The insistent knocking at the door demands Arthur's attention. At first he expects it to stop, that whoever it is will go away and leave him alone. He's been sitting on his own on the couch since he came home from work. The flat still feels empty, far too silent when it's just him there. Though days have passed, he can't get used to it.
"All right!" he yells, when it becomes clear that the knocking won't stop. "I'm coming!"
He yanks the door open, ready to scowl at the person intruding on his black mood.
It's a tall, gawky-looking boy, still in his uniform and with a heavy school backpack weighing his shoulders down. The rain has glued his black hair to his face and darkened parts of his blazer and trousers. He's just removed his glasses and appears to be drying them with a handkerchief (what sort of a boy has a handkerchief these days?). Under Arthur's scrutinising gaze, he puts them on again.
"Are you Dr Pendragon? Of the museum?" His voice is pitched higher than Arthur expected it to be.
Anything that Arthur might have said or asked dies away.
"Yes," he replies, his mouth feeling dry.
"I shouldn't barge in on you like this, Sir," says the boy. "But I'm really interested in what you do. You gave a public lecture - the one about Iron Age warriors - and I wanted to ask you about it. For the school paper."
Arthur opens his mouth, but the boy is talking again, before Arthur manages to say something.
"I was going to email you about it, Sir, and then I decided to just come here," he says. "But you're obviously not very keen to talk to me, are you?"
At that, Arthur comes to his senses again. "What's your name?"
The boy smiles. He's got a blinding smile, completely infectious. Arthur almost finds himself smiling back. His heart is beating wildly.
"It's Merlin, Sir," The boy says. "Merlin Emrys."
Arthur stands back to let Merlin in before he closes the door and locks it again. Merlin is offering his hand, so Arthur shakes it.
"How old are you, Merlin?" Arthur asks.
"I'm fourteen, Sir," Merlin replies, obviously a well-mannered child apart from certain stalkerish tendencies.
"Aren't you supposed to be at home, Merlin? It's almost eight o'clock."
The boy makes a little huffing sound. "I'm not a baby. And besides, my mum works 'til ten." Arthur notes that he's already dropped the Sir.
"Very well then, Merlin," Arthur says. "You better take of your shoes and jacket. I'll dry them for you while we talk."
His blue eyes had looked dark. They'd been shadowed by the way in which he'd lowered his head. The pupils had been blown huge with emotion.
When Arthur had reached for his hand, he'd backed away.
"Arthur? Can you explain this to me?" he'd pointed to Arthur's laptop. "Can you?"
And Arthur hadn't been able to.
They sit down in the living room, Arthur on the sofa and Merlin crouched adoringly at his feet, on the rug. With his legs crossed, almost in a lotus position, he looks unreal.
The flickering light of the fire highlights the sculpted quality of his face: sharp cheekbones, an elegant nose with the flared nostrils of a pure-bread Arabian colt, full mouth, dark blue eyes behind his boyish specs. His face tapers from a wide forehead to a delightful little chin that's just determined enough to save him from looking girlish.
He's cradling the cup of hot chocolate he's been provided with. His fingers are long and shapely. "I'm just waiting for it to cool a little," he explains.
Arthur nods. "What did you want to ask me about?"
Merlin blushes prettily. "This is going to sound really silly and creepy," he swallows, before continuing. "I just wanted to see you. I'm your biggest fan. I loved you on Time Team."
Arthur puts his own mug of coffee away, manages to make his voice calm enough despite the hunger and need and hope inside his heart.
"Merlin, I'm the curator of Late Prehistory at the Camelot Museum. I'm not a film star or in a band or anything. I don't really have fans." He doesn't mention the faint flicker of pride he still gets whenever someone recognises him on the street.
"I have a crush on you," Merlin continues. He's put his cup away, and now his hands are on Arthur's thigh. "I've wanted you ever since I first saw you. You could say it was love at first sight."
When Arthur tries to push his hands away, Merlin crawls up on the sofa and refuses to be moved.
"I know it sounds weird, but I'm your destiny." His eyes are mesmerising.
