Part 14: link
“William Gaius’ office, Gwen speaking, may I help you?” Gwen réponses the phone pleasantly Monday morning.
“Gwen, sorry to call toi at work,” Freya’s voice comes across the line.
“Freya! Is something wrong?” Gwen replies, voice slightly hushed.
“No, no, I was just hoping we could do lunch today. I want to see toi before toi go, toi know. And I figured a weekday lunch wouldn’t take toi away from Mr. Wonderful the Kinky Punk.”
Gwen clamps her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter. “Fray! Don’t do
that! Yes, come pick me up at 12:30.”
“Great. See toi then.”
As soon as she hangs up the phone, it rings again. Going to be one of those Monday mornings, I see.
She sighs, plasters a smile on her face, and réponses the phone again. “William Gaius’ office, Gwen speaking, may I help you?”
12:29, and Gwen presses the button to vers l'avant, vers l’avant any calls to the answering service for the suivant hour. She heads for the door and finds Freya waiting outside.
“Hey, Ducks,” Freya calls, hugging her friend when she approaches.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” Gwen sighs.
“Fun morning, hey?”
“Phone would not
stop ringing. It’s like everyone in the world knows I’m going on vacation so they are choosing to abuse me for the suivant two days.”
“Your boss, too?”
“No, actually, he’s great. I like working for him. He’s like… everyone’s Granddad.”
“Must be nice. My boss is a prick.”
“Yeah. toi need to find another job.”
Freya exhales, “Yeah, not that easy.”
“Leon is looking for a new bouncer at The Dragon’s Head,” Gwen teases.
Freya laughs. “You think I’d qualify?”
They reach their favori café and Gwen looks at her friend, who is just as petite as she.
“Right. The current bloke is bigger than both of us combined, Fray.”
They are shown to a table. “So why is he not, um, bouncing anymore?”
“He got accepted at Scotland Yard. Started training today, actually.”
“Is he cute?”
“Very. In fact, all of Arthur’s Friends are quite dashing.”
“And why haven’t I met them yet?” Freya demands.
“Sorry,” Gwen simply apologizes, having no excuse. “I’ve been neglecting you, I know.”
“Hell, if I was getting what toi were, I’d neglect me, too,” Freya says dryly. “It’s all right, love. As long as toi promise me that I will
get to meet them. I’d like my pick of the litter, toi know,” she laughs.
The waitress arrives and takes their orders, which they give despite not having even glanced at the menu.
“So how are
things with Arthur, anyway?”
“Mostly really good,” Gwen says, taking a drink.
“Mostly? He buggered it up already?”
“Well, let’s just say I’m dealing with a bit of a protective man…”
Exhausted, Gwen strides into Excalibur, straight back towards Arthur. She goes right to a jar filled with M&Ms on his counter, opens it, grabs a large handful, and flops into Arthur’s tattooing chair, popping a half-dozen ou so into her mouth.
“Bad day?” he asks, leaning down to Kiss her. “Mmm, chocolat kiss.”
“Not bad, just busy. The world is torturing me because I’m going on vacation. Phone would not stop ringing. I am sodding tired of being friendly and helpful.”
Arthur squeezes her shoulders, rubbing the tense muscles.
“I had to tattoo a cute fluffy chiot on a big hairy fat bloke’s arse today,” he leans over and whispers in her ear, s’embrasser her neck.
Gwen laughs suddenly and loudly at Arthur’s remark, leaning vers l'avant, vers l’avant in the chair. “You did not!” she exclaims.
“I could not make that up,” he says, his eyes twinkling at her laughter. “Gwaine, back me up here: Bum puppy, yes ou no?”
“’Fraid so, Sparrow. Our Drag was a trooper, though. Kept his lunch down and everything.”
“Oh, bloody hell, toi win,” Gwen says, still laughing.
Arthur takes her empty hand and lifts her to her feet. “Come on. I’ll take toi to McDonald’s. What we both need right now is disgusting nourriture with no nutritional value whatsoever.”
Seated uncomfortably in the orange molded plastic chairs, they munch their thin burgers and greasy fries.
“You were right. This is just what the doctor ordered,” Gwen says, popping a fry into her mouth.
“Hey, if it’s one thing I know, it’s camelote, indésirable food,” he winks at her, taking a drink of his chocolat milkshake.
She laughs, and watches him, taking a moment to observe him for a change. Still wondering what he would look like with his normal blonde hair,
she muses. Maybe one day. I wouldn’t change him, though. Not that he’d let me, anyway. And his sweet personality really does make him plus attractive, too. Not that he needs any help there, really.
A mother with two small children sit at the suivant table, tableau as Gwen studies Arthur, and soon it becomes apparent that she is not the only one scrutinizing him.
