mattlauercansuckit: (stick in the swamp)
[personal profile] mattlauercansuckit
title Suits 1/3
author [livejournal.com profile] patientalien
word count 5,783 (this part) 13,268 (total)
rating R
summary Earth-AU; Ferus and Anakin are ad execs at the same firm, working on a campaign for PR-guru Obi-Wan. When Anakin's past - and present - catch up with him, Ferus tries to unravel the threads and make things right.
notes Thanks, as always, go to [livejournal.com profile] citizenjess, who listened to me blabber about this far more than it deserved and gave some amazing suggestions ♥ It's three parts, but I'm going to post them all at once. :)
warnings substance addiction, non-graphic dub-con, implied underage (barely-legal!Ahsoka)

-----





Ferus Olin was eating his lunch on a bench outside the AdForce office building, napkin tucked into his collar to keep tuna salad from slopping down his suit, when a yellow Porsche screeched into the parking lot. Ferus glanced at his watch; it was 12:45 in the afternoon, well after the workday was supposed to start.

Ferus tried not to make it obvious he was staring as Anakin Skywalker stepped out of the Porsche, looking impeccable in a suit that cost more than Ferus' own car, hair fashionably disheveled (as opposed, Ferus thought wryly, to just generally disheveled).

"Nice of you to grace us with your presence," Ferus called. Normally he wouldn't say anything, but Anakin's constant tardiness was beginning to grate on him. Though Anakin was one of AdForce's most successful salesmen, his effort seemed minimal at best, and he never put much time in at the office. Ferus, on the other hand, was there ten hours a day, and more often than not came in on the weekends as well. Anakin got to go to parties in the middle of the week; Ferus got to fill out paperwork.

Anakin shot him a grin. "Had an early lunch with a client," he replied, sauntering over to Ferus and clapping him on the shoulder. "Nothing wrong with minding your own business, Olin." Ferus sighed as the smell of cologne and martinis overwhelmed his tuna salad sandwich. "Enjoy your lunch!" Anakin crowed, and swaggered into the building.

Ferus sighed again, and put his lunch back in its bag; he'd lost his appetite.

-----


The day progressed normally from there. Or, at least as normally as it could for Ferus Olin. Working for one of the country's largest ad agencies meant a fairly hectic workday (for some of us, Ferus thought bitterly as he watched Anakin Skywalker flirt with the administrative assistant). Ferus had barely sat back at his desk when his Outlook reminder popped up, informing him of a meeting he'd forgotten all about. He grabbed his notebook and hightailed it to the conference room, determined not to be the last one there, and determined to see Skywalker get dressed down for being late, yet again.

However, when Anakin came in, fifteen minutes into the meeting, nobody said anything. Not even Mace Windu, their boss and a man who never had anything nice to say about anything, spoke up. Ferus clenched his fists under the table while Anakin pulled out his Blackberry and began blatantly texting.

The conversation revolved around their newest account, a major Public Relations firm, and Ferus found himself taking copious notes. Anakin snorted into his hand about something on his phone, and Ferus glared at him. "So, Kenobi will be here on Monday to meet with Anakin and Ferus to go over the details."

Suddenly, Anakin's head snapped up. "Wait, Kenobi?" he asked.

"There a problem?" Windu responded, glowering. "This job is set to net us a lot of money. I need you on board with this."

Anakin regained his composure almost as quickly as he'd lost it. "No worries," he replied, smoothing his tie. "I just hope Olin doesn't do anything to screw it up." And just like that, the smug superiority was back.

Ferus was not looking forward to this partnership.

-----


"I gotta cut out of here," Anakin announced an hour before the workday ended. He already had his jacket and sunglasses on, acting like it was completely okay he'd come in three hours late. "Can you compile a dossier on Kenobi's business for me? Thanks!"

He was gone before Ferus could even respond. Truthfully, he'd gotten to work on Kenobi's firm as soon as the meeting had ended. He was certain Anakin hadn't bothered, if the raucous laughter from his cubicle had been any indication. Ferus felt like he was back in school, when his classmates would leave all of the project work to him while they went out and had fun. Anakin was every meathead asshole he'd gone to business school with, and Ferus was sorely tempted to leave the work undone just to prove a point... but he knew he'd be the one to suffer for it, so he stayed until eight at night, pouring over information gleaned from the Internet.