"I'm thirty years old," says Arthur, trying to sound grown-up and logic. "More than twice your age. I can't do anything with you. It would be illegal." He knows how mechanic his voice sounds. Not like him at all. It's just like a pre-recorded message.
Merlin grabs hold of his hand.
"I don't care about right or wrong or about how old any of us is. I love you. I want you." His voice is stubborn, but there is both tenderness and desperation in his eyes.
"You better go," Arthur manages to say. There is absolutely no conviction in his tone.
"I can't," Merlin replies, a triumphant note in his voice. "Not unless you throw me out on the street without shoes or anything. Would you do that? It's still raining."
Which is true. Arthur can hear the incessant pattering of raindrops behind the drawn curtains. With a sigh, he looks back at the boy. Merlin is so lovely it hurts. Huge, silly ears. Dark hair drying into faun-like curls. Miles and miles of legs in soft grey school trousers. His shirt is thin and white, and Arthur knows he's not wearing anything underneath, because his nipples are visible through the fabric.
When Merlin removes his specs and puts them on the coffee table, something within Arthur gives. Instead of fighting his attraction, he remains sitting. Frozen. Merlin's lips on his own lips brings him back. It's dry at first. Tentative. And then, as if Merlin's realised that he won't be pushed away, he really goes for it. Pushes his tongue into Arthur's mouth. It's puppyish and wet, and Merlin tastes faintly of chewing gum and below that of chips. It's still quite the best kiss Arthur's ever received. He goes hard in an instant.
With his defences thus neutralised, he's an easy prey. Merlin gets into his lap, straddles Arthur's thighs. Within moments, he's grinding luxuriously against Arthur's erection.
"You want this, too," he says, as if he's got irrefutable proof.
"It's not what it looks like," Arthur had said. "I'm not-- I would never--"
He'd looked at Arthur, not as if Arthur was something corrupt and evil and despicable, but rather sad and pathetic.
"You do know what it looks like, do you?"
"I know," Arthur had managed to whisper. "But they're all over eighteen. Do you really think I'd--"
Arthur had wanted to cry with the shame of it.
And now there's this boy in his lap. And Arthur wants him. Dear God, he wants him. Wants to taste his skin, wants to get inside his lithe body, wants to hear his own name as the boy cries out in ecstasy.
"You don't have a clue about what I want," Arthur manages to whisper.
Merlin has been sucking inexpertly, but absolutely maddening, at Arthur's Adam's apple. Now he lets it go and meets Arthur's gaze.
"I want to do everything," he says, managing to look both innocent and determined in that funny way that only young teenagers do. "I've read a lot about it on the internet. I've done my homework."
"I'm sure you have," Arthur says, with whatever force he can summon.
"I can give you head," Merlin retorts, undaunted. He's still working his body against Arthur's. "You can throw me out afterwards, if I'm no good. Just let me suck you first. I'm desperate for your cock."
Arthur is one hundred percent determined to say no. And then he clearly hears his own voice saying Yes.
Merlin smiles and practically falls down on his bony knees, elbowing his way in between Arthur's thighs. "I'm going to make this so good for you," he says.
It's meant to be seductive, and it shouldn't be. Merlin is clumsy and awkward and funny. The sort of goofy kid everyone loves, but not in that way. But Arthur is seduced. Because Merlin's lashes are longer than anything he's ever seen. Because there's such an absolute conviction in his voice. He knows that Arthur is his and that nothing is going to stop him from getting what he wants.
Fear and shame and lust fills Arthur as the boy opens his trousers and finds Arthur's cock.
"It's beautiful," Merlin says. He stares at it for a good, long while. Enough for Arthur to feel freakish and self-conscious. When Merlin licks it, from the root to the moist tip, Arthur wants to weep.
"Don't touch me," he'd said. "Just don't, Arthur." And he'd started to cry. It had made him look so very young and vulnerable.
"I'm sorry," Arthur had said. Because there wasn't much more he could say.
Arthur had watched him pack a few things in a rucksack, unable to help him, unable to do anything about the tears streaming down the face of the one person that meant the most to him in the entire world.