Arthur glances over and waves at the four-year-old girl who cannot stop staring at him, no matter how many times her mother clucks and fusses that it’s impolite and she shouldn’t do.
The girl, caught par him, ducks her head and looks away, blushing. Arthur chuckles and takes a bite of his Big Mac.
“I’m sorry,” the mother says, spooning some applesauce into the mouth of the other child, who is just a baby.
“Completely fine. Nothing wrong with a little healthy curiosity,” he says, smiling at the little girl, who blushes again.
Gwen smiles, enjoying watching Arthur play with the child across the narrow aisle.
“Didn’t that hurt?” the girl suddenly gets Rebelle enough to ask.
“Rebecca!” her mother scolds.
Arthur waves her off with a smile, saying, “Didn’t what hurt?”
“When they put that ring on your nose. Did it hurt?”
“Yeah. But toi know what? It mostly made me want to sneeze.”
She giggles at this. “Don’t toi get bogeys all over it?”
The mother is now looking like she wants to crawl under the table, and Gwen gives her a sympathetic smile. “It’s okay,” she tells her, “he really doesn’t mind.”
Arthur laughs. “Only when I have a cold. Then I just take it out.”
“You can take it out?”
“Of course I can. It’s like an earring, except it’s in my nose.”
“Do bogeys leak through the hole when toi take it out?”
“Rebecca!” her mother exclaims again, but Arthur is laughing so hard now that she cannot help but stifle a laugh herself.
“The hole is very small. toi know what, though?” He leans way over, close to the girl. “Sometimes I try to blow snot bubbles through it if I have a runny nose.”
Gwen leans back and laughs, and Rebecca’s eyes get as wide as two blue and white saucers. Then she starts giggling, covering her face with her little hands.
“You are too cute,” Gwen says to him quietly, smiling her smile at him.
“No, I’m not,” he protests, trying not to smile.
“You are and toi know it.”
Pretty soon Rebecca is vying for Arthur’s attention again. “Hey. Man,” she calls to him.
“Yes?” he asks, not surprised at all that she has plus questions for him.
“How do toi make your hair do that?” She points.
Her mother just sighs now.
“You mean stick up like this?” She nods. “I use glue.”
“You do not!” she exclaims.
“I do. Not very good glue. The kind that washes out,” he shrugs, grinning at her.
“Can I touch it?”
“Rebecca, no. Leave them alone now,” her mother says.
“It’s all right, she can,” he says. “She’s not bothering us at all, I promise.”
“In fact, I’m actually rather enjoying this,” Gwen says, chuckling.
“Very well. But quickly,” she sighs. “And wipe your hands.”
Rebecca clutches a napkin briefly, scrubbing her hands on it, then scoots down from her siège and gingerly approaches Arthur. He obligingly bends his head down to her, and she reaches up, slowly, almost losing her nerve, and pokes his hair with a single finger. She squeals and runs back to her siège while Arthur laughs merrily at her.
“Say thank you, Rebecca,” her mother quietly reminds her.
“Thank you, Man,” she says.
“You’re welcome, Rebecca,” Arthur says, winking at her.
Gwen is smirking at Arthur across the table, highly amused. Her mind cannot help but drift to thinking about a future Arthur, Arthur the father, teasing and laughing and playing with their own child.
Across the aisle they hear Rebecca’s voice again, this time addressing her mother. “Mummy, can I—”
“No, toi may not
get your hair cut like that,” her mother cuts in, knowing exactly what her daughter is about to ask.
Arthur nearly sprays milkshake all over Gwen. When he recovers, he looks over and says, “Rebecca, it would really be a shame to do something like this,” he points to his Mohawk, “to your beautiful golden hair.”
“But I like your hair.”
“I like yours. It’s very pretty.”
She blushes, hiding again.
“Did toi see Guinevere’s hair? Hers is long and curly like yours, but it’s just a different color. And isn’t hers pretty, too?”
Rebecca looks. “Yes. I like hers, too,” she nods eagerly, and he knows he’s convinced her.
“Good,” Arthur nods. Then he looks to the mother and says, “Sorry,” grinning sheepishly at her.
“That’s all right. Thank toi for talking her out of it.”
“I figured I’d better, since it was kind of my fault.”
“Good thing my hair looks decent today,” Gwen mutters, laughing at Arthur and his predicament.
“Your hair always looks lovely, Sweet,” he says, picking up her hand and s’embrasser it.
“You are too biased to accurately judge,” she tells him, but she is smiling at him. She’s been playing with her fries for the last several minutes, clearly done with her food.
“Done?” Arthur asks, pointing to her food.
