Francis and Gil crashed into the back alley, laughing wildly and stumbling into each other and their surroundings. Gil fell against the wall of the bar they'd just been kicked out of, downing half his remaining beer in one go before sliding to the ground, back against the wall and legs bent inelegantly in front of him. Francis slipped down next to him, stealing the beer and drinking the rest.
"Jus' not th'same wi'out Toni," Gil slurred, leaning against Francis's side. The blonde nodded, throwing the empty beer bottle in the dumpster next to him (naturally he missed, glass shattering against the metal and spraying out into the alley).
They fell silent for a long while, Francis almost passing out on Gil's shoulder while the albino stared up at the sliver of dark sky visible through the buildings, breath condensing in the cold air.
It was a testament to how drunk Francis was that he didn't start a fight over the nickname, but instead just moaned and tried to pull himself from unconsciousness. "Quoi?"
"How come you never whine about that- that- that-" He waved his hand in the air uselessly as he tried to find the right word. "That guy, that- editing guy! Yeah, that editor!"
Francis pushed against the wall to sit a little straighter. "Arthur?"
"Yeah, him!" he exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. "You never complain 'bout him 'nymore!" Gil gave a giant shrug and closed his eyes against the flickering lamplight over the bar's back door. "Jus'- us'ta be all ya talked 'bout when we're wasted like this, and few months ago- poof!" He mimed an explosion with his hands, falling forward with the momentum, then slumping backwards. "No more pissy roas' beef."
Francis groaned, pitching sideways and sprawling sideways across Gil melodramatically. "Ah, Arthur, mon cher tyran," he sighed. "He left me for a murderer."
Gil roared with laughter, shoving at Francis until he rolled onto his back, splayed over his shins. "You're pissed, man."
"That is true, but I'm serious." He sighed, putting his head to his forehead melodramatically. "He saw a muertre they took him away – without even asking me!" He sighed again, drawing it out into a song. "My new editor is nowhere near as entertaining to play with as my Arthur was."
Gil laughed even as his expression grew puzzled. "Arthur who?"
"Arthur, Arthur Kirkland, my lovely pet with the intolerable temper," he answered, throwing his head back in distress and nearly cracking his skull on the pavement. He cursed in French as Gil doubled over laughing, then pulled his legs from under Francis's prone form and wobbled to his feet.
"C'mon, lezgo hook some chicks," he ordered, pulling his friend to his feet. Francis perked up at the mention of women and completely forgot about the conversation about his old editor.
Unlike his mother and wife, Matthew did not take kindly to the news that Arthur had slept with his childhood best friend/virtual brother.
"I didn't even know he was gay," he moaned, sagging onto his kitchen table and clutching his head in his hands. Katyusha rubbed his shoulder in soothing circles, rolling her eyes behind his back and smiling apologetically at Arthur, who was leaning on the empty door frame to the hall.
"Matthew, darling, he owns Brokeback Mountain as well as The Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," Katyusha said softly. Arthur's snort was luckily drowned out by her husband's pathetic wail.
He gave up on holding his head in his hands and planted his forehead on the tabletop. "But he's had girlfriends before," he whined, muffled by the table to just above coherency.
"He's also ambidextrous," Arthur said from the sidelines. Matthew sobbed dramatically, and Arthur was hit with a sudden, intense reminder of his old client, Francis.
Arthur shifted on his feet and willed the homesick pang from his chest (for goodness sake, he didn't even like the man), and distracted himself by saying, "Look, if it bothers you that much, I'll just go." He pushed away from the door frame and turned to go back into the hallway, but Matt called him back before he could even take one step.
"No, no, it's not you, Arthur," he assured him, lifting his head from the table and sitting back, sighing and running his hands through his too-long hair. "It's just, thinking about Al having sex is like thinking about my mom having sex. It's – ugh." He shuddered, then sent a desperate look to Arthur, who nodded in understanding with a slight smile.
Katyusha chuckled and straightened from her slight crouch at her husband's side to slide into a chair. "Now, Matthew, we have to be supportive of Alfred – and Arthur, of course," she added with a nod and smile to Arthur. "If we don't, no one will."
Matt caught the subtle chastising from his wife and crossed his arms over his chest, pouting at the table. "I didn't say I was gonna reject him – it's just weird." Arthur snorted, but smiled. It certainly wasn't the worst comment he'd gotten over the years about his sexuality.
Matthew sprawled back in his chair, head tilted backward and arms dangling. Katyusha and Arthur exchanged another amused look out of his sight.
After a few calming breaths and a count to ten, he sat back up properly. "I'm okay, I'm okay, really," he said, giving Arthur a weak smile. "But can I ask you a favor, man to man?"
Arthur laughed. "Of course. Anything."
"Please, for the love of God and everything sacred in this world, please don't have sex in my house."
Arthur's face burned as he coughed into his hand, and Katyusha slapped her husband's arm for his crassness. Matt held up his hands in defense, shying away from her. "Hey, you were thinking it, too!"
Arthur figured that now would be a good time to leave the room.
