|The Dating Game II: Exhibitionist
Author: Guede Mazaka
“Must’ve had a plump back end.” Tilting his head, Lancelot peered more closely at the exaggerated curve of the armor. He was fiddling with his tie under the guise of absentmindedness, but the way he let the ends slip slowly through his fingers had a suspicious deliberateness to it. Not to mention at least three people had had a close encounter with a halberd because they were distracted by how his arse seemed to be curving out for a pat of the hand.
Or something else, but the glossy museum flier the greeter at the entrance had shoved at Arthur wouldn’t work nearly well enough. Also, he reminded himself, Lancelot had promised to not get them banned from the Met, and so far he hadn’t done anything concrete to break his word. Therefore Arthur had no solid ground on which to base any possible complaints.
“Think they had Freud back then?” Now Lancelot was reading the information plaque for the Renaissance-era ceremonial armor. His tie rapidly flipped back and forth between his fingers before suddenly unknotting in a bizarre thumb-twist. For a moment he let it lie, but very soon he was running his fingers up and down it. “Seem to have spent a lot of energy protecting their arses. And it must’ve been uncomfortable as hell to ride in.”
“That one wasn’t for riding. Probably the most anyone ever did in it was walk from one end of the throne room to the other.” Arthur did his best to ignore Lancelot’s teasing. He slipped the flier into a waste-can before his reflexes took over and cast about for the exhibit in which he was actually interested.
In which he was currently interested. The Arms and Armor room was always a secret favorite of his, but he’d seen it so many times that he could pick out the newest pieces to be rotated in merely by standing at the door and noting the location of glints. At the moment, the Met was having a special exhibit of rare early Dark Age cavalry armor—in fact, those helmets sticking out behind the katanas should be the beginning of it.
Tie fully undone and flapping about his neck, Lancelot sauntered beside Arthur as if he owned the museum. “Armor. I would’ve thought you’d spend all your time in the Cloisters.”
“Do I look like the medieval type?” Arthur idly asked, stooping over a case of broadswords. He admired the detailed engraving on one of the blades; if he was correct, it was a form of early British writing and it had been done so skillfully that the lettering almost appeared to be a watermark in the steel.
“Well…” The heat of Lancelot’s thigh briefly seeped into Arthur’s leg as the other man bumped them together. Very nonchalantly, as if they were doing nothing more than jostling for a good view. “You can be rather chivalrous. And I’ve never seen so many editions of the Bible in my life—you’ve got what, a yard and a half of shelves for them?”
Over in the corner was a reconstructed suit of what a nomadic warrior from around the Black Sea would have worn. Or at least that was how the plaque identified it, but the wording was interestingly vague, and to Arthur’s eye the armor was obviously from further east. “I’ve got that many because philosophers right up to and including modern times frequently based entire political systems on two or three lines from the Bible. And you can trace quite a few ideological wars to two people quoting the same passage from different versions of it.”
“Wonder why they keep bothering to use it, then,” Lancelot snorted. His tone was light, but some old quarrel echoed beneath it.
Arthur glanced at him and he stared back, one eyebrow slightly higher than the other in a half-serious dare to comment. Then he shrugged and smiled, nudging Arthur along with his shoulder. “Guin thinks you’re adorable when you run on about philosophy. I might agree with her, incredibly enough.”
Somehow that compliment emerged from Lancelot’s mouth as a vague insult. He wandered on to examine a pair of swords hanging on the wall, nodding approvingly at them. They were by far not the most ornamented or elegant ones in the room, but they had an efficient, brisk air to them that made up for the lack of visual appeal.
An unkind little voice in Arthur’s head added that they also wouldn’t compete with Lancelot’s face for attention. Previously it had sounded like his old headmaster, but recently he’d noticed it taking on a distinct tinge of Guinevere. “I wouldn’t have assumed you were the museum type.”
