It’s an arrangement of convenience more than anything else. Sylvain needs an apartment closer to campus, and Ingrid says she has a friend who needs a roommate. Felix Fraldarius is a friend of Ingrid’s, and therefore hopefully a friend of Sylvain’s. They get off to a bit of a rocky start, but they sleep in separate rooms and they both keep up with the cleaning, so it’s pretty much as close to ideal as a roommate situation can get. Sylvain would even go so far as to say they’re friends.
When Felix mentions offhandedly that he’s gay, Sylvain doesn’t care. He’s had plenty of gay friends before. He’s pretty good buddies with Linhardt, and he doesn’t care if Linhardt and Caspar hold hands or whatever when they’re hanging out with him. Dedue and Ashe are married, and he goes over to their place all the time. His parents might have some opinions about homosexuality, but they’re nothing Sylvain has internalized.
At least, Sylvain thought so.
See, Felix has a lot of nervous energy to work off. He’s at the gym near-constantly, always coming home sweaty and shirtless with a towel draped around his neck. Sylvain hears from Caspar that Felix is on the wrestling team. Apparently, this kind of need for exertion also translates to fucking. A lot.
It’s not that the noise bothers Sylvain. Felix is considerate enough that he does it when Sylvain isn’t home, or he’s quiet enough that it doesn’t wake Sylvain up. Still, sometimes Sylvain catches a guy leaving Felix’s room still zipping up his pants, or there’s a shirtless stranger in their kitchen during breakfast, and he feels — bad.
He doesn’t want to feel this way. He’s a better person than this; he may be a good-for-nothing, but he prides himself on his nonjudgmental nature. But it’s another morning, and he’s up early for class, and there’s a preternaturally good-looking man putting coffee on in their kitchen.
“Want some?” the guy asks as he fills up the pot with water.
“Sure, whatever,” Sylvain says, too tired and too angry – with himself and with this man – to act friendly. If Felix gets mad, he can just blame it on a night of poor sleep. Maybe Felix will assume he and his—guest were too loud and leave Sylvain alone.
“Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” the man says jovially as he pours the water into the coffee maker. He’s fully clothed, at least, which abates some of Sylvain’s rage. But he’s also objectively one of the most beautiful people Sylvain has ever seen, which fills him with an indescribable emotion that he can only describe as bad. Medium brown skin, dark brown hair falling in tousled waves (sex-mussed, Sylvain’s brain goblin whispers) into his perfectly symmetrical face. His eyes, a jewel-like shade of green, glitter with amusement as he stares at Sylvain.
“What,” Sylvain snaps.
“Nothing,” the man replies, still smiling. “My name’s Claude. Felix said he had a roommate, but he didn’t mention your name.”
Felix didn’t even mention Sylvain’s name to the man he got naked with last night? What even is Sylvain to Felix? If he spoke to this Claude about anything of substance, surely Sylvain’s name would have come up at least once?
The coffee maker bubbles. Claude keeps looking at him, that infuriatingly handsome smile still on his infuriatingly handsome face. Sylvain grits his teeth.
“Morning,” comes Felix’s blessed voice from the hallway leading to the bedrooms. He shuffles into the room, wearing the fuzzy socks Sylvain got him as a joke but turned out to be perfect for how cold their apartment floors get.
Ha, Sylvain thinks viciously. You may have fucked him, but those are my socks he’s wearing.
“Morning, babe,” Claude says cheerfully. Every word is like a dagger in Sylvain’s ears. What kind of standards does Felix have, if this sleaze is the kind of person he’ll take home?
Felix eyes Claude strangely. “Has Sylvain been bothering you?” he asks as he pulls out the chair next to Sylvain’s. There are only four chairs at the table, two across from two, so Felix has purposefully chosen to sit next to Sylvain instead of Claude. Another victory.
“Not at all,” Claude says, leaning his elbow on the counter, inscrutable grin still in place. “I was just telling him about all the good things you had to say about him on our date last night.”