At the end of that week, Alfred showed up at the golf course at the end of Arthur's shift, charming the evening bartenders (two recent college graduates who were often the only women around) and taking Arthur off of Toris's hands with a friendly wink and a guiding hand in the middle of Arthur's back.
When they got into Al's car (parked in the fire lane, once again) and drove away, Arthur finally asked him just what the hell he thought he was doing.
Al just laughed, turning out of the golf course onto the main road. "Well, I was jus' thinkin' we could go out and do somethin' fun. Figured that you might be gettin' a little bored by now."
Arthur frowned slightly. He was right, oddly enough – Arthur would have never pegged himself as the kind of person who got bored easily, but the sudden switch from the metropolis of the world to the middle of nowhere made him realize how short and fleeting his attention span had become. It was concerning, though, in that this outing of his sounded a lot like a date.
"And what if I don't want to go?" he asked after a few minutes, raising his eyebrows in a question. Alfred grinned.
"Not much of a choice, m'afraid. You're changing and we're going." He parked with a lurch in front of Matthew's house. "Now get a'fore I hafta change you m'self." Arthur fumbled the door handle open and hurried inside, Al's laughter following him through the open door.
Several hours later, the two of them left the movie theater with the rest of the audience. They bumped shoulders as they walked back to the car and talked about the action blockbuster.
"Did you see the way he took out all those bad guys at the end? Ka-blam!" Alfred said excitedly, gesturing along with his narration while Arthur smiled and sighed at his antics.
"Yes, Alfred, I saw that. I was right beside you, after all." Al smiled and shrugged a light apology, unlocking his car when they got in range of his remote control. He clicked the unlock button compulsively until Arthur snatched it from his hand to keep it from soundly like the alarm was going off. There was a brief struggle for control of the clicker until a car trying to get by honked at them and made them dash to the sidewalk to avoid getting hit. They both laughed themselves breathless, bent over on the side of the road, then managed to compose themselves and race to the car like children only to find that the car's lock system had timed out and they had to unlock it again.
Finally, they got the doors open and climbed inside, still laughing lightly. Arthur immediately turned on his seat warmer as Alfred backed out of the parking space, merging in with the Friday night at the movies parking lot crowd and taking the shortcut to the main road. Arthur sighed and sat back in his seat, smiling and utterly content.
"So, have a good time?" Al asked. Arthur glanced over to find Alfred grinning at him.
Arthur nodded. "Yes, actually, I did."
Al's grin grew. "Good. That's good." There was a pause as Al drove through the back roads of the suburbs, the radio playing quietly to fill the void. Al sang along with the pop mix, humming when he didn't know the words. Arthur couldn't stop smiling, so he ducked his head to hide the lower half of his face in his scarf.
"Thank you," he murmured after several songs and several residential miles of stop signs. Al smiled broadly, cutting himself off in the middle of a lyric.
"Aww, now, it wasn't any trouble, Arthur," he drawled, driving over a lighted highway overpass before plunging them back into darkness. Arthur smiled in response, even though he knew Al couldn't see it.
Arthur looked over at Alfred without turning his head, the corners of his eyes crinkling as the Marshal's voice cracked when he attempted to follow the female singer's exploration of the octave above the treble clef. Al grinned sheepishly at him as a streetlamp flashed by, lighting up the frizz he could never quite tame around his head and glinting past his glasses into his eyes. Arthur's own eyes widened slightly.
Alfred's eyebrows furrowed even as he automatically slowed down. "What?"
"You heard what I said."
"Just do it already!"
"Fine, fine, no need to get shouty," he mumbled, slowing to a crawl and parking in one of the gravel pull-offs that littered backcountry roads. He turned off the car and faced Arthur, mouth open to begin interrogation, but was cut off by Arthur grabbing his face and pulling him down to kiss him, heavy and hungry. He yelped in surprise, eyes wide and startled, but Arthur wouldn't let him go, and he quickly relaxed into the kiss, shifting his body as far sideways as it could go in the front seat of his car. While Alfred distractedly tried to maneuver around the gear shift and the cup holders, Arthur kissed him with all the force and skill he'd ever wanted to use, pressing his tongue into Al's mouth and weaving his fingers in his hair.
Alfred broke away forcefully, prying away Arthur's hands from his scalp so he could pant, "Backseat." Arthur nodded and climbed back between the seats, ever grateful for Alfred's habit of keeping the backseat of his small SUV folded forwards as he stretched back, shoving aside a fishing rod and a pile of jackets while Al pulled the key from the ignition and turned off his headlights before following, flopping down on top of Arthur with a huff. Arthur decided to put off scolding him for being stupid in favor of responding to the frantic and sloppy mouth on his, gripping him close with all his limbs, trying to keep him under control while savoring every moment.
It wasn't long before he worked Alfred's jacket off his shoulders and his shirt over his head, gliding his hands over the well built torso he'd been too drunk to properly appreciate last time this had happened. Alfred groaned, shifting down to drag his teeth over the skin of Arthur's neck. Arthur gasped and tilted his head to the side, exposing more of his neck and under his jaw to Alfred, arching up into Al's chest and stomach.
