Part 32: link
Being Friday night, parking is troublesome. Lance finds a place for his Citroën a ways up the block, and Arthur piggybacks on the spot, squeezing his motorcycle in sideways in front of Lance’s car, the front tire on the sidewalk.
“Arthur, you’re going to get a citation,” Gwen cautions, but Arthur seems unconcerned.
“Nice motorbike,” Lance comments as Gwen once again stuffs Arthur’s jacket away.
“Thank you. Her name is Morgana,” Arthur says, sweeping his arm grandly.
“Morgana? Named after whom?”
“His sister,” Gwen says.
Lance gives Arthur a puzzled look. “Does she know?” he asks.
“Yes. Quite proud of it, actually. Both temperamental bitches,” he laughs.
“His sister is quite nice,” Gwen says to Lance.
“Yeah, to you. You’ve never seen her at work. Or when she’s mad at me.”
“Ah, now, there’s where you’re wrong. Who do you think called Merlin and told him to go over to your flat Thursday?” Gwen grins impishly at him.
“Yeah, had a chat with your darling twin sister on Thursday morning. She called me.”
“I’m dead,” Arthur tells Lance.
“How do you think I knew that Merlin brought you?”
“I did wonder,” Arthur says. “So, Lance,” he turns to the other man, eager to change the subject. “Did you pick that Citroën up in Paris?”
“Yes,” he answers, and they finally start walking. Gwen smiles and listens quietly while they talk cars, happy that they are actually getting along.
“It’s been in storage for the last six months, though, while I was in New York,” Lance continues. “So I think it could use a little tune-up.”
“You were in New York, too?” Arthur asks.
“Yeah, it’s been crazy. Graduation, then Paris. Then Papa died. Got the opportunity in New York, so I went there, leaving a lot of my things in storage in Paris. Decided I wanted to open my own gallery here, so I came back, stopped to visit my mother, got my stuff and ferried it back here.”
“Your mother is in Paris, then?” Arthur asks.
“No, she’s, um, in Nice. In hospital.”
“Oh, sorry, mate, I didn’t know she was ill.”
“It’s all right. Not a deep dark secret or anything. She’s perfectly healthy physically, but her mind is gone.”
“Oh, wow, that must be rough.”
“It is, but I make sure to visit her whenever I can. Even though she thinks I’m Tío Jorge,” he chuckles.
Arthur makes a confused face. “Tío?”
“Tío is Spanish for uncle,” Gwen explains.
“Yeah,” Lance says. “She thinks I’m her brother. But this is depressing talk. Where is this pub?”
“Right here, actually,” Arthur points, then exclaims, “Ox! What the fuck are you doing here?” He slaps his friend companionably on the shoulder
Ox grins and says, “Helping Leon, as promised. Justin is at home heaving his guts out. Must have gotten flu or eaten some bad prawns or something. So, since I said I’d help when I could, here I am.” He smiles down at Gwen, happy to see her. “Gwen, I’m so glad you’re back with us,” he says, reaching down to give her one of his huge hugs. He’s had a soft spot for her ever since she helped him make training at Scotland Yard, and hugs her every chance he gets.
“It’s good to be back,” she answers. “Now put me down, please.”
“Sorry,” he says, setting her on her feet and stifling a yawn.
“Did you have training today? You must be tired,” she asks.
“Exhausted, darling, but what kind of mate would I be if I left Leon in the lurch, right? Who’s this?”
“Oh!” she exclaims. “Ox, this is Lance, a friend of mine recently returned to London. He’s… wait,” she pauses as the men shake hands and exchange pleasantries.
“We have to tell them all at the same time or they’ll behave like babies,” Gwen says to Arthur.
“Indeed,” Arthur agrees. “Ox, my good man, please join us inside.”
Ox opens the door and follows them in.
Gwen smiles as the lads express their joy at seeing her back with Arthur. Arthur motions impatiently, waving them over to the section of the bar where Leon is standing idly near Phil, trying not to fuss over her too much. She’s already yelled the walls down once at him for trying too hard to take care of her while she’s injured, so now he’s being extra careful.
Arthur holds up his hands while the lads all start asking questions about who is Lance and did Gwen give Arthur sufficient hell.
“Shut it!” he announces. “You lot won’t learn anything if you keep waving your bloody lips.”
“First: Gwen has forgiven me for being a jealous twat. So you can call off the angry mob and return the pitchforks to your local garden supply store for a full refund.”