Sylvain twitches. Interestingly, so does Felix, and when Sylvain glances over, Felix’s face is starting to turn pink.
“Date is overselling it,” Felix says, a bit snappishly.
Yeah, don’t get presumptuous, Sylvain thinks at Claude. He’s baffled when Claude just keeps smiling, turning back to the coffee pot.
“Sugar in your coffee, Felix?” Claude asks.
“He doesn’t like sweets,” Sylvain cuts in before Felix can speak. Claude flashes that stupid, beautiful smile at him, and Sylvain feels as though he’s fallen into some kind of trap.
“You must know each other pretty well,” Claude says conversationally. His body language is relaxed and friendly as he pours three mugs of coffee. Sylvain doesn’t trust him one bit. “You’ve been living together for, what, a year?”
“A year next month,” Felix says, nodding his thanks as Claude passes him a mug. Sylvain accepts a mug as well, surprised to see it’s light with cream. He takes a sip, and it’s almost perfect – just a little bit sweeter than Sylvain usually takes it.
“How did you…” he trails off. Claude winks. This flusters Sylvain for reasons he doesn’t want to contemplate.
“What are you still doing here, Claude?” Felix snaps, red in the face again.
Claude raises his eyebrows, not looking offended at all. “Are you complaining that I stayed to make you coffee?” he asks. He takes a sip. It’s an unbearably smug motion.
“I just don’t want—” Felix, inexplicably, glances at Sylvain before continuing. “I don’t want you to think this is more serious than it is.”
“Oh, believe me, I know! Don’t you worry about that,” Claude laughs, his eyes glinting with amusement at some joke Sylvain certainly isn’t in on. “I just thought I’d start your morning off right. You know, as a thank you.” He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.
Sylvain expects this to fluster Felix too, but Felix only rolls his eyes, raising his own mug to his lips.
Breakfast is awkwardly silent. Sylvain finishes his coffee and goes back to his room to get his stuff for class, and when he comes back, Claude is in the seat he vacated. He’s leaning against Felix’s side, pointing at something on his phone. Something unpleasant and hot boils over in the pit of Sylvain’s stomach.
“Really?” Sylvain snaps. Claude pulls away from Felix very languidly, eyeing Sylvain with a smile on his face.
“Is something wrong?” Claude asks innocently.
“You have to have your hands all over each other in the fucking kitchen? We eat here.”
“Sylvain!” Felix hisses.
“Isn’t it time you left?” Sylvain continues. He realizes he’s being a huge asshole, but it’s like he’s watching himself from outside of his body, unable to stop what’s happening. “He told you it didn’t mean anything!”
“Whoa, okay,” Claude says. He seems genuinely off-balance for the first time, and Sylvain takes a vicious satisfaction in it. “I was just about to leave, anyway.”
“You don’t have to—” Felix starts, but Claude waves him off, pushing his chair back and standing up.
“No worries, Felix,” he says with a wink. He gathers a bag from the floor – how long has he been ready to leave? – and waves over his shoulder on the way to the door. “I’ll text you, okay?”
“Fine,” Felix says. He doesn’t watch as Claude leaves, instead glaring at Sylvain. The satisfaction Sylvain got from knocking Claude down a peg withers beneath the heat of Felix’s fury.
The door clicks shut, and Felix surges up from the table. “What the fuck is your problem?”
“I—” Sylvain isn’t sure what his problem is, is the issue. “I’m sorry,” he tries.
Felix rolls his eyes. “Oh, sure, you’re sorry. If you’ve got a problem with me sleeping with other men—”
“That’s not it at all!” Sylvain cuts in desperately. It can’t be. He’s not that asshole. He’s not his parents.
“What, you can’t stand to see me acting on it?” Felix continues angrily. “What about all those girls you used to bring home?”
“That was a long time ago,” Sylvain pleads, not sure why nothing he’s saying is helping. “You know I don’t care what you do with other guys.”
That only makes Felix’s face even stormier. “Whatever,” he scoffs, stalking out of the kitchen and back to his room. “Get to class. I won’t be home for dinner tonight.”
