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A Beacon In The Dark

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It's raining, and that's so fucking cliché that Merlin would be laughing if he wasn't shivering all over from where the cold water has soaked through his flimsy clothes. He always makes him wait; probably makes him wait longer because it's raining. He really is that kind of bastard. There's no shelter at this street corner either, and Merlin knows there will be hell to pay if he isn't exactly where he's supposed to be when the gleaming, black limousine drives up. He has the scars to show for the single time he dared to defy Angus Aredian.

When the car stops in front of him a few minutes later he simply walks around the back and opens the door, getting in and hating himself a little bit for relishing the warmth that meets him. The beige leather squeaks when he sits down on the backseat in his wet state.

Mr. Aredian sits in the opposite corner. He's not looking at Merlin.

"Put that under your arse before you ruin the leather," Mr. Aredian says, his voice filled with disdain as he gestures to a pristinely folded towel on the seat right next to Merlin.

"Sorry," Merlin mumbles and pushes the soft cloth between his wet, jeans-clad bottom and the luxurious upholstery. The black skinny jeans are sticking to him uncomfortably, and he feels a bit like a dog, being made to sit on the towel rather than dry himself with it. Then again, that's probably what Aredian wants. He likes to show Merlin his place - as if he could ever forget.

The drive to the huge townhouse in Kensington is filled with silence. Merlin wonders what Mr. Aredian has planned. Because he must have something planned if he is holding back like this. Most often Merlin would already be sucking his cock by now. Once in a while though, Mr. Aredian has something special planned - painstakingly prepared and arranged - and Merlin seldom likes it. Mr. Aredian is not gentle or loving on his best days, but it's the special occasions that leave the scars on Merlin's body. He just hopes it won't be the flogger today.

They drive through the iron gates that open as if by the hand of a ghost, and the wet gravel scrunches under the tires as the limousine slowly comes to a stop in front of the main entrance. Merlin sits and waits while the driver gets out and comes around the car, opening the door with an umbrella in his hand to shelter his master. Mr. Aredian steps out, and only then the quiet words are thrown over his shoulder.

"Come with me."

Merlin doesn't wait for anyone to open the door for him. He knows he would wait in vain. Neither does he hope for an umbrella, which, he has to admit, would be pretty much redundant by now. He follows Mr. Aredian up the stairs, always two steps behind and silent. There is a nervous knot in his stomach that becomes bigger the longer Aredian remains this calm and aloof. It never bodes well.

When he enters the hall behind the older man, his stomachs drops. It's not something he has ever seen before, but he knows better than to think that it's a good thing. The entrance hall is bathed in the flickering light of white candles. They are everywhere. On the small table in the middle of the imposing room, on the long winding staircase that leads to the upper level and in iron holders that line the walls and which he never took notice of before.

Merlin doesn't know what this means.

"Go and take a bath," Mr. Aredian orders while he takes off his cloak. He still doesn't look at Merlin. "Clean yourself thoroughly." And now his cold blue eyes lock onto Merlin's. "Everywhere."

There is the barest hint of lewdness around the corners of his mouth, but he already turns and walks away in the direction of the living room, leaving Merlin dripping at the bottom of the stairs.

Merlin takes a deep breath and clenches his trembling hands into fists. His blunt nails bite into his flesh and it helps him to focus, to centre himself and get on with it. He slowly walks up the stairs, trying not to think about the candles and how they give him the creeps. The hall upstairs is the same, as is the bathroom. When Merlin tries to turn on the lights nothing happens. Maybe, he thinks slightly hysterical, it's just a blackout and Mr. Aredian's housekeeper has gotten carried away a bit. He doesn't really believe it, but then he doesn't know what to think so he tries not to think at all. He tries to just concentrate on the task, on the mechanics of getting out of his wet clothes, of turning the water to scorching hot and stepping under the spray, of scrubbing himself meticulously. Behind his ears and under his arms, his cock, and then there, between the cheeks and inside. He doesn't linger. It's just a task. Just skin and flesh.