“Bugger,” Gwaine and Phil both say, endeavoring to look thoroughly disappointed. Arthur gives them both a rude hand gesture and continues.
“Second: This bloke is Lance, the wanker who I caught Gwen having lunch with on Monday.”
“Let him get there,” Gwen whispers to Lance, who looks thoroughly puzzled at being introduced as a “wanker.”
“However, Monsieur Delacroix is the owner of a new
art gallery over on Portabello. An art gallery that is going to be featuring the work of a promising young artist with whom you are all well-acquainted.” Arthur poses and preens now, and Gwen rolls her eyes.
“Hey, thanks, mate, I didn’t know you knew my work,” Gwaine says, standing and grinning.
Phil grabs her brother’s waistband, quick as a flash, and yanks him back to his seat. “Sit down, Fucknut.”
The lads all cheer and congratulate Arthur. Merlin hugs him, then Gwen, then shakes Lance’s hand.
“Merlin, a round of drinks for everyone,” Leon announces, then he stops. “Wait, it’s not like you shitheads pay for your drinks anyway…”
“Yes, but the meaning
is there,” Gwaine says reassuringly, patting Leon on the shoulder. “I’ll have a double whiskey on the rocks, my good man,” he tells Merlin.
“He’ll have a pint,” Leon says. Merlin pours a pint.
Lance and Arthur sit at the bar, and Merlin hands them each a glass.
“Gwen?” he asks, holding an empty mug aloft.
“Yes, but right now I need to pee. Be right back,” she says, kissing Arthur’s cheek quickly before turning.
“Wait, Girlie, I’m floating over here,” Phil calls, hopping to her feet and holding her hand out to Leon, who hands her her crutches.
“Somehow I don’t think Leon wants to assist me in the ladies’,” Phil says to Gwen as they walk to the loo. “And Gwaine said ‘no fucking way,’” she laughs.
“Good thing I turned up, then,” Gwen says, smiling.
“Yeah, because the few other girls in here are all drunk or I just don’t like them,” Phil says. “And it’s a bloody good thing that Drag came to his bloody senses,” she adds darkly as Gwen opens the door for her.
“So you’re the soon-to-be-famous writer?” Lance asks Merlin.
“Hope so,” Merlin says, shrugging.
“Well, I can’t wait to read your book once it’s published. Gwen told me all about it.”
“Thanks, that means a lot.”
“She spoke very highly of both you and Drag. Thinks the world of you both,” Lance says, taking a drink. “Now this, I’ve missed. Can’t get a proper pint anywhere else.”
Merlin laughs and pours Gwen’s Guinness when he sees her returning, setting it on the bar for her.
“Hello, Drag,” a familiar and unwelcome voice coos behind him. He sighs and turns his head to see Portia standing there, eyeing him hungrily.
She steps forward and drapes her arm over his shoulders and says, “So, a little birdie tells me that you and that girlfriend
of yours have—”
Portia turns to see Gwen standing there with her hands on her hips and a deadly glint in her eyes. Not only that, but Phil is close at hand, a loose cannon if ever there was.
“Oh.” Portia drops her arm immediately and steps away from Arthur. Then she notices Lance.
“Hello, gorgeous, you’re new,” she says, turning her back on Arthur, leaning forward into Lance slightly, running her finger along the collar of his shirt.
Lance looks over Portia’s shoulder at Arthur and Gwen, who are both giving him wide-eyed, stern looks of warning. Arthur even shakes his head no
just slightly, circling his finger next to his ear and mouthing the word, “crazy.”
Lance looks her straight in the eye and says, “Lo siento, pero no hablo Inglés.” He removes her hands from his chest.
“What?” Portia blinks, confused.
“Je suis désolé, mais je ne parle pas anglais,” he says now, changing languages just to be difficult.
“Apparently he doesn’t speak English,” Merlin shrugs, biting the insides of his cheeks to keep from laughing. Arthur and Gwen are dying behind Portia.
“He was just talking to you,
” Portia protests, turning on Merlin.
“La pauvre fille est confuse,” Merlin says to Lance in perfect French. The poor girl is confused.
Lance raises his eyebrows, impressed, and says, “Un verre de plus et elle sera en mesure de nous comprendre.” One more drink and she’ll be able to understand us.
“What did he say?” Portia demands.
Merlin looks back at Lance, who says, “Je ne suis pas intéressé par ce qu'elle vend.”
“He says he’s not interested in what you are selling,” Merlin translates.
Arthur nearly falls from his stool laughing now, and Gwen has her hands clamped tightly over her mouth.