“Felix,” Sylvain calls after him. Felix doesn’t even glance over his shoulder.
Sylvain sinks into the chair Felix abandoned, burying his face in his hands. He’s not that asshole, is he? He never thought he was, but even thinking about Claude and Felix in bed together gets his blood boiling.
He takes out his phone and opens up his messages. He has someone he needs to talk to after class.
“Ingrid,” Sylvain says desperately, “I think I’m homophobic.”
Ingrid gives him a flat stare over her latte. “Oh, no,” she says, completely monotone. “I knew it. I could feel the weight of your judgment every time I kissed a girl.”
“You just can’t stand to be around Linhardt and Caspar. I’ve seen the way you look at them.”
“Can I just—”
“I can’t believe all the horrible things you’ve said about Dedue and Ashe. You homophobic monster. I have to cut ties.”
“Ingrid!” Sylvain wails.
Ingrid sighs, resting her chin on her hand. “Alright. I’ll bite. Why do you suddenly think you’re homophobic?”
“I hate it when Felix brings guys home,” Sylvain whispers, eyes darting around the coffee shop like he’ll find Felix somewhere, listening. “I—I don’t know, I just feel bad. Like, what’s this asshole doing here? What does he think he’s doing with Felix?”
“Mhm.” Ingrid sips her coffee.
“I keep thinking about the sort of stuff they’re doing together, and I don’t want to!” Sylvain tugs on his hair. “Like, are they fucking? Is someone sucking someone off? It’s weird! And creepy! And gross!”
“And—well, he had this guy over the other day, and I was kind of an asshole to him?” Sylvain says sheepishly.
“To the guy, or to Felix?”
“The guy! And then Felix was like, ‘do you have a problem with me sleeping with other guys?’ and I was like, ‘no, of course I don’t,’ and Felix got all mad and started bringing up all the women I used to bring home,” Sylvain rambles, gesturing wildly. “And he stormed out and I felt like shit, and I still feel like shit, and for some reason thinking about him going over to that guy’s place to cool off makes me feel even worse!”
Ingrid heaves a very long, very tired sigh. “Sylvain,” she says patiently. “Have you considered that you might be jealous?”
“Jealous?” Sylvain furrows his brow. “I mean, I guess he’s having more sex than I am—”
“No, you idiot,” Ingrid says, tossing her coffee stirrer at him. “Jealous, as in, you’re upset because you’d rather Felix be paying attention to you, not them.”
“That’s—” ridiculous, Sylvain is about to say, but he stops short, staring at the table. “Huh,” he says weakly.
Ingrid tilts her head at him, her expression a mix of exasperation and sympathy. “Look, I understand you’ve never had feelings for a man before,” she says, “but think about this logically. It doesn’t make you feel bad to imagine Linhardt and Caspar in bed together, does it?”
Wrinkling his nose, Sylvain shakes his head. “I mean, it’s not exactly my favorite thing to picture, but it’s not the same, no.”
“But with Felix, it makes you angry,” Ingrid continues in her I’m spelling it out for you voice. “Upset.”
“I—I guess,” Sylvain says, still staring at the table. There’s a little sticky spot from where he spilled his tea earlier. He should clean that up before he leaves. Felix likes tea. Likes coffee better, but Sylvain knows he drinks a four-spice blend before bed almost every night.
Come to think of it, he knows a lot about Felix. He likes to wear shades of blue, but he’s got a maroon sweater his friend Annette got for him that he wears whenever he goes out to see her. The only cake he’ll eat is from the patisserie run by a woman named Lysithea. He gets cold when he sleeps, and he’s got a soft spot for cats. He looks beautiful no matter what he does, but Sylvain likes it best when his hair is down.
“Ingrid,” Sylvain whispers, a little horrified. “I think I’m in love with Felix.”
“There you go,” Ingrid says, patting his hand.
“Oh, no.” He covers his mouth with his hand. “I’m an idiot.”
“Yes, you are.” Ingrid regards him fondly. “But it sounds like you have a chance.”
