When Arthur gets a tattoo on his hip of an elaborate ‘M’ for Merlin, just four weeks after they first get together, Merlin knows for sure that Arthur is the one. He never really liked tattoos, but on Arthur...well, Merlin decided that it wasn’t tattoos he hadn’t liked but the canvas upon which they were drawn. Arthur is the perfect canvas.
He’s in a happy bubble. God knows how he managed to meet and keep a guy like Arthur. Arthur’s so fucking perfect, in Merlin’s head anyway. He’s everything he never knew he wanted; blond, toned, gorgeous looking, long smooth cock...and everything he did - funny, generous, kind, confident...
Merlin has practically moved in with Arthur, though neither of them acknowledges it, but as Merlin only went to his own flat to get his post once a week since he met Arthur he’s considering handing in his notice.
“What have you got on today?” asks Arthur one Friday morning, nearly three months in, after he’s woken Merlin with a searing kiss and a nudge of his erection.
Merlin turns onto his back and stretched languorously, curling his toes lazily. “Usual work shit, monthly meeting, got a report to finish. Boring stuff.” He leans over and tugs on Arthur’s nipple with his teeth. “I’m meeting Freya after work for a drink. How ‘bout you?”
Arthur groans and pushes Merlin back, straddling him, bending down for a hot kiss, clashing tongues and teeth, cocks grinding together. He pulls back and mutters, “Got a shoot this afternoon, then -” His words are cut off by Merlin pulling him back down into the kiss, his hips bucking up greedily beneath Arthur.
Any further thought of conversation are firmly put aside as Arthur reaches for the lube without breaking contact with Merlin’s lips, and begins to fuck his fingers inside his hole, one, two, three, sitting back on his haunches and taking Merlin’s cock in his mouth, deep, working his tongue over it in fast confident strokes until Merlin is begging him to fuck him.
Arthur obliges, entering Merlin slowly, allowing him time to adjust, and with a clash of lust fuelled blue eyes he re-arranges Merlin’s legs to that his feet are flat against Arthur’s chest and begins to thrust.
Merlin comes undone, as he always does, his knees against his own chest, the expression on Arthur’s face as he pounds into him almost as much of a turn on as the feel of his cock, deep and heavy inside him. Arthur grabs Merlin’s knees, rolls his hips and his cock brushes that spot inside Merlin, and Merlin sees the familiar white explosion of stars. “God Arthur,” he groans. “Oh fuck. Faster!”
Arthur increases the pace, and Merlin is lost, Arthur grabbing his feet and parting his legs, holding them on either side of his head as he fucks his way deeper, his blond head thrown back, teeth worrying his lower lip. Arthur never comes before Merlin.
Merlin reaches down and pumps his own cock, already so close, and Arthur leans in to kiss him, tongues tasting one another, pistoning hips and strong strokes on his cock, Arthur finally breaking out of his silence, “Yeah...Merlin. Come for me Merlin.”
Merlin, waiting for the command, lets his release take hold of him, showering Arthur in hot white come, Arthur’s name on his lips, and then Arthur’s joining him, telling Merlin how hot he is, how fucking tight.
They collapse in a sticky embrace, their breathing heavy, Merlin’s heart pounding with more than just his orgasm. He’s finally admitted to himself that he’s fallen in love.
“So when do we get to meet Arthur?” Freya asks for the millionth time, stirring her Cosmopolitan and fixing Merlin with pleading brown eyes.
Merlin sighs. “Soon,” he promises. He wants to keep Arthur all to himself, he’s not ready to share, even with his best friends.
“Can I at least see a photo? I’m dying of curiosity here.”
“Ooohh,” says Leon, plonking his pint on the table next to Freya’s cocktail. “Did someone say photo? Lemme see!”
Merlin knows he’s cornered and pulls out his mobile and finds the candid pictures of Arthur he took the other night, “There,” he offers the phone to Freya. “That’s him.”
Freya all but snatches the phone. Her eyes widen when she sees the picture. “That’s Arthur?” she raises and eyebrow and shoots Leon and confused look, handing him the phone.
Leon turns the phone 360degrees, his eyebrows shooting up under his fringe.
Merlin wonders if he’s shown them the picture of John from work accepting his award the other day by mistake. “What’s wrong?” he bites his lip.
“He’s gorgeous,” Freya begins, and Merlin relaxes a little. “Er, what does he do for a living?”
“Works in television,” says Merlin, not quite sure of Arthur’s exact job title.
“Hmmm,” says Leon, still staring at Arthur’s photo.
“WHAT?” Merlin demands, getting annoyed.
Leon glances at Freya who nods back. He gives Merlin the phone back, and he holds it against his chest defensively, wishing he’d never shown them the picture now because the pair of them were acting very oddly and Merlin didn’t like it.
“Um, we -” he gestures between himself and Freya, blushing furiously. “Um. We...”
“Weliketowatchgayporn,” Freya mumbles, and Merlin flicks his eyes between the two of them wondering where this confession is leading, because really - why the fuck would he need to know that?
“That’s – interesting?” he replies, now thinking they must have had a few drinks before he arrived.
“Yes – no – what I mean is – God this is awkward.”
No shit this is bloody awkward. “What are you trying to say? You get off on watching two guys doing it – I can empathise – but why are you telling me? I love you both but -”
“Arthur,” says Leon carefully having found his voice again.
“Arthur is – oh God - Bradley Avalon.”
Merlin was now totally lost. “I don’t get it.”
“Bradley Avalon?” Leon is looking at Merlin like he should know what he’s on about. “The porn star. Er – our favourite, er...oh crap.” Leon drops his head to the table and bangs his head repeatedly against it. When he’s done, Merlin is still staring at him, blue eyes frozen.
