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Whatever We Are, We Are The Same

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***

Uther remarries when Arthur is eleven. Hunith has a lovely smile, bakes like a goddess, and doesn’t try to be his new mummy, so Arthur accepts her pretty readily (the cinnamon buns help, too).

When Merlin is born a year after, Arthur looks at the black-haired child and shrugs internally. Uther gives him a rare hug, and that is the best memory Arthur keeps from that day.

***

When Merlin turns five, and spends the day eating cake with his whole face, Arthur kisses his first boy behind the garden shed. The kiss is warm and tentative and a bit weird, to be honest. But Leon is sweet and grabs Arthur’s hand afterwards, dragging him away to spend the day with him by the lake, throwing stones into the water and forgetting everything else.

Uther isn’t happy when Arthur gets home late that evening. They have a loud row about family and responsibilities, and when Arthur storms out of the room, he runs into Merlin who is standing in the doorway. The boy is looking up at him with big, scared eyes, sucking his thumb and hugging his dragon toy tightly.

Arthur pauses for half a second, unsure. Then he brushes past him and runs up to his room, where he gets the satisfaction of slamming the door closed behind him, causing the windows to rattle.

***

At university, Arthur talks to his family only occasionally. Uther wants him to succeed, but Arthur prioritises everything except his studies. He drinks a lot, plays too much footie, roams around the girls’ dorms with the other guys until he realises that the prettiest person on campus is a long-haired guy named Gwaine.

Gwaine’s charming and more grown up than any of the other guys Arthur’s hooked up with before, and it doesn’t take long before Arthur’s finds himself spending all his time with him. Arthur spectacularly fails business economics, but learns how to best please a man with his mouth and tongue. He learns how to get pushed down and fucked relentlessly. He learns that he moans like a whore when Gwaine sucks him off, that words can make him hot and bothered. But he also learns that a “secret” hand job in the back of a classroom isn’t really as secret as they might have thought after they are both called into the lecturer’s office and get an official warning for indecent behaviour. He learns that too much alcohol and sex don’t mix well.

Hunith sends food packages sometimes, seemingly afraid Arthur will wither away while at school. He doesn’t, but won’t tell her that. Instead he lies naked in bed after Gwaine has left and eats the biscuits she has sent, ignoring the build-up of homework and assignments for as long as he can. Some days, he sleeps through lectures, and wakes only in time to party.

It luckily can’t last forever, and Arthur manages to re-take and pass enough exams to be allowed into second year. Gwaine finds someone else — another blond, hot guy — leaving Arthur heartbroken in his wake. Arthur repays the favour by fucking Gwaine’s younger sister Elena, who, unlike Gwaine, started uni straight out of college. The revenge isn’t as satisfactory as Arthur has imagined as Elena is too sweet, too unlike Gwaine.

For the rest of second year, Arthur focuses on school instead.

When Arthur goes back home he’s is mostly playing video games, cramming for re-takes, or roaming the kitchen for anything edible. Hunith laughs happily when she finds him eating leftover gravy with a spoon and gives him a few slices of bread to sop it up with. Uther, on the other hand, looks disapproving, but doesn’t say anything when Hunith gently squeezes his hand and drags him away.

Arthur is trying to concentrate on the thick book about business economics in his lap, but his eyes keep falling on Merlin, who’s sitting tucked away in the corner of the sitting room, right in Arthur’s line of sight. He’s fiddling idly with a Rubik’s cube, seemingly not even thinking before moving the squares around. Merlin’s friend Will has just left, the remnants of a model kit still on the floor, the actual model drying on the top of the fridge in the kitchen, where it’s out of the way.

It seems to be the only thing Merlin does — solving puzzles in one way or another. Rubik’s cubes, model kits, sudoku (the kid’s obviously a pensioner at heart), or strange 3D puzzles that Arthur gets a headache only from looking at, they seem so complicated.

Arthur licks his lips, thinking that Merlin should spend more time playing with friends. Something more active than puzzles, like… football. He tries to imagine Merlin on a football field and cringes inwardly. Maybe that isn’t the best idea.

But should he start worrying about the idiot being bullied? Why is he staying indoors so much? Arthur has only ever met one of Merlin’s friends — Will — and he had a lot more friends than just one when he was eight. What makes things worse, Merlin and Will look like they’re a recipe for disaster — Merlin with his big ears and clumsiness, and Will with his rather hot temper and torn and tattered clothes...