Sylvain squints at her. “Why do you say that?”
“Well, he got upset when you kept insisting you were fine with him sleeping around, right?” Ingrid shrugs one shoulder. “And it sounds like he didn’t appreciate the women you used to bring home, either. Could be he’s a little jealous himself.”
“That was a long time ago,” Sylvain whines.
“Okay, the fact that you’ve stopped taking women home means this is serious,” Ingrid laughs. “Look, Sylvain, just talk to him. Be honest. I know it’s hard for you, but I think this could be really good for you.”
“Ingrid, I really, really like him,” Sylvain says quietly. “I don’t—I can’t mess this up.”
Ingrid runs her thumb across the back of his hand. “Just speak to him like you’re speaking to me now,” she says, a gentle smile on her face. “No one can say no to you when you’re being sincere.”
Sylvain sniffles. “Now you’re just flattering me,” he mutters, gripping her hand.
“He makes you happy.” Ingrid pulls her hand back and cups her coffee with both hands. “You’ve changed a lot this past year.”
“For the better.” Her eyes sparkle warmly over her cup as she takes another sip. “Think it over if you have to, but… talk to him. Please.”
“I will,” Sylvain says, and is shocked to find that he means it.
True to his word, Felix is not home for dinner. It doesn’t stop Sylvain from feeling lonely as he throws together ingredients for a stir-fry.
He finds himself spicing it more than he generally enjoys. He’s too used to cooking for Felix’s palate. Felix rarely if ever asks Sylvain to cook for him, but Sylvain usually does anyway; Felix’s job combined with his rigorous training routine leaves him exhausted at the end of the day, and there’s only so many nights in a row Sylvain can watch Felix eat nothing but scrambled eggs for dinner.
Sylvain stops mid-stir. Has he really been doing all these things for months now? Cooking for Felix? Doing Felix’s laundry? Picking Felix’s hair out of the shower drain? Ingrid is right. He is an idiot.
Taking his phone out of his pocket, he considers texting Felix to say sorry and ask him to come home, but he has a feeling that kind of halfhearted apology will just make Felix angrier. I bet he’s with Claude, the traitorous voice in Sylvain’s mind whispers, and he scowls.
He’s made way too large of a portion for just one person. He stares mournfully at the extra food in the pan after he’s spooned his dinner out onto a plate. Maybe Felix will accept leftovers as a peace offering? He can bring it to work tomorrow for lunch. Sylvain sighs, taking out a tupperware and scooping the rest of the stir-fry into it to store in the fridge.
As he sits down at the table to eat his sad, solitary dinner, he considers his relationship with Felix. Sylvain’s not one for intimacy, but then again, he also thought he wasn’t one to stop philandering, and it’s been months since he’s so much as exchanged numbers with a girl. He flirts, sure, gets them interested and everything, but then he gets a text from Felix, or sees some stupid thing in a shop window that reminds him of Felix, or just fucking thinks of Felix at all, and suddenly whichever girl he’s smiling at doesn’t seem so important anymore. The only woman who texts him on a regular basis now is Ingrid. Ingrid. And half of those texts are her mooning over her girlfriend.
Sylvain is about to call his new life some mean words like “boring” and “pathetic” until he realizes that he’s living the exact same life that Dedue and Ashe do. Classes and work. Home in the evening. Dinner with the same man every night. Nothing exciting.
Fuck. Sylvain is married, and he isn’t even getting any.
“I’m too stupid to live,” he marvels with a piece of broccoli halfway to his mouth. He can almost hear Felix’s derisive noise of agreement.
The silence of the apartment begins to get oppressive as the evening wears on. There’s a weariness in Sylvain’s heart that has him putting himself to bed early. He leaves a note on the table for Felix that reads: I’m sorry. :( Dinner is in the fridge if you haven’t eaten. Can we talk tomorrow?
Whenever Felix gets back, it’s late enough that Sylvain has already fallen asleep despite his restless tossing and turning. He’s gone in the morning when Sylvain wakes up, which has Sylvain’s heart dropping until he sees that the note on the table has been replaced with a new one.