“Maybe he just looks like him?” Merlin had said finally, when his brain had kicked back into action, and Freya and Leon looked at him with sympathy.
“Maybe,” said Freya, not sounding like she believed that for one moment.
As if on cue, Merlin’s phone had rung, and he answered it automatically, “Hullo?”
“Hey it’s me. I just wanted to let you know I’ll be late tonight. My Dad called – I’m meeting him for dinner.” Merlin let himself sink into Arthur’s velvety voice. Leon and Freya had to be mistaken.
“That’s OK, I’ll be out late too,” Merlin knew Arthur had a rocky relationship with his father, as in Pendragon Senior reacted badly when he found out Arthur was gay and was living in hope of a reconciliation.
“Good. Well – have a nice time,” there was a smile in Arthur’s voice. “Love you.”
“Um – bye.” The reciprocal words stuck in Merlin’s throat, and suddenly he had wanted nothing more than to go home – to his flat – and log on to the internet and Google Bradley Avalon.
Of course, Freya and Leon understood when he made his excuses five minutes later. As he rode the bus home he was all nerves. His key stuck in the lock and he nearly tripped over the week’s post in his haste to get to his laptop; he hadn’t taken it to Arthur’s as he always used his if he wanted to go on the net. He didn’t even notice the chill in the air that came from the place not being lived in for so long.
When he typed ‘Bradley Avalon’ into Google there were 277,000 results. Merlin closed his eyes and took a deep breath before picking a random link to a site that showed two minute taster clips. A page full of thumbnails appeared before him, and the bloke in the teeny pictures did look like Arthur, but there had to be loads of good looking blond porn stars – right?
Merlin hadn’t watched porn since he was in high school exploring his sexuality.
He clicked on a thumbnail and the volume instantly sprang to life; groans, sighs and heavy breathing. Merlin twisted his head, trying to see if it was Arthur. The camera angle made it difficult to tell; shot from above it showed the top of a blonde head, looking down on a darker haired male who was lapping the blond’s generous cock with vigour, the blond’s hands in his hair, pushing him down as he began to fuck his mouth. It could be anybody and the fact that it really does look like Arthur is just a major coincidence.
Merlin twisted his head at the screen as though that might make a difference, and the disembodied voice of the blond said, without pausing his punishing pace, “Yeah, that’s it. You like my cock in your mouth huh?” and Merlin felt sick, because the voice sounded like Arthur.
He found he couldn’t look away, and the film cut then to a close up of one man riding the other, and as it panned out the one on top - the darker haired man – was groaning, “Fucker me harder, make me feel it...harder!”
Merlin’s cock was fully erect by now, and he was considering pulling himself off when the camera angle changed again.
There could be no mistaking it now. Arthur was reclined back against the bed with Mr ‘Make me feel it’ riding his cock with Arthur’s hands on his shoulders as his angry member bounced against Arthur’s stomach. His Arthur moaning as he arched himself into the other man. HisArthur bringing one of his hands down to wrap around the other’s cock. His Arthur saying, “Gonna fuck you so hard,” as he proceeding to make good on the promise.
The man on top leaned down, presumably to kiss Arthur, but the clip cut off. Merlin sat there, his erection pressing uncomfortably against his zipper, torn between arousal and despair.
Arthur was a porn star.
Merlin was a reasonable bloke. He was understanding. Arthur could have made that film years ago, and the reason he hadn’t told Merlin about it yet was because he was ashamed. Merlin could live with that. He didn’t like it but he could understand it.
He couldn’t help himself as he clicked on another thumbnail. This time Arthur was fucking a black guy from behind. The clip started with the camera focussing on Arthur’s arse as he pumped into the bigger man who was begging to be fucked harder because it was so fucking good, and Arthur was telling him to take it.
Merlin felt weird, like he was intruding on something private. He’d die if footage of him and Arthur together ever ended up online. But how could it be private when this was made in front of a camera crew, and for free viewing on the internet – and Merlin could buy the whole movie for £3.99 or subscribe to the website for £12.99 a month.
He felt lost, like he didn’t know what to do. His cock still stood to attention, the sight of Arthur pounding into someone else was apparently a turn on for him. No wonder Arthur was so confident and so fucking good at the sex thing. When Merlin had met him he’d been unsure, not that experienced, and Arthur had shown how good sex could be.
Arthur had probably fucked hundreds of men.
If it was in the past though... Could he..?
The angle changed again, panning around the grunting couple and taking in the wide eyes of the man Arthur was fucking, and the concentration and arousal on Arthur’s face as he held on to the other’s hips and slammed into him, watching his own cock as it moved in and out. The dark and light contrast was enthralling; so much so Merlin nearly missed it.
He was so used to seeing it by now that he hadn’t noticed it sooner. There, on Arthur’s hipbone, just above the spot where his groin disappeared behind his fuck buddy’s arse – ‘M’ for Merlin.
It was late when Arthur got home; the flat was dark when he let himself in quietly so as not to disturb Merlin. He threw his jacket over the back of his sofa with a sigh and padded into the bedroom. It had been a long day and all he wanted to do was curl into Merlin and sleep.
The bed was empty. “Merlin?” he called, although realistically he knew his boyfriend must not be in, as he hadn’t been in the living room, the kitchen had been dark – unless he was having a bath? Arthur pushed open the bathroom door, pitch dark. No Merlin.
He tamped down his worry. Merlin had said he was would be late tonight, but Arthur hadn’t thought that meant staying out until 1.30am. He pulled out his phone to call Merlin but the call went straight to answer phone. Fuck.
He cleaned his teeth, chucked all his clothes in the hamper and crawled into bed. It felt cold without Merlin. Where the fuck was he?
