|The C-Word I: Scouting the Territory
Author: Guede Mazaka
Lancelot ran to the railing and nearly threw himself over it in trying to catch sight of the suspect. He spotted the man scrambling down a nearby staircase, scanned around for a quick intercept and saw a chandelier right above where the bastard would be in five seconds.
“Don’t! That’s priceless! It’s on loan from the Louvre!” the curator yelled, coming down the hall.
Cursing, Lancelot jerked his hand from his gun and instead hopped up onto the rail. He swayed, then leaped for the broad marble rail of the stairway and let gravity and the smooth soles of his dress shoes do the rest.
The suspect looked back, saw Lancelot skating down like a maniac towards him and panicked. Threw up his hands—a little late for that, wasn’t it—and screamed something. At the last moment he realized he could still dodge sideways and started to spin, so when Lancelot finally collided with him, he hit the man’s arm first. Got a nail scraping up his cheek; he jerked away from it just in time to crack elbow- and foot-first into the floor. The rest of him was nicely padded by the other man’s body, so when Lancelot rolled off he wasn’t feeling too bad. His suit was badly mussed, but otherwise he seemed to be—
--and there went his foot, sliding out from under him as his ankle exploded. He smacked down on his ass right as Guinevere skidded to a stop beside him. Of course, she didn’t have a hair out of place…because she’d stolen his goddamn hair gel earlier. “Well, skater-boy, how are we feeling?”
“Tip-top.” Lancelot ignored her and crawled over to the moaning man who’d just ruined his week. A bit of checking showed that he wasn’t much more than bruised, and while Lancelot was tempted to rectify that, he supposed there couldn’t be an indictment without someone to indict.
Meanwhile, Guin had knelt down to start poking at Lancelot’s ankle. She picked it up and carefully pulled off the shoe, then rotated it very gently. Nothing hurt, and Lancelot was beginning to think maybe it’d just been a fluke when she suddenly pressed her fingers into something that made him hiss and kick her over. “Ow!”
“Ow? You nearly twisted off my foot!” he snapped. He pulled up his trouser-leg to have his own look and was greeted by an ugly blue-green swelling around the joint, which rather resembled Guin’s face once she’d slapped on a seaweed mask.
“Sprained,” she confirmed. Her smile wasn’t quite sympathetic. “Looks like you’re stuck home for a bit.”
* * *
8 A. M.
It was nice to be able to sleep in an extra hour, and to be able to roll from bed into one of Arthur’s buttondowns and sweats, but having to use a crutch to get downstairs was an utter pain. Twice Lancelot barked his shins with the damn thing, and once it slipped out to leave him clinging desperately to the rail. He finally gave up, threw the useless piece of shite to the bottom and then scooted himself down after it. No one was around to see, after all.
Unfortunately, Guinevere was still in the kitchen and judging by her smile, she’d only needed to hear to figure out what had been going on. She handed him a plate of breakfast and followed up with a tart comment, like the tart she was. “You and rise and shine don’t seem to have much acquaintance. Need me to help with anything?”
“You could stick your head in the oven. There’s a good girl.” Lancelot leaned against the island and looked at the refrigerator. He really would have liked a glass of milk, but getting that either meant asking Guin, who was looking as if she’d like to stab him with her fork, or fumbling towards it on the stupid crutch. In front of Guinevere.
“It’s electric. How about I collect your undone write-ups so you can do them tomorrow? That’s a good, proper girl for you.” She stuffed the last of her pancakes in her mouth, then turned to rinse the plate in the sink. “Oh, Arthur’s staying home to work today, so you’ll have someone to pester.”
That was…sweet and vaguely annoying of him. But the pros of having him around very quickly outweighed the cons and Lancelot began eating with a lighter heart, if still with a dry mouth. It tasted as if Arthur had made the pancakes, too. “Where is he?”
“Went out to do a bit of grocery-shopping.” Guinevere wiped off her hands on a rag before coming over to Lancelot. She stared till he lifted his head and arched an eyebrow.