Thank you for the food. We’ll talk tonight.
There’s a little “—Felix” at the bottom that’s been scribbled out, which is much more endearing than it probably should be. Sylvain tucks the note into his pocket before he leaves for his shift at work, just to have it. Just to remind himself that he hasn’t permanently screwed things up quite yet.
His coworkers notice there’s something off about him. “Are you feeling okay?” Leonie asks him, hopping up on her toes to lay the back of her hand on his forehead. “You’re jittery.”
“I’m fine,” Sylvain says. He gently moves her hand away, and she frowns at him. “Really. I just have a—thing tonight that I’m nervous about.”
“You’re never nervous about your dates,” Leonie says bluntly. “I’m the one who’s always nervous, and it’s always for the girl, not you.”
“It’s not a date!” Sylvain swats at her shoulder, mostly playfully. “Well, I don’t think it is, anyway. It might be. If it goes well. Which it could, but it could also go horribly.” He pauses. “Oh no.”
“Wow,” Leonie says, drawing out the word. “Whoever this girl is, you actually like her, don’t you?”
Sylvain mutters a noncommittal response and makes as quick of an escape as possible. Because the thing is—yeah, he likes Felix. He likes Felix a lot. The idea of this screwing up whatever they have breaks Sylvain’s heart. He doesn’t know what he’d do without Felix’s dry teasing, the way he hums Annette’s dumb little songs under his breath when he gets tired, the way he simultaneously loves every part of Sylvain but doesn’t put up with any of Sylvain’s bullshit.
The day drags by. Sylvain gets yelled at by his manager twice for not paying attention. When he finally rushes home at the end of the day, Felix isn’t even back yet, and he ends up throwing together a spiced meat pie for dinner and then cursing himself at how long it’s going to take to cook in the oven, because now he has nothing to do with his hands.
Felix arrives home when there’s about ten minutes left on the oven timer. It looks like he skipped the gym today; he’s not in his workout leggings (which is both a disappointment and a relief), and his hair is still in a neat plait instead of the bun he puts it in to run.
“Hi,” Sylvain says, a little nervously.
“Hello yourself,” Felix says, dropping his bag by the door and shrugging out of his jacket. “Smells nice.”
“Meat pie,” Sylvain blurts out.
Felix raises an eyebrow. “Ah. Meat pie,” he repeats dryly.
He’s back to mocking Sylvain, which is probably a good sign. “I, um,” Sylvain stammers, feeling uncharacteristically off-balance under the scrutiny of Felix’s gaze. “It won’t be ready for awhile, if you want to get more comfortable.”
Get more comfortable. Sylvain is one line away from being the opener of a cheesy porno. Felix has mercy and doesn’t comment, though, retreating to his room and emerging a few moments later in his sweatpants and the fuzzy socks Sylvain gave him.
Sylvain himself is still in his jeans because if he doesn’t have actual pants on for this conversation he may lose his mind, but he swapped out his work uniform for a more comfortable university hoodie. Felix settles at the dinner table and watches Sylvain poke around the kitchen and set the table. It’s unbearably domestic.
I’m fucking married, Sylvain thinks frantically as he gets two glasses down from a cabinet to pour them both a drink. Felix has iced four-spice tea that he makes himself and keeps in the fridge for the evenings, and Sylvain knows that, and is pouring Felix a glass of his special fucking evening iced tea, and he’s fucking married.
When the meat pie is finally ready and Sylvain has it set out on the table to cool, he seats himself across from Felix. The pie steams between them. Felix watches Sylvain, and Sylvain watches Felix.
“So,” Sylvain starts.
“Strong opening,” Felix comments.
Forgetting himself for a moment, Sylvain kicks Felix’s socked foot with one of his own. “Leave me alone, I’m trying,” he whines.
“I know you are,” Felix says with a chuckle that’s only a little mean.
“So… I was an asshole to Claude.”
“And to you.”