-----


Ferus was shocked when he pulled in the next morning and saw Anakin's Porsche already in the parking lot, taking up two spaces, but there nonetheless. "Am I dead?" Ferus wondered to himself as he walked past the security station and up to his floor.

He began his morning ritual - coffee in the employee lounge, and a quiet fifteen minutes to go through his emails - but was cut short at step one. Anakin was in the employee lounge, looking like he'd slept in his clothes - Ferus looked closer: yes, definitely the same clothes he'd worn the day before. "Can I help you?" he asked.

Anakin looked up from where he was staring at the coffee pot. "Where does the espresso come out?" he wondered hoarsely.

Ferus rolled his eyes. "It's just a coffee maker," he replied, and pointed down the counter. "The espresso machine is down there." He eyed Anakin critically. "You look like you could use some."

Anakin scowled and moved to the indicated device. "Again, there's this new thing all the kids are doing called minding your own business," Anakin informed him. "I'm here, aren't I?"

"The only explanation I can come up with for that is that you slept here." Ferus poured his coffee - light, with real cream and two sugar packets - while Anakin fought with the espresso machine.

"No law says I can't," Anakin replied. "Who says I didn't come back to the office after I went out for dinner?" He sounded cagey, but that was nothing new. "So, me and you on the Kenobi job." He finally got the machine to spit out the dark brown brew. "Don't fuck it up."

Ferus watched his retreating back and resisted the urge to stick out his tongue. By the time he got to his desk, he decided his day had already been ruined.

-----


"Hey." Ferus looked up from his computer to see Anakin leaning casually against his desk, arms crossed over his chest. He gave a boyishly grin - Ferus knew the secret to Anakin's success was his charisma, but refused to be swayed by it. Anakin thumbed a picture of Ferus' cat. "This your girlfriend?" he asked with a snort of amusement.

"Your mom was already taken," Ferus shot back, surprised with himself. Being around Anakin obviously brought out the worst him him.

Anakin glowered, but brightened quickly enough. "Since we're gonna be partners," he said, "I've decided to do you a favor." He pulled out his Blackberry. "Take a look at this."

Ferus leaned over to see a nearly-naked photograph of a girl who looked like she was barely legal. Very barely. "Jesus Christ, how old is that girl?" Ferus sputtered, pushing the phone away.

Anakin shrugged, pocketing the Blackberry. "Her name's Ahsoka, and she's old enough. Thought you might need a pick-me-up, and nothing's better than... well, she's very good at cheering people up." A wistful smile crossed his features.

"Don't you have a girlfriend?" Ferus asked, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. "Or is jailbait the new thing?"

"Okay, okay, you don't want to see it, I get it," Anakin said, holding up his hands. "And for one thing, none of your business if I have a girlfriend. For another thing, I happen to have an awesome girlfriend. So. Suck it, Olin." He grabbed a tissue from the box on Ferus' desk and used it to buff out a scuff on his shoe. "I actually came over to see if you wanted to go to lunch and talk about the campaign before we have to get approval from Windu."

Ferus thought about his lonely tuna salad sandwich sequestered away in the staff refrigerator. He wasn't sure he wanted to go anywhere with Anakin, but the idea of a high-powered working lunch was kind of exciting. Anakin was actually treating him like a colleague, at least for the moment, someone who deserved to leave the office in the middle of the day because his work was just that important. "Okay," he said, finally.

Anakin flashed the black Amex provided to him by the company. Ferus only had a gold card, with a piddling credit limit. He tried not to feel jealous. "I say we go to Keene's." Ferus frowned slightly; Keene's was a steakhouse that catered exclusively to men of Anakin's set - wealthy, young, handsome. And while Ferus was only a couple years older than Anakin, and wasn't exactly unpleasing to look at, he knew that no matter what he did, he'd always look like a poverty-stricken chud next to the other man.