Arthur wasn’t the type who wanted to know where his boyfriend was all the time, but he was the sort who worried when he hadn’t come home as expected.
Arthur had never felt for anyone even 1/100th of what he felt for Merlin. Sometimes the intensity of his feelings scared him. The day Merlin had spilt coffee all over him in Costa had been the luckiest day of his life.
He was stupidly, crazily in love. He’d told Merlin he loved him, but he didn’t think Merlin really realised how much.
There was no way he’d be able to sleep until Merlin came home.
Arthur had dozed a bit, but for the main part, he’d been awake all night.
Merlin had not come home.
Arthur glared at his phone which told him that he had tried to call Merlin 17 times. Merlin’s phone had gone straight to answer phone every time.
Grabbing a quick shower Arthur wondered what to do now. It was Saturday morning. Normally he and Merlin spent a lazy couple of hours in bed before having brunch and going shopping or for a walk out into the hills; if the weather was bad they might take in a movie...or spend another couple of hours in bed.
Arthur had not met any of Merlin’s friends yet, so he couldn’t ring them. He and Merlin had been so wrapped up in each other...and Merlin tended to meet up with them after work, and usually Arthur was still at work himself so couldn’t join them.
He hoped Merlin had had a couple too many drinks and had crashed the night at Freya’s, or maybe he’d gone back to his old place as it was nearer his usual haunt. He didn’t want to think about all the other scenarios that ran through his head. Merlin mugged and bleeding in an alley somewhere, or hit by a truck, or hundred other gloomy possibilities...
Arthur dressed quickly, not bothering to even have his usual morning coffee despite his fatigue, wrote a note for Merlin to call him if he came home while Arthur was out looking for him, and headed down to his car. It was a twenty minute drive to Merlin’s old flat. Sometimes he forgot Merlin still had this place; as far as Arthur was concerned Merlin lived with him now.
Arthur got stuck in traffic and it was over an hour before he pulled up outside the old converted house. The front door wasn’t locked and Arthur sighed in relief. Merlin had to be here. “Merlin?” he knocked to announce his presence and stepped inside. “Merlin – it’s me.”
Not wanting to make any sudden noises to scare Merlin if he was sleeping, Arthur tiptoed across the tiny living room to the bedroom and quietly pushed the door open and peered inside, half expecting to see Merlin crashed out on top of the covers still fully clothed.
What he did see when made his heart crack down the middle as pain assuaged him from every angle. Merlin; clad only in his boxer shorts and pinned beneath another man – a dark haired, extremely good looking, other man – also only wearing boxers, being very thoroughly kissed.
Arthur gasped, and both the men on the bed turned towards the sound, “Arthur!” exclaimed Merlin, his blue eyes full of guilt, attempting to sit up. “Arthur – it’s not what it looks like!”
”Fuck you Merlin,” Arthur rasped. “Fuck you to hell.” And he turned, willing his legs not to collapse beneath him, falling into the welcoming warmth of his car with relief and somehow managing to drive away. Only when he was out of sight of Merlin’s did he pull back over and give in to his tears.
As soon as the door closed behind Arthur’s retreating figure Merlin gave Lance a shove, and the other man climbed off him and began to get dressed.
Lance looked a little shaken, and despite the guilt clawing his insides, Merlin couldn’t help be amused. “You OK?”
Lance expelled a huge sigh, “Yeah. That was kind of weird.” He carded a hand through his dark hair and pulled on his t-shirt. “If I was ever going to bat for your team Merlin, it would be you who turned me.”
Merlin forced a laugh. “Well, that was your idea. Thank you.”
Lance perched back on the end of the bed and pulled Merlin into a hug. “You’re my best friend; I hate to see you so upset.”
Merlin had found a half empty bottle of vodka last night, and half way through had called Lance in tears. Lance, bless him, had come straight over. They’d gone to bed late, Lance happy to share a bed with Merlin as he had so many times before.
Merlin hugged Lance back and fought forced his tears away. Arthur wasn’t worth crying over. This was the best way. He didn’t want Arthur to know he’d found out about his ‘job’ because he didn’t want Arthur to know how much it had fucking hurt him to know his boyfriend fucked other people for a living. He didn’t want to hear the excuses.
He wanted Arthur to have felt how he had felt when he’d seen Arthur ramming it home inside some guy, while his symbol of his supposed love for Merlin was there for the world to see.
He pulled away from Lance’s embrace and pulled yanked his jeans on. Half of his fucking clothes were over at Arthur’s; he’d have to go round at some point and collect them. Not today though. He couldn’t face Arthur today.
Arthur heard the key turn in the lock and his heart nearly stopped. Merlin. He’d almost given up hope that the younger would come after him, apologise, explain, beg Arthur’s forgiveness – Arthur so wanted to forgive Merlin. Who knew better than he that sex and love were two separate entities? He missed him. This last week the minutes had crawled by so slowly, Arthur had died a little inside each day he was apart from Merlin.
Merlin was obviously trying to be stealthy as he crept into Arthur’s flat, and Arthur’s heart sank. Merlin hadn’t come to see him. He’d come for his things.
“All your clothes are in a black sack in the hall cupboard,” he said coldly from his prone position on the sofa, a spot hidden from Merlin’s view.
”Fuck!” Merlin clearly hadn’t been expecting him to be in today. “Er, I’ll just grab the rest of my stuff then and I’ll be out of your hair.”
Arthur didn’t want Merlin out of his hair. He struggled to sit up, his heart jumping at the sight of Merlin hovering nervously in the doorway. A little voice inside his head urged him to fight for what he wanted, because nothing ever gets handed to a person on a plate; the wise words of Pendragon Senior. Arthur privately acknowledged that some things had been handed to him courtesy of his birthright, but he wasn’t about to ignore good advice.
