Arthur flicked through the pile of files on his desk. There was a passport photo attached to each one, and Arthur memorised each of their faces.
Lance du Lac was first on his list. Lance specialised in ‘social penetration’ - trying to get into places that he shouldn’t be able to, and seeing who else was doing the same thing. Arthur noted where Lance was going to be and then pulled up the report on the surrounding areas. He wanted to watch Morgana’s team work but without them knowing he was watching. People never act normally around new management and Arthur needed to know what he would be working with.
Plus, he hadn’t done fieldwork in ages and he really missed it.
Lance was good, Arthur thought, watching him talking to the receptionist. Something about him made people want to help. And he never lied, Arthur noticed. He just made sure that the awkward questions never arose. Arthur already could think of many projects that would benefit from Lance’s skills.
Merlin was intriguing. Arthur had worked with some people with magic before but nothing like this. Kilgarrah had talked Merlin up to be almost unreal. Arthur was curious.
Merlin’s first job that week was acquisition of some incriminating items from a townhouse in London. It was the crack of dawn, and Arthur was pulled up opposite the house in question, nursing a huge cup of coffee.
Merlin had slipped into the house like - well, like magic - and had been in there for less than five minutes so far. Ideally for this kind of job, assuming no issues, it should be a max of four to seven minutes. In, grab, out, no noise, no mess, simple. Ish.
Arthur looked at his watch, then back at the house. His eyes widened as Merlin came flying out of the open bedroom window, fall slowing to a safe, almost gentle descent and landing in front of an old lady walking her Chihuahua. She gasped and raised her walking stick, flailing it at Merlin, who straightened up and ran. Arthur quickly started up the car and drove to the end of the street, Merlin turned the corner and disappeared. Literally. Just - gone. Arthur pulled up the car at the kerb and stared at the spot Merlin had been standing in moments before, feeling a little shell-shocked.
Arthur was pretty sure that Merlin had booked him. At one point during his conversation with an Earl, Merlin stopped and looked over his shoulder to where Arthur was standing. Arthur quickly pulled his phone out of his pocket and busied himself looking at it.
That night, Merlin fucked up. Arthur never saw him slip out of the party, despite keeping an eye of him, and Arthur was prepared for the mission to go off without a hitch. He didn’t have to fake any shock when the alarm went off. The security guards were milling about, asking everyone to remain calm and in the room.
It took Arthur far too long to get out of the room. He only managed to get out because he knew Percy, one of the security men at the party. He didn’t see Merlin again that night, but the report the next morning noted the mission objectives had been achieved, so Arthur assumed he’d managed to escape fine.
Arthur continued to watch Merlin, coming back to him even after moving on to watch Gwaine. Charming bastard, that one Arthur thought, recalling the day he spent following Gwaine. James Bond had nothing on him, though Arthur hadn’t seen Gwaine get his end away with anyone on the job, so that was a plus.
Morgana had a great team. Arthur couldn’t wait to work with them all. In fact, Morgana had asked him the previous day if he was ready to introduce himself, start properly. He’d said he needed more time. Which wasn’t technically true. It was just. Merlin. Arthur couldn’t get Merlin out of his mind. He thought about Merlin when he was reading reports, when he was travelling home on the tube. In the shower.
It was getting to be a problem.
When Morgana’s mission came across Arthur’s desk, Arthur was torn between excitement and the odd twinge of disappointment-guilt-awkwardness that came from being in the middle of father and Morgana’s feud.
“Give it to Merlin,” he said, as soon as Morgana answered the phone. He could hear her raised eyebrow in response. “Father’s security system is one of the best that money can buy. I want to see how Merlin does it.”
There was a long pause, and Arthur could feel himself blushing.
“Very well. I’ll pass the file to him.”
This was a mistake Arthur thought, puttering around the flat. He couldn’t settle, constantly on edge, listening for any extra external sounds. Every time he got back from work and realised Merlin hadn’t been yet, his stomach did a sickening drop like he was in a dodgy lift.
It was intolerable. He felt like he was vibrating out of his skin. Arthur padded into the bathroom, pulling his clothes off and jumping into the shower.
He turned the water up as hot as he could take it, rolling his shoulders to try and loosen them. There was only one thing for it.
Arthur turned the shower off and dried off quickly, dumping the towel in the laundry basket before lying down on the bed.
He closed his eyes and ran a hand down to his hip, and across to his erection, which stiffened fully under his hand. Arthur shuddered. He hadn’t allowed himself to think of anything like this; it was highly unprofessional. Especially as Merlin was going to be under his command - which was not the best phrasing, Arthur admitted to himself. He stroked his cock firmly, groaning softly.
Merlin was incredible, Arthur had never felt like this before, it was - weird. Arthur would be more freaked out if he wasn’t so turned on by it all.
His hips started moving, thrusting in counterpoint to his hand.
“Fuck,” he grunted, neck arching. He barely heard the door swing open.
Arthur froze, cock aching as he stopped. He lifted his head and Merlin was standing there, mouth gaping open. He’s wearing all black, a balaclava hiding the top portion of his head, and it looked ridiculous - his already big ears are sticking out even more under the balaclava and his face is flushed - but Arthur’s never wanted anything more than Merlin to get over here and join him.
There is no way he’s taking his hand off his dick right now.
“Too close to stop," he managed to grind out. "Too close."
He twisted his hand, hips bucking.
He can barely hear over the pulse in his ears but he just about heard Merlin say,
"God, you're magnificent."
Arthur cried out as he came, eyes fixed on Merlin.
The aftershocks hadn’t even set in when Merlin made a run for it. Arthur panted, sweat drying on his skin. He let out a breathless laugh. That was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever done, and if it wasn’t for the bulge Arthur had seen in Merlin’s trousers before he disappeared Arthur would be mortified.
Instead he wiped his hands and picked up his phone. He thumbed open a text to his sister.
I want a meeting with the team Arthur typed.