“Help yourself, Man,” she teases.
He laughs and grabs the last handful of fries, shoving them all into his mouth at once. Why do men insist on stuffing their mouths full with every bite?
Gwen thinks, remembering that her brother and father have similar eating habits. One of the few things Mum and I agreed upon. They were pigs.
Arthur finishes and stands to throw the waste in the bin. He returns to the table, tableau for Gwen and the rest of his rather large milkshake, and as he passes Rebecca and her mother and baby brother, he crouches down beside her.
“It was nice meeting you, Rebecca. I’m glad toi weren’t afraid to ask me questions.”
“Are toi and your wife going accueil now?” Rebecca asks.
Arthur smiles. No point in correcting the girl.
“Yes. Be a good girl for your mother,” he says, holding his hand out. She takes it and shakes it earnestly, and he winks at her again.
“My name is Arthur,” he laughs, standing and putting his hand on haut, retour au début of her head, stroking her hair once in a friendly way.
“Sorry, she’s always so full of questions,” the mother apologizes again.
“She’s fabulous,” Arthur says. “I had a great time.”
“Does that happen to toi often?” Gwen asks when they return to his flat. She tosses her overnight bag into his room and comes back out to rejoindre him in the living room, bending to give Iggy a pat while he dozes in his bed. “You know, little kids with questions?”
“Um, not as much as I would like it to, actually,” he answers, pulling her against his shoulder on the couch.
“That’s a strange answer,” she says, looking up at him.
“Well, which would toi prefer: the innocent curiosity of a child, ou the judgmental stare of an adult?”
He kisses her temple and runs his hand up and down her arm a few times, and they sit in comfortable silence for a bit.
“Arthur, can I ask toi something?”
Gwen sits up. “This…” she gestures to his clothing, his hair, “this look
of yours. Is it truly how toi want to look ou do toi do it to make a point? toi know, like for the shock value?”
“What kind of a question is that?” he immediately reacts, his face hurt, trying not to be angry. He scoots a little away from her.
“Just innocent curiosity, Arthur, nothing more. I promise,” Gwen says quietly, holding her hands up.
He is quiet, leaning his elbows on his knees, staring. Thinking. If anyone else had asked me that question they would have gotten punched in the face.
“That’s actually a really good question, Guinevere,” he finally says, his voice quiet.
She looks at him, and he sees the worry behind her eyes, the barest hint of hurt. I’ve upset her again.
He reaches over and gently takes her hand, pulling it into his lap. Gwen waits for him to continue.
“I guess the answer is both. At first I did it – the hair – to irk my father. We had already started butting heads about my future, and this,” he points to his hair, “was the beginning of the end, I think. I do really like it; I think it looks good. But I do get tired of the upkeep sometimes,” he admits.
Gwen reaches up and rubs the side of his head, feeling the soft blonde stubble tickling her palm. “Yes, toi could do with a touch-up.”
He chuckles a little, then continues. “Merlin and I did this. He wanted to do himself as well, but his mum vetoed it.”
“Yeah, and he’s such a mama’s boy that he acquiesced immediately. Their compromise is the spike thing he does.”
Gwen chuckles. “I think that’s sweet.”
“Yeah, it is. I’m actually a little jealous, to be honest. His mum is fantastic.”
“I’m sure she loves you, too.”
He smiles, and continues. “So, to answer your question, yes. I dress this way and look this way because I like the style. But I guess I keep up with it because I like making people think. I like challenging their perceptions. I don’t like people jumping to conclusions about me, like when your father thought he was being sly when he checked my arm for needle marks when he shook my hand…”
“Sorry about that. I saw it too. I did yell at him for that later, too.”
“Thank you. I let it go because he’s your father, of course, but it’s that kind of thing, those kinds of snap judgments that make me keep looking this way. Is that bizarre? Most people would just knuckle under, say ‘fuck it’ and give up. But it just encourages me.”
“I think I understand.”
“You grew up with a father who wanted toi to be something toi weren’t. When toi were old enough to make your own decisions, toi rebelled against that control. Took control of your own self, saying ‘fuck it’ to doing what he
wanted toi to do. So now you’re, um, sensitive about your identity, because toi had to work so hard for it. And toi challenge everyone just par looking the way toi look, daring them to question, to make a remark, just so toi can prove to them that you’re not what they think toi are. So toi can montrer them who toi really are.”
Arthur stares at her. She is the first person that has gotten it. Well, except for Merlin, who basically lived it with me.
“You do understand,” he says, smiling slowly, rubbing small circles on the back of her hand with his thumb.
“And like I a dit when I first met you: toi truly know that no one’s opinion matters but your own about how toi look and how toi live your life.”
