The first time he feels it he's hanging upside down, somewhere he shouldn't be (as usual), making his getaway with a stolen laptop and an iPhone, while the clueless victim of the theft is murdering Lady Gaga songs at the top of his voice in the shower. It's not quite an uneasy feeling that trickles down his spine; it's more like he's being watched, yes -- and it distracts him, making him lose his concentration and causing his magic to waver. His footing follows, so that before he knows it, he's lost his balance and is scrabbling for purchase, forcing him to orchestrate an elaborate back flip manoeuvre and drop to the ground like a cat -- a move that is only possible with the aid of his magic to steady his descent. Of course, he drops straight into the path of an old lady walking her dog. She screams and waves a walking stick at him, but he's faster than her.
He makes it back wondering what the hell happened distracted him so much that he nearly got caught.
Over the following couple of weeks Merlin's magic plays up at the oddest times. Like when he's winding his way through the guests at an extremely tedious cocktail party, itching to get out of the stifling tux he's camouflaged himself in, and the back of his neck prickles. He turns, certain someone has to be watching him, but all he sees is a sea of similarly dressed men and sparkly ladies, and no one is paying any attention at all to the tall young man with the big ears and the racing heart. Still, that was the night he tripped the alarm on the safe and had to be very creative with his exit strategy as the party turned to chaos below.
Or when he's at an art gallery pretending an interest in scratchy looking portraits of old movie stars, he gets the feeling again and almost forgets his cover. He nearly blows the whole thing, but not before his mild magical panic causes one of the portraits to crash to the floor and narrowly miss a man that Merlin suspects is actually Hugh Grant. He has to collect himself in the gents before going back out into the fray and resuming his fake persona so he can collect what he needs.
Merlin feels it on the tube too, his magic prickling like goose bumps, and it's then that he really starts to worry that someone's actually following him. In his line of work, it's not outside of the realm of possibility and he really should have thought of this before. He rubs his neck uncomfortably and refuses to turn his head to look behind him. He's tired and paranoid and maybe it's time he took Gaius up on that offer to visit him in his seaside retirement home before he does something really stupid. He leaves the train two stops sooner than he needs to and walks the rest of the way in the rain, trying fathom why his magic wants him to turn around and go back.
Merlin's normally good at being stealthy-- it's how he makes his living after all-- but this time it's different. He feels odd again, like something wants him to stay here in this unfamiliar flat. There's a pull in his chest, stronger than he's felt it before, that leads him along the hallway when he should be making his escape -- he's got what he came for after all, and it's safely wrapped and stowed in his backpack -- but he can't help himself, because it's that feeling again, the one that's been causing him so many problems. He really should be heading in the opposite direction.
It's a hundred times stronger this time and reason abandons him.
The carpet beneath his feet is plush and expensive and very useful for silencing his approach. This is Uther Pendragon's flat; he's out of the country, Morgana promised it would be empty, but there's faint noise, more like a tremor in the air, and he's caught in a tractor beam of dim light that is emitting from the door slightly ajar at the end of the hall.
Merlin sidles closer, as the strange feeling in his chest yanks him forward. His hand is on the door, pushing it open so he can see inside. The heavy pounding of his heart is deafening, and that has to be what that blocks out the warning signs of what he's walking in on.
A naked man lies on a large double bed, the quilt kicked to his feet, his hips bucking off the bed as he fucks his own fist, frantically, his right hand jerking fast and hard. His blond head is thrown back and the blue light from a discarded laptop on the floor accentuates the cords in his neck and the strong line of his nose. Merlin allows his eyes to travel the length of his body: strong athlete's thighs, a hairless muscular chest, belly concave at this angle, dipping down into a smattering of light hair and, God-
Beautiful, and thankfully not Uther Pendragon.
No, the man on the bed making those delightful breathy sounds as he brings himself to orgasm is much younger, early thirties at the most.
Merlin knows he's lost control of himself when he gasps; the man's eyes fly open, shocked, to meet Merlin's gaze. Merlin belatedly realises he hasn't pulled down his balaclava, and knows he needs to go now, he needs to run and hope that the man is too shocked to make a call to the police before Merlin's on the roof and away.
He's frozen on the spot; the subject of his vision is too. Merlin says, immediately deciding he's lost the plot, or is mad with lust, one or the other, "Don't stop on my account."
