Don't Even Know What We're Fighting For

I felt like writing an enemies-to-lovers kind of thing, so here's a random thing that my brain decided to shit out.

CW for possible dubcon, because they're not totally sober (but the intent is that they're still in control of their faculties)

(This is chapter one of the Battlefield series of fics. It is recommended that you read the chapters in order.)

Alex slams the glass back onto the bar top with more force than necessary, the lone ice cube flying out and sliding across the smooth surface and onto the floor. "Another."

The bartender looks at him with an expression of pity that quickly turns serious. "I think you've had enough to drink for now, sir. Would you like some water?"

"Another whiskey," Alex says, slamming the glass against the surface again. He definitely didn't feel drunk yet, his belligerence more a result of his mood than the alcohol. "Open bar, right?"

"I'm cutting you off for now," the bartender says, her voice firm as she holds out a bottle of water in his direction.

"I said..." Alex starts, ready to grab the bottle and chuck it across the room when a smooth voice interrupts.

"Is there a problem here?"

Alex doesn't need to look to identify the source of the voice. Of course it was John. It was always John.

John, the reason Alex was here tonight trying to get shitfaced -- trying to forget. John, who had utterly humiliated him earlier that day in his big presentation with the engineering leads. John, who always seemed to be around and peering over his shoulder and trying to one-up him.

John, who only had the job because his family was filthy rich and bought him his way into the company. John, who didn't need this job in exactly the way Alex did, because Alex had student loans to pay and his rent had gone up again and his car had just broken down and...

John, who was the absolute bane of Alex's life and career.

"There's no problem," he mutters, grabbing the bottle out of the bartender's hand and stomping off in the direction of a free table in a corner. He knows, without having to look, that John would be following him.

"Macallan 18, right?" John asks, showing up at the table a few minutes later and setting a glass down in front of Alex. "On the rocks."

Alex grabs the glass, pissed off at the gesture, but unwilling to let the liquor go to waste. "Go away."

"It's customary to thank someone for bringing them a drink," John says, amusement in his voice, as he sips some obnoxiously orange concoction from a martini glass. "So you're welcome."

Alex downs the liquor in one gulp, grimacing at the burn on the way down and slamming the glass back down on the table with more force than necessary. "Fuck off, John."

"Someone's an angry drunk," John says, one eyebrow raised in his direction, but making no move to leave. "And it's a company party. I can stand here if I want to. You're welcome to find a different table, if you don't like my presence."

"You followed me here," Alex growls, staring at the drink in John's hand for a split second before grabbing it and chugging it as quickly as possible. John more than owed him, and he still needed to get drunk tonight, even if the bartenders wouldn't cooperate. He grimaces again, this time at the sickly sweetness of the drink.

John looks at him with amusement. "I didn't take you for another a fruity drink kind of guy."

"Fuck off already, Kensington!"

John just chuckles. "I'll get you another Macallan," he says before grabbing the empty glasses and disappearing into the crowd.

Alex knows he should take the opportunity to leave. He has booze at home, where he can drink without being subjected to John's infuriating presence. But free was free, and Alex still wanted to take advantage of that. The company owed him, dammit, after how the last eight months had gone.

He gulps from the water bottle instead, idly thinking he needs to use the bathroom, before John is back with another two glasses, setting one down in front of Alex. "Macallan 18."

Alex grabs it, wordlessly, and heads in the direction of the bathrooms. Maybe he could make an escape afterward, or try and find one of his friendlier coworkers. Maybe they could complain about John together.

He has no such luck though, because when he exits the bathroom, John's standing there, almost waiting for him.

"Stop stalking me!" he yells, not caring about the heads that turn in their direction.

John, for his part, seems appropriately surprised by the outburst. "I just..."

Alex doesn't wait for an answer, shooting this whiskey as well and setting the empty glass on the nearest table before storming off in the direction of the exit.

"Alex!" John calls out behind him, and it isn't until he's out the front door and into the cool evening air that John catches up to him, a hand on his shoulder. "Wait!"

Alex spins around, shoving John backward and away from him. He suddenly feels hot, and he wonders if it's the liquor catching up with him. "Don't touch me, jackass!"

John holds his hands out in front of him in gesture of defeat. "I'm sorry! I just... I just wanted to talk."

"We have nothing to talk about," Alex growls, shoving John again for good measure, and trying not to think about how their sudden proximity -- or the smooth fabric of John's shirt on his fingers, much nicer than anything Alex has ever owned -- makes him feel.

John stares at him for a moment, then sighs. "Fine." His hands drop and he pulls out his phone. "Let me call you a cab."

"I can call my own cab," Alex says, knocking the phone out of John's hand and taking no small amount of pleasure at the noise it makes when it hits the ground. He tells himself it doesn't matter. John could easily afford another one.

John's eyes narrow as he kneels and gently picks up the device, not breaking eye contact with him. "That wasn't necessary."

Alex scoffs. "Just like the architecture I proposed this morning? Not necessary? You just waltz in here like you own the place and think you know better than the rest of us?!"

"Is that what this is about?" John asks, tucking the phone back into his pocket without trying it out, to Alex's disappointment. "Work today?"

"Work today, work every day, what's the difference?!" Alex yells, suddenly glad they seem to be alone outside. He isn't sure whether this is an appropriate place or time to be having this conversation, but his emotions -- and maybe, to a certain extent, the booze -- are finally boiling over. "You're nothing, Kensington! You're a bully of a boy trying to pretend you're a man because your life is sad and pathetic and you just want daddy to love you. Guess what?! No one in your life likes you! No one!"