Shaking his head and giving Merlin one last look, Arthur turns back to the book in his lap. Like he needs something else to worry about.

It’s not until Arthur leaves to go back to school after New Year’s that he shoves that weak shoulder and says, “Hey, take care. Don’t want to have to beat up any bullies when I get home this summer, yeah?”

Merlin blushes and nods shyly. It warms Arthur’s heart.

***

After uni, Arthur gets a job in London. He tries to work hard, but as soon as the work day is over, he and his friends hit a pub to celebrate that they’re young and single. In his drunken state, Arthur’s mind sometimes strays to Merlin for no good reason at all. But then there are shots on the table, and Arthur whoops happily as he slaps Percy on the back. He drinks enough to get laid often. Some of his conquests are girls, but mostly he pulls the hottest guys he can find. It’s not that difficult, really, since he’s young and blond and rather fit. He can even be charming when he feels like it. That’s not to say Arthur doesn’t make his share of drunken mistakes, because he really does.

***

When Arthur is 26, he is offered a position abroad, and he jumps on the opportunity to make a difference, somehow. A new office is being set up overseas, and Arthur’s wizard-like organising skills are needed for fourteen months, until the company can find someone to take on the position permanently.

Merlin tries to hide that he’s about to cry when he, Hunith, and Uther say goodbye at the airport. He doesn’t want a hug, too cool for it since he’s now 14. Instead, he shoves at Arthur’s shoulder and swallows thickly.

“Bye,” he says sulkily and walks off before his parents have finished saying their goodbyes.

“He’ll miss you,” Hunith says apologetically. “He talks about you a lot, you know. I know you don’t get to spend much time together, but he’s your brother. He’ll miss you.”

Arthur looks after the thin figure in the too big hoodie. “I’ll miss you all,” he says and hugs Hunith before shaking his dad’s hand.

“Make us proud,” Uther says. Arthur just nods.

***

It’s the middle of December when Arthur moves back home. Standing in front of his childhood home, Arthur thinks that the house looks exactly like it did when he left. The one year overseas had turned into four, and Arthur is unsure how he feels about being back home again. He adjusts the scarf around his neck absentmindedly. It’s wet from the rain, because it’s soon Christmas and it’s England. The light comes on and someone opens the door. Hunith meets him with a warm hug and happily fusses over him as she sweeps him into the house. Uther is standing in the hallway. He’s smiling and he even claps Arthur on the back — a telling sign of how much he must have missed his eldest son, after all.

Merlin is nowhere to be seen, and Hunith explains that he’s out with friends but should be home soon.

“He hasn’t joined a gang, has he?” Arthur jokes, and Hunith just laughs and drags him into the sitting room.

As it turns out, Merlin hasn’t joined a gang. He has grown up, though — something Arthur had seen over Skype, but not quite realised, all the same. It’s not like they’ve had any lengthy conversations, just awkward “what’s up?”’s whenever Uther dragged Merlin in front of the laptop and told him to talk to his big brother.

At seventeen, Merlin is still lanky and awkward, but he’s growing into his limbs quickly. He’s as tall as Arthur — maybe even slightly taller — but still quirky and quiet. His unruly black hair is probably supposed to look cool but looks more... Arthur isn’t sure. Definitely not sexy. Maybe a bit endearing.

A week goes by, and Arthur notices that some things have stayed almost the same. Merlin doesn’t build things any more, but he reads a lot instead. Everything he gets his hands on, he reads. He barely finishes a book before he begins another. That fascinates Arthur, who still plays video games and drinks beer to unwind after work.

Sometimes he finds Merlin watching him covertly as he’s pretending to read. Arthur puts his tongue out and revels in the way Merlin’s eyes crinkle as he grins behind the book. They still don’t talk much, just make ridiculous facial expressions at each other and some rude hand gestures when they lose the unspoken duel.

Arthur quickly learns that teenager Merlin is quirky, but laughs easily and is insanely clever. Not that Arthur tells him that, of course. He probably already knows it. His teachers probably dote on him in school. He’s that kind of kid — the kind that charms the shit out of his teachers.

At that thought, Arthur makes a face to himself and twists slightly where he’s sitting watching a bad action film alongside Merlin on the sofa. For some reason, the thought of anyone but himself praising Merlin — and Merlin beaming at them in return — is hard to digest. He throws out an arm and pulls his brother into a rough headlock, ruffling that strangely enticing hair of his.