When he's done and has dried himself he slips into the robe that Mr. Aredian had given him the first time and that he always finds freshly laundered on a hanger at the back of the bathroom door. It's made from heavy green silk, embroidered with a Chinese pattern of silver dragons. Its beauty always makes him sad.

On bare feet he goes back down to look for Mr. Aredian and finds him reclined in one of the leather armchairs in the living room, sipping an amber liquid from a brandy glass. He sits facing the door so that he can watch as Merlin approaches him, his gaze, as always, cold and measured. Mr. Aredian doesn't buy him for comfort, he doesn't even buy him for the pleasure he takes from Merlin's body. He buys him for the power to possess someone like Merlin, to touch him and bend him and break him. For Aredian it's only ever about power.

When Merlin steps closer, Mr. Aredian uncrosses his legs and he sees that his trousers are already open, his cock protruding and nearly fully erect.

"Prepare yourself," Aredian says with a smile and takes another sip from his brandy. The bottle of lube sits on the low table in front of him. Merlin picks it up, smears his fingers with a generous amount and bends over, bracing himself with one hand on the table.

"Lift your robe. I want to see your arse."

Merlin does as he is told. It's just a task. Just skin and flesh.

Aredian calls Merlin to him then. Orders him to straddle him, to ride him. He never orders him to pretend that he enjoys it. He watches him with a smile as Merlin tries to keep his face blank, as his breath becomes heavier with exertion alone. His own cock is half hard from the stimulation but Aredian is not interested in coaxing it further. The only thing he wants from Merlin are his tears. And Aredian knows he will get them before the night is over.

Merlin knows that his attitude is what Aredian likes, but he can't bring himself to change it. He will not give this man anything more of himself than what he takes by force.

Aredian has his head thrown back now, his hips lifting from the leather seat and his hands gripping tight on the armrests. He spills, with a grunt and a triumphant sigh, before going lax, and Merlin slows his movements and then stills, waiting for Mr. Aredian's next order.

After that it's the bedroom, and Merlin can't quite suppress a shudder when he sees the dark red rose petals on the white sheets. Mr. Aredian is not a romantic man. He makes Merlin kneel in the middle of the bed and ties his hands to the bedpost. There are stripes of pain down his back and on his buttocks then, a rough hand pulling back his hair. When Merlin is bleeding Aredian takes him again. He is kneeling behind him, and the pain from where his chest is pressing against Merlin's abused flesh lets his traitorous eyes spill over. Aredian strokes down his cheek, catching the wetness on his fingertips.

"You are so beautiful like this my little Mordred," he whispers in his ear.

Merlin just clenches his teeth and tries to swallow the sobs that threaten to escape his throat.

Aredian always lasts longer the second time and it takes Merlin by surprise when he pulls out a short while later. He doesn't look around but he hears him climb down from the bed and a drawer being pulled open and shut again. A moment later he feels a cool soft fabric at his throat. Aredian enters Merlin again, and now his thrusts are sharp and violent, and then the fabric tightens around Merlin's throat and tightens and tightens -

When Merlin's vision becomes fuzzy he panics. He starts struggling, pulling against the ropes that tie his wrists. Maybe that's what Aredian wants, maybe that's the game for tonight, but Merlin's lungs are burning and there are black spots dancing before his eyes. All he can think is that he has to get away, that he has to breathe. He bucks against his captor, trying to throw him off, but he has no leverage and his strength is dwindling. His vision is greying and his limps grow weak, and then he hears Aredian whisper.

"Don't fight it, Mordred, you know it's better this way."

And suddenly Merlin is blind with fear. This is not a game, he realizes. This is what it feels like to die.

There is a rush in his veins as a power that shouldn't be there breaks from his body. He feels the wind on his face, longing to suck it deep into the fire in his chest. He thinks he hears a dull sound behind him but, before the thought can reach his brain, the darkness pulls him under and then there's nothing.