"Okay," he said again, finally deciding that if the company was technically paying for it, and they'd get some work done, there was no reason to turn down the offer for a meal he'd otherwise never be able to afford.

"Grab your coat," Anakin ordered. "I'm starving."

-----


"This is very 'American Psycho'," Ferus commented as he and Anakin were led to a table. "You won't murder me if my business card is nicer than yours, will you?"

Anakin laughed, genuinely. "Only if you talk smack about Huey Lewis and the News," he replied, and Ferus brightened slightly, glad that they had, at least, one thing in common. A waiter came over to recite the specials. "This place has great martinis," Anakin informed him after he'd ordered one for himself.

"Oh," Ferus replied. "No, thanks. I'll just have a cola." After the waiter disappeared, Ferus frowned slightly at Anakin's amused look. "I don't really want to drink in the middle of a work day," he explained, though he wasn't sure why he was defending himself.

Anakin snorted. "Your boring life," he commented, looking at the menu. "So. Kenobi. What did you find out?"

Ferus was trying not to pay attention to the prices listed alongside the entrees. "Oh," he replied. "Well. He's basically a one-man spin machine. I'm not even sure why he's coming to us, really. There's great word of mouth on his operation."

The waiter arrived with their drinks, and Anakin took a sip of his martini before speaking. "That's a guy who could talk anybody into anything," he said after a moment. "He wants us because..." He took another sip of his drink. "You know, that would be something to find out." He looked wary, and Ferus had to wonder.

"Do you know this guy?" he asked, finally deciding on what he was going to order.

Anakin looked thoughtful and pulled one of the olives out of his drink, popping it into his mouth. "I knew him," he replied carefully. "When I was in school." His tone implied he had no desire to elaborate. "So. Did you come up with anything?"

Ferus pulled his iPad out of his briefcase, and handed it to Anakin. "Nice," Anakin said, appreciatively. "Your background in design?"

Nodding, somewhat surprised at the compliment, Ferus said, "Uh, yeah, I went to school for graphic design before Babson." The waiter arrived to take their orders; Anakin set the pad aside and polished off his martini, asking for another along with his steak. Ferus felt a little silly ordering a porterhouse, but if he was going to be part of a major campaign, he might as well act like it, at least a little.

-----


Despite his best efforts, Ferus enjoyed himself. The meal was excellent, and he had to admit, Anakin knew what he was doing when it came to ad campaigns. He still hated that the younger man couldn't seem to be bothered to pay his dues the way the rest of them did, but he couldn't help feeling a little good about where the campaign was heading.

"Uh, do you want me to drive back?" he asked after they'd settled the check and headed back out to the parking lot. Though Anakin didn't seem impaired, Ferus hadn't failed to notice how much he'd had to drink over the course of the meal.

Anakin frowned slightly as they approached his car. "Nah, I'm good," he replied, fumbling with the keys. "Well. Can you drive stick?" He handed Ferus the keys and slid into the passenger seat.

"I learned how to drive on a stick shift," Ferus informed him, taking a moment to get acclimated to the car. He'd never had the opportunity to drive anything like a Porsche, and he had a feeling Anakin would flip out if he screwed something up. "This... is a really nice car."

"It's got paddle shifters if you want to use those instead," Anakin pointed out, and Ferus didn't want to admit he wasn't sure what to do with them.

He was glad the drive back to the office was short; as exciting as it was to drive that car, it still made him supremely uncomfortable. Pulling into the parking lot, he glanced at the dashboard clock, shocked at how long they'd been gone. "We've gotta meet with Windu to go over the proposal in, like, fifteen minutes."

Anakin shrugged. "So we'll meet with Windu," he drawled. "No big deal." He snatched the keys back from Ferus and they walked through the security station and to the elevator together. "Lemme just grab my notes and some gum and I'll meet you there."

Ferus made his way into the conference room alone, checking his reflection in one of the office windows before entering. To his surprise, Anakin was back at his side quickly, notepad and ad mockups tucked under his arm, snapping his gum. Ferus was a little impressed with, and slightly jealous of, how quickly Anakin seemed to be able to pull himself together. "Windu'll okay anything we come up with," he said, smoothing his hair. "No worries."