“I guess you’re out of luck, Portia, dear,” Gwen recovers herself enough to say.
“What…?” Portia pouts.
“I’ll translate that one,” Phil speaks up. “Push off, slag.” She nudges Portia with one of her crutches.
“Hey, watch it, you ugly twat,” Portia snaps at her. Loudly.
is the collective thought of everyone within earshot, even Lance, though he’s not sure why. Phil’s eyes narrow and she looks like she’s about to wield a crutch like a cricket bat and get down to some serious business.
“Portia: out.” Leon stomps forward, followed closely by Gwaine.
“I’ve never hit a woman before, but I might make an exception in your case,” Gwaine threatens, cracking his knuckles loudly. Ox comes over and takes Portia’s elbow, gently but firmly, and escorts her to the door. He glances at Leon and the two have a silent conversation that takes all of two seconds, resulting in Ox informing Portia that she is no longer welcome at this pub.
“You’re barred,” Ox clarifies. “Go home and sleep it off.” He closes the door and mutters, “And you might want to think about re-examining your life while you’re at it, you stupid bitch.”
Phil holds her head high as she hobbles away, but Gwen, Gwaine, and Leon can all tell that she was stung by Portia’s words. Leon helps her back to her stool, where he simply holds her hand, lifting it to his lips just once, giving her the space she needs but the comfort she craves.
Gwen watches them a minute, concerned for her friend. Leon leans over and Gwen sees him whisper, “You are beautiful and I love you,” in her ear and kiss her cheek. Phil looks down at her lap and reaches her hand up to caress his face, a small smile creeping about her lips.
She’s fine. She knows which opinions matter.
Gwaine’s face is still cloudy, but he sees his sister smiling again, so he shrugs and takes a long pull from his glass.
“Sorry about that, Lance. She’s been a thorn in Arthur’s side for a very long time, apparently,” Gwen says. She takes a drink of her Guinness, then remembers she hasn’t introduced Lance officially to the rest of the group.
“So. You’ve met Merlin,” she says, and he nods.
“Good chap,” Lance says.
“He’s dating Freya. Just so you know.”
“Got it.” He nods, seriously.
“What’s wrong with Freya?” Arthur asks.
“Nothing’s wrong with her,” Lance says. “She just hates me, that’s all.”
“Because of Guinevere?”
“Yes, the best friend is often much less forgiving than the ex, right?” Arthur smirks, clearly having been down that road.
“All right, I’m trying to do introductions here,” Gwen pushes Arthur’s shoulder. “Okay, the tall one with the hair is Leon. This is his pub.”
Leon waves. “It’s really my dad’s, but he’s never here,” he calls over.
“So it’s yours,” Merlin adds.
“Next to Leon is Phyllis, his girlfriend. She broke her ankle last weekend falling down the stairs.”
Lance waves at Phil and she nods noncommittally.
“She’s really very nice,” Gwen tells him. “You just have to get through her defenses.”
“Oi! Don’t be telling him I’m a nice person over there, Girlie!” she yells, seeming to know what Gwen is saying.
Gwen blows her a kiss and continues, laughing. “The other one with the hair is Gwaine, the one we told you about before. Arthur, go ask him,” she adds, poking Arthur in the shoulder.
“Mmm. Right.” He stands and moves two stools over to sit beside Gwaine.
“Gwaine and Phil are brother and sister,” Gwen adds. “They live above the shop, which is next door. Merlin and Leon are flatmates and they live upstairs. Though I have a feeling that Merlin and Phil may be trading places before long.”
“And you’ve met Ox already, who is not the usual bouncer, as you heard.”
“What’s he doing now?”
“He’s at Scotland Yard, in training to be a police officer.”
“Working with your dad?”
“Maybe one day.”
“You helped him get in, didn’t you?” Lance asks knowingly.
“Not really. I just made sure his application didn’t get ignored,” she shrugs.
“And that’s why he is so fond of you.”
“Probably,” she laughs.
“He’ll do it,” Arthur says, coming back. “Overjoyed to do. Was hoping I would ask, actually,” he laughs.
“Oh, good,” Gwen says, pleased that the pieces are all falling into place. She finishes her pint and puts her hand over the top when Merlin comes to refill it.
“Done already?” Merlin asks.
“Tired. Had a long day reading a really stupid book,” Gwen says, stretching.
“Gwen!” Lance says, shocked.
book, Lance. I don’t have his right now,” she laughs.