“I’m not. This—” Lancelot swept out an arm and made his coat dramatically whirl “—depresses me. It’s all so carefully preserved, carefully handled and framed and so everyone forgets about the complete shite of a world it came from.” He held the oddly sober pose for a second before dropping hands in pockets and rocking back on his heels, all sly humor again. “Had a medieval case once. Cracked nobleman from Italy—he was running drugs and he had a disagreement with his logistics man. Cut off the poor bloke’s head with the family sword. Now that’s what these are, and not this…shininess.”
“So what are you doing here?” Arthur asked, a bit stung. Though he could see Lancelot’s point, he would’ve thought the man would have at least respected the history and the knowledge preserved in the artifacts.
Lancelot looked slantwise at Arthur, then sank back to stand flat-footed and chin lifted. He was still grinning, but now it had a faint, inexplicable hint of deprecation to it. A fragmented example of chain-mail horse’s armor seemed to draw his eyes away, but a moment later he was flicking his eyes at Arthur’s face, checking their shoes, wandering over the wall behind them. Finally he settled down and sighed himself into stillness. “Wondering what the hell you’re doing here. It’s very…military.”
He said the last word very quietly, gaze scanning Arthur’s face as if he were little fearful of Arthur’s reaction. It was an understandable wariness, even if it stung Arthur in an entirely different way. Suddenly he wanted very badly to wrap his fingers in the ends of Lancelot’s tie and just stare at the man, feeling the way Lancelot’s chest would rise and fall against the back of his hand.
Instead, Arthur turned around and looked about the room. “I don’t think you can take strategy out of life, no matter what your lifestyle. It’s not something I can shut off—for that matter, it’s not something that in and of itself is wrong, and it can produce some beautiful things. Or it can make hell on earth. I like coming here because I can see both its potential for good and for evil. A sword has two edges, after all. It’s a useful reminder.”
After a moment, Lancelot apparently judged Arthur to be all right for the time being. He even went so far as to snicker. “Of how knights used to be great clunking bastards in prissy gold-plated suits?”
The corners of Arthur’s mouth insisted on pulling up, though his voice remained sufficiently obedient to sound disapproving. “Now you’re just being provocative.”
“Why, yes. Yes, I am.” Lancelot slouched a few inches closer and eyed Arthur through lowered lashes. “Is it working?”
Arthur suddenly had the urge to roll his eyes, which he hadn’t had in…actually, he didn’t think he could remember. He finally spotted what he’d been searching for and began walking towards it; they had another twenty minutes before the museum traffic began to pick up enough to annoy. It should be enough. And Arthur should be blushing—he was feeling vaguely uneasy, as if his skin were an ill-tailored suit, but far less than he normally would. “How’s the case with Morton?”
“Down to the labwork. Forensics says they couldn’t recover enough usable DNA to put him there. Guin’s going back tomorrow night to look over the place again, see if they missed anything. Doubtful—I was around for most of evidence collection, and they went over the place with a fine-toothed comb…” When they stepped out of the exhibit and into the side-hall, Lancelot started to look suspicious again. He grabbed Arthur’s sleeve and pulled them into a nearby restroom. “What’s the hurry?”
Instead of answering, Arthur walked into the stall farthest from the door. His shoes clicked rather loudly on the floor, so he should have ample warning if anyone else walked inside.
“Arthur? Arthur! Damn it, you had better not be stonewalling me—I get my fill of that at woooo—” Lancelot shut up on that ragged note and stared as Arthur backed him up against the door. He raised a tentative hand. “What are you—”
Arthur didn’t slap it away, but he did make it clear that he wanted it and its partner against the wall. He leaned in that extra inch and pressed harder on Lancelot’s wrists, lips before letting go and dropping to his knees. It felt awkward to merely undo the other man’s trousers, so Arthur rushed that a bit and felt even more ridiculous about things. But then—typical, no underwear—he had a simple, straightforward problem to handle and he did so. The first few swallows he took slowly, letting rusty muscle-memory guide his mouth till he could brush the cobwebs off his more exact recollections. Then he took a breath, braced his hands on Lancelot’s suddenly trembling legs and shoved forward till he could feel the back of his throat protesting.
Fingers groped at Arthur’s hair and he promptly drew back. The word was lumpy and ill-balanced in his mouth, but somehow it came out without him making a fool of himself. “Wall.”