His hand on the door curls tightly, his knuckles white as he sways. He decides it's the blood rushing to his cock that makes him feel faint and not the way the man bites his lip and begins to stroke his cock again. "Too close to stop," he grinds out. "Too close."
He bucks his hips again, thrusting his cock in the tight ring of his fist, running the pad of his thumb over the head and collecting the precome. It's all Merlin can do not to push into the room, straddle him and take that glorious red cock between his lips to finish him off.
"God," he says and he can't tear his eyes away. "You're magnificent." The man is staring at him, their eyes fixed on each other, when he comes with a cry, his eyes closing from the force of it. Long strings of come coat his chest and Merlin's mouth waters.
He has to go, he has to-- He forces himself to move, adrenalin kicking in as he runs, awkwardly with that hard-on, back down the hallway to the window where he disappears into the night.
It's a total fuck up-- he's been seen-- but despite all of that, he's finding it difficult to care, because God, that was the hottest thing he's ever seen and all he wants to do is get home and wank himself raw.
"There was someone staying in the flat. He saw me," Merlin says, avoiding eye contact, when he meets Morgana to hand over the priceless artefact he's liberated from her father's ridiculously over-complicated safe.
"So my brother tells me," Morgana replies, taking the velvet pouch from Merlin and placing it in her top desk drawer. She locks it, pockets the key and turns to Merlin with a disapproving expression and her arms folded across her chest. "He claims he can't remember what you look like though, so you're safe."
So that had been the elusive Arthur Pendragon. At least Merlin has a name for his wank fantasies now.
Merlin's surprised that he's claiming he doesn't remember though. Arthur Pendragon had spent a considerable period of time staring into his eyes as Merlin had stood frozen in the doorway. He believes Morgana is telling the truth; she's magical, like him in some ways, but her main skill is the ability to see the future when it affects people she knows. If only that extended to imminent terrorist threats and their lives would be much easier.
"Are we done now?" he asks. He hates that he did this for her but she's his boss, the Section Chief, and whatever her reasons for having him steal whatever was in the velvet pouch he's just handed over, it's her business until she chooses to tell him -- if she chooses to. Normally his stealthy breaking and entering skills are used to garner top secret information that benefits the security of the nation, not to get one over on estranged parents-- if that is what this was.
Morgana's eyes flash. "I'm more concerned with why he saw you," she says. She nods at the chair in front of her desk. "Take a seat."
Merlin sits and ends up telling her everything -- the way his magic has been acting up, how he feels like he's being watched, how he couldn't resist following where his magic wanted to lead him last night. The only thing he leaves out is the wanking.
"You should have told me this sooner." She sits back in her chair and peers down her nose at him over the horn-rimmed glasses she wears that he's certain are only for show. "You need to tell me anything that might put a mission in danger, Merlin. You're very good at what you do, but you're still vastly inexperienced. Always stick to the task at hand unless danger presents itself to you. Do not go courting it!"
After twenty minutes of further remonstration, just as Morgana is wrapping up, Merlin's annoyed enough to ask, "Does your brother know that you are behind the break-in at your father's?"
Morgana laughs, short and seemingly despite herself. Shaking her head she says, "I knew you'd be trouble when I took you on. It's not what you think though, Merlin. I can't tell you what this is about yet, it's need to know, but trust me -- I have my reasons for what I had you do last night."
Merlin nods. He's not sure what to think, but then he's never really been able to figure out Morgana Pendragon. She'd given the order and he'd complied. "I'm tired," he says, stifling a yawn. "If this meeting is over, I'm going home to bed."
He doesn't wait for her permission.
Merlin tries, really tries, and fails, to get Arthur Pendragon out of his head. He wants him, but he's blown that, obviously. He doesn't believe for one moment that Arthur 'can't remember' what he looks like. Arthur remembers, he just doesn't want his sister to know what he was caught doing even if it is the perfect excuse for why he never gave chase.
He imagines Arthur telling Morgana, 'I couldn't chase him because I was naked and covered in my own come.' This turns him on more than it amuses him so he shoves the thought out of his head. It's immediately replaced by another fantasy where Arthur's saying, 'Too close to stop,' like he did that night, but this time Merlin doesn't just stand there frozen, he joins him in the bed and sucks him dry like he'd wanted to. God.