"Who's worried?" Ferus ventured, and followed Anakin into the room.

-----


Anakin had been correct; Windu had barely looked at their proposal before giving it the okay. With Monday looming just over the horizon, Ferus had a feeling he'd be spending even more time perfecting his portion of the presentation. Anakin had told him to spend the weekend relaxing, but Ferus knew he didn't have it in him to do that. He couldn't forget all about the meeting with Kenobi, and he would only feel good once the whole thing was over and done with.

He worked all weekend, and when Monday morning rolled around, he knew he was as ready as he was going to be, but that did not stop the little butterflies of dread from invading his stomach as he went about his morning routine.

True to form, Anakin showed up late - not too late, but late enough for Ferus to notice. "So. Kenobi'll be here in an hour," he said, sidling up to Ferus. He didn't look nervous, Ferus noted ruefully. Then again, Anakin never looked nervous about anything. "Want to go over the presentation one more time?"

Ferus nodded, glad to have Anakin playing his role in the rehearsal. They went through their cues, where they would change the images, which would speak when. When it was time to go, Anakin clapped Ferus on the shoulder. "You'll be fine," he said. "Just don't fuck this up."

When they entered the conference room, Kenobi was already there. Ferus knew what the man looked like from his research; a fit late-thirties with attractively-mussed russet hair and beard, with sharp eyes and an attractive smile. He stood as they entered. "You must be Ferus Olin," he said, graciously, his words tinged with an English accent.

Ferus shook his hand. "Yes, sir," he replied. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with us." He turned to Anakin. "This is..."

"We've met," Kenobi replied, a wry smile playing across his features. "Hello, Anakin."

Anakin bowed his head, and if Ferus didn't know any better, he'd think the younger man was uncomfortable. "Hello, Obi-Wan," he replied.

"How is Padme?" Kenobi - Obi-Wan asked, and Ferus saw Anakin's breath freeze for an instant.

"She's fine," Anakin said quickly, a little too defensively. Ferus had no idea what Anakin's personal life was like, but he had a feeling that 'fine' was not an accurate adjective to describe this Padme person.

Obi-Wan seemed to sense this as well, because he clapped his hands together and said, "Well, let's see what brillant ideas you've come up with for me."

And with that, the Anakin Skywalker that Ferus knew was back. He couldn't help but watch in awe as Anakin worked his brand of magic. He jumped in at his parts, but most of the time he just watched, enthralled.

When they were done, Obi-Wan was quiet for a few moments. "I have some thoughts," he said, and Ferus' heart sank. He'd hated it, all the work he'd done, all of Anakin's showmanship, and Kenobi had hated it.

"Well," Anakin replied, leaning across the table, "why don't we discuss them over dinner?" He glanced back at Ferus, then back to Obi-Wan. "It'll give you time to relax, and it'll give us time to figure out how to win you over."

Obi-Wan looked a little taken aback, but eventually nodded. "That would be fine," he said, standing. "Shall we meet back here at seven thirty?"

Anakin nodded as well. "We'll be here," he said with a rakish grin.

Ferus could tell Anakin was excited about the prospect of wooing Kenobi over dinner, but Ferus had never really gotten the hang of schmoozing clients. He'd never really gotten an opportunity before now. "So what's the deal with you guys?" he asked after Kenobi had left.

Anakin shrugged. "Just a guy I knew at Dartmouth, no big deal," he replied.

"So, like, a classmate?" Ferus pressed, determined to figure something out about Anakin by the end of the conversation.

Anakin shook his head. "No," he replied. "Just a guy. Then I came here, and he went to LA, and life went on." Ferus could tell there was more to the story, wanted to know more.

"I didn't know you went to Dartmouth," Ferus ventured. "We weren't far from each other."

Anakin shrugged. "Went there for undergrad and business school." He cleared his throat. "I'm a legacy, so, uh, I kind of didn't have a choice." He sounded a little regretful, Ferus thought, though maybe he was just imagining things. "You wanna know this stuff?"