“How’ve you been?” He took a moment to look Merlin up and down, being obvious about it on purpose. He was pleased to note Merlin looked even more dishevelled than normal.
“Erm, alright,” Merlin avoided eye contact. “You?”
“Oh, just dandy,” Arthur couldn’t hold back the sarcasm, despite his intentions to be nice. “How’s your new ‘friend’?”
Merlin bristled. “He’s not a new friend. That was Lance.”
Arthur tried not to gape. “Your best friend Lance? Have you been fuck buddies this whole time?” This was not going well. One time he could forgive, but more than once with someone he was close to...there had to be some feelings there. Arthur wanted to throw up as he waited for Merlin’s response.
Merlin flushed. “Yeah – yeah we have. Every time you were out at work I’d go to him.”
Arthur only just made it to the bathroom in time.
Arthur didn’t leave his flat for a week. He knew he looked like shit and he couldn’t even bring himself to care.
The only reason he answered the door at all was because he had a vague hope that maybe it was Merlin, which was fucking stupid because Merlin had made it clear what he thought about him last time, and the finality of finding Merlin’s key on the hall table had worked it’s black magic on him far too well.
Myror took one look at Arthur as he peered around the door and pushed his way inside. “Where the fuck have you been? Are you sick?” He looked Arthur up and down and grimaced.
“Come in why don’t you?” muttered Arthur, shuffling back into the sitting room and throwing himself into an armchair, arms folded, glaring at his friend.
Myror stalked after him and glared right back.
“Morgana’s gonna have your head on a stick if you miss another shoot Arthur,” he said, sitting down on the sofa opposite Arthur. “You’re lucky I persuaded her I would come round, or you could be dealing with her right now.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled, looking at his feet. Wasn’t ‘foot’ a funny word?
“Spit it out then, what’s going on? Is it this kid you’ve been seeing?”
“He left me.” Arthur hung his head, still unusually fascinated with his feet, unwilling to let Myror see how much he hurt.
“Oh. So now you’re wallowing?” Arthur could hear the disbelief in Myror’s voice. “This is not like you. At all.”
Arthur grunted and said nothing.
“I’m gonna give you two choices,” Myror stood up and walked into the bathroom, turning on the shower. “Number one: I fuck a smile onto your face, or number two: we go out and get bladdered. I’m game for either. Now get in the shower and think about which option you prefer.”
“You can sod off if you think you’re fucking me, we’re not on set now,” snarled Arthur, but he got to his feet anyway and headed for the shower. “Getting pissed sounds good though.”
Myror shrugged good naturedly, sat back down and flicked on the TV.
Arthur stood under the steaming jets of hot water and rested his head wearily against the tiles. He knew Myror was right, this wasn’t like him – he never sank into a bottomless pit of misery, if he received a knock, he picked himself up, dusted himself off and got on with it. Why was that so difficult to do this time round?
He’d never been in love before, what was why.
When Arthur and any of his work colleagues went out they rarely went anywhere near the gay scene; far too much chance of being recognised. Not that they didn’t get recognised elsewhere, but in the supermarket or on the tube folk were far less likely to say anything because that would mean acknowledging to the world something they probably would prefer kept private.
Then there were those who would see Arthur and recognise his face but not know where from; these were the people who said ‘hello’ because his familiarity tricked them into thinking he was an acquaintance.
They probably didn’t recognise him with his clothes on.
The King’s Head was a popular pub a ten minute or so walk from Arthur’s flat. Myror got them a pint each and a whisky chaser. Forget the chasing, Arthur downed the whisky first, savouring the burn as the liquid slithered its way down his throat. After he’d finished this pint, he was going to blot the world out with more whisky, sod the consequences.
“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Myror as they settled into a booth in the corner.
“What would be the point?” Arthur took a large gulp of beer. “I found him in bed with someone else. End of.”
Myror winced, leaning forward and putting his hand over Arthur’s, “Are you sure you don’t want to -”
Arthur snatched his hand back, “No Myror, I do not want to ‘shag it better’ or whatever spin you’re angling for!” He sighed and studied the contents of his glass before turning back to his companion. “You know that anything between us, other than friendship, is just work. I don’t mix business with pleasure that way.”
Arthur realised what a contradiction that was, because to an outsider, his business waspleasure.
“OK!” Myror held his hands up in surrender. “You can’t blame a bloke for trying surely? I just wandered what it could be like for us without all the stopping and starting and -”
Arthur shot him his best death glare and the darker man stopped talking and downed his whisky chaser. “You want to talk about something else?”
Merlin knew this was a bad idea. What the hell was he doing, only a week down the line, agreeing to a bloody blind date? This was the last thing he needed.
OK, so Freya and Gwen hadn’t exactly positioned it as a date, but meeting them and Freya’s ‘funny and good looking’ work friend Will was clearly a set up designed to ‘cheer him up’.
Merlin had only had to take one look at Will to know there was nothing there – not now, not ever. And then he’d seen him. Arthur ‘porn star’ Pendragon, sitting in the corner booth opposite a good looking black guy - the one from the clip he’d watched - and were theyholding hands?
Merlin felt his anger rising up inside him, ready to burst out and obliterate anyone within fifty feet of Arthur, especially the hand holder/fuck buddy.
Merlin forced himself to look away, ignoring the grief twisting in his gut.
Suddenly, Will became the most interesting person he’d ever met as he turned to him and commenced flirting. Gwen nudged Freya and winked and they both headed to the loo giggling like teenagers.
Merlin’s head started to hurt from the efforts he was making in not giving in to temptation and looking over at Arthur.