Morgana sends him and Gwaine to Bristol to gather some intel on the latest homeland terrorist threat, and just for a few hours Merlin's mind is his own. No bizarre magical urges distract him and he's able to concentrate on the job. When he's working there can be no distractions that are within his control; his work is too important. Even if Gwaine is one of those people who can charm the birds from the trees, a real James Bond, and Merlin always feels like his gawky side-kick who if this were a movie would have had his number come up in the first scene. Only Merlin's the one with the real power, magic that thrums through his veins that nearly always serves him well -- except for when it leads him to blond visions pleasuring themselves. He still has no idea why it led him to Arthur.
They go into Thames House to debrief as soon as they get back, straight into a section meeting. As soon as he's out of the lift Merlin feels his skin tingle, and that pull in his chest is back but he doesn't have time to stop and investigate; he and Gwaine are already late to the debriefing thanks to the London traffic and the British weather.
He has his answer soon enough when they enter the briefing room. Arthur Pendragon is there, in the flesh, wearing a tailored dark grey suit with a blue tie that makes his eyes even bluer. Merlin has wondered what colour they were; he hadn't been able to see them in the half-light that night.
He gasps and Arthur smirks. Morgana shoots him a warning glance and gestures for Gwaine and Merlin to sit.
Merlin's head starts to spin. What the fuck is going on? Morgana has to know Arthur's going to recognise him now -- hell, that smirk says it all!
He glances around the table. The whole team's there: Lancelot and Percy, both of them Senior Case Officers like Gwaine; the team's Tech, Gwen; and Senior Intelligence Analyst Leon. Merlin's the team's least experienced operative, a Junior Case Officer. They all look as confused as he feels.
"This is my brother, Arthur Pendragon," Morgana announces tersely, her discomfort clear in from her posture. "He Five's new Homeland Security Advisor. We're lucky to have him; he's been undercover in Six for some time now and the Home Secretary had to pull a whole load of strings to get him, but even Six couldn't say no to Kilgharrah when he's got his mind made up."
As Security Advisor Arthur would answer directly to the Home Secretary, and whilst not technically Morgana's boss, he was certainly far more senior than her. Merlin watches her as she glances at Arthur and her stern demeanour cracks for a moment. She's proud of him.
Merlin had no idea that Arthur was with the service; he'd stoically resisted looking him up and had instead assumed he worked for his father. He stares down at his hands, determined not to give in and look at Arthur as every molecule of his being seems to be screaming at him to do.
"It's pleasure to meet you all," Arthur says. "I've been to all of the section team meetings to introduce myself. I believe it's important that you all know who I am and know that you can approach me. I don't bite." His gaze flicked to Merlin and his lips twitch.
Merlin feels the flush creeping up his neck.
"Now, I should tell you that over the last few weeks I've been watching you all," Arthur tells them, instantly back to business as Merlin's trying not to squirm.
"You spied on us?" Gwaine asks in amusement.
"That is what we do best," Arthur replies. "It's all above board, I assure you. As part of my new role I need to know first-hand what is going on, and I wanted an accurate picture rather than one coloured by my presence."
"Did we pass?" Lance's tone is defensive.
"It wasn't a test, but I am impressed by what I've seen," Arthur replied. "Merlin's the only one who rumbled me though."
Merlin is unable to resist looking at him now. "What do you mean?" He'd caught Arthur wanking for pity's sake! Was that all a set up?
Arthur's eyes bore into his. "You nearly caught me out a couple of times whilst I was watching you; you knew something was amiss. You've got a very well attuned sixth sense." Damn, his gaze is intense. Merlin swallows but can't look away even when Arthur is forced to turn his attention towards Morgana.
The meeting continues; Merlin and Gwaine report their findings from Bristol, Percy and Lance do the same for their sojourn to Edinburgh. Something's brewing, something big, but they just can't get a handle on it yet.
When the meeting concludes, Merlin's got his eye on the door, ready to escape. He needs to process this. What the hell was that with Arthur in his father's flat, some kind of test? He must have failed it, but he's been praised, not criticised, today.
As he's leaving the room he hears Morgana whisper to Arthur, "Go on, you arse. I saw this coming weeks ago."
