He really hates going out at night. Why his Human has to be such a night owl is far beyond him.
The last time Arthur was out at night, some very unfavorable things happened and he's pretty sure he wouldn't like to repeat them.
Can you be so sure? His mind sings back to him, and he hates to realize that the voice in his mind sounds suspiciously like Merlin.
The Demon has been driving him crazy, and he hasn't even come close to him. Ever since speaking those chilling words, Arthur hasn't seen even a glimpse of him. He doesn't understand why he feels both elated and disappointed at this.
But regardless, he supposes it's for the best. It's easier to pretend that he hates Merlin when he isn't around, when his traitorous body reacts in ways he's never wanted it to. He keeps telling himself over and over that Merlin is using him, that the Demon cares little for wellbeing and only thinks of himself, but more often then not he finds himself believing otherwise.
Arthur curses himself for such thoughts, for even considering the idea that the Demon could possibly, truly care about him. It's clear that Merlin is toying with him, luring him into a false sense of security, and then, just when Arthur begins to trust him, he'll take whatever it is that he's after, tossing him aside when he's through. That's how Demons work, isn't it? When they get what they want they leave you to die, damn what anyone else thinks.
But what puzzles Arthur is that he's had the opportunity to take what he wants. He's had more than one opportunity, at that. He could've taken him in the alleyway all those weeks ago, or when they first met, back in the Demon realm—no one would've bat an eye if he had. It would've been so easy for him, but he hadn't, and he hadn't even dared to kiss him until Arthur initiated it—which still sends shivers down his spine, just thinking of. He can't tell whether those shivers are from disgust or, Heaven forbid, pleasure.
Maybe this too is a game. Maybe he wants to break Arthur, maybe he wants to draw it out, then tear him apart. Demons are notorious for such things, draining their victims of all that they are until they're nothing but a broken mess, an empty husk of what they formerly were.
Merlin wouldn't do that to you, his mind says firmly. You know that he wouldn't.
But he doesn't know. And that's what scares him.
Either way, he follows his Human idly through the lamp-lit streets, carefully staying out of the light, and out of sight, for that matter, considering his Human probably wouldn't take too well to being followed by a complete stranger. Humans are so distrusting.
He watches from the dimly lit corner as his Human unlocks their door, goes into their house and shuts it. Arthur smiles, in spite of himself, breathing a sigh of relief as, at least in their home, they were safer than they would be outside.
In all honesty, Arthur should've known that things were running all too smoothly for him.
His first clue that something is wrong should've been the way the lamp lights flicker out, but he pays it little mind—such things happened all the time, don't they? Another hint should've been how the night air grew steadily colder, and how the darkness coils around his arms and torso, like a gloomy weight bearing down on him, but still...coincidence? It has to be.
But it isn't. It never is, with Arthur's luck.
When it finally clicks into place, Arthur's first instinct is to believe that it's Merlin—because really, what other Demon has taken a particular interest in him up to this point? But it's not, and for some reason he knows this—the darkness, it feels different, something more sinister, like he can't explain. It's not Merlin and he doesn't know who it is, and he wills himself to stay calm, knowing he'll face whoever it is the way he faced Merlin the first time—with confidence.
Before Arthur can even see them, chilly fingers are brushing down his cheek, to his neck, and a voice whispers, dangerously close, “So this is Merlin's new toy, then? I can't say I'm disappointed in his taste.”
Arthur blinks, and when he opens his eyes again, green ones are staring back at him. His fingers are still resting too closely to him for Arthur's liking, and he pulls his face away carefully. The Demon smiles, amusement dancing in his eyes.
“You're remarkably calm for such a situation,” the Demon says slowly, waving a hand to indicate the darkness. “Angels usually panic when they're away from their precious light. But you seem used to it. So I take it Merlin has marked you, then?”
“I have no idea what you're talking about,” Arthur replies dryly, contemplating all possible routes of escape. “Go away.”
The Demon clicks his tongue. “Don't play coy, now. It's no secret he's taken an interest in you. To be frank, I'm surprised he hasn't already had his wicked way with you. It's unusual for him to wait once he's got his eye on something,” he smirks, eyes now trailing Arthur's body up and down. “I certainly wouldn't wait.”
