Arthur didn't even try to make himself heard over the relentless throb of the club music. As he slid onto his customary stool, he held his hand up to Gwen. She nodded, understanding his signal: a double and make it the good stuff.
A go-go pixie fluttered around him until he made it clear with a flick of his fingers that he wasn't looking to sample the entertainment tonight. He'd just brushed the pixie dust off his shoulders when the glass slid down the bar, coming to a precise stop next to his hand. It was a tall shot glass, not the whiskey and soda he was expecting.
"Are you trying to get me drunk?" he shouted.
Gwen poured out a mojito for a faerie drag queen before sidling down to Arthur's end of the bar. "You need to get drunk, boss. You need to dance, you need to get laid, and most importantly, you need to stop glowering and scaring away the twinks who want to order overpriced fruity drinks on their daddies' tabs."
Arthur stared at her for a moment, then shrugged and downed the double shot. The whiskey filled his throat and nose with a sweet smoke that lightened his mood right up.
"That looks like good stuff, mate. I'll have two of those, sweetheart," said a scruffy, shirtless human man who appeared at Arthur's elbow.
Gwen shot him a dubious look and made no move toward the bottle. "Your tab's already more than you can pay, Gwaine."
"It's on the house." Arthur's gaze was fixed on the man Gwaine held by the hand, close to his side. "Hello, Merlin."
"Hello, Arthur." Merlin gave him a bright smile, lit by glitter and the glimmer of magic. Merlin was on the pull tonight, irresistible. "Thanks for the drink."
"Oh, you two know each other?" the Gwaine person said.
"I own this place," Arthur said at the same time Merlin answered, "He's my ex."
"Oh. Well, thanks for the drink. And for... well, you know." Gwaine tapped the side of his nose and then squeezed Merlin's bum, just in case Arthur hadn't caught his meaning.
Merlin lingered a moment after Gwaine pushed back onto the dance floor. “Yeah, sorry about him. Just met him outside.”
Not a new boyfriend, then. Arthur smiled. “Your standards are slipping a bit.”
Merlin downed his shot and pushed his glass hopefully toward Gwen. “Please, did you see what he’s packing in those trousers?”
“I’m cutting you off,” Arthur said immediately, but Gwen was already pouring.
Merlin grinned and tossed back the second drink. By the shine in his eyes, he’d already had plenty. Arthur looked closer, unable to help himself. Merlin’s flush looked healthy enough; Gwen’s drinks were safe for everyone, but a magic user of Merlin’s sensitivity couldn’t handle the harder stuff that changed hands in the darker corners of the club. Not that it ever stopped him.
“Thanks for the drinks.” Merlin’s smile turned soft as the booze hit his system. “It was good seeing you, Arthur.”
He leaned forward and brushed a kiss against Arthur’s cheek before turning and dancing back into the crowd, undoubtedly in search of his well-hung new boy toy. Arthur deflated onto the bar with a groan. “I don’t understand why he still comes here so much.”
“I don’t understand why you don’t both just say you’re sorry.” Gwen refilled his glass. “Drink. Dance. Looks like you’ve got some catching up to do.”
“You’re supposed to take orders, not give them,” Arthur grumbled, but he drank and then he went to dance.
The rush of sweat and endorphins left him happier and a little turned on, despite the occasional glimpses of Merlin and Gwaine locked together on the dance floor, notifying the entire club of precisely how they intended to end their evening. Arthur veered away and tried not to think about it.
But then he spotted Merlin with someone else: the hobgoblin known for its trade in party favors. Merlin’s hand went to his mouth before Arthur could do more than mutter, “Oh, fuck, not again.”
Merlin had vanished again by the time Arthur reached the goblin. “What the fuck did you give him?”
The goblin raised what would have been eyebrows on a human. “I gave her what she asked for, honey. Didn’t know it was your business anymore.”
Its hand twitched near one of its pockets. Arthur’s hand whipped out and snatched the baggie of gold-flecked pink tablets. “Sweet seeds? Are you kidding me? You know damn well he can’t handle this shit.”