He crashes into the gents, his heart pounding and his cock half hard from the memory of the other night despite his attempts to will it away. It's ridiculous. He enters a cubicle and collapses back against the door with his eyes closed and one hand pressing firmly against his groin. He's not going to wank at work; he is not.
Merlin's so busy fighting with himself that he doesn't hear someone else enter the room, nor does he register them entering the cubicle next to his. His first clue is the voice that says, "Give in to it, Merlin." His eyes fly open and he jerks his head up to see Arthur's face peering over the cubicle divider and his magic almost explodes out of him in recognition.
It's been Arthur all along.
Arthur nods his head towards the main entrance. "Lock the door."
Oh God. Merlin blinks and the door clicks. He watches Arthur for further instructions, his breath heavy in his ears. This is really happening. It's not in his head, it's not a dream, it's real and it's now and it's not even weird that he's only just officially met Arthur an hour ago.
"It's my turn to watch you," Arthur says hungrily. Merlin's mesmerised by the glint in his eyes. "I'd put money on this being exactly what you did when you left my father's flat that night, am I correct?"
Merlin nods. "This isn't very professional," Merlin argues with a croak even as his fingers are lingering over the top button of his trousers.
Arthur's head disappears from above and two seconds later there's a soft knock on the cubicle door behind him. Merlin spins to the side to allow Arthur to enter and lean back against the door to close it again.
"You don't make me feel very professional, so it's a good job I'm not your boss," Arthur says and pulls Merlin towards him so that his back is against Arthur's chest. "All that following you around these last few weeks was one of the most difficult assignments I've ever had because I didn't just want to watch. Have you any idea-?"
Warm fingers pull Merlin's shirt from his waistband and Arthur's hand presses flat against his abdomen. Merlin bites his lip and tried not to groan.
"I told Morgana to give you the assignment at my father's flat. By that point I'd seen you orchestrate some very impressive acquisitions and I wanted to see if your magic could get you in. My father is a very paranoid man and has his place locked up like Fort Knox, and you simply breezed in as though thousands of pounds worth of security were just a piece of string tied around a farm gate." Arthur's voice lowers. "I hadn't expected you that particular night though. Morgana's idea of a joke, I think."
Arthur's deft fingers make light work of Merlin's top button and he slides down zip. Merlin hears his own breath catch in his throat. He feels as though he's fallen asleep and this is one of the fantasies that have filled his head since first seeing Arthur the other day.
"I was thinking of you," Arthur continues. He tips his head into Merlin's neck and says, "Have you any idea how hot you are? What a turn on all that magic is? I've never seen power like it."
Merlin gasps as his cock is cupped in a warm palm. He shakes his head. "No."
"Do you know how much I wanted you to join me?" Arthur nibbles Merlin's earlobe.
Yes. God, Merlin had wanted that too.
"I don't think I can just watch--" Arthur brings his palm up to Merlin's lips and Merlin licks. He's lost and he knows it.
When he's satisfied his palm is slick enough Arthur releases Merlin's cock from the confines of his trousers, running the pad of his thumb over the sensitive head. "Going to make you come so hard, Merlin--" he whispers, his lips tickling Merlin's ear. "I haven't been able to stop thinking about you and I don't think I ever want to." He bites into Merlin's neck, his deft fingers doing things to Merlin's cock that Merlin has only dreamt of before.
"Yes," Merlin manages, his magic burning under the surface of his skin. It knows, his magic, it has from before he even met Arthur. It led him to him. He can hardly complain that Arthur seems to feel the same if his words and actions are anything to go by. "Arthur…"
"God, Merlin, how did I…before this?" Arthur says, and any doubts Merlin has that Arthur does feel whatever this is between them melt away. He feels the hard press of Arthur's cock against his still clothed arse and he's boneless against him, pressing back, buzzing with a wonderful combination of desire and belonging.
Merlin has never loved his magic more than he does right now, even as the lights flicker overhead and he's burning with the intensity of it. All those times Gaius used to tell him to listen to his magical instincts, how it's part of him, part of nature and it knows and- Oh God. Arthur's fist on Merlin's cock increases its speed and so ends the remains of Merlin's coherency as he leans his head back into the crook of Arthur's neck and gives in to destiny.