“What?” If he were insane, he’d say she looked worried.
Slow as honey, she leaned forward till their noses were touching. Her hand landed on his back, then moved languidly up and down to trace the lines of his muscles. “Lancelot? I’ve told Arthur to call if he needs me to come back and make you shut up. And I have two very important meetings today, so I don’t want to come back.” Then she stood back and smiled, pleasant as a grandmother offering another cookie. “Is that clear?”
“So no good-bye kiss?” Well, that was a relief. If Guin ever started acting like she cared, Lancelot would think she was really planning to kill him. He grinned as irritatingly as he could and stuck a piece of food in his mouth, chewing loudly.
“Only at your funeral,” she snapped, stalking towards the door. Halfway there she stopped, scooped something from the chair and flung it at him.
Normally he’d catch it without any problems, but she’d thrown it at his sprained side. When he stretched out to grab it, the crutch slipped out from under his arm. Which meant he automatically started to grab for that too, and then the bloody thing tangled in his knees, and the upshot of the whole thing was that Lancelot ended up aching on the floor while Arthur stared down at him and Guin cackled her way out the front door.
After a moment, Arthur shifted all his plastic bags to one hand and offered his freed one. “Are you all right?”
“Perfect. I’m just going to rig up the kitchen knives to behead her when she walks back in tonight, if you don’t mind.” Lancelot took the hand and between it and the edge of the counter, managed to get himself back on his feet. He flapped his shirt straight and got himself into a chair before gravity decided to abuse him any more. It really wasn’t fair—he wasn’t the one who went about in teetering fuck-me heels…
Arthur apparently decided Lancelot was joking and began to put away the groceries. While dealing with the onions, he stumbled over Lancelot’s crutch. “Don’t you want this?”
“Do I want it? No. Do I—just give me the damn thing.” He yanked it from Arthur and banged it onto the seat next to him. The pancakes were very good, but they were making Lancelot thirstier by the second.
Well, it was Arthur, and Arthur didn’t gloat. “And…could you get me a glass of milk?”
It appeared by Lancelot’s elbow a second later. Then Arthur passed behind him to put away the canned foods, which incidentally made him bend over right in Lancelot’s line of sight. “Did you want anything else?”
“Besides Guin’s head and a good ankle?” Lancelot pretended to consider the matter while Arthur stood up. When the other man made to cross behind him again, he pushed the chair around and hooked his fingers through Arthur’s belt-loops. “Possibly. So you’re staying home?”
“Yes…” Arthur warily watched Lancelot’s fingers crawl up his front towards his tie, which he would wear even though he wasn’t headed for the office. He lifted off Lancelot’s fingers and folded his hand around them so they couldn’t grab anything else. “To do some proofreading.”
Pity for him that Lancelot’s other hand was free to grab Arthur’s arm. He faked a loss of balance that had Arthur grabbing for him and used the opportunity to get up on his knees on the chair. “And that’ll take you the whole day?”
“With you around it will,” Arthur muttered, ducking his head to take Lancelot’s mouth with a surprising savagery, given the hour. Usually he put up a fight till lunch, at least.
Not that Lancelot was protesting. On the contrary, he was hooking his arm around Arthur’s neck and encouraging with his tongue and generally—oh, now there was a nice match-up of rising pricks and thighs. He grinned and pressed up into it, which made Arthur’s breath catch in Lancelot’s mouth.
“Is that my shirt?” Arthur asked, shifting to Lancelot’s neck. He let go of Lancelot’s hands and his fingers finally started to drift southwards.
Lancelot groped about till he found Arthur’s waistband and worked his hand beneath it. “It’s a nice shirt. It looks good on me.”
“You think everything looks good on you.” Every word was a nip at Lancelot’s throat, leaving a tingling behind that Arthur’s tongue bathed into a low shiver.