Arthur can't help but feel dirty at the way he's being looked at. He scowls, and makes a move to walk around him. “Yes, well, I'm sorry to inform you that I really don't care. Now if you'll excuse me, some of us have things to get to--”
The Demon grabs his wrist, pulling him back. He grabs his chin. Arthur curses his own luck because really, what was he, some sort of Demon magnet?
“If you don't bear his mark,” the Demon muses, the green from his eyes recessing into black. “Then really, you're fair game.”
Arthur's mind immediately rattles off all of the insult he can possibly manage in his head, including not-so-nice words he hopes will be forgiven later.
He's not sure what he's expecting when he closes his eyes, but it certainly isn't the feeling of being released in an instant, followed by the sound of someone hitting the pavement.
Arthur opens his eyes to see Merlin, pinning the other Demon to the ground, hands wrapped tightly around his throat. It looks rather painful, like he's digging his nails in, and evident from how the other Demon is struggling against him, he's sure it probably hurts, at the very least.
He ignores the buzzing in his mind, and quells the small flame of happiness to see him that springs to life in his chest.
“You will not touch him,” Merlin hisses, raw fury wrecking his voice. “He is mine, Mordred, and you would do well to understand that.”
The other Demon, Mordred, still smirks, in spite of the suffocating grip Merlin has on his throat. Arthur holds his breath as Mordred kicks him, causing Merlin to let go. He reverses their positions in an instant, but instead of choking him, Mordred just pins his arms down.
Merlin is practically seething. Mordred says, mockingly, “Unless he wears your mark, he's not yours. You've no legitimate claim on him. I don't see why you haven't just fucked him already, it's not like you to wait, is it?”
Arthur watches as Merlin struggles to gain the upper hand, kneeing him before flying to his feet, slashing him across the face, and then slamming him back into one of the street lamps, holding him by the collar of his shirt.
“Listen to me,” Merlin grits his teeth, paying little mind to the blood now drizzling down Mordred's face. “If I ever see you near him again, I'll tear you limb from limb. If you even think about touching him again, ever consider speaking to him, I'll make you wish for death. Now go, get away from me.”
He tosses him away, but his eyes stray to Arthur. He grins at him, unmoving for a moment, before he disappears into a whirlwind of shadows.
Arthur lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding, until Merlin's eyes turn to him, slowly returning to their original blue hue. He stills, not really keen on being at the receiving end of Merlin's wrath.
Merlin approaches him tentatively, before he reaches his hand out, looking like he's going to cup his face, but he pauses halfway. Instead, he places a careful hand on shoulder and says, very quietly, “Are you okay? He didn't hurt you?”
“I'm fine,” Arthur says, relishing in how his tongue is complying, how easy it is to talk. “What was that about?”
Merlin's expression darkens, demeanor completely different from what he's used to. “I have to keep an eye on him, constantly. He's nothing but trouble.”
“Who was he, anyway?”
Merlin looks away. “That was Mordred,” he all but spits, but his face scrunches slightly, as if the name is bitter on his tongue. “He's my brother.”
Well, that's wasn't what he was expecting. Merlin finally seems to give in and presses a hand to his cheek, rubbing his thumb over his cheekbone before he finally sighs. He pulls his hand away. “You should get back. Mordred has a knack for not listening to me.”
“I'm surprised you're letting me go so easily,” Arthur finds himself saying. He knows that he should be in a hurry to get away from him, he knows that he shouldn't even be talking to him, but he is and he doesn't quite care. “Usually you're a great deal more forceful than this.”
Merlin's lips twitch into a familiar smile, eyes softening, just a fraction. “Oh, little angel,” he begins, the nickname rolling off his tongue. “You should know it pains me to see you go. But I see no point in being forceful—you'll come to me when you're ready.”
If anyone ever says that Arthur's heart leaped at that statement, he'll deny it to his last breath. He bites back the grin that desperately wants to form on his lips, and glowers instead. “So sure, are you?”
“Absolutely,” the Demon drawls, eyes glinting, giving him a filthy grin. “And when you do, as I've promised, I'll be waiting.”
Before Arthur can come up with a retort, he turns from him, and walks down the street, shadows wrapping around him as he goes, until he's completely shrouded and gone from sight.
The lights flicker back to life, and Arthur knows deep down that no matter what he says or thinks, it's only a matter of time before he's completely and utterly fucked.