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Merlin has a need for order. His fridge reeks of spoilt food, and he can’t make it to appointments on time, but those things don’t matter. There’s a way things ought to be, and Merlin understands that, so whatever monsters may be lurking in his shadow, he knows how to work the lights so they never show.

Merlin likes pretty boys.

Merlin hasn’t always liked pretty boys. He used to like hairy men with bulging arms and chests who would hold him down, hands closing over his throat until he was thrashing, until he lost consciousness and awoke later with a splitting headache, aching balls, and come spattered across his belly. He got over that when he became strong enough to throw the men off him.

Merlin likes pretty boys with blue eyes and blond hair.

After he moved to the States, it was frat boys—the straighter, the better. He’d pick the most appalling douchebag at the kegger, watch him rape some pretty, passed-out girl and get his cock sucked by another too drunk to stand up. And then Merlin would attack, head on, ready for a fight, hoping one of these times he’d take a real beating. But he never walked away with more than a few bruised ribs. It was worth it, to zip-tie those fuckers to the bed and make them watch while he fucked them. Ten percent of them even got off on it, closeted queers terrified of disappointing daddy, and the rest were too humiliated to ever mention it. Served them right.

Merlin likes pretty boys with blue eyes and blond hair—likes them in his bed, sleeping.

The most recent—and most lasting—challenge required a career change, but the longer he does it, the deeper he sinks into his need. Merlin was lost in violence before he saw him—saw Arthur, showing off on the football field by Merlin’s flat, week after week, looking into the stands to see if his father was watching. But his father was never watching.

Merlin likes pretty boys with blue eyes and blond hair—likes them sleeping in his bed, sleeping and drugged from the pills in their guts he slips them during dinner.

It was easy to be hired on as Arthur’s tutor, as Arthur’s nanny, as though a healthy fifteen-year-old boy still needs such a thing. But Arthur isn’t healthy, and it’s clear he needs Merlin. He’s got a strange hodgepodge accent, mostly American but English in his can’ts and don’ts—disparaging words. Words from his father.

Merlin likes pretty boys with blue eyes and blond hair—likes them sleeping in his bed, sleeping and drugged from the pills in their guts he slips them during dinner so he can tie them to his bed.

Arthur talks about his father constantly, as though it somehow brings them closer together, as though it’s a substitute for having a real parent. His mother is dead, like Merlin’s, and his father is a cunt, like Merlin’s, and only Merlin can give him what he needs: a tongue in the arse, a warm mouth for his cock, and the quiet pills that take his power away. Because when your mother is dead and your father’s a cunt, you need a man to hold you down and fuck you until you understand your value. That’s the order of things, and Merlin’s only objective is to mend Arthur before he shatters.

Merlin likes pretty boys with blue eyes and blond hair—likes them sleeping in his bed, sleeping and drugged from the pills in their guts he slips them during dinner so he can tie them to his bed while they’re drooling and unconscious.

Merlin gives Arthur the only part of him that has any value when he pets his soft hair and feeds his cock into Arthur’s sleeping mouth. He hasn’t thought about fucking anyone else in the two years since this began, and he’s not sure he ever will. Arthur is soft and untainted, so innocent that Merlin fears the world will tear him apart. He soothes Arthur with fingers that move inside him slowly, for hours if Arthur needs it, his whimpers becoming moans becoming shouts as the demons of human corruption leave him soft and pink and new, reborn in Merlin’s mouth.

Merlin likes pretty boys with blue eyes and blond hair—likes them sleeping in his bed, sleeping and drugged from the pills in their guts he slips them during dinner so he can tie them to his bed while they’re drooling and unconscious and their arseholes are so trusting and loose for him to stick his dick inside.

Merlin sucks Arthur’s cock until he comes, his teenage body eager even while unconscious. He gets Arthur sloppy with it, spit dripping down to his hole, where Merlin’s fingers work him open, tease into him, get him ready to take Merlin’s cock. This is what Arthur wants, to be adored, appreciated, admired, and Merlin has never been generous before, but Arthur brings out what little warmth exists within him.

Merlin likes pretty boys with blue eyes and blond hair—likes them sleeping in his bed, sleeping and drugged from the pills in their guts he slips them during dinner so he can tie them to his bed while they’re drooling and unconscious and their arseholes are so trusting and loose for him to stick his dick inside because it makes him come so hard.

When Merlin pumps his come into Arthur’s arse, he all but whimpers. He tells Arthur he’s a good boy, that Merlin is so proud of him, that he’s perfect. And in the hazy moments after coming, when his cock still twitches inside Arthur’s hot body, Merlin desperately wants Arthur to be awake. He wants to see those eyes and hear Arthur beg for someone other than his daddy, to see Arthur light up when he comes. But he just pulls Arthur’s clothes back into place and wraps him up in his duvet, kisses his forehead and his mouth and turns off the lights. This is how you care for little boys. This is how you keep everything in its rightful place.