Merlin struggles to get free, whines unbecomingly and pushes helplessly at Arthur’s stronger frame. Laughing, Arthur lets go, feeling a bit better. He offers a few crisps as a peace offering, pretending not to understand why Merlin shifts his feet up onto the sofa and pulls his knees to his chest so that he can put his arms around them.

But after that, Arthur touches Merlin more, rough-houses with him more often, grabs him to show him things at a daily basis. At first, he’s not aware he’s doing it and when he finally realises it, he tries to stay away. He really tries. It’s difficult, though, because Merlin doesn’t seem to mind his touches.

Actually, sometimes Arthur gets the distinct impression that Merlin is encouraging it in his own, odd way with his smiles and increasingly weaker protests.

At Christmas, the tension reaches its peak when Arthur and Merlin start arguing about who should get the top hat piece when they’re setting up a game of Monopoly on the floor in front of the telly. It soon gets heated — there are definite name calling and wild hand gestures — but Merlin still catches Arthur by surprise when he physically jumps him to wrestle the tiny metal figure out of his hand.

It doesn’t take more than a second for Arthur to regain control, though, and he ends up on top as he scrabbles for Merlin’s wrists. It’s not until he catches them and holds them down above Merlin’s head that he realises he’s straddling his baby brother and that he now has a — quite impressive — boner pressing up on his arse. Jesus, he can’t think about that. Not now, not ever.

Merlin’s breathing hard and looks at Arthur with big eyes full of surprise and hopeful incredulity. Arthur meets his eyes, sees the tentative smile on Merlin’s face, and feels his cock filling. Merlin makes a small, choked-off noise in his throat and Arthur is suddenly hot all over. He’s about to lean in closer when his higher brain functions catch up to what they’re doing and that it’s really inappropriate. Blushing, Arthur lets go of Merlin’s wrists and scrabbles backwards until he’s sitting on the floor.

Merlin is still looking at him, thoughtful, from where he’s lying on his back on the floor. His still laboured breathing is loud in the quiet room. Merlin’s face is impossible to read, but Arthur’s thinks he can see some disappointment there. God, it’s probably just Arthur’s own imagination playing with him.

“I—” he says awkwardly and pointedly looks everywhere but at Merlin, “I’m just going to...”

And then he flees the room like the mature 29-year-old he is. He feels like a confused teenager and it doesn’t get better when he runs straight into his dad and Hunith on their way from the kitchen, where they’ve been preparing snacks.

“Oh!” Hunith exclaims, surprised, “But... where are you going? Aren’t we going to play Monopoly?”

Arthur says the first thing that comes to mind. “Loo,” he manages and slinks up the stairs like a scaredy cat.

When he locks the toilet door behind him and desperately pulls his cock out, the wank is short and barely enough. He’s burning with shame, it’s prickling all over his skin and making him tremble. He doesn’t know how he’ll be able to go downstairs and look at Merlin, knowing that he got a boner wrestling his teenage brother. Brother, for fuck’s sake!

He slides down the wall, closes his eyes and prays to whatever will listen to please get him through this night and he’ll do whatever. Just, please... Arthur thinks, Get me through this.

There’s a gentle knock on the door and Arthur quickly tucks himself away before flushing the toilet and answering, “Yeah?” His voice is a bit scratchy.

“Arthur?”

It’s Merlin. Arthur curses under his breath. “Yeah, uh,” he says, “I’ll be down in a minute. Just started feeling a bit...”

He trails off and doesn’t know how to continue. What, exactly, is he feeling? Sick? Turned on? Disgusted with himself?

“I just... need to use the loo, too,” Merlin says through the door.

Of course he does.

“Yeah, all right. Just...”

Arthur quickly washes his hands and opens the door. He smiles too big at Merlin and goes, “All yours.”

He can feel Merlin’s eyes on his back all the way down the stairs.

***

After that, Arthur keeps close to Hunith and his dad. He’s afraid of himself, his own thoughts, of what he might do to Merlin if he’s not careful.

He’s never dried so many dishes in his life. It’s a relief when January comes along and he says goodbye. His month off work has ended and he moves into a tiny but sufficient flat in west London.