"Why not? We work together, and I hardly know anything about you," Ferus pointed out.

Anakin let out a frustrated puff of air. "Fine," he snapped. "Undergrad major in sociology, played lacrosse, pledged Psi Upsilon, got my MBA, started working here. No big story." He shrugged again. "Happy now?"

"Well, I know more about you now, so sure." Ferus wasn't sure he was really happy about it, the way Anakin had said it was with an air of dejection that Ferus didn't associate with Anakin at all. He decided not to push anymore for the time being. "Anyway. Meet you here at seven thirty?"

"Yeah, whatever," Anakin replied, dismissive, as he walked away.

-----


Ferus couldn't believe he was eating at yet another high-end restaurant within the course of four days. Dorsia was even more exclusive than Keene's, and he had no idea how Anakin had finagled a reservation, but he was learning not to question the other man's results. Besides, eating at Dorsia meant he got to whip out another 'American Psycho' reference, which Anakin seemed to appreciate.

He didn't want to admit he wasn't entirely sure what most of the menu items were, but Anakin was looking at the menu curiously as well; Ferus wondered if he'd ever actually been there before.

"So, you said you had ideas," Anakin ventured to Obi-Wan once their drinks arrived. Not wanting to be the odd man out, Ferus had ordered a beer but decided to nurse it, especially if Anakin planned on downing martinis the way he had at lunch the previous week.

Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes," he replied. "I liked your concepts, but the point of coming to you was to reach a wider market." He set his menu down and leaned back in his chair. "I suppose, given your reputations, that you would have come up with something more... daring."

Anakin raised an eyebrow and sipped his drink. "So you wanted a wider market," he said. "And that's why you came to us."

"Yes," Obi-Wan replied, and Ferus wondered if he was crazy for thinking there was some tension between the two. "I was hoping for something a little less... pedestrian."

Anakin scowled and Ferus looked down at the table. "We can do daring," he spoke up. "Give us until Wednesday, and we'll have daring."

Obi-Wan looked at him curiously. "Fine," he said. "If you can impress me by Wednesday, the contract is yours. Otherwise, I'll have to look elsewhere."

Anakin glowered over the rim of his glass. "Oh, we'll impress you, don't worry about that."

-----


As the evening wore on, Ferus decided that he wasn't too bad at schmoozing up clients. It helped that Obi-Wan was easy to talk to, and they had some general interests in common. Ferus was surprised when he suddenly realized he was the one running the dinner, that Anakin was remaining mostly quiet, preferring to focus on the olives in his martini glasses. He wondered if it was because Anakin trusted him, or if Anakin was just feeling off his game that night. Eventually, he decided it didn't matter.

"'Scuse me," Anakin said suddenly, pushing himself up from the table. Obi-Wan moved to follow, a concerned look crossing his face. "It's cool, I'm just going to the bathroom," Anakin snapped, rolling his eyes. He walked a bit away from the table, and Obi-Wan murmured an excuse to Ferus, following behind. He watched Obi-Wan grab Anakin by the arm, watched Anakin's expression darken slightly.

"I'll be right back," Ferus told their waitress. "Can you bring the dessert menu?" He wasn't sure what was going on between the other two men, but he definitely didn't want anything to undo the work he'd already done.

As he approached, he could hear Kenobi's voice, low, warning, "And you said you'd quit drinking."

Ferus stopped, realizing that the conversation Anakin and Obi-Wan were having was not about the campaign at all, and that Anakin's response of "That was before you left me," had nothing to do with them going their separate, professional ways.

Suddenly profoundly uncomfortable, Ferus made his way back to the table. Soon enough, Anakin and Obi-Wan returned, and if Ferus didn't know any better, he wouldn't have thought anything was amiss. He looked down at the dessert menu, not sure what to say; they didn't know he'd overheard anything, after all. "They'd better have chocolate mousse," Anakin announced, emptying his glass with a glare at Obi-Wan. Ferus chewed on his lip and said nothing.

-----


Obi-Wan had bid them farewell warmly and left in his rental car, leaving Ferus alone with Anakin, whose arm was draped loosely over Ferus' shoulder. "Hey," Ferus said, "You want me to drive you home? I can get a cab from your place back to my car."