Alex is pretty sure the words aren't true -- John does have a lot of friends around the office, for example -- but the hit seems to land anyway. John almost physically staggers backward, his eyes wide and obvious hurt on his face.

"Just leave me alone," Alex says. He intends to shout the words at John, but they come out almost a whisper instead, and he suddenly finds he can't tear his gaze away from John.

Then John's tongue quickly licks his lower lip, and the warmth in Alex's chest grows, and before he knows what he's doing, he's moving in, grabbing John's head and kissing him.

It feels like hours, even though it's only a few seconds, before Alex's brain registers what he's doing, and the fact that John is frozen against him in shock, and he pulls away, staring at John with wide eyes, an equally surprised expression on John's face.

"Shit." He spins around, his heart pounding in his chest and his head spinning now, not just from the booze. "Fuck!" He knows he's ruined everything, now. He needs this job, but now he's just lost it. He's lost it and and he...

"Alex?" John's hand is on his shoulder again, and Alex shrugs it off.

"I... didn't mean to," Alex stammers, his ears now red and ringing with the rapid thumping of his heart. He suddenly feels like he can't breathe. "I..."

John is suddenly in front of him, looking at him with concern, one hand on each of Alex's shoulders now. "Hey. Deep breaths, Alex."

Alex's brain can't focus at the moment, and he tries to obey, but even through the haze, he can sense that John's isn't angry. Somehow. And John is...

John is smiling?!

"What...?" Alex manages through gasping breaths. The warmth in his chest is all over how, his cheeks flushed, and he's sure now that John is looking at him with desire.

And he suddenly realizes that he's looking back at John in the same way.

He idly wonders how long he's been looking at John like that before kissing John again, and this time, John reciprocates, melting into him as his arms slide around John's back and settling on his waist. John's hands move, one hand finding Alex's head and pulling him closer.

John tastes like the stupid orange drink, he finds himself thinking, but not minding it this time. Warm and sweet and boozy and something he hadn't even known he needed until that moment.

He whimpers -- he fucking whimpers -- when John breaks, and blinks at John through half-lidded eyes. "Wha..."

"I have a room," John says, his voice almost breaking and filled with the same need Alex is feeling at the moment. "Upstairs. If you..."

"Yes," Alex breathes, before he can even think, ignoring the voice telling him this was a bad idea. "Yes."

He lets John take his hand and pull him back toward the building.

"Why were you always such an ass to me?"

John stills for a moment, then sighs. "I was, wasn't I?"

"You were," Alex says, unable to resist digging it in, even though he thinks John sounds appropriately remorseful.

John sighs again. "It wasn't about you. Not at first, anyway. I know what people say about me, you know. That I only got the job because of my family."

"Didn't you?" Alex asks, turning so he can see John's face. John looks upset, he thinks.

"I'm not going to pretend that wasn't a part of it, but I went through a normal interview process. I have the degree. I'm sure you've seen my background. I've been in this area for a bit, and I thought this would be a really good opportunity. But no one ever sees that. They just see my family and their influence and assume I'm not actually good enough."

"So you wanted to prove yourself by always belittling me," Alex spits, more venom in his voice than he intends.

John shakes his head, and tightens his arms around Alex. "That... wasn't my intention. But yeah, I felt like I had to prove myself. To show everyone that I deserved to be here. You were the other senior in our team, and I felt like I had to... be your equal, somehow. To get that respect."

"You constantly undermined me," Alex says, letting all the bitterness that had been festering inside spill out now. "Everything I did, you questioned. Everything. Do you have any idea how that feels, John?!"

John bites his lip. "I... tried not to think about it. I'm sorry. I know that's not nearly enough but... I don't know what else I can say."

Alex swallows his retort, the legitimately mournful expression on John's face satiating his anger for now. But then another thought comes to mind. "You said it wasn't about me, at first?"

John nods, moving his head so he's staring at the ceiling. "I... respected you, Alex. You're a skilled engineer. But then I worried it was... growing. Into something more. And it was easier to keep pushing you away than to deal with those feelings."

"It was easier for you if I hated you," Alex says, trying to make sense of the confession. "So you kept... pushing."

"Yeah," John says, still not meeting his gaze. "It was so... stupid."

"It was," Alex says, reaching up and gently turning John's head so they're looking at each other again, now understanding the sensation that had always bubbled up in his stomach when he looked at John. "But I... I think maybe that made it easier for me, too."

"Yeah?" John asks, his eyes lighting up with a glimmer of hope.

"Half the office has a crush on you," Alex says. "I mean, have you seen yourself?"

John blushes. "Can I assume that means you're included in that half?"

Alex kisses him again, gently, hoping that serves as a sufficient answer for the moment. "Now what?" he asks instead. "Was this just sex?"

John stares at him for longer than Alex expects, but it's not uncomfortable. "What do you want?" he asks, finally.

"Take me on a date," Alex says, pinching himself to prove that this isn't a dream. "And we'll see where things go from there."

John smiles, finally, fully. "I can do that."

"And stay. Tonight." Alex closes his eyes and curls up against John's side.

John chuckles. "This is my hotel room, you know. But yeah. Stay with me tonight."

Alex murmurs an affirmative before allowing himself to relax and gently drift off to sleep.