It takes no time at all to get back into a regular routine. Wake up, fight his way onto a train that takes him to work, shuffle around papers and numbers for 8+ hours, fight his way onto a train that takes him back home, pick up food on the way... and then sink down in his sofa and keep his brain distracted with whatever’s on the telly. It’s easy, and the only time the technique fails is when Arthur is lying in bed and can’t sleep. Nothing pops up in his head except Merlin. It’s twisted, what he’s thinking, and he turns onto his front, traps his hard cock between his stomach and the mattress as not to do something that’s really, really wrong.

He forces himself to think about porn when he wanks. He puts headphones on and listens to the porn stars grunt and groan, and that works for a while. It works until some twink makes a noise like the one Merlin did when they wrestled at Christmas and Arthur comes harder than he has done in weeks.

It gets increasingly worse and Arthur’s work suffers for it. He can’t think of anything but Merlin and during lunch, he sneaks into the loo on another floor to quietly get off before ashamedly walking back up to his own floor.

His hands shake as he sits down in front of his laptop. Something has got to give sooner or later.

***

Merlin sends him a random text a week later. It’s Friday and Arthur is eating sushi in front of EastEnders, of all the crappy shows in the world to watch.

You’re a clotpole, it says.

The heavy lump in Arthur’s throat disappears as he can’t help but bark out a laugh. He texts back:

thats not a word u big baby

How about ‘prat’?

technically a word but if some1 is 1 its u merlin

Well, at least I know how to use proper spelling and punctuation.

jfc u pretentious little shit. if u were here u wouldnt b so brave

Are you sure?

Arthur’s stomach drops.

Y?

There’s no answer to the question, just another teasing message.

I can definitely beat you, you know.

beefed up in a few weeks have u?

Maybe I let you win last time. Didn’t want to make dad cry that his eldest son is such a nancy boy.

i swear dont write checks ur body cant cash

There’s a few minutes before the next message. Like Merlin’s hesitating.

I know you felt it. My cock. On Christmas.

For a second, Arthur panics. What if Merlin noticed how hard Arthur had gotten? That he’d escaped to get himself off thinking of his little brother? What if he tells Uther, or worse — Hunith?

He’s just about to send a text saying that Merlin’s got it all wrong when his phone vibrates and a new text lights up the screen.

It likes you.

Arthur nearly drops the phone. Jesus fucking Christ.

It wants you to hold me down and fuck me.

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

He doesn’t answer — doesn’t know what to say — but he’s getting hard. What does Merlin even mean by writing something like that? Putting down his phone on the sofa, he unzips and gets his cock out. He closes his eyes and, just for a few minutes, allows himself to think of all the things he’s kept hidden in the darkest parts of his brain. He works his hand up the shaft and it’s too dry, but it’s also perfect because Arthur imagines Merlin doing it. Innocent, awkward Merlin with the big ears, the goofy smile and the dark hair. Groaning, he imagines running his hand through that hair as Merlin sucks him off, tightening the grip and making Merlin moan with pleasure.

Merlin would be such a horny bugger. He’d like to be treated a bit roughly, Arthur thinks. Maybe he can bend that virgin body over his huge desk and fuck him raw. Fuck him until he cries for mercy. Fuck him so he will feel it for days. Hold him down and—

His hand tightens around his cock and when he comes, it’s the most satisfying orgasm he’s had in weeks.

Arthur’s sticky and still a bit groggy when his phone vibrates again.

Please say something. Just ignore those messages if you think I’m a freak.

Merlin must be on the verge of panic. Quickly, Arthur types a reply, still too content to feel any shame.

oh u definitely r but i like it

Oh thank fuck. I’m almost there.

good boy, Arthur writes.

Not expecting an answer for at least a few minutes, Arthur goes to clean himself up. When he comes back, properly tucked into his jeans again and with a lot less sticky hands, there’s a message.

That’s not what I meant.

Dread fills Arthur’s stomach.

merlin what do u mean

Arthur waits five, ten, fifteen, twenty anxious minutes for another message to come through, but there aren’t any. He is just about to properly panic when the doorbell rings.

“Oh no,” Arthur says, realisation dawning. “Oh no, oh no, oh no.”

He runs his hands through his hair, grabs it and tugs hard at it in the hope that it’ll wake him up from this very bad dream this very second. Would it be possible to not open the door, pretend he’s not there?

“Arthur?” Merlin’s voice is slightly distorted through the door. “I know you’re home. Let me in.”