Anakin blinked at him as if he'd asked an incomprehensible math problem. "Oh. Uh, no, it's okay." He rubbed his fingers against his lips and swayed slightly.

"You really shouldn't drive," Ferus pointed out. "Come on, let me drive you home. What's your address?" He began walking towards Anakin's car, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.

"There's nowhere to go," Anakin said, obviously miserable at the admission. "Padme kicked me out, my dad cut me off, I can't get an apartment without a huge deposit or a co-signer, and who the hell is gonna do that?" He leaned against the side of his car, arms crossed over his chest. "And why the fuck did I just tell you any of that? It's none of your fucking business where I live."

Ferus stared at him, unsure of what to do, or what to say. Despite financial hardships, he'd never been homeless. "Can you stay at a hotel or something?" he asked carefully.

Anakin shook his head. "All my credit cards are maxed out," he replied. "I'm paying out the ass for this fucking thing," he gestured at the Porsche, "I don't get paid until this Friday, and, ugh, my life is a fucking mess." He slid down the side of the car to sit on the pavement. "And I still don't know why I told you any of that."

"You can stay at my place," Ferus offered before he could stop himself. He wasn't sure he wanted to get involved in Anakin's drama, but he felt bad. Earlier that day he'd been pushing for more information about Anakin's life, now it felt like he had far too much. "Come on," he said, holding out his hand.

-----


It felt odd to have Anakin in his apartment. The younger man was sitting on the couch, wearing a tee-shirt and shorts Ferus pulled from his own closet, tapping away at his Blackberry, one eye closed. Ferus wanted to ask who he was talking to, but wasn't sure he was ready for more Anakin-drama just yet.

"I'll stay here tonight," Anakin said, as if he was doing Ferus a favor. "But my grandfather just said he'd take care of stuff, so I'll be in my own place by tomorrow." He flashed Ferus a lopsided grin. "No worries."

"Are you serious?" Ferus asked, not sure what he was feeling.

Anakin shrugged. "Yeah. He owns AdForce, and hates my parents, so, y'know..." He shrugged again, leaned back on the sofa and closed his eyes.

Ferus stared, now feeling somewhat apoplectic. "Your grandfather..." he sputtered. He shook his head in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding me..."

Anakin didn't respond except for a snore.

-----


The next morning, Ferus prodded Anakin awake and forced him to get ready for work at a normal time. The younger man was cranky, but they only ended up being a few minutes late, which Ferus counted as a victory.

By the time he sat down, Anakin was back to his old self, as if the admissions of the previous evening hadn't happened. Ferus wondered if Anakin even remembered telling him any of it, and decided not to push. If Anakin was happy getting bailed out of his own crises, Ferus certainly wasn't going to get dragged into it.

He got to work on the Kenobi campaign, trying to forget all about Anakin Skywalker. He needed to be daring, needed to prove he had the mettle to make it here, that he was just as good of a salesman as Anakin, even without, apparently, grandfathers in high places.

When lunchtime rolled around, Ferus went to the lounge to grab his sandwich; he had no desire to leave the office today, and had finally been able to push aside his annoyance at Anakin to hit his stride with the campaign. When he got there, all his carefully-constructed calm disappeared; Anakin was leaning against the counter, eating a tuna salad sandwich.

"Is, uh, that my lunch?" Ferus asked.

Anakin looked down at the sandwich, then back up at Ferus. "I dunno," he replied, polishing off the rest of it with a flourish. "How's the campaign going?"

"Fine," Ferus ground out. "What have you been doing?"

Anakin pulled out his Blackberry and handed it to Ferus. "This," he said, and Ferus caught a glimpse of the same girl, a smile on her face, wearing a Dartmouth tank-top.

Ferus rolled his eyes. "You've got to be kidding me," he snapped. "Do you ever wonder why people end up hating you?" he asked. "This. This is why."

"Nobody hates me," Anakin replied casually. "I'm not sure where you got that idea." He balled up the paper bag that had contained the sandwich and tossed it into the garbage can.