Merlin is enthusiastic and tender, but not very skilled. There is some scraping of teeth and he gags when he tries to take more of Arthur in his mouth. He ends up sucking at the head and fisting the spit-slick shaft with a deft hand. It's good enough that Arthur comes almost as quick as he did the first time a girl (Jenny? Wendy-- No, Gwen. He's quite sure her name was Gwen) went down on him, half a lifetime ago.
He doesn't think to warn Merlin, who promptly splutters and coughs and goes all red, as if he might actually choke to death on Arthur's come. Arthur pats his back awkwardly.
"Sorry," Arthur manages to say. "Should've warned you."
"Euurgh," Merlin winces, suddenly very much a teenage boy. "I can't believe you just did that in my mouth!" He wipes his lips with the back of his hand.
Arthur puts himself back in his trousers. "You can do it in my mouth," he says. "If you care for it."
The flushed, breathless expression on Merlin's face tells him all he needs to know.
"Sit," Arthur tells him. And Merlin does; slumping down next to Arthur without any grace at all.
When Arthur unzips Merlin's trousers and tugs his briefs down, he's met by a surprise.
Merlin is completely smooth. There's no hair at all.
"Jesus fucking Christ," Arthur utters.
Merlin chuckles. "I knew you'd like it," he says cheekily. "I'm the same all over my body."
Merlin's cock is slim and small, of adult proportions but very clearly in the smallest end of the range. His sac is tight and snug and Arthur is tempted to try to suck it all into his mouth. He's certain it would fit.
When Merlin moans, completely unashamed, Arthur wastes no time. He goes down on Merlin using every trick he knows, which isn't a little. Using his tongue and his lips and his fingers, he worships Merlin like he deserves to be worshipped. By pacing himself and stopping every time Merlin gets too close, he manages to stave Merlin's off orgasm until the boy is desperate, yanking at Arthur's hair and begging him to finish.
Arthur doesn't. He continues until his jaw aches and his lips hurt. By then Merlin is a mess. Back arched, face contorted as if in pain, dark fringe plastered to his face and mouth open.
Just before Merlin comes, he surprises Arthur by wriggling to get his genitals away from Arthur's mouth. When Arthur realises what it is Merlin is doing, he pulls away quickly.
"I didn't-- I mean, did I hurt you? Do you want me to stop?" Please don't, a part of him pleads.
Merlin shakes his head. He opens his mouth, but there is a moment or two before he manages to speak.
"Not like this," he bites his lower lip, chews nervously on it. "I want to come in your bed. Want you to take me afterwards. Bend me over and fuck me senseless."
The obscenity sounds twice as shocking coming from Merlin's filthy-gorgeous mouth. He must be aware of it, because his expression is adorable, a mixture of curiosity and longing and god knows what else. An innocent trying to play at seduction, with nothing but his virginal body to wager.
"No!" Arthur splutters. Even though his body cries Yes.
"There's going to be fucking," Merlin tells him, very slowly, not caring a jot for Arthur's insincerities. "Just so you know. I'm not leaving this flat a virgin."
He'd walked out, tears drying into salty stains on his cheeks. And Arthur had stood by, helpless, and watched.
Arthur had wanted to smash his fist into the wall, or drink himself senseless, or anything. Anything that would make him forget. But he knew he wouldn't be able to.
"I'm going to hell for this," Arthur says before he gathers the boy up in his arms and carries him to his bedroom. He's never cared for anything or anyone the way he cares for the bony, long-limbed creature he holds during those precious moments before they make it to the bed.
He lays Merlin down before falling upon him, grateful and half delirious with lust. He loosens Merlin's school tie first, throws it carelessly to the floor. The shirt goes next, the expanse of bared skin growing with each loosened button. When his trousers and pants and socks go, it is clear that Merlin has been telling the truth. He is perfectly hairless. His milky, flawless skin feels like living silk under Arthur's fingers.
Arthur licks a stripe from Merlin's foot to his bony hip. His skin tastes salty and fresh, like a summer storm. At the point where his thighs meet, Merlin's little cock is still erect, flushed and leaking against his bared skin.