Apparently that’s out of the question, then.

“Uh, yeah, just...”

Arthur’s frozen in place. This is bad. This is so bad. He knows he shouldn’t have jerked off to his brother’s text message, but he would’ve just lied to Merlin later, to himself, to anyone, because no one else was here to actually see it happen.

“Just... A second, yeah?”

But here Merlin is, just outside Arthur’s door, and they’re both in so much trouble. There’s two warring emotions in Arthur’s chest. One that hates himself for wanting Merlin so bad his entire body aches with it, the other wanting nothing else but to teach and take care of Merlin in equal measures. Merlin with his pale skin and his innocence and eyes that can see through Arthur like no one else ever has.

Arthur still wants what he fantasises about, even though he knows it’s wrong. He’s twisted and sick, but what does that make Merlin? Confused? Tricked into seducing Arthur — by Arthur?

It’s not until Merlin starts jiggling the door handle that Arthur snaps out of it and — before he can think about it — opens the door. Merlin looks frozen to the bone with only a hoodie and a thin scarf against the chilly January cold. At least it distracts Arthur a bit.

“Fucking idiot,” he says flatly and ushers him into the flat.

Merlin snorts, but his flushed cheeks go a shade redder. “I didn’t think I’d have to walk for twenty fucking minutes to get here. ‘S not my fault the stupid tube didn’t run all the way.”

“What are you doing here? Why didn’t you call?”

“I sort of did.”

“That was—” Arthur looks away and runs his hands over his face before motioning for Merlin to follow into the sitting room. “You didn’t say you were coming.”

As soon as the words are out of his mouth, he realises what he just said. He can feel his entire face going hot, and when he turns to look at Merlin, he’s met by a smirk.

“Really?” Merlin says.

“Shut up,” Arthur mutters. “What you said was wrong. I shouldn’t have said what I said either.”

But what I did was even worse.

“Arthur.”

Merlin reaches out and touches him on the arm to get his full attention. Not demanding, just softly, but Arthur can still feel the heat burning into his skin like a branding iron and he can’t move, can’t think.

“I know I shouldn’t have, but you... you want me, too, don’t you? I know you do.”

It’s difficult to find a good reason to protest. Arthur still can’t move, isn’t sure he wants to.

Merlin does move and reaches out to caress his cheek, fingers stroking Arthur’s stubble slowly, like it’s something precious. It’s with a burning shame Arthur leans into the touch. When Merlin’s fingers find the hair at his nape and start to slowly play with it, Arthur knows he’ll soon be going to hell for what he’s feeling. He draws a shuddery breath and is just about to take a step back when Merlin moves closer, still, and the wrongness of what they’re doing gets pushed aside by the overwhelming feeling of pure, indiscriminating want.

Arthur is the one who closes the last distance between them as he presses his mouth to Merlin’s, crowds even closer and pries those innocent, indecent lips apart with his tongue. A soft whimper escapes Merlin as Arthur breaks the kiss a few moments later.

“That was...” Arthur says, uncertain of how he’s supposed to feel about it.

“Good,” Merlin finishes and licks his lips, looking slightly dazed. “’S good. Good first kiss.”

Arthur groans and closes his eyes briefly. “Jesus fucking Christ, Merlin.”

“Sorry,” Merlin says and shrugs, embarrassed. He looks even younger than he is. “I’ve only ever wanted you.”

“But we shouldn’t—” Arthur’s fingers are slowly trailing down Merlin’s chest without him really meaning them to. “We shouldn’t do this.”

“But you want to, don’t you? I want you to. Us. I want us to.”

Merlin’s eyes are big and honest and far too trusting.

“We shouldn’t,” Arthur says, but it’s becoming difficult to convince even himself now.

“What does it matter if we do? I won’t tell anyone. I’m good with keeping secrets.”

“It’s— it’s illegal.”

“Just this once. I won’t pressure you again, promise.”

The problem isn’t Merlin pressuring him. He’s afraid that if he gives in, he’ll never be able to let go again. But when he looks at Merlin, he knows he’s lost the fight already. He won’t be able to resist Merlin — not now, not ever. He prays silently that no one will ever find out. God, their parents would kill him. Arthur makes a pained face grimace at the thought and is just about to turn away when Merlin takes a deep breath.

“Just this one time, to get you out of my system,” Merlin says, voice quieter and more unsure than a minute ago. “After this, I’ll date other people. I’ll fuck people my own age. Let them fuck me. I promise.”