"Unbelievable," Ferus muttered, though he wasn't sure why he was so shocked. He supposed he'd thought that after the previous night, Anakin would stop acting like a complete dipshit, but obviously he was wrong.

Anakin shrugged. "I've got a conference call," he said, and fumbled around in his pocket, pulling out a fifty dollar bill and pressing it into Ferus' hand. "Sorry about your lunch," he said. "And for puking in your bathtub."

Ferus just stared at him as he sauntered away.

-----


Instead of going back to work on the campaign right away, Ferus decided to slake his curiosity about Anakin and Kenobi; he knew there was something there, could tell the way they interacted, the way Kenobi had seemed almost concerned, and almost angry, the previous night, like he knew something most people didn't.

Googling Kenobi's name brought up entirely information about his business, press releases, and testimonials from his clients. Nothing Ferus hadn't already seen when doing his previous research.

He next tried Anakin's name. The first few pages were articles in trade magazines about his work and about AdForce in general. Then there was his Facebook page, mostly locked down, and his LinkedIn profile, which hadn't been updated in several months. Finally, Ferus struck gold.

An abandoned MySpace page, not updated in several years - probably since Anakin had been in school. There were pictures there; Anakin obviously had forgotten about it. Between pictures of fraternity hijinks, spring break rowdiness, and several of Anakin with a variety of pretty young women, were other pictures, taken with a russet-haired, bearded man several years Anakin's senior.

In each, Anakin's arm was flung over Kenobi's shoulders, or they were embracing with Anakin holding the camera out to snap the picture. Several showed them together in exotic locales, both smiling. Ferus couldn't help but notice that Anakin looked happier in the pictures with Kenobi than he did in any of the others.

There weren't any journal entries, which wasn't surprising, but he did read the comments pages with great interest. There were dozens of back-and-forths between Anakin and Kenobi, and the affection between the two was palpable, even coming from a years-old social networking site. Sometimes Anakin's responses were garbled, and Kenobi seemed to be frustrated. The last comment was Kenobi's: "I've been trying to reach you. You need to call me. I have to talk to you."

"Whatcha doing?"

Ferus jumped, and quickly minimized the window. "Oh, just some research," he said hastily, hoping Anakin hadn't seen what was on the screen.

Anakin laughed. "Are you honestly still on MySpace?" he asked derisively, reaching over Ferus to pull up the window. "Come on, get with the progr..." He trailed off. "Why are you looking at this?"

"I didn't know you were gay," Ferus said, and instantly regretted it, kicking himself for being such an insensitive prat.

Anakin glowered. "You can date girls and still like cock, you know," he snapped. "It's the twenty-first century, for Christ's sake. Why were you looking at my shit?" He didn't look angry, exactly, but Ferus couldn't put a name to the emotions in Anakin's eyes.

"What happened between you two?" he asked softly.

Anakin shrugged, obviously trying to be blase about it. "What happened to minding your own fucking business?" He straightened his tie and leaned against the wall of Ferus' cubicle. "Windu wants to see us, thought you might want to know."

Ferus stood, suddenly feeling somewhat harried. He hadn't been expecting a meeting; he glanced at his Outlook, noticed his calendar was clear. Well, at least it wasn't something he'd accidentally forgotten about while prying into his co-worker's personal life. "Oh," he said. "Okay."

"And if I were you, I'd leave well enough alone," Anakin added, patting him on the shoulder and swaggering out of the cubicle.

-----


Ferus hadn't been expecting Windu to be accompanied by Kenobi; he'd thought the other man wouldn't be back until Wednesday to review their new plans. His stomach fluttered as Windu told them both to sit down.

"I want to work with this firm," Kenobi said after a moment, looking at Ferus and Anakin in turn. "But I feel that my needs would best be met by... just working with Ferus."

Ferus felt a sudden jolt, and looked over at Anakin, who had paled significantly. "Are you sure?" Ferus asked. "I can certainly work with you, that's not a problem, but Anakin is..."

