered him as his ex?) launched himself on him, leaving no air for protest, as he hugged him in a tight embrace, bringing their foreheads together and wiping the tears off his cheeks.

“I won’t give up on you so easily. And I won’t let Dain destroy you. You are such a radiant and stunning person. You take my breath away and my stomach does somersaults because of you. I won’t let you go because you think you are not good enough. Which is not true, by the way!”

“But … but Thorin ….”

“My Dad is not like Dain, he’s gives me freedom for my own decisions. And besides that, he’s actually very fond of you, both personally and professionally.”

That left Kili speechless and when Fili pressed the little bear in his hands, he thought he might faint out of emotion. He only wished he could stop crying, but it seemed all the supressed emotions from the last years wanted to get out now.

“This is your bear. It’s a good luck charm and belongs to you. And so do I.”

The lips which gently brushed his were soft and warm. Oh how he had missed that. Kissing Fili had always been staggering, his legs would feel weak and he would blush every time. But right now it was his lifeline. He clung to the blond as if he was about to drown and, according to Fili’s strong grip, the blond was feeling the same.

“I love you.”

The quietly sobbed words were barely audible, but fortunately Fili’s hearing was excellent.

“And I love you. We will get through this together, I promise.”

He pressed one last kiss to the tip of Kili’s nose, then cupped his cheek with his left hand.

“But at first you have to heal. So please answer me in all honesty. How are you feeling?”

Kili sniffled and wiped his cheeks vigorously.

“I have a really bad headache, to be honest. I guess all that bawling didn’t help with it. And my leg’s throbbing.”

“I’ve brought a different kind of painkiller. The pharmacist promised this one will be easier on your stomach.”

He coaxed the brunet into a lying position and made sure that the broken leg was propped up. Then he fetched the medication and a glass of water. Although Kili had stopped crying eventually, he was still upset and it took a lot to convince him to have a light dinner. Later Fili brought a book to read to him, his head in his lap, since the brunet was not allowed to read or watch TV in his condition.

~~~

That night Fili lay in his own bed, hugging Kili tightly from behind, nosing his brown curls. The brunet couldn’t let go of the concerns which still kept his mind busy. As he was an unemployed and homeless person at the moment, he couldn’t help but start to cry again. Fili pressed feather-light kisses to his neck and whispered sweet nothings in his ear. Exhausted to the bones from the sleepless nights prior and the constant worrying, Kili eventually passed out and fell into a deep slumber, in which FIli followed due to his own emotional depletion.

~~~

When Kili woke up the next morning, it was to a smiling Fili on his bedside, holding a tray with a mug of coffee and a plate with a pile of pancakes.

“Fee,” he gifted him with a bright smile and couldn’t help the blush that crept up his cheeks, “you shouldn’t have…”

“You’re my boyfriend, you’re upset, you’re injured. I am allowed to spoil you rotten.”

The bright, dimple-showing smile never left Fili’s face and Kili’s stomach turned upside down. When he sat the tray on the nightstand and took a seat on the edge of the bed, the brunet embraced him in a bear-hug, burying his face in the crook of the blond’s neck.
Words weren’t necessary. Both of them had suffered deeply during the events of the last days and both where extremely clingy at the moment, too afraid the other might disappear when being let out of sight for a second.

They ate in comfortable silence, not ready to leave their freshly built bubble of comfort anytime soon. Kili felt immensely better, obviously an understanding boyfriend, a good night’s sleep and the subsided pain had done their magic.

“I should call Ori. It’s probably better to save my stuff before Dain decides to get rid of it.”

Fili chuckled, the image of the busy bee, Kili’s assistant was, popping up in his mind.