No, Arthur thinks. No, there can’t be anyone else. There won’t be. If he’s going to hell anyway, why not make it worth it?

“Get undressed,” he says, sounding more sure than he feels, and ignores the warm feeling in his chest as Merlin’s face lights up as a child’s on Christmas Day. Bad metaphor, Arthur thinks. Bad, bad metaphor.

“Really?” Merlin breathes, unbelieving.

“Unless you want help with it.”

As Arthur takes his shirt off, he’s rewarded with the awed look on Merlin’s face and he knows he’s doomed. He doesn’t look up when he strips out of his jeans, not until he casually drops them by his feet. Merlin still isn’t undressed.

“Shouldn’t we go into your bedroom?”

“Have you changed your mind?”

Arthur tries to keep his voice steady and a bit teasing as he asks, but inside he can feel himself breaking when the answer doesn’t come straight away. Merlin looks up at him and frowns.

“No. Why would I change my mind?”

There are so many reasons, really, but...

“Come on then. Bedroom,” Arthur says.

When they’re in the tiny bedroom, everything becomes awkward. Arthur’s in his underpants and Merlin is still fully dressed, staring at the bed, shaking slightly with either excitement or nerves. It’s impossible to know what goes through Merlin’s mind when Arthur starts unbuttoning his artfully wrinkled shirt with trembling fingers, but at least Merlin lets him.

“I’ve fantasised about you,” Merlin says, eventually, as he glances at Arthur. “That you’d tie me down and fuck me until I screamed for you to stop. That I’d come live with you and we’d fuck all the time. You’d take care of me while I go to uni and I’d pay you back in sex. I’d come by your work and suck you off at your desk whenever you ask me to and then you would send me away unsatisfied and I’d—”

Arthur can’t listen to this — it’s too good, too bad — so he roughly cuts Merlin off by tugging his t-shirt off over his head, pushes him against the wall, and kisses him. Merlin clings to him, nails digging into his shoulders and it hurts in the best of ways. As Arthur deepens the kiss, it feels almost right, like Merlin was always meant to yield to him.

Breaking the kiss and nibbling Merlin’s neck and ear, Arthur fumbles with the zipper of Merlin’s jeans and swears under his breath when the trousers never come down. Merlin tips his head back against the wall and actually giggles but does nothing to help, the ungrateful little tease.

Frustrated, Arthur manoeuvres Merlin onto his back on the bed instead, to try to strip him of his jeans and socks that way.

Merlin looks at him, watches how Arthur struggles with a surprisingly stubborn sock. “You’re not hard,” he says, sounding disappointed.

“Yeah, well, I’ll come around,” Arthur says, voice rough. “Someone made me come pretty fucking hard not that long ago and I need some time to get going again.”

“Oh,” Merlin says, thoughtful. Then he smiles cheekily. “Because you’re elderly?”

Arthur stops fighting the sock and glares. “Maybe you should shut up,” he says and then manages to finally rid Merlin of both socks and jeans. He runs his hands along Merlin’s legs, carefully spreading them as he goes. Merlin is already so hard, cock straining behind the cotton of his underpants. “Because I can make you come without using my cock.”

It’s with a great deal of satisfaction he sees Merlin swallow with difficulty. “Oh,” Merlin says, weakly.

“Yeah,” Arthur says. “I’ll tease you until you break and beg me to touch you. I’ll suck your cock but keep you on the edge so long that you’ll shake and do anything for me to finish you off. I’ll make you whine and scream and—”

Merlin lets out a high-pitched moan and shudders as his orgasm hits him, an ugly blush quickly creeping up his chest and face. “I—” he starts, but gives up and instead tries to scrabble away from Arthur the best he can. Arthur doesn’t let him, though, and tightens his grip on Merlin’s thighs.

“Did you come?” he asks, even though he can see the proof in the growing wet spot on Merlin’s underpants. “Just from my voice?”

Merlin stills, doesn’t try to get away anymore, but also doesn’t look at Arthur when he nods.

“Oh, love,” Arthur says, an unfamiliar warmth blooming in his chest as he slowly strips Merlin of his pants. He throws them off the bed and carefully wraps his hand around Merlin’s soft cock, just holding it. “That’s… amazing. You’re amazing.”

Merlin whimpers at the touch. “It’s okay?”