“He’s Emrys, honey. I think he knows what he can handle.”
“Not fucking troll magic.” Arthur caught Percy’s eye from the balcony, pointed at the goblin and made a quick cutting gesture across his throat. The goblin squawked in outrage behind him as Arthur pushed back into the dancers to look for Merlin.
He found him grinding against a puzzled but appreciative were-bear in leather. “Please help me,” Merlin was moaning. “I’m gonna die if I don’t come.”
Arthur detached him quickly. “So sorry, Clyde. Merlin, come with me.”
“Yes, thank God.” Merlin was steady enough on his feet, just wiggly and desperate to hump something. “I’ll come with you. I have to, or I’ll die.”
“You won’t die,” Arthur snapped. “Where the fuck is that Gwaine of yours, if you want to come so badly?”
“No, I don’t want him anymore.” Merlin wrapped his arms around Arthur’s neck and ground his rock-hard erection against Arthur’s thigh. “Please, Arthur. You have to save me.”
“I know, baby. It's really kicking in now, isn't it?” Arthur felt the pulse at Merlin’s wrist as he unwrapped his ex-boyfriend from his body, and then gave him a little shove toward the loos. “Go splash some water on your face and I’ll have someone drive you home.”
He couldn’t help watching the cute sway of Merlin’s arse as he went, and he sighed. Arthur would have to drive Merlin himself. He didn’t trust anyone else with him in this state.
Then he remembered that other men were probably in the toilets. “Oh, fuck that,” Arthur muttered and shoved aside his customers until he could break into a run.
When he burst into the loo, he found Merlin stark naked in one of the stalls, front plastered against one of the walls—the one with the gloryhole, of course. A grinning bloke was just going into the adjoining stall when Arthur’s fist twisted in the back of his shirt and hauled him out.
“Sod off,” Arthur snarled and slammed and locked the door behind him. “Merlin? You all right?”
Merlin was gripping the top of the stall and kicking it in frustration. “Why did you stop him? He said he’d save my life.”
“Oh, I just bet he did.” Arthur reached into the stall and pulled Merlin out of the hole. “Goddammit, Merlin, you do this on purpose.”
“Please,” Merlin mumbled into his shoulder. His body rubbed against Arthur’s, which reacted to him as it always had. “Gotta let the magic out, or I’ll die.”
The problem was, there was a remote chance it was true, and they both knew it. Arthur’s hands trembled a little as he stroked Merlin’s sweaty hair; his cock kept swelling until he gave in to the inevitable. “All right, baby. I’ll take you home and fuck you all night, if that’s what you want.”
“No, now,” Merlin insisted, pulling away from Arthur and feeding himself back into the gloryhole. “Here. Now you don’t even have to look at me if you don’t want to.”
Arthur had to laugh. God, how he’d missed the sheer absurdity that was Merlin. He kissed Merlin’s shoulder and then went into the next stall and knelt down in front of Merlin’s cock. The first taste was heaven, as though his life suddenly made sense again.
Sucking him through the hole was awkward; he couldn’t clutch at Merlin’s thighs or arse, or cup his balls the way he liked. But the way Merlin’s moans echoed along with the thump of his fist against the stall made Arthur harder and harder. He could see why men did this.
Finally Merlin let out a long, relieved groan as he shot his load into Arthur’s mouth. Arthur suckled the tip gently, just the way Merlin liked, to coax him into the best afterglow. Then he pulled off and hauled himself up to sit on the toilet, dazed and aroused.
He didn’t notice Merlin’s cock withdrawing from the hole until he found himself with a lapful of nakedness. “Thank you,” Merlin said and kissed him, deep and sticky. “You’re still my hero.”
Arthur shivered and pulled him close, stroking his fingers down Merlin’s damp spine. “You’re still my—“
He couldn’t finish the sentence. But Merlin just laughed and slid down to kneel between Arthur’s thighs. He looked up at Arthur with clear, happy eyes and reached into Arthur’s trousers. He pulled out Arthur’s rigid cock and looked at it with exaggerated concern.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll save you.”