“Well, if you want it back all you have to do is take it off,” Lancelot said, nuzzling at Arthur’s ear. He sucked the soft lobe into his mouth and tugged at it, then—
--Arthur stopped. More specifically, he stopped by squeezing Lancelot’s arse and jerking up his head to stare at the kitchen window. While the first one was quite welcome, the second wasn’t. “What?”
Instead of answering him, Arthur completely stopped. That was, he let go of Lancelot and went to the back-door so Lancelot got another nice look at his arse, only in a much less satisfying context than that which they’d been engaged in creating a second ago. “Tristan?”
Something rustled, and then Tristan’s face appeared on the other side of the screen. “You were busy. I can come back after my afternoon class.”
And of course Arthur wasn’t going to take that. Lancelot sat back down and put his head in his hands. No, no, I’ve got a moment now, he mouthed.
“No, I’ve got a moment now,” Arthur said. Accommodating cocktease.
* * *
9:30 A. M.
Tristan’s interruption had given Arthur enough time to recover his senses, so that meant he’d paused to peck Lancelot on the lips and then had fled to the library to do work. While Lancelot finished his breakfast with only the newspaper to keep him company. The weekday comics weren’t that amusing, and reading the obituaries was only fun if Guinevere was around to mock the euphemisms with him.
He pointedly did not wash the dishes, though he did limp-carry them over to the sink. Anything upstairs was out of the question since that would’ve involved trusting the stupid crutch too much, and that particular object had already proved it hated Lancelot. Which left…Lancelot hobbled around till he found where he’d dropped his keys and looked at the smaller ones that were for those mysterious lockboxes Arthur had scattered about the house. The nearest one was in the same room, so Lancelot gratefully tossed his glorified walking stick onto a couch and got down on his knees.
The lockbox was tucked behind the bound editions of some philosophical journal that felt like they were made out of solid gold. After hefting them aside, Lancelot let himself flop on the carpet and took a short break.
Whereupon Arthur, displaying his talent for walking in at exactly the wrong time, entered the room. Curiously, he was so intent on something that he seemed to completely miss Lancelot’s spastic jerk upright. “Oh, that’s where you went.” Going over to a statue that Guin had identified as a highly marketable piece of goods. “Sorry, did I interrupt something?” Knocking off its head against the sofa arm. “Or did you need anything?”
Lancelot blinked, then shook himself so his brain would get over the surprise. He watched as Arthur pulled out a handful of papers from his very high-quality fake, frowned at them, and then stuffed them back into the cavity. “No. What’s that?”
“A small replica of a—”
“No, the papers. What, did Tristan come with more bad news?” Now that Lancelot was thinking about it, Tristan usually came in the front door when he was on a regular visit. When he showed up in the shrubbery was when Guin started to gnaw on her lip and obsessively check up on the big criminals in town. Though Lancelot wasn’t nearly that paranoid, he also wasn’t a fool. “What’s going on?”
And as usual, Arthur said, “Nothing. I just needed to look up something.” He popped the statue’s head back on and set it on the table. Then he began to go, but something caught his attention and he paused. Stared at the statue. Put out a finger and carefully adjusted it a fraction of an inch.
Lancelot just flopped. Words couldn’t express his amusement and irritation, and anyway, Arthur wasn’t going to notice any loss of dignity in the room.
Looking thoughtful at something that wasn’t Lancelot, Arthur walked back out. “I’ll call you for lunch.”
“Mrraow,” Lancelot muttered, utterly disgusted.
* * *
11 A. M.
Well, that lockbox hadn’t held any explanations, either for whatever was currently bothering Arthur or for any of the mysterious things that had bothered him in the past. It had held some photos of faces Lancelot needed to look up later, and a packet of letters, but the writing in them was so innocent and boring that it had to be a code of some sort. Probably Arthur could read it as effortlessly as he did Latin and ancient Greek and so he hadn’t felt the need to store the key or even decoded versions with them. Yes, having the keys everything in the house was a lovely gesture on his part, but it wasn’t a very substantial one if Lancelot couldn’t fathom what was in the boxes and why it was being hidden away.