The question is whispered and is probably not meant for Arthur to hear, but he answers it anyway. “Of course.”

Merlin lets out a relieved sigh and sinks back onto the bed.

Crawling up Merlin’s lax body, Arthur gives him a languid, satisfied kiss. He carefully, slowly, explores Merlin’s mouth and lips with his tongue, and Merlin matches him in tempo and intensity as well as he’s able.

It doesn’t take long before Merlin’s cock is growing hard again, and Arthur can feel it poking into his hip. When Arthur makes a small movement and presses down slightly, Merlin moans and thrusts up against him. Arthur chuckles. “God, you’re eager, aren’t you?”

Merlin shrugs where he lies. “You’re hot. ‘S not my fault.”

Leaving Merlin on the bed, Arthur gets up and removes his own underpants. To have Merlin like this, sated and naked, spread out on his bed, practically begging for it, is insane. The thought of what they’re about to do makes Arthur heady with want. With a practiced movement, he jacks off a few times to get his now half-hard cock to full attention. Then he gets lube and a condom from a drawer in the bedside table and crawls back onto the bed.

“On your stomach,” he orders and Merlin hastens to obey. “And for fuck’s sake, don’t rub off on the sheets.”

Merlin coughs, embarrassed, and stills his hips. “I won’t. Promise.”

Fuck.

“Arse up.”

Arthur waits for Merlin to find a good position — up on his knees but leaning forward onto his elbows — and then pries his arse cheeks apart. He blows at the tight hole and smiles when Merlin shudders. Leaning in, Arthur whispers in his ear, “You’ll need to be able to take quite a lot more than that.”

Merlin hums and curls his hands into the sheets before answering with a surprisingly steady voice, “I can take it.”

“I know. You’ll do anything for me to fuck you, right?”

With a weak whimper, Merlin just nods and screws his eyes shut.

So would I.

Arthur opens the cap of the lube and lets it dribble down Merlin’s crack. It’s cold and Merlin jerks forward slightly when it hits his hot skin, but he doesn’t move more than that. Arthur trails the wetness with his finger and rubs it over Merlin’s hole before slowly, slowly pushing it in.

“God, god, god, god...” Merlin chants as Arthur presses his whole finger in and tries to loosen the tight muscle.

Merlin’s so innocent, has so much more to learn and experience if he almost loses it over one finger up his arse. It’s so fucking hot Arthur can barely stand it.

“Shhh,” he says soothingly and runs his other hand over his lean back, feeling Merlin tremble at the touch. “Relax, love. You’re so beautiful, so pretty. I’m going to add a second finger now, okay? You can take it. Just relax.”

Taking a deep breath, Arthur watches how Merlin’s hole first resists, and then gives in and allows both fingers in, and it’s absolutely fucking glorious. When he starts moving them in and out, gently scissoring them, Merlin lets out a small sob and Arthur forces himself to stop.

“Are you okay?” he asks, suddenly afraid that he’s hurt Merlin.

Merlin nods, “Yeah, yeah. It’s just... God. It hurts but it’s so fucking... amazing?”

“I’ll take care of you,” Arthur says, because it’s the only thing he can think of that isn’t too much, too soon.

He gets into a rhythm, working his fingers in and out, loosening Merlin’s hole. It’s not until he curves his fingers and hits the right spot that Merlin makes another incoherent noise.

“F-f-fuck!” he says and jerks his hips forward. “What the fuck?!”

Oh god, that reaction is hilarious. Arthur knows he shouldn’t laugh at Merlin’s inexperience, but he can’t help it. He starts giggling so hard he can’t keep up the fingering, and he can feel rather than hear when Merlin starts getting pissed off. The anger practically radiates off him like a foul stench, but Arthur still can’t stop laughing.

When Merlin makes a move to rise off the bed, he finally manages to get himself under control.

“Love, I’m sorry.”

Arthur wraps an arm around Merlin’s middle and gives him sort of a backward hug. After a minute, Merlin relaxes a little bit.

“I’m sorry. I’d forgot how amazing and weird sex is the first time.”

He kisses Merlin’s shoulder.

“You can’t laugh at me,” Merlin says, sulkily. “Just because I’m not as experienced—”

“You’re not,” Arthur admits, “but that only makes you even more precious.”