Al grinned wickedly into his collar, reveling in every small gasp and moan he dragged out of Arthur, not noticing that he was vocal enough to match.
It was after the fact, when the sweat on their skin had dried and the windows had started to lose their fog – but not enough for them to want to move from each other's arms – that there was a hard rap at the back window.
Alfred sprang upright, hitting his head on the roof with a whack that made Arthur wince. He ignored his possible concussion, though, scrambling to pull his pants back up and throw a shirt on (it happened to be Arthur's and slightly too small, but that wasn't important), before shoving Arthur down into the foot space of the back seat, cursing up a storm under his breath as he crawled back to where the rapping was becoming more impatient and a tall shadow was visible through the smoky glass.
He popped open the glass part of his trunk door, lifting it open to show an imposing and very upset-looking police officer. Instead of cowering away or being intimidated, though, Alfred just breathed a sigh of relief and grinned at him.
"Officer Ox! What a surprise, seein' ya all the way out here!" he said loudly, leaning out the window and letting his arms dangle in the cold air that was seeping into the humid interior of the car. Behind the hulking officer, he saw Shannon's one patrol car idling, the other officer in the passenger seat with his feet on the dashboard, playing with his phone.
The officer grunted a greeting, bending down a little to peer into the depths of the car when Arthur's furious cursing registered. Arthur climbed out of the hole he'd been shoved into, Alfred's leather jacket zipped up over his chest and pants unzipped, face red even in the darkness. He avoided the police officer's icy gaze and kicked Alfred hard in the rear, making him jerk forward and almost fall out of the car.
"Hey! Watch it!"
"You watch it, you miserable buffoon!" he snapped, climbing back into the passenger's seat with a huff and crossing his arms over his chest. Al pulled himself back up and offered an apologetic grin to the unfazed officer.
"Sorry 'bout that, Officer Ox. That's Arthur - y'know, the witness protection guy," he explained, jerking his thumb in the direction of the blond hair sticking out over the headrest. "He's easily irritated."
Arthur whipped around to look between the seats, face still flushed, and yelled, "Would you just shut up?"
Alfred laughed. "Not a chance, dollface."
He barely ducked out of the path of a fiercely thrown shoe, which flew out of the open window and rolled across the gravel. The police officer went and picked it up for Alfred, who smiled as he took it back and said, "Gracias, mi amigo." He looked back over his shoulder, straining awkwardly to shout at Arthur, who had turned back to face the front of the car and had hunched down in the shadow of the seat, "Hey Arthur! Aren't ya gonna say hi to one of the guys keepin' your ass safe?"
A moment of deliberation; then, Arthur leaned around the edge of his chair and nodded once at the officer. "Hello." He drew back out of sight, and Al sighed in exasperation.
"Brits. What can ya do with 'em?" he sighed and shrugged to the officer. A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, which did nothing to weaken his intimidating aura. There was a loud 'hmph' from the front seat, but Arthur decided to keep his silence this time. Al propped his chin on his hand and batted his eyelashes at the policeman. "So, what seems to be the problem, Officer?"
The smile on his face stopped tugging, and he ordered in the deepest voice Arthur had ever heard, "Go home, Alfred."
Alfred grinned and pushed away from the door, reaching up to the handle on the window."Will do. Take care! Say hi to Tino for me!" He closed the window after the policeman nodded tersely and began to walk back to his patrol car, his partner sitting up straight again.
Once the police car had driven past them and out of sight, Alfred climbed back up to the front and resettled in the driver's seat.
"I hate you so much right now."
Alfred laughed, resting his head on the steering wheel. "Now, Arthur, don't be like that," he said when he got himself under control, reaching over and ruffling his hair for a second before he got shoved away. Unperturbed, he leaned over and wrapped Arthur in a bear hug, ignoring Arthur's sputtering and pushing while laughing in his ear.
Finally, Arthur succeeded in shaking him off, panting and flushing again as he straightened his clothes out, pulling the jacket down over the flash of skin showing above his jeans. "I still hate you," he grumbled. "Could you have been any more obvious about what we were doing?"
"Huh?" Alfred blinked obliviously; Arthur sent him a sharp look, and comprehension dawned on his face. "Oh, you mean with Officer Ox?" He laughed, and Arthur scowled ferociously. "Sweetheart, they don't care about that. Shit, Ox's married to one of the other officers. You met him that time we went to the station, actually."
Arthur blinked in confusion at him. "You mean the crazy one with the weird hair?"
Alfred snorted, then giggled, then burst into uncontrollable laughter, losing muscle control and draping over his steering wheel while Arthur watched him in bewilderment.
Alfred sucked in a huge breath, then leaned over and gave Arthur an overdone kiss on the cheek before fishing his keys out from behind him in his seat and starting the car. "Sometimes you're just too cute."
Arthur sputtered and hit him in the arm repeatedly as he laughed again and pulled back onto the road.