Unfortunately, no one told Will this. “Oh – my – God!” he gasped dramatically in Merlin’s ear. “Bradley Avalon’s over there.”
Merlin froze. It was one thing knowing Arthur was in the pub, it was another someone knowing Bradley Avalon was present.
“I’m going over to say hello!” said Will and before Merlin even registered what he’d said, Will was half way across the bar, pushing past fellow drinkers in his rush to get to Arthur.
Merlin’s groaned and followed him.
Arthur was about to go and get the next round in when in the corner of his eye he saw someone hurtling towards them, pushing through the busy pub and not seeming to care that he was spilling people’s drinks as he passed.
He turned for a better look. Average height...average everything really, the man had a look of determination about him, and Arthur’s heart sank. He was so not in the mood for descent of the fanboy. “Oh God, I hope he’s coming for you,” he said turning to Myror with a roll of his eyes.
“You keep him, I’ll take his friend,” and as if in slow motion, Arthur watched Merlin snake an arm out around the fanboy’s wrist and halt him, shaking his head as he gestured towards their table, and the other shook Merlin’s hand off and resumed his trajectory towards Arthur.
“Oh God” said fanboy as he arrived at the table. Myror was smirking up at him. “I can’t believe you’re here, I’m, like, your biggest fan!”
All Arthur was aware of was Merlin appearing behind the intruder, eyes looking at the wall behind Arthur’s head, his hand coming to rest on the other’s elbow. “Will, leave it,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Merlin – this is Bradley Avalon! Bradley fucking Avalon! In the King’s Head. Bradley Avalon!”
Arthur sent Myror a coded glance and smiled politely at Will, fighting back the urge to punch him because Merlin was touching him and Arthur found that his jealousy at the idea of anyone but him touching Merlin hadn’t abated in the week since he’d last seen him. “I think you’re mistaking me for someone else,” he said calmly. “My name’s Arthur.” Merlin couldn’t find out about his other identity like this. Not that it mattered now, but for some reason Merlin justcouldn’t know.
Will’s grin faltered, “I’m pretty sure there’s no mistake.” He stepped sideways to allow Merlin to step up beside him. “Merlin – what do you think? It’s him, right?”
Arthur’s stricken eyes swivelled to Merlin who was staring directly at him with a blank expression. “I – I don’t know what you mean.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never watched -” he leaned into Merlin’s ear and whispered something that Arthur couldn’t catch.
Merlin’s expression didn’t change, his eyes still fixed on Arthur. “Oh, I see the resemblance now. I think you’re right Will, I think it’s him. He’s Mr ‘Take it’,” he said coldly. He waved a hand in the general direction of Myror. “This is Mr ‘So Fucking Good’. Where’s Mr ‘Make me feel it’?”
Something cold and icy wound its way around Arthur’s heart and squeezed hard, his insides twisting as realisation dawned.
Merlin already knew.
Even with the noise of the pub, the presence of the ever more annoying Will and the appraising curious gaze of Mr ‘So Fucking Good’, Merlin found that his entire existence zeroed down to just him and Arthur, there was nothing else.
The mixture of shock, hurt and guilt in Arthur’s eyes said it all as far as Merlin was concerned. There, it was out in the open now, Arthur knew that he knew and would surely put two and two together at some point and perhaps work out that Merlin had played him over the whole Lance debacle.
Merlin wanted him to work it out one minute and the next he wanted Arthur to keep on believing he’d cheated on him, because having sex with who knew how many people and calling it a ‘job’, well, as far as Merlin was concerned, that was cheating too...wasn’t it?
He ignored the voice in his head that tried to remind him that he’d been willing to let it go if it was in the past, so it wasn’t that he objected to Arthur’s profession per se... So then he wondered what he would have done if Arthur had told him in the beginning. Would Merlin still have gone on that first date with him then?
He didn’t know the answer; but he would have liked to have been given an option.
How long had Arthur been planning on leaving it before he’d told him what he did for a coin? Merlin was a gay man, the chances of him never finding out about Bradley Avalon were slim; the irony that it had been Freya and Leon who had let the cat out of the bag was not lost.
Around him Merlin was vaguely aware of Will shrugging in defeat and moving on to chat up Arthur’s companion, who scooted over to make room for him, and he heard Freya’s arrival when she said, “There you two are! We were wondering where you’d gone.” Still he couldn’t take his eyes from Arthur’s.
She won in the end though, when she spotted Arthur and said, “Oh – it’s you. What are you doing here?” and Arthur’s attention was dragged away to politely acknowledge the newcomer.
Merlin took the opportunity to bolt. He couldn’t face any more of this tonight.
Luck was with him when he managed to grab a cab that was dropping off outside, and he was away, head flopped back against the headrest, eyes closed.
He needed some time to think. Seeing Arthur tonight, well, he knew his feelings for him hadn’t changed, and it had been a real effort not to touch him in some way. He missed that so much. Seeing him with one of his co-stars was something else entirely – surely if it was purely a job there would be no hand holding going on?
Leaning forward he tapped on the glass to talk to the cabby, “Could you take me to Wimbledon instead please? 70 Vineyard Hill Road.” Maybe Uncle Gaius’s calming presence would do him some good, help him sort out his confusion. At the very least, he could hide out there for a couple of days. He had a feeling Arthur might turn up at his flat later and he wasn’t ready for that confrontation.
He didn’t know if he ever would be.
Gaius made them a pot of Earl Grey and they sat in his cluttered sitting room, surrounded by books, gadgets and more plants than Merlin had ever seen outside of a garden centre.
Gaius was, putting it mildly, a bit eccentric. He wasn’t really Merlin’s uncle, and Merlin wasn’t even sure how it came about that he even referred to him as such, but he did and it was a hard habit to break. Gaius was kind of the father he’d never had.