Merlin turns his head slightly and looks at Arthur. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Arthur moves so they can kiss, tries to make it as messy and hot as possible. Merlin moans into his mouth and suggestively wriggles his arse. “Continue?” he asks, smile cheeky.

With a light slap on one of the small, delicious-looking cheeks, Arthur goes back to work. He nibbles a little at the soft skin of Merlin’s lower back, sucking a hickey there just for the fun of it. Merlin moans when Arthur hits the spot with his fingers again, but he doesn’t swear and Arthur doesn’t start laughing uncontrollably.

When Arthur pulls his fingers out and starts fumbling around for the condom, Merlin looks back at him again and bites his lips.

“What?” Arthur asks.

“Can you... I want...” Merlin starts, but he’s blushing and can’t seem to get the words out.

“What do you need, Merlin?”

“No condom?”

“But you... We shouldn’t. It’s—”

“I just want... just this time. Want you close.” Merlin breathes in and Arthur can see his blush getting worse. “I need you inside, okay?”

Arthur swallows thickly. He’s really should lecture Merlin on the dangers of unprotected sex, but fuck. Fuck, it would be glorious and just this once- “Yeah, okay. Okay.”

Instead of finding the condom, he pours some more lube in his hand and slicks up his cock. Jesus fucking Christ, this is really going to happen. In for a penny...

“Ready?”

Arthur’s voice is scratchy as he lines up and puts a reassuring hand on Merlin’s hip. Merlin nods.

“Okay.”

He pushes forward and can feel Merlin tense even before he breaches him.

“Shh, love, relax,” he says and waits for Merlin to take a shaky breath in and then slowly exhale. “You can take it.”

Merlin just nods and pushes his face into the pillow he’s hugging. Arthur runs his hands over Merlin’s back, his arse, his sides, trying to calm him, like you would a spooked horse.

When Merlin finally relaxes enough, Arthur doesn’t have the patience to take it as slowly as he should. He pushes in slowly, but doesn’t give Merlin any reprieve either. There’s a muffled “ah, ah, ah!” coming from Merlin, but the only thing Arthur can think of is how amazing it feels. How hot, how beautiful, how wonderfully tight Merlin is for him.

And only for him.

Testing this new playground, he slowly withdraws and then pushes his hips forward again. Merlin whines into the pillow, and for all Arthur knows, he might be crying. This is so wrong but also more right than Arthur has ever experienced, and he can’t make himself stop.

Increasing the pace of his thrusts, Arthur gives Merlin the thorough work-over he fantasised about not even two hours ago. Sadly not over his big oak desk, but it’s satisfying enough having Merlin at his mercy, being the only one who’s ever had him like this.

When Arthur reaches for Merlin’s cock, it doesn’t take more than a few hard tugs before Merlin is screaming out his orgasm and, when Arthur pumps his cock a few extra times to get it completely empty, starts sobbing loudly into the pillow. That shouldn’t really get Arthur more worked up but it does, and he comes with a weak cry as he fills Merlin’s hole with his come.

They both slump down onto the bed, and Arthur wants to fall asleep but he also needs to see Merlin. Gently, he pushes at Merlin’s shoulder and tries to turn him over. “Merlin?”

“Hnnng,” Merlin answers. “’M dead.”

Arthur laughs. “Good, then?”

“’Twas perfect.”

You’re perfect.”

Arthur says it softly, and tries to cling to that thought as he watches Merlin fall asleep, exhausted. He knows he needs to call his dad and Hunith and tell them Merlin is here with him, since he doubts Merlin has told them about visiting London.

He also knows he needs to talk to Merlin about all of this, try to talk him out of it. He knows Merlin won’t listen, because that’s just the way he is. He knows he is in so much trouble, because he wants this all the time; listen to Merlin sleep soundly beside him, feel his skin under his fingertips, kiss him, fuck him, have him in every way possible.

With a sigh, he trails his fingers over the knobs of Merlin’s spine and lets his hand rest at his lower back for a second before carefully getting out of bed to wash up.

When he reaches the bathroom door, he looks back at the sleeping figure. Merlin looks almost ethereal in the weak light. It’s strange how someone that innocent can be just as twisted as Arthur knows himself to be. Others would ask what went wrong in their childhood. What made them like this?

How can two people so different be so much alike in the worst of ways?

Arthur doesn’t have an answer to that.

Maybe they are twisted, sick, freaks, unnatural... but whatever they are, they’re the same.

***

THE END

***