“Oh, sorry,” he laughs, too. “If you want to go, don’t worry about me. I think I’m going to hang about for a bit,” he says. “I like it here, even if I look a little out of place.”
“Yeah, I do, too,” Gwen laughs.
“Your friends are really great, though, I like them.”
“Thanks, mate,” Arthur says, grudgingly admitting to himself that he does like Lancelot. “My lady?” he asks Gwen, standing and offering his arm.
“Good sir,” she laughs, standing. They bid goodbye to the guys and start for the door.
“Hey,” Phil reaches out for Gwen’s arm as she passes.
“Hmm?” Gwen leans over.
“Thank you for not introducing me as ‘Gwaine’s sister.’ I get so sick of that.”
“Iggy!” Gwen exclaims when she walks through the door of Arthur’s flat. The cat nearly leapt on her in his excitement, meowing loudly before she picks him up and then proceeding to purr like a little motorbike after.
“Yes, I missed you, too, baby,” she coos to him. “Did you make Arthur’s life miserable while I was away?” She nuzzles his head with her nose.
“I have picked up more cat shit this week than I would really care to admit,” Arthur says with a sigh.
“Good boy, Iggy,” Gwen praises him, rubbing his ears, stroking under his chin like he likes.
“Great, encourage him.”
Gwen kisses Iggy’s massive head and sets him gently on the floor. “This place is a fucking sty,” she declares.
“I know, I know. And this is even after
Merlin tidied up a bit last night.”
“Wish I was.”
“What happened to your lamp?” She sees the pile of rubble, which Merlin has sort of swept into a pile.
“Threw my boot at it.”
She sits on the couch next to him. “Is that ale?” She angles her head, spying a dried sticky spot on the table.
“And why is there blood on the carpet? What the hell did you do
here, keep refugees or something?”
He looks down. “Oh. I stepped on a piece of lamp,” he says casually.
“Let me see,” she motions for his foot, and he peels his sock off and swings it up into her lap.
“It’s kind of red. I’m betting you did nothing for this,” she looks at him.
“Spent some time watching it ruin one of my socks. That’s about it.”
She makes an exasperated noise and drops his foot, standing to go get some first aid supplies.
“What’s all this?” she asks on her way back, seeing the stacks of drawings.
“That’s what I did this week.”
these? There must be at least 50 drawing here!”
“Well, Monday night I didn’t do anything except get completely pissed,” he says.
Gwen comes over with some iodine and cotton and sits again. “I thought you didn’t like to get drunk,” she says as she cleans the cut on the bottom of his foot.
“Yeah, but apparently being away from you is even worse,” he says, wincing slightly at the sting.
“Your own fault,” she says casually. “There.” She gives his foot a little squeeze before releasing it to go back to look at the drawings.
“Um, Arthur…” she says, flipping through them.
“Yes, I know,” he sighs. “I tried drawing other things, but it just wouldn’t happen.”
She moves to the face-down stack. “Arthur!”
He has the decency to blush and hide, scrunching down on the sofa. She walks over and hits him with a pillow, and he grabs her, pulling her over him.
“Did Merlin see those?” she asks.
“Maybe a little,” he admits. “I was showering, and when I came out, he had those stacks made. So he would have had to see them enough to know which pile they belonged in.”
She drops her head onto his shoulder. “Going to go die now.”
“Guinevere,” he says, his voice serious now. He lifts her face. “Don’t be embarrassed by how beautiful you are.” He kisses her then, slow and warm, his tongue molding to hers inside their mouths, his hands gripping the back of her shirt.
“Arthur,” she says against his lips, talking in between kisses, “we need to clean this place up… Lance is coming over tomorrow.”
“Later,” he says, reaching up to pull some pins from her hair and plunging his hands in to the masses of curls as they fall, “I’m busy.” He nips her lower lip, then moves to her neck.
“You’re not playing fair,” she gasps, his lips sending tingles through her belly.
“Kind of the point, my love,” he mutters into her neck, grinning.
“Impossible,” she moans her familiar complaint, but her hands are pulling at his shirt while his hands move to the buttons of her blouse.
“Tiny… fucking… buttons,” he growls as they do not come open as quickly as he’d like.
Gwen laughs and sits back on his thighs to finish the buttons for him, pulling the shirt off and draping it over the back of the couch because it’s likely the cleanest spot.
“Bra,” he commands, sliding his hands against her stomach.
“Yes, it is,” she observes, looking down at it.