He was absently reordering things as he put them back in the box when Arthur came back in, looking a little sheepish. “Lancelot?”
“Hmm?” So the letters had been in chronological order from earliest to latest. Therefore Lancelot was going to put them latest to earliest.
“I think I might’ve brushed you off before.” Two fingers touched the back of Lancelot’s neck. They rested there a moment before stroking down his shoulder and curving round to trace slow warm circles on his back. Then Arthur moved up to kiss at the invisible lines he’d just drawn. “Sorry. Tristan tends to throw me out of whatever mood I’m in when he shows up.”
His kisses were beginning to make the heat gather in Lancelot’s gut, but…no, not that easy. No matter what Guinevere said, sex did not fix everything with him. Even when that meant there was a hot mouth nudging at the back of his neck and hands smoothing round to his belly and then down…“It was a little annoying. What sent you off in such a rush?”
“Insulting to your pride, I’d imagine.” Ah, Arthur was feeling playful. And his hands were having quite a bit of fun rumpling the soft fabric of Lancelot’s worn sweats, but he still wasn’t answering the damn question.
“My pride can take more than a slight,” Lancelot sniffed, turning around to look at Arthur. He trapped the other man’s hands on the insides of his thighs. “What’d he say?”
And Lancelot’s temper needed to snap just a bit. He twisted all the way around and got Arthur up against a chair, then straddled the man so he’d stay put. “Arthur, for God’s sake. If you don’t feel like telling me the whole epic, you don’t have to. I just want something—the abridged version. Cliff’s Notes. Hell, just a ‘bit of a problem from my days of being Secret Agent Man’ would do me.”
That move had bumped Lancelot’s ankle and it was starting to ache, which didn’t help his mood. Neither did Arthur’s silent contemplation of Lancelot’s words. The other man started to raise his hand to Lancelot, but Lancelot smacked it down. “Do not be condescending to me, goddamn you. I’m already having a shit of a week and I’m not in a mood to put up with this. What the hell’s the point of giving us keys? It’s like—‘here, go off and solve the puzzle while I continue to stonewall.’”
“Lancelot.” Arthur made another try for Lancelot’s hand, got it, and yanked so Lancelot fell against him. His eyes were very somber, very nervous, and he’d just made Lancelot whack his sprained ankle against a table leg. “It’s a small carry-over from my days of working with the government.” Hesitant intake of breath. “Are you actually satisfied with that?”
“No, and damn you for sounding hopeful. Also, let go of me. My ankle hurts, and—” Lancelot tugged at his hand and for a moment, he thought he felt it slipping free, but it was just Arthur giving him slack so he’d be off-balance when the other man pulled him back. At least this time, Arthur didn’t fling him into the furniture.
Instead he took Lancelot’s face in his hands, drew a deep breath, and…tried to say something. Twice. His lips moved and a few sounds came out, but they were incoherent as if he couldn’t help strangling himself. Which was a pretty apt metaphor, come to think of it.
“I’m interrupting your work,” Lancelot coldly said. He shook off Arthur and started to climb off, only to be hauled back by the waist. “Arthur, would you just—”
“Look, even when I was working for them, I didn’t talk about what I did. No one did because the moment someone slipped up, people died.” The voice in Lancelot’s ear was fierce and urgent and full of old scars, and the way Arthur was holding onto Lancelot felt like he was trying less to keep Lancelot from going and more like he was trying to force down something dark. “This is not exactly easy for me.”
Okay. Progress. Progress that was crushing Lancelot’s ribs, but he had a feeling that now was not the time to point that out. He carefully settled himself back in Arthur’s lap and patted at Arthur’s hands. “What if I ask questions? Did someone turn up dead?”
After a moment, Arthur shook his head. His voice was still tight, but it seemed a bit more relaxed. “No.”
“Someone turn up alive?”