The retort never made it out of Lancelot’s eyes, dying before it came close to landing on his tongue. He started to put his hand back, but he did it rather slowly and so Arthur was delicately licking at the tip of his cock before his palm had quite found the wall. It did then, and with a ringing smack. “Oh, Christ…”
A little teeth, and then a not-quite perfect imitation of that devastating tongueflick-swallow Guinevere could do. Lancelot’s head went back and he staggered, slid down the wall an inch and of course that much further into Arthur’s mouth; Arthur briefly gagged, swallowed through it and sped up. He pushed his heels down on Lancelot’s legs to make the man straighten and then, when that produced an interesting change in moan, started to knead Lancelot’s thighs. Rubbed his fingers up and down in time to the working of his mouth. Let his longest fingers drag a little behind and then drift up farther, crawling over the rumpling top of Lancelot’s trousers to tickle bare skin.
“Oh, my God. Where the hell did you—oh God. God fucking god harder…” Lancelot spilled his speech like the syllables were drops from a brimming cup held by a shaking hand. He scrabbled at the wall, fingers frantic flickering things on the very edge of Arthur’s peripheral vision. Then Lancelot whimpered and grabbed for the top edge of the door, clung to it and bucked a few times.
Arthur took that to mean he was nearly done and, instead of backing off as Lancelot appeared to assume he would, tightened his lips around Lancelot’s prick and treated it like he would a straw floating in a thick milkshake. His hands felt the shudder start deep in Lancelot’s legs and quickly race up the man’s body, while his mouth was busy ignoring the bitterness of Lancelot’s come.
“Christ,” Lancelot repeated, dangling from his grip on the door-top. He continued to stare at the ceiling while Arthur stood up and checked his knees for dirt—none, thankfully—then redid the front of Lancelot’s trousers. “Christ. I actually could see you on horseback, giving orders.”
“Replace the horse with an unmarked van and you wouldn’t be too far off,” Arthur quietly said. He lifted a hand to Lancelot’s face, cupped it and ran his thumb over the cheekbone so Lancelot turned to look at him. “You and Guin do realize what you’re doing when you say you—”
The reaction Lancelot wanted to have was sarcastic, but for once he suppressed it. He closed his eyes and nuzzled at Arthur’s hand. “Yes, we do.” Then the inevitable comment broke loose from the curb Lancelot had on it, but he softened it with a nibble at Arthur’s fingertips. “Someday you’re going to believe me the first time I say something, and I’ll die of shock.”
“I wanted to make sure it wasn’t only how rushed the mess with Cerdic…why aren’t you—oh.” Now Arthur did roll his eyes. “You can move your hands. Though I’m certain you knew that already.”
“I did, but it’s much more fun to make you admit it,” Lancelot purred, swinging forward to switch stall door for Arthur’s neck. He curled his fingers into Arthur’s hair and dragged him down for a hungry kiss.
When they came up for air, Arthur had a reluctant smile edging onto his face. “You’re positively insatiable.”
“Well, you know…hard to tell when the feast might end.” Lancelot abruptly looked away from Arthur after he’d said that, chewing his lip. He hadn’t sounded nearly as flippant as he’d obviously wanted to.
Arthur lost the smile, but gained a little bit of insight. He leaned forward and feathered his lips over Lancelot’s temple; a soft wisp of air sighed from the other man’s mouth and he turned back for another long kiss. His hand slid down to curve around Arthur’s neck, and his back bent into the palm Arthur was stroking up and down it.
After a while, Lancelot backed off enough to reveal the return of his jauntiness. “Hmm…you know, I hear there’s a lovely modern metal-sculpture exhibit over at the Guggenheim. And after the first time you have public sex in a place, it gets much easier to do it—”
Sometimes it seemed like the only way to shut Lancelot up was to block his mouth with a tongue. Though to be honest, Arthur didn’t mind that at all…and it did keep at bay the creeping awareness that yes, he had just guaranteed that he’d blush any time the Met was mentioned for the rest of his life. Oh, God, he’d—
--in a moment. He was still busy with Lancelot’s mouth.