She laughs at him again and reaches her arms behind her to unhook the undergarment, and Arthur’s hands slip under the cups to hold her breasts before she even gets it off.
Arthur scoots back, shifting them so he is over her, flipping her on to her back as he shucks his t-shirt and tosses it carelessly aside.
“Zipper,” he mutters, investigating her skirt, looking for a way to remove it. “Aha,” he finds one on the side and slides it down, kissing her stomach before removing it, thoughtfully placing it with her blouse and her bra on the top of the couch.
“Thank you,” Gwen says, lifting her rear as he slides her panties off, pausing to kiss her toes reverently before moving up her legs, kissing his way up.
She settles back and sighs, fully expecting this attention, yet still she gasps when his tongue finds her, kissing her below. His tongue slips within her folds, his lips suckle the tight bundle of over-sensitive nerves, drawing a soft moan from her. She reaches down and puts her hands over his as they hold her thighs, and he moves them so they can link their fingers together.
Arthur slides his tongue into her, as deep as he can, and flexes it, feeling her walls, pressing against them, then back out to swirl around the nub in the front. He frees one hand from her grasp and thrusts two fingers inside while his tongue provides its sweet torment.
“Arthur…” she mewls softly, a plaintive whisper, and he makes a satisfied noise in the back of his throat, a low growl that she can feel against her.
“Oh… yes…” she sighs, clutching his hand in hers, her other gripping one of her breasts.
Arthur pulls away for a second, and she squeezes his hand. “Don’t stop!”
“Need to breathe,” he gasps, then dives back in, his fingers sliding in and out, his tongue flicking and stroking until she is squirming beneath him.
Gwen digs her nails into the back of his hand and cries out his name as her climax washes over her, hot and brilliant, like a bolt of lightning flashing through her.
Arthur kisses her inner thighs, slides his fingers out, and works his way back up to her face. He kisses her stomach, the little mole between her breasts, and starts to travel sideways when he lifts his head and makes a peculiar face.
She looks down at him, watching as he screws his face up, moving his mouth this way and that. He brings his hand to his lips and withdraws a single hair, which he casually declares a “naughty bugger” before disposing of it to the rug. As he calmly resumes his activity, heading for a nipple, Gwen starts laughing.
“What?” he asks, looking up at her.
“You,” she says. “You’re just so… you.
” She chuckles again, pulling his face up to hers. “But I guess that’s one of the reasons why I love you.”
She brings his lips to hers, cupping his face between her hands, stroking his cheeks with her thumbs.
“You still have your trousers on,” she says against his lips.
“I know. That’s so wrong, isn’t it?”
“This is one of my favorite things,” Gwen says, snuggling into his arms.
“What is? Two orgasms in one night?” he asks, smirking.
She slaps his shoulder. “No, you pervert, this.
Just lying in your arms. True, it’s usually after we’ve just put some bed springs to the test, but I love how I just fit
He kisses the top of her head. “You were made for me, that’s why,” he says.
“You haven’t noticed that? We fit together perfectly. See you all tucked against me like you are? Perfect. And this…” he places his hand over her breast, “fits perfectly. Not to mention…” his eyes drift down.
Gwen hits him again, but she is giggling at him now. “So you liked Lance,” she says, changing the subject, tracing patterns on his chest with a fingertip.
“Against my better judgment, yes,” he admits. “Oh! I remember now what I was going to say. I think I figured out why he never did what I did to you out on the couch earlier.”
“Oh? And what is your brilliant theory?”
“He’s clearly gay.”
“He is not gay! We dated for almost a year!”
“Maybe he didn’t realize it yet,” Arthur shrugs.
“So tell me, then, what evidence do you have that supports your hypothesis?” she asks, leaning up on his chest to look down at him. “Did he make a pass at you or grab your balls or something?”
He pretends to think for a moment, “Well…”
“No, he didn’t.”
“Hmm, let me see… Well, he dresses like a fucking catalog model, for one.”
“He dresses well. Always has.”
“He speaks French.”
French,” she rolls her eyes at him.
“Salmon and white wine at dinner?”
“He likes to eat healthily.”
“Kissing on both cheeks?”
“He has a soft, limp handshake.”
“Arthur, you’re being ridiculous. He’s not gay.”
“He’s a total poof. His fucking eyebrows
are even like, groomed, or something.”
Gwen just sighs. “Go to sleep. We need to get up early if we’re going to make this place presentable tomorrow.”
“Yes, because if there’s one thing that gay guys hate, it’s filth.”
Part 34: link