“Possibly.” Warm breath gusted over Lancelot’s shoulder as Arthur pressed his lips to Lancelot’s temple. His eyelashes fluttered against Lancelot’s skin as he rubbed his cheek against Lancelot’s. “I don’t know. It’ll probably turn out to be nothing, but it’s usually a bad idea not to think about what happens if it doesn’t. Is your ankle all right?”
Lancelot pried at Arthur’s fingers till he could get his own entwined with them. “It’s okay. Anyway, I don’t shoot with it.”
That got a low chuckle from Arthur, and a beat later, Arthur relaxing with a sharp shudder. He rested his head on Lancelot’s shoulder, recovering, while Lancelot considered Arthur’s hands. He pulled them down between his legs, which made Arthur laugh again, but in an entirely different tone. Soon Lancelot was arching and moaning as they finally got back to what they’d started, hands slowly working down his sweats and a mouth running over the curve of his throat. He twisted around so he could see Arthur’s face—
--and the doorbell rang. Arthur closed his eyes, sighed, and opened them to…laugh a third time at Lancelot. “Don’t do that with your face. You look twelve years old that way.”
“I feel like I’m twelve again,” Lancelot grumbled, tugging his pants back up. “World won’t let me to do anything fun.”
* * *
12:30 P. M.
Their visitor had not been Tristan, but a Slavic-looking woman who’d taken one look at Lancelot and had immediately dragged Arthur out to have a conversation too low to be overheard. Lancelot was rather aware that he looked scruffy at the moment, and so he’d retreated to the kitchen instead of making himself look ridiculous in front of Arthur.
Not that he wasn’t already a figure of ridicule, settling for so little when in all his previous relationships, he’d been the one making the demands. Why the hell did he do it?
And now the front door was closing, which mean Arthur would wander through the kitchen with a distant expression, see Lancelot and remember to toss off some vague excuse before he went back to his secretive little doings. Lancelot hauled himself onto the kitchen counter and got himself comfortable.
Arthur walked in five seconds later, thinking so hard on something that he nearly tripped over Lancelot’s crutch, which Lancelot had left leaning against the counter. He sighed and bent over to pick it up, which was how he noticed Lancelot’s foot. Then he stood up to face the rest of Lancelot. “I need to run out after lunch to mail something. Do you mind washing up by yourself?”
“Actually, yes. As you can see from my breakfast plate.” Which Lancelot pulled from the sink to show in all its unwashed glory to Arthur. “Exhibit A.” He put it back down and grabbed the edge of the counter so he wouldn’t try to punch Arthur and accidentally throw himself off. “Who the hell was that? Old college classmate? Somebody that’s got a file at my office?”
Cue Arthur-the-peacemaker. His eyes went all serious and pleading and soft, and he lifted his hands to Lancelot’s knees. “Lancelot—”
“Goddamn it, do you hear a word I say? Even Guin listens, if only so she can turn it back on me as an insult later. What the hell did we just discuss?” And at that point, Lancelot couldn’t help himself. He ripped his hand from the counter and gestured wildly to illustrate his sheer frustration. Damn him, but Arthur managed to back Lancelot into corners he didn’t even know existed. “Oh, wait, it’s hard. I have to make allowances. Do you think it’s hard being the one who’s always the bastard? Being the nasty prodding son of a bitch that won’t stop nagging you? What the fuck do you want? A monk?”
“No,” Arthur said. He sounded firm about that, at least. But then he tried to grab Lancelot’s hand.
Well, there wouldn’t be any of that. They’d already tried that route, and look how long Arthur’s memory had lasted. About as long as it’d taken Lancelot to finally succumb to the urge to just lose himself in Arthur’s body. “Oh, good. Because I am not a self-sacrificing little whore. I’m not going to put up with your shit just because it’s you. You’ve got a dirty past—fine. You don’t like talking about it—fine. But there’s what people want to know and what they need to know, and you don’t give me either, Arthur.”