This time, Arthur doesn't hold back. He encloses Merlin in his mouth, bringing him off so quickly he surprises them both. Merlin cries out, arches his back helplessly and shoots his load into Arthur, who relieves him of every last drop. He keeps it all in his mouth as he turns Merlin's boneless body over. The boy is pliant, almost sleepy. It's so easy to lift his hips, place pillows under him so that his pretty little arse is raised just so.
Arthur is caught up in the game now. Merlin's cries have burnt away his shame, leaving only lust smouldering inside him. He palms Merlin's arse lovingly, parting the cheeks, filling each hand with a round, peachy buttock. They're as smooth and perfect as everything else. The tight little furl of muscle in between them is like a slightly darker star in the pale crevice.
Arthur licks all the way from Merlin's balls to his entrance, and beyond, spreading Merlin's own juices into his cleft. Slicking him up, polishing him into a wet gleam. The moan that escapes Merlin's mouth starts out shocked and ends up randy, pleading. As Arthur works him, his hole pulses under Arthur's tongue, hungry for cock already. Arthur replies by pressing his thumb against it, watching it dimple and give. Watching the first joint of his finger slipping into that hot little entrance before he resumes licking.
Merlin gasps. "Yes," he whispers, spreading his legs wider. "Oh, fuck, yes-- Make me--" his voice breaks into a whimper.
Arthur stops working him with his tongue, but keeps his thumb in place, letting it tremble into the now puffy little pucker.
"Make you what?" he lets his other thumb join the first, pressing down, but not letting it enter Merlin's body. He's holding Merlin's perfect backside in his hands, and it's making Merlin moan. His body is tensing up again, already coiling itself for a new orgasm.
"Your schoolboy slut," Merlin says. His voice is raw and filthy. "Your fuck-toy."
Arthur almost pulls out his finger in shock. "No," he says and he tries to find the words to convey the unnameable, tender things inside him. "Just mine. My beautiful boy," He presses a kiss to Merlin's lower back with a sticky mouth. "My beautiful, beloved boy. My everything."
He kisses him again and again.
The words make Merlin jolt, and a queer little sound, impossible to decipher, escapes him. It's a wonderful sound and Arthur doesn't hesitate to pump his thumb into Merlin's opening. Only small, careful movements. He pats Merlin gently with his other hand.
"You're looking so pretty," he confesses, so eager to share this moment with Merlin. "Your boy-cunt is so wet for me. All pink and puckered," he kisses the skin just above his thumb. It's salty and bitter with sweat and seed. "I'm going to open you, Merlin," he tells the boy splayed out in front of him. "Get you nice and loose so you can take all of me. Do you want that?"
Merlin nods enthusiastically. There is a choked sound as he swallows too much saliva. "Yes," he replies.
Opening Merlin is no hardship. Arthur loves every second of it. Of licking and fingering, tasting. Taking his thumb out and pressing his tongue in. Of slicking his fingers with lube and pushing first one and then two fingers in, sliding them in and out until Merlin is meeting each movement with the impatient snapping of his hips.
He keeps at it until Merlin is begging to be taken.
"On your back, then," Arthur tells him. "I need to see your pretty face."
Merlin is lying down, legs impossibly spread and a hand on his cock, before Arthur has the time to react. But when Arthur stretches out to fetch a condom from the nightstand, Merlin stops him.
"No," he says, eyes large and shiny. "Just you. Please. Just you inside me. I trust you."
"How can I ever trust you again?" he'd said. No good byes, just that.
Arthur feels warm and achy inside his chest as he stops and reaches for the lube instead. He gets himself nice and slippery as Merlin watches him and touches his own cock. It doesn't seem to embarrass him in the slightest that his cock looks to be about half the size of Arthur's. Which only makes Arthur harder.
"It's going to hurt a little," he tells Merlin, who blushes and nods, before holding his legs up to his chest.