“He already called this morning. Obviously Dain announced your ‘separation’ right after your phone call and Ori reacted immediately. Your stuff from the office and your apartment arrived safely at my father’s house, for I don’t have a spare room. And don’t worry, it won’t be a bother at all. There’s enough space in the Oakenshield mansion.”

~~~

Later they settled on the sofa. Fili made sure, Kili was comfortable, leg propped up and upper body resting on a mountain of pillows and in reach for kisses. The brunet did everything in his power to appear more at ease, but it didn’t get past his observing boyfriend. Now that he knew for what to look out, Fili did a good job sensing Kili’s distress and soothing it as well as in any way possible. He made him hot chocolate and his favourite food, wrapped him in a blanket and read to him.

Nonetheless, at one point Kili’s sadness seemed to increase. Of course he couldn’t simply forget that the only family he had left had just thrown him out, in more than one way. And the worry of finding another job was always present in his mind, no matter how hard Fili tried to give him comfort.

So the blond decided to approach a topic he had rather discussed another day when Kili was better.

“You remember the job Dad offered you two months ago?”

Kili was quiet and searched for signs of reproach in FIli’s voice and face. But he didn’t find any.

“It was actually Thorin’s third offer within the last year. I always declined them, although they were really compelling. But … yeah … I thought I owed Dain. If I only had known back then.”

“Well, I happen to know that the job is still not assigned to anyone.”

Thorin had phoned him this morning when Kili still had been fast asleep to ask about his condition and how he felt about Dain’s rejection. Apparently Dain had now officialised his decision.

“You may not know, as Dain had always tried to sell you short, but your reputation clearly precedes you. You’re an outstanding tradesman, charismatic, smart, knowing your craft. Everyone wants you in their team. ”

Kili was left speechless. Could that be true? Indeed, Thorin had approached him with a tempting job offer thrice within the last year. He had barely been able to decline them, for the idea of working for Oakenshield & Co. really had excited him.

“Do you think… uhm … “

“Yes, Dad still wants you for that job. He called this morning, but didn’t want to pressure you. He knows that you are dealing with a lot at the moment. Take your time to think about it.”

Only the quiet sniffle indicated that Kili had begun to cry again, but before Fili could start to worry, he turned his head, facing him with a shy smile.

“Fee … wow … I … I am absolutely overwhelmed, because … I haven’t thought …”

Fili closed his mouth with a kiss and wrapped his arms lovingly around the touched brunet.

~~~

“I can’t believe, you just landed that huge deal with Mirkwood Corporations after not even four weeks of working for us. Thorin’s victory shout is still ringing in my ears”, Fili exclaimed, beaming at his boyfriend, who blushed deeply.

“They probably just pitied me and my crutches.”

But even Kili didn’t manage to completely hide the wave of pride that seized him. Being able to proof his professional abilities to his boyfriend and Thorin, who had trusted him with those negotiations although he was new in the company, had been one of the most important things for the brunet. It also meant something else for him. It meant, he was back, standing on his own feet with a straight back and the knowledge he didn’t need to be his uncle’s dog to be appreciated. Not at all.

Now he was sitting in a restaurant with Fili, searching through the menu with his leg propped up on a chair.

“Nah, they were positively spellbound. You presented the concept with such a radiating passion, it was infectious. You were practically glowing. Greenleaf didn’t have another choice but to sign the contract.”

Fili’s eyes were shining with elation and his dimples were showing as he smiled widely. But after a few more seconds of joy he turned serious.

“How’s your leg doing? You were up on your feet all day, it must be hurting.”

“A little, but not too bad.”

“God, I can’t wait until your cast comes off. We’ll finally be able to do things again, going out and stuff.”

“Will you take me to the theatre again?”

Kili’s eyes glanced hopefully, he really had enjoyed those evenings with Fili.

“I could do that. But what if we also did some things you like? I know Dain never allowed you any free time, but there must be things you enjoyed?”

“I … uhm … actually … I was in the archery team in boarding school. I liked that, it calmed me down and helped me to focus. And I used to go hiking and fishing a lot with my dad. But you don’t have to put up with that. I understand if you think it’s boring.”

“Not at all. Ok, I’d have to try shooting with a bow to tell if I like it. But I’m totally in for outdoor activities. Once your leg is better, we can go on a hiking trip if you like.”

“Yeah, that would be really nice. But, uhm, can we also go on skiing vacation again next year? This time I’ll take a beginner’s class, promise!”

Fili nothing but launched himself at his boyfriend, hugging him tightly and covered his face with kisses, too happy about that suggestion. Then he gave Kili his glass of wine and lifted his own.

“To us and our new-found life. And to you and your vibrant, outstanding self.”

He kissed his boyfriend deeply until Kili’s face broke into a brilliant smile. So did Fili’s, when the brunet answered, “and to you, who taught me that a person’s value is way more than a stupid job.”

The glasses clinked and they drank, eyes locked and fingers entwined.