Somewhere along the line, Lancelot’s other hand had joined his first in waving around in the air. Now he dropped them to Arthur’s wrists and squeezed hard. “What’s the point of letting us stay here if you don’t want us living here? I might as well get my own apartment and just show up for sex.”
“Because I do want you living here,” Arthur replied, so ferociously that Lancelot almost, almost let the whole thing drop.
Almost. “But there’s just this little thing, Arthur. This little, tiny thing. You don’t.. See, you’ve got your life before, and your life now, and they’re both in this house. They both keep showing up. And how the fuck am I supposed to deal with your life before if you don’t tell me something? It’s not going to go away—what if some day I end up killing some friend of yours because of my job? What happens if some weirdo shows up when you aren’t around and it’s only me or Guin, and we say the wrong thing? What the fuck happens if one day you don’t come home because something went wrong, and we can’t figure out what?”
Finally Arthur had gotten the message and had stopped trying to placate Lancelot. He just stood there, hands lying loosely over Lancelot’s wrists and eyes burning into Lancelot like they’d just met and he was already thinking about not letting go.
“And aside from that, do you know how condescending you are? You throw off some bloody pathetic excuse and you expect me to—what kind of Interpol agent do you think I am? You know, I could dig it all up if I really wanted to. If I really, really wanted to push it and make everything about this. But I don’t. I want this to just get dealt with and put under the table, and I want you to do it, and when the hell are you going to interrupt me?”
Arthur blinked. “What?”
“Because I’ve hit all the high points but I’m still going to keep going because that’s what I do, you idiot. But you, you let me run on and on because you think you can outwait me.” Lancelot watched himself jerking at Arthur’s hands while his mouth just kept going. He’d been bottling up a bit more than he’d thought. “You think I’ll wear myself out and forget about it like the pretty thing I am. Well, I’m not that airheaded.”
“Don’t interrupt me! You never fucking listen to me, so don’t you start now. You’re the first goddamned lover I’ve had that I think would hurt me more than I could hurt back, and do you know how fucking terrified I am on top of everything el—mmph!”
The back of Lancelot’s head hit the cabinet. He flailed for support, but only found Arthur. So he grabbed the other man, clung to him while Arthur did his damnedest to bring Lancelot’s mind to a complete stop. Which he succeeded in doing; Lancelot’s body melted downward from the burning join of their mouths and soaked into Arthur’s, his hands sticking to Arthur’s shoulders and back, his knees to the sides of Arthur’s legs.
When Arthur finally lifted his head, Lancelot couldn’t even see beyond blurry ball-shaped things. It took Arthur two tries before Lancelot understood that he was saying something.
“…name’s Sophia. I worked with her a few times, and she showed up because she wanted to know something about an African politician I had a few run-ins with. In return, she wipes my name from some files in an office in Russia.” Then Arthur pressed his forehead against Lancelot’s and breathed very slowly and roughly and shallowly, as if his lungs were filling up.
Eventually Lancelot put his hand on the back of Arthur’s neck. He pulled them closer together, then tugged till Arthur was off of him. “Thank you. Now you can go mail whatever.”
And he could sit on the counter and wonder what the hell had gotten into him.
* * *
12: 45 P. M.
Guinevere picked up on the fifth ring. *Lancelot, you jackass piece of shite. What’d you do?*
It was awkward trying to stand by the phone without putting weight on his bad ankle, so Lancelot leaned against the fridge and tried to stretch to hook the nearest chair. But the damned thing was two inches too far and he didn’t feel like falling on the floor while she could hear him. “Guin, love, I’d like you to be honest with me.”
*I am honest with you. If I were nice, then I’d be lying.* She paused, then said in a different tone: *What happened?*
“Arthur’s fine, he’s out running errands, and I am, much to your disappointment, still in one piece. I just needed to know something.” He reached up and grabbed the top edge of the fridge, lifting himself to temporarily ease the strain on his good leg. But he couldn’t hold that for too long and so had to thump back down. “Guin, what kind of person did I date before Arthur?”