When Arthur presses the spongy tip of his cock to Merlin's satiny skin, he feels as if he's going to come then and there. It's warm and soft and so utterly welcoming. He has to stop and take a deep breath before he starts pushing in. It's surprisingly easy, and he marvels at the feeling of his unsheathed flesh inside Merlin's tight, moist warmth. He can't really remember when he last fucked anyone bare. Merlin opens for him, smiling shakily as Arthur slides all the way in. They both sigh as Arthur bottoms out.
"Are you OK?" Arthur asks.
"It hurts," Merlin replies, his breaths coming quick and shallow. "It's-- You're so big. Feels like--" he lets out a sound which might be a chuckle or a sign of distress. "Feels like my entire body is full of you-- Like I'm stretched to the limit. I think I will fall apart if you-- if you move."
His cheeks are red, highlighted by a sheen of sweat.
Arthur lets his head fall forward, tries to breathe deep and steady. He wants to move - feels an overwhelming urge to just slam into Merlin's twinky body and damn the consequences. But he knows he's got to wait for Merlin. When he's certain he won't disgrace himself, he touches Merlin's cock. It's gone soft and small, a tiny little snail of a thing in Merlin's now smooth groin.
It starts to thicken as Arthur fondles it. "Let's make your boy-clit happy, shall we?" he says, loving the dirty-pretty feel of the word in his mouth. Merlin cups his balls and lets Arthur touch him. Arthur can't help but look down at where their bodies are joined. He touches the taut skin with the thumb of his free hand. His cock looks huge and thick in Merlin's little backside. It looks impossible, but it isn't. He's there. Inside Merlin. They're joined now, in the most primeval of ways, and it feels like a revelation.
"Move," Merlin says, eventually. And Arthur does. He tries to be as gentle as he can, angling himself to touch Merlin's sweet spot. Going slow and deep, trying not to think of his own pleasure.
When Merlin starts whimpering, Arthur leans over him, drapes Merlin's long legs over his shoulders, bends the boy easily and makes his thrusts harder. Deeper still. All the while, Merlin is working tirelessly at his own cock. He comes with a cry, clamping brutally around Arthur's cock.
As far as Arthur's concerned, it means he's allowed to come, too. He thrusts into Merlin, foregoing all finesse as he hurries towards his climax. When he shoots, as far inside Merlin as he can, he almost blacks out from the sheer force of it. His body, now heavy and sated, falls over the bony body underneath him. Merlin holds him through it all, kisses his cheek as he comes back.
"Darling," he whispers into Arthur's ear. "Darling." Arthur's heart rearranges at the little exhalation of breath and meaning; breaking and healing at the same time.
They lie still. Waiting for the lull to end and normal life resume. Merlin's hands feel soft, stroking Arthur's back. Holding him together.
"Is this why you chose me? Because I look like a kid?" Merlin says into the silence. "You could've had anyone, but you chose me. I never understood that."
Arthur has to brace himself on his arms, lift up so he can see Merlin's face clearer.
"I love you," he replies, because there can only be truth now. "I love you, because you're. Well. You're you," he pauses to think. "All this," he swivels his head slightly, as if to take in the entirety of what they've just been doing. "It's just a part of me. It's not everything."
Merlin looks away before meeting his eyes again. "I wish you'd shared that part with me. That you'd trusted me with it. I love all of you, you know. Not just the pretty bits you choose to share with the rest of the world."
Arthur eases off him and lies down at his side. Merlin turns to him, and they lie facing each other in the faint, golden light of the lamp.
"I know," Arthur replies, the dull greyness of it all returning to him. "I tried," he says. "But I just couldn't. How do you even bring up something like that? I didn't want you to hate me. I just couldn't take it if you did."
It's a relief when Merlin kisses him. "I could never hate you," he whispers. "Never ever. Just let me in. Give me a chance to understand."
When Arthur makes a sound, clipped before it becomes a word, Merlin edges in closer, cradles Arthur's face against his bony chest. "You don't have to be so strong all the time, love. Who told you you weren't ever allowed to share your burdens?"
They will talk. They will make sense of things in the days and years to come. But right now they're content just lying together, finding solace in an act as simple as holding each other and drifting off into sleep. As the rain stops and the night stills around them.