“Well, that’s not entirely true,” he says quietly, pulling her close again.
“Your opinion matters to me.”
“More than toi probably realize, Sweet.” He bends his head and kisses her cheek.
“Oh,” she says softly, taken slightly aback par his confession.
Arthur leans further down and kisses her neck a few times, and she closes her eyes and just enjoys his attention.
“Guinevere?” he asks, his lips feathering against the skin of her neck.
“Will toi help me with my hair? You’re right, it could do with some attention.”
She laughs, sitting up. “Of course.”
Guinevere stands over Arthur, who is seated on the closed toilet lid, shaving cream on either side of his head.
“Problem?” he asks, looking up at her and seeing her biting her lower lip, razor poised in mid-air.
“Suddenly this doesn’t seem like a good idea.”
He laughs. “You’ll do fine,” he says. He reaches down and runs his hand along her leg. “If toi can do these lovely things, my head should be a piece of cake.”
“I’ve never done someone else.”
can do this, and had done. Many times. Surely toi can’t let him have that over you.”
She takes a deep breath, raises her free hand to her hair absently, forgetting that she’s already secured it back and out of the way, and leans down, lowering the razor to make contact with his head.
Arthur considers yelping, just to rattle her, but decides against it. If I do that, she really will cut me. Probably on purpose.
“So how come none of the other lads has gone to this extreme with their hair?” Gwen asks.
“Well, toi know about Merlin,” he says, speaking carefully, actually sitting on his hands to keep from doing their normal waving around while he talks. No jostling.
“Yes, but the others? Are they all acquiescing to their mums as well?”
“Ha,” he laughs. “Well, Ox clearly can’t because of the police thing, but even before that, it just wouldn’t work. Not for a proper tall Mohawk, anyway. His hair just gets big and puffy if he grows it out. Like a big white-guy afro.”
Gwen lifts the razor and laughs. “Elyan grew his hair out like that for a bit. Cut it all off when he started with the cooking, though.”
“Yeah, plus hygienic, toi know. No one wants to bit into a lovely piece of cake and find a big old hair in it.”
“Yuck.” He sticks his tongue out. “You’re doing an excellent job, Sweet. toi have a much plus delicate touch than Merlin.”
“Certainly hope so,” she says, reaching with the other hand to fold his ear down to shave behind it.
“And Gwaine and Leon, well, those two blokes could do shampoo adverts.”
Guinevere drops her hand, laughing.
“Honestly, have toi seen them? It’s like they have a competition going for who has the shiniest, most flowing hair.”
Gwen continues to laugh, rinsing the razor again. “Well, Gwaine has the shiny thing down, but Leon has those curls,” she says, still chuckling.
He looks at her, raising an eyebrow.
“I mean, if toi like that kind of thing,” she says, smirking.
“That’s what I thought,” Arthur says smugly.
“Has anyone ever told toi not to hassle a woman with a blade in her hand?”
“Ah. Yes. And toi still have half my head to go, don’t you?”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
“Guinevere,” he cajoles, drawing her name out, playing his trump card.
Gwen smiles, studying the remaining side of his head. She steps vers l'avant, vers l’avant and sits, straddling his lap.
“Hello,” he says, a lazy smile spreading over his face.
She reaches up to continue her work on the other side, finding it easier now that she’s gotten used to what to do. Her left hand cradles the completed right side of his head, fingers feeling the smooth skin there.
As Gwen raises herself slightly to reach further back, Arthur’s hands come up to hold her lightly, sliding against the fabric of her dress. Her breasts are tantalizingly close to his face, but he dare not move, even though all he can think of is pressing his lips to the soft flesh.
“I know what you’re thinking, Arthur, and I don’t advise it at this point in time.”
“It’s damn tempting, toi know.”
“I do. But I’m almost done.” She drops back down, kisses him once, and climbs off. “Turn.”
He does, and she finishes the back.
“Your roots are starting to show,” she comments.
“Might leave it.”
“It would be a cool two-toned look for a while, wouldn’t it?”
“Arthur, really,” Gwen says, leaning back.
“Perhaps not, then. I’ll take care of it when you’re in Chicago.”
Gwen leans in, turning his head this way and that. “There. I think you’re sorted.”
“Thank you. Now come back here,” he says, pulling her back into his lap, where he briefly buries his face in her cleavage, bestowing lightly biting kisses while she giggles, her hands once again holding his head.
“Arthur!” she exclaims, her increasing laughter only encouraging him.
He lifts his head finally. “Shower,” he says simply, grinning like a devil before s’embrasser her hungrily.
“Shower?” she pulls away and repeats.
“Yep. Time to shower. And you’re joining me.”
Part 16: link