She was so quiet that he nearly thought he’d kill her. However, it took more than that to level Guinevere for long. *Beautiful, stupid, shallow people that weren’t worth the trouble to dump in person. Always surprised me that you took the time to do that anyway.*
“Well, it makes it clear. Just in case they’re too stupid to understand a phone message,” Lancelot muttered. He shifted the phone to his other ear and tried again to hook the chair.
*In other words, you dated disposables,* Guin went on. *You didn’t want to be inconvenienced, and whenever one started to, you just dropped them without any hassles. Whereas Arthur is clearly not disposable and would make an utter mess of you. Also, I’d bet he’d be the one who’d do the leaving.*
Trust her to go farther than the letter of the request. “Thank you ever so much, wise Guin. They should give you a newspaper column so you can spread your counsel far and wide. It’d triple the suicide rate. I wasn’t asking about what I’m like dating Arthur.”
*If you’re going to ask for honesty—and for that matter, ask a question like that—you should expect it. And by the way, we never dated. We just skipped directly to fighting with each other. So why’d you call? Finally figure out you’re in love with him?*
“In love with him? All right, time to get back to your meetings, Guin.” And Lancelot would have hung up, except just then he looked straight in front of himself and noticed that Arthur, instead of leaving for the post office, had come back to stare at him. His foot slipped and he would’ve hit the floor if Arthur hadn’t chosen that moment to step up and pin him to the fridge.
Guinevere was laughing at him. *You are, you know. It’s rather fun to watch you completely fail to cope.*
And Arthur went down to his knees, one hand holding Lancelot’s hip to the fridge while the other loosened his tie. He didn’t speak or show any expression, but his eyes were reminding Lancelot’s bones that they were supposed to be limp. Then he pulled down Lancelot’s sweats and took Lancelot’s prick into his mouth in a single motion.
Lancelot’s bones went limp. He barely saved himself by grabbing the top of the fridge, and even then his feet were slipping. “Guin, you’re a cunt,” he wheezed.
*But I’m right. Why else would you break pattern?*
Arthur’s mouth was a hot silken constriction that drained the sense from Lancelot’s head and clamped iron bands around his breath. In two seconds it reduced him to a complete uncomprehending mess, just as Guin had predicted. His head was straining so far back that he could see the tendons stand out of his wrist, and his knees were shaking with every long suck that Arthur took. “Because…because…because Christ, I can’t help it! He’s—just—oh, God--”
*See?...wait a minute. You’re having sex with him! I can hear—Lancelot, you lying prick of a whore, you are dead the moment I get home. I’m actually helpful, and you repay me by some sick gloating prank? You fuck!* She slammed down the phone.
And Lancelot’s climax just slammed him back into the fridge. His vision blurred and he heard the refrigerator bump the counter, but mainly he was collapsing into Arthur’s hands.
They propped him up till he could manage a parody of a stand. Then Arthur sat on his heels, wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, and looked up so that Lancelot could see every raw layer in his eyes. He spoke as if he were making a final speech in a courtroom. “I love you. I’m terrified that you’ll find out something about me that’ll make you leave.”
Which took out the last shred of strength from Lancelot’s knees. He went down in a jumble, banging his head and twisting his sprain and bruising his arse for the second time in a week. And for some reason, he was still holding onto the phone.
Arthur straightened him out on the floor and crawled on top of him. “Are you all right?”
“Why do I always end up on my arse around you?” Lancelot asked. He sounded plaintive and yes, about twelve years old.
“I’m sorry for it.” Arthur leaned down and kissed him. And Lancelot dropped the phone and wrapped his arms around him, and after they stopped whining, his legs as well, and…
…Arthur’s cell rang. Lancelot yanked it out of Arthur’s pants-pocket and tossed it into the next room. “Because I love you, you frustrating idiot, so you’d better not be sorry for it. My God, if she gloats, I’ll ki—mmm…”