Anakin held up a hand. "It's his decision, Ferus," he said tightly, sharply. He looked up at Obi-Wan. "If this is what he thinks is best for his business." Ferus could tell how hard Anakin was trying to control his breathing.

"I do," Obi-Wan said, folding his hands on the table. "I'm glad you understand." He turned to Windu. "If you could set up the office, that would be much appreciated."

"You can go, Skywalker," Windu said, waving his hand. "I'll have something for you by the end of the week."

It was small comfort, Ferus knew as Anakin got up from the conference table and walked out of the room, tension tightening his muscles and making his normally casual, languid movements stiff and jerky. He tried to forget the look on Anakin's face as the meeting continued.

-----


Ferus managed not to ask for any more details about his sudden promotion to sole exec in charge of Kenobi's campaign during the course of the meeting. He knew it would come up eventually, but it wasn't something he particularly wanted to bring up in front of Windu.

Leaving the conference room, he made his way back to his cubicle, passing Anakin's as he went. He tried not to make it obvious he was looking, but he couldn't help himself. "Hey." Anakin was standing over his desk, trembling; the framed award certificates had been torn down, chair knocked over. With a wide arc of his arm, Anakin swept everything off his desk - computer monitor, keyboard, books - onto the floor with a clatter. "Are... are you okay?"

Anakin clenched and unclenched his fists, looking down at the floor, breathing hard. "Fine," he snarled. "Congratulations." He grabbed his coat from the torn-apart filing cabinet.

"Are you leaving?" Ferus asked, though he wasn't sure why he was surprised. He couldn't say he would be able to stick around after a bombshell like Anakin had gotten, and it was very clear Anakin was taking the rejection as far more than a professional business decision.

"None of your business," Anakin snapped, but his voice was wavering. He was gone before Ferus could protest.



Part 2

Part 3

Date: 2011-10-16 12:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-erupt.livejournal.com
LOL, I kind of want Ferus to falcon punch Anakin in the back of the head. I remember the crazy arguments that went down when I was working and people would eat other people's lunches. I never had to deal with that. And, I actually started yelling at my computer when I saw that Anakin had a BS in Sociology. I was like, "How the FUCK do you get a BS in Sociology and then decide to get an MBA?" Like, every student of Soc I know is allergic to that, and then the reveal about his grandfather owning AdForce, and I'm like, ah. ANYWAY, THE PLOT THICKENS.

Date: 2011-10-16 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
There are signs on the refrigerators at my work that say "IS IT YOURS? IF NOT, DON'T EAT IT!" with a picture of a hand reaching for a sandwich in one of those "circle-slash-no" symbols.

My whole thought on Anakin's background is that he didn't want to go to Dartmouth to begin with, majored in what he actually wanted to, then got pressured to go into business, which probably helped contribute to some of the other stuff. He's good at it, and successful, but it's not what he wants to be doing.

Date: 2011-10-16 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-erupt.livejournal.com
LOL IRL. Clearly we needed a sign like that. When I was working at the casino, it was always the people from the black jack department that stole lunches too. It was very odd. Some kind of lunch stealing cabal.

Yes! That's what my thoughts were while reading it when I got to the part about his fam owning the company where he works. And, I can defs. see how that would contribute to his self-destructive tendencies. Having a job you hate even if you're good at it is actually sort of soul destroying. :(

Date: 2011-10-17 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
Every so often we get a mass email from the senior admin assistant being all like "C'mon, guys, stop stealing lunches" and I just LOL. Mostly because I never stick my lunch in the fridge 'cause I know it's gonna get stolen.

It really is. Like, the idea was originally that he was okay with just kind of coasting in the family business, but as it went on it was like, actually, that's not really working out for him.

Date: 2011-10-16 04:18 pm (UTC)
ext_25678: (bwani)
From: [identity profile] pronker.livejournal.com
Dang, this is really good. Love their dynamic and am off to ch. 2. Aw, this made me love Ferus:

Anakin scowled and Ferus looked down at the table. "We can do daring," he spoke up. "Give us until Wednesday, and we'll have daring."

Date: 2011-10-16 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
:D I love Anakin and Ferus in any universe.

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