He was also completely unshockable, which was why Merlin had no qualms telling him about Arthur. An hour later and Merlin was feeling like the bad guy. Gaius never minced his words.
“Merlin, I’m surprised at you,” he said. “Deliberately setting out to hurt someone like that, it’s cruel.”
“No excuses Merlin, I don’t care what he’s done, or hasn’t done, it’s clear from what you’ve said that he cared for you a great deal, and with your actions you’ve denied him the right to explain himself and hurt him along the way.”
“But Gaius -”
“You’re welcome to stay in the spare room tonight because it’s late, but tomorrow you’re going to go and find that poor boy and give him his day in court.” Gaius began to loudly clear up the tea things and huffed from the room.
Merlin felt like a naughty school boy.
He also knew Gaius was right. And when he’d said that Arthur had ‘cared for him a great deal’ Merlin’s heart had gone cold; he never wanted Arthur’s caring for him to be past tense.
Arthur’s evening had turned from bad to worse. He’d reacted too slowly to Merlin’s departure; hence Merlin was away in a cab before Arthur reached the exit. Which meant he had to go back inside and join Myror, who by the time he had made it back to the table had acquired a lapful of that irritating friend of Merlin’s; Will.
The small dark haired girl, and another female, had made themselves comfortable in Arthur’s vacated spot, and he’d had to sit next to Myror. He perched on the edge of the seat to avoid any flailing limbs that might come his way.
“I’m Freya,” said the first girl. “This is Gwen,” she pointed at the second, a pretty brunette with a friendly smile.
“We’re Merlin’s friends,” said Gwen, unnecessarily, because although Arthur had never met them, he’d heard about them many times. “You just scared Merlin off.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” and the sarcasm reared its ugly head. Arthur looked at his watch and figured Myror was doing just fine with his lapful of fanboy and he could probably go. He wanted to have it out with Merlin once and for all. Apparently nothing had been as it seemed as Merlin had clearly known about his job. He’d always known it was a ticking time bomb, but the longer he left it the harder it became to tell him, and the more scared he’d become of losing him.
Had that been why he’d cheated on him? Oh right, he’d almost forgotten, cheating plural, with his best friend.
Wasn’t Lance with Gwen?
He turned back to the girls and flipped on his charm switch. “I’ve heard a lot about you both from Merlin,” he purred. “All of it good.”
Gwen preened and Freya bristled, snorting, “You’ve got some nerve you know. You’re a fucking porn star,” she whispered ‘porn star’ in a ridiculous stage whisper which was louder than her normal voice. “And you don’t even tell Merlin, you...”
”Freya,” hissed Gwen.
“...just leave him to find out from...”
“I don’t think Merlin would want you to be talking about this to him.”
Arthur watched the exchange with mounting confusion. “Who told Merlin about me?” he chanced.
Gwen looked at him almost sympathetically; Freya glared and replied, “I did. Me and Leon -” she paused and blushed. Arthur would have blushed too if he’d given a crap about this girl’s opinion right now. “He deserved to know.”
“Look, I’m sure you had your reasons, right Arthur?” said Gwen kindly, and Arthur felt guilty that he knew her boyfriend was cheating on her with Merlin.
Yes he had his reasons, but they just pathetic now that he’d lost Merlin anyway.
“When did you tell him?” he ignored Gwen and chose to respond to Freya instead.
“A couple of weeks ago. Don’t you know all this? He said he was going home to confront you about it.”
That horrible night when Merlin hadn’t come home and he’d found him with Lance the next day. “I have to go,” he stood up abruptly. “Lovely to meet you both. Myror, see you next week?” Myror waved, too engaged in searching for Will’s tonsils to answer.
He stopped at the loo on the way out, and when he came out again Gwen was waiting for him. “Do you love Merlin?” she asked, watching him closely.
Arthur saw no reason to lie. “Yes.”
She smiled, looking relieved. “I love my Lance too,” she said carefully. “He’d never cheat on me; he’s the most noble person I know.” She stood on tiptoe and kissed Arthur’s cheek before disappearing into the throng.
Merlin was suffering an awkward breakfast with Gaius, the older man still making his disapproval of Merlin’s recent duplicities known, when work called.
Merlin had totally forgotten he was on call this weekend. Apparently Gary had broken his leg and someone was needed in Birmingham as soon as to help set up the sound system for a gig, and there was no one else who could do it, so could Merlin possibly..?
Sometimes Merlin wished he was a stupid person, because his ability to do something once and never needing instruction again meant he often got dragged into doing things that were not in his remit. Setting up sound systems at Birmingham NIA were not exactly in his job description.
It might do him good to get out of London for a couple of days, ponder over what Gaius had said – even though Merlin knew he was right it didn’t mean he was ready to have the conversation. He knew he’d been cruel, but surely he had been somewhat justified? Time to think could only be a good thing.
He grabbed a cab back to his place to pack an overnight bag whilst the cabby waited outside for him, then headed to Euston for the train to Birmingham.
By the time the train had reached Milton Keynes Merlin was feeling the distance from London...and Arthur. Fucking hell, he needed to have that talk with Arthur right now. Suddenly every minute spent not having that conversation felt like an hour.
He couldn’t even fucking call Arthur after deleting his number in a fit of pique last week, and all his texts...all traces of him in fact.
He had a long day ahead.
To say Arthur was confused was an understatement. He’d gone home last night and sat unseeingly on the sofa for hours, finally giving in to fatigue and moving himself to the bedroom.