“Yes.” Felix takes a sip of his tea and cuts a piece of the meat pie to put on his plate.
“I’m sorry. I—I would say I don’t know what came over me, but that’s not true.” Sylvain uses the meat pie as an excuse to break eye contact with Felix, taking a piece for himself but not eating it. “I… think I was jealous.”
“You think?” Felix asks, his voice unreadable. He pokes the meat on his plate with his fork, but like Sylvain, he hasn’t touched it otherwise.
Ingrid’s voice echoes in Sylvain’s head – be sincere. “No, I… I know I was jealous. I didn’t realize that’s what my problem was until very recently, but—the reason I was rude to Claude was because I was jealous.” He swallows, fiddling with his glass of water so he doesn’t have to look up at Felix. “I’ve never liked a guy before, so I didn’t realize it right away. I.” Be sincere. Be sincere. “I have feelings for you, Felix.”
“Thank fucking god,” Felix sighs, leaning back in his chair and relaxing like the weight of the world’s been lifted off his shoulders.
Sylvain jerks his head up. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Look. Sylvain.” Felix stares at him. “I’ve been trying to tell you I’m interested for… months, now. I knew you thought you were straight, and I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable, so I didn’t say it outright, but.” His smile is a weird mix of amused and exasperated. “Sylvain, you could never stop staring at me when I came home from the gym.”
“The leggings,” Sylvain whispers.
“The leggings,” Felix agrees. “I—wasn’t sure if I had a chance. I should have been more open with you.” He sits back up and leans his elbows on the table. “I… owe you an apology for that.”
“You don’t need to apologize,” Sylvain tells him, but Felix shakes his head.
“I was trying to make you jealous.”
Sylvain freezes, absolutely floored.
“It… was childish of me. But I wanted to see if you were interested, and the only way I could think to do it was to… put myself with other men where you could see it,” Felix says lamely. His face is reddening, which honestly makes it hard for Sylvain to get mad at him. “When you lost your temper at Claude yesterday, I was afraid that I had mistaken disgust for interest.”
“No!” Sylvain explodes, clenching his fists on the table. “No, I could never be disgusted with you – Felix, you’re one of the most important people in my life.”
“Evidently in more ways than one,” Felix says.
“I thought I was homophobic,” Sylvain blurts out.
Felix barks a laugh. “Isn’t your best friend a lesbian? Aren’t two of your male friends married?”
“I didn’t know I was jealous!” Sylvain throws his hands in the air helplessly. “As far as I was concerned, you were having sex with guys and I was mad about it! Ergo, homophobic!”
“But as long as it’s you I’m having sex with, you won’t be mad?” Felix asks him, a teasing smile curving the corners of his lips up.
Sylvain groans. “Well, I know that now.”
Felix stands up from his chair and strides over to Sylvain’s side of the table. When he motions with his hand, Sylvain scoots his chair back and is immediately rewarded with Felix climbing into his lap, straddling his thighs.
“We’ll start slow,” Felix whispers, his face tantalizingly close to Sylvain’s. “Since I’m the first man you’ve ever wanted.”
“Y-yeah.” Sylvain’s throat is suddenly very, very dry. He lifts his hands and settles them awkwardly on Felix’s hips.
Felix leans in just close enough that his lips brush Sylvain’s when he says, “You can hold me tighter. I won’t break.”
Sylvain’s grip tightens almost reflexively, digging into the soft fabric of Felix’s sweatpants and into the tight muscle underneath. “This is what you call slow?” he asks breathlessly.
“Oh, honey,” Felix purrs, and Sylvain has never felt the blood rush to his cock so fast in his life. “If you think this is fast, I’m going to break you to pieces.”
Sylvain finds he wants that. He wants that very, very much. But Felix swallows his reply with a kiss, and his tongue is in Felix’s mouth and it’s warm and wet and everything Sylvain has ever wanted, so he’ll settle for slow for now. Evidently, Sylvain doesn’t have a problem with Felix kissing guys, as long as it’s Sylvain he’s kissing.