Title: It Has to Start Somewhere
Characters: Percival, Arthur
Summary: Modern AU. The first night Percival saw him, he dropped five glasses, mucked up seven orders, and accidentally stabbed a shrill redhead in the hand with a paper umbrella.
Word Count: 1003
Prompt: #141, resolution
The first night Percival saw him, he dropped five glasses, mucked up seven orders, and accidentally stabbed a shrill redhead in the hand with a paper umbrella.
Needless to say, it was not an auspicious start.
But seriously, the man was beautiful. He arrived with a group of friends and then proceeded to hold court in the corner while they drifted on and off the dance floor. A squirrelly bloke did trips back and forth from the bar to refill his and his date’s drinks, a striking brunette who seemed just as comfortable being the center of attention, but not even that much alcohol could dull his blue eyes, or diminish that strong jaw, or hide the crooked tooth that flashed every time he laughed.
Percival tried not to stare. Not being distracted by the clientele was one of the reasons he’d found a job bartending in a straight bar rather than one that catered to the gay community. On this night, he failed miserably. Hence, all the problems.
His one reprieve came when Mr. Beautiful wound his way to the bar at the end of the night to pay the tab.
“Have fun?” he managed to ask without sounding like a complete git.
“Not too bad.” Mr. B leaned against the bar, drawing attention to how well-muscled his forearms were. “I’m glad my sister suggested this place.”
Percival ran the card through the reader. “Sister?”
He jerked his chin toward the brunette waiting near the door. “She got some promotion she wanted to celebrate.”
So it wasn’t a date. Percival tamped down his initial excitement with the silent admonishment, That doesn’t mean he’s interested. When he passed back the card, he was proud that he didn’t tremble like a kid with his first crush. “Hope to see you back, then.”
Mr. B smiled. “Oh, you will.”
He sauntered away, his coat dangling from his hand. Percival’s pulse accelerated. Damn if the back view wasn’t as nice as the front.
And at least he had a name now.
True to his word, Arthur started coming more regularly, always with friends, occasionally his sister. He didn’t always hide in the corner, either, which meant Percival got to do more than stare at him dumbstruck. He discovered Arthur worked for his father—not entirely happily—and that he worked out regularly—fairly obvious, Percival thought—and that he had an appetite that only got bigger after he started drinking. Because that was when he parked himself at the bar and began devouring all the drink condiments Percival could sneak to him.
“You should tell him about your gym,” Leon advised after close one night. “Then you can moon after him someplace that isn’t here.”
Percival threw the wet towel he’d been using to wipe down the bar at his head. “It’s not that bad.”
“I hate to tell you this, but yeah, it is.”
“You don’t think he knows, do you?”
“It’s the twenty-first century. Ask him out.”
But Percival couldn’t, no matter how deep his feelings started to run. The more he got to know him, the more he enjoyed Arthur’s company. He didn’t want to ruin it by having Arthur put off by the knowledge Percival fancied him, too.
When Arthur showed up on New Year’s Eve with yet another group of friends, the first thing he did was stop at the bar. “What’re you doing working? You should be on this side to celebrate with us.”
Percival opened his mouth to answer, only to freeze when a lanky brunette came up, looped his arm around Arthur’s shoulders, promptly dropped a kiss below his ear.
Arthur laughed and shrugged to dislodge the embrace. “I’m talking here, Merlin. Go find Gwaine.”
“Who’s that?” Percival croaked when Merlin disappeared into the crowd.
“Just an ex whose current boyfriend is rubbing off a little much on him.” Oblivious to Percival’s stunned expression, Arthur began rattling off the drink order, finishing with, “If you get a break, come over. I’ll introduce you to the guys.”
“That’s it,” Percival said to Leon as he started prepping the drinks. “First resolution of the new year. I’m asking Arthur out.”
At the very least, Arthur would say no, but Percival could handle that kind of rejection. Arthur liked guys, so he wouldn’t be completely put off by the idea. Looking at Merlin, Percival probably wasn’t his type, but it was worth a shot.
The night was too busy to take the break Arthur suggested. Too soon, the DJ was counting down to midnight. With so many people packed into the club, Percival couldn’t see where Arthur was, especially when the hour struck and the air filled with balloons and confetti. While everyone began exchanging kisses, he kept a close eye on the bar for wayward elbows and arms that might accidentally knock off a drink.
The din nearly blocked out the sound of Arthur’s voice. Percival glanced to his left with a frown and found himself face to face with the one person he’d been looking for.
Arthur grinned. “Happy new year, Perc.” Leaning across the bar, he grabbed the back of Percival’s neck, hauled him close, and sealed their mouths together.
The kiss was scorching but all too brief, leaving Percival stunned when Arthur let him go. His tongue swiped automatically across his swollen lower lip, drawing Arthur’s gaze straight to it.
“Keep doing that, and I’m going to kiss you again,” Arthur warned.
Percival had no problem with anything that put their bodies in contact, but he had to ask, “Why did you kiss me in the first place?”
“Because it was my New Year’s resolution.”
“To kiss a bartender?”
“To stop waiting for you to make the first move.”
Percival's response was to stretch across the bar and kiss him again, this time letting it deepen and last until they were both out of breath. “Don’t worry,” he said against Arthur’s lips. “It’s only the first move that slows me down.”