What had Gwen been trying to tell him? Lance would never cheat on her she’d said, but Arthur had seen it with his own eyes! His Merlin pinned to the bed by another man, beingkissed by him. So, why would she make a point of telling him something so random, because that wasn’t the sort of thing two new acquaintances talked about.
He’d woken up, after only a couple of hours of half sleep, with the answer.
He didn’t know whether to be relieved or give in to the pain that came with the realisation. Merlin had deliberately set out to hurt him. Had he even known Merlin at all?
Fight or flight? Arthur grabbed a quick shower, ate a banana, downed some OJ and was half way across town before he had chance to change his mind. Even if Merlin rejected him again, he had to do this. He had to try.
Merlin made his escape as soon as was humanly possible, but it was too late to head back to London. Work had booked him into the Hyatt, and he retired there, ordered room service and sat back on the bed to watch TV; not much else to do.
The hotel was on the main pub/club strip in Birmingham; Merlin had made the mistake of going out there with a few colleagues once. He shuddered. Never again; it was a seething mass of vomiting teenagers and ill thought out hen parties.
Luckily Merlin’s room was on the 16th floor with double glazed windows.
Room service arrived, Merlin ate half his pizza and pushed it away in disgust. He didn’t really have an appetite. The clock was ticking, booming in his head, tick tock, tick tock, taking him further away from Arthur, and he didn’t want that...
He wished he’d had that chat with Uncle Gaius two weeks ago.
He was barely aware of himself as he dragged his laptop out of his rucksack, tuned it in to the free Wi-Fi and Googled Bradley Avalon. It was a like a sick compulsion, and if someone had asked him to explain his actions he would honestly have been able to swear under oath that he hadn’t even realised what he was doing. His hand was hovered over the ‘play’ button for less than a second before his hand seemed to move of its own volition and the frozen bodies on screen moaned into life.
This time it was fascinating. Arthur again on the receiving end of a very enthusiastic blow job, extolling his enjoyment loudly, whilst the giver fisted his own cock furiously. Merlin paid no attention to the other man, his attention fixated on Arthur, the expression on his face, the planes of his chest and stomach - no tattoo yet - the light reflecting in his golden hair, his long fingers as they pushed the other’s head down onto his cock...and as the scene cut to him bending his partner over a kitchen counter...Arthur’s cock, long and thick and so fuckingdelicious slowing pushing its way into the waiting hole.
Merlin was harder than he ever thought possible without Arthur’s actual physical presence. This was so wrong. He’d been cursing Arthur, calling him a cheater and filling himself up with resentment that Arthur hadn’t told him about this – yet now here he was, deliberately – albeit somewhat unconsciously - setting out to watch Arthur fucking another guy, and getting so turned on by it that there could only now be one course of action he could take.
His hand slid down, unbuttoned his jeans and slid inside. So good, oh yes, so fucking good.
His trance like state was interrupted by a knock at the door. Fuck.
Arthur Pendragon did not get nervous. He’s never once had a ‘problem’ with performing for the camera like so many of his co-stars sometimes did. He was confident and very much aware of his skills and strengths. He could face anything.
Except perhaps his ex-boyfriend, who just the thought of coming face to face with right now was turning him into someone completely unrecognisable. Where was all the confidence now? Nothing else mattered except Merlin and this encounter, this conversation, they were about to have had taken on the utmost significance.
The door opened a crack and Merlin’s head appeared, “Arthur?”
Fuck, he looked good.
Good, and guilty...in fact flushed and fucking aroused...his pupils were dilated and he looked just like he would do when Arthur was about to fuck him.
Not caring for the consequences Arthur pushed the door back on its hinges. Nearly knocking Merlin to the floor in his need to get inside and pummel the hell out of whoever it was Merlin had in there, his gut twisting in pain as the jealousy coursed through him, and the fear that he had got it all wrong and Gwen really was deluded, and Merlin was shagging Lance after all. Or someone else. Would it be worse to find Lance or another person entirely? Someone else would mean that Gwen was telling the truth about Lance, but Merlin had already moved on from Arthur, found someone else to –
The room was empty. Arthur crashed into the bathroom thinking perhaps someone was hiding in there. Also empty.
“Arthur, what are you doing?” came Merlin’s reedy voice, quiet and uncertain.
“Where is he hiding?”
“You’ve got someone in here. Look at you. You look like you’re about to get thoroughly fucked!” God but it hurt to say that.
Merlin’s eyes flicked to his laptop on the dressing table and back to Arthur guiltily, and in his fury Arthur almost missed it. His first thought was that there was someone in the wardrobe next to the dressing table, and then he wondered why someone would go to the trouble of hiding from him at all.
He strode over to the lap top and lifted the half closed lid.
The clip had stopped running now, having reached the end of his two minutes, but there could be no mistake as to the content as he recognised the top of his own head and vaguely recalled the name of the guy he was with, Jamie was it?
He turned to Merlin, incredulous.
“You little hypocrite! You’re getting off on this?”
Merlin’s eyes widened and his cheeks flushed pink. He didn’t bother to deny it, and Arthur was glad.
He wanted to laugh, because there was no other guy, just Merlin watching Bradley Avalon.
Merlin, all aroused, watching him. God that was hot.
“What are you doing here?” Merlin asked, closing the gaping hotel room door. “How -”
“Your pal Will, he went home with my pal Myror – he’s still there I believe – he gave me Gwen’s number, Gwen told me where you were,” Arthur had come to Birmingham to talk to Merlin, but looking at him now, well...talking was the last thing on his mind.
Arthur slammed the laptop shut and stalked over to Merlin, backing him into the door. Merlin let him, staring at him through confused eyes, which Arthur saw snap shut when he leant in and pressed his lips to Merlin’s.
Merlin’s hands came up to Arthur’s chest, as though to push him away, and Arthur pulled back, “Have you any idea how fucking gorgeous you look?” he whispered, leaning back in to nibble Merlin’s earlobe. “How much I want you?”
He slipped his hand downwards, under Merlin’s t-shirt where his fly was undone and his cock was ready for Arthur’s touch, and Gods how he wanted to touch.
“We, nnggh, need to talk Arthur,” Merlin choked out as Arthur closed his hand around Merlin’s length and bit down on the soft flesh just above his collar bone.
“Later...” Arthur murmured, stroking Merlin’s cock and relishing how it twitched to his touch. He ran his thumb over the end and collected the smear of precome that was coating the slit. Stepping back slightly, he met Merlin’s dazed stare and licked the come off his thumb.
Merlin groaned. “Arthur I’m serious,” he tried before Arthur covered his mouth again, pressing himself as close into Merlin has he could get with his hand still down wrapped around his cock.
His other hand wandered over Merlin’s arse, under his waistband, easing his jeans down, and Merlin’s almost obligatory groans of protest abated as his jeans and boxers tangled around his thighs and Arthur fell to his knees, taking a moment to admire the sight that was Merlin, head thrown back against the door, cock straining against his flat stomach, before tasting it, circling his tongue around the leaking head.
“Mnnng, Arthur no,” muttered Merlin, his hands carding in Arthur’s hair to pull him back, but Arthur wasn’t letting him escape, he curled one hand around the base of Merlin’s cock and the other traced a path up the back of his thigh and span a circle around Merlin’s hole. “FuckArthur, you -”
Merlin’s objections died in his throat as he gave in to the sensation that was Arthur’s tongue lapping every last millimetre of his cock, taking him deep into his throat, not complaining as Merlin began to buck and started to fuck his mouth; Arthur’s forefinger breaching his entrance, the other pulling gently on his balls.
Vaguely in the back of his head a little voice was still protesting that this was a bad idea, but who could listen to that when his cock was being enveloped by a hot talented mouth, and the tightening in his lower belly was building so fast.
He was moaning Arthur’s name, he heard himself as though the voice were coming from another body, another mouth. Arthur, Arthur, Arthur. The heat was building, the finger around his hole was too much and not enough at the same time, because what he wouldn’t give right now for Arthur to be inside him as he came; and even just the thought of that, the anticipation that perhaps later they might...Merlin came with a shout, spilling himself into Arthur’s waiting mouth, Arthur, Arthur, Arthur.
His legs wanted to give way beneath him, his knees almost buckling as Arthur got to his feet, releasing Merlin’s cock with a low pop, hoiking Merlin up and throwing him back on the bed. Merlin was lost in a daze of post orgasmic bliss as Arthur straddled him, standing up on his knees and releasing his own weeping erection from his tented jeans, he pumped it swiftly, clearly close to the edge. Merlin found his hands closing over Arthur’s, their eyes meeting in a clashing of blue fire as Arthur came in streams of hot white stickiness across Merlin’s pale naked chest.
Merlin wondered dazedly at what point his t-shirt had hit the floor as Arthur said, “God, Imissed you.”
Reality clocked Merlin over the head. He’d just had sex with a porn star. He’d just had sex with Arthur, who despite everything, still had the ability to make Merlin come undone like no other ever could.
“We need to talk,” he said, trying to sound authoritative as he lay there with come drying on his stomach. “Not later, now.”
“Mng,” Arthur muttered as he flopped down on his beside Merlin. “Five minutes?” He curled into Merlin’s side, flinging a heavy arm over his chest.
“’Kay,” Merlin agreed, thinking perhaps those five minutes would make him feel less used. Except he’d been a willing participant. Perhaps ‘used’ was not the right word. Arthur had always been able to stop him in his tracks with sex, and it was only now that Merlin had to wonder what sex meant to Arthur.
Sex was Arthur’s job. What was sex with Merlin? Did it mean anything other than just a release to him?
It had meant everything to Merlin before, added to their closeness, made him feel loved and wanted. Now he couldn’t honestly say he would ever be able to get that back with Arthur.
Merlin pulled his jeans back into place, hoping some clothing would make him feel less debauched.
He loved Arthur, there was no point trying to pretend he didn’t. Arthur was intelligent, witty, generous and he made Merlin’s heart beat faster just being in the same room as him. No one was perfect though, right? There always had to be a catch somewhere.
It was longer than five minutes before Arthur was ready to talk, and it wasn’t because he was exhausted in his post climax haze.
He was scared. This was it now. If this conversation went badly... He couldn’t bear to think about what that might mean.
“Arthur?” Oh God, it looked as though Merlin didn’t want to wait any longer.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Arthur closed his eyes; typical Merlin, always straight to the point. It was one of the things he loved about him.
“Why did you set me up to catch you with someone else?” he couldn’t help throw that in there. He wanted Merlin to know he’d found out the truth.
Merlin moved then, wriggling out from under Arthur’s arm and sitting back against the headboard. Arthur immediately missed the contact, but followed suit, sitting beside Merlin. He reached out his hand and looped his pinkie into Merlin’s, pleased that Merlin didn’t pull away.
Merlin sighed and stared at his toes. “I didn’t plan it -” He threaded his fingers through Arthur’s. The contact was more satisfying than just pinkies. “I’d drunk dialled Lance after seeing the proof that you and Bradley Avalon were one in the same. He stayed over – and when we heard you he just... he's very protective of me. I never meant to do it but it felt so good to hurt you back.”
Arthur had thought it would be something like that, but hearing it from Merlin’s lips stung. That Merlin had gone along with such a plan to hurt him...
“I don’t know if I can be sorry about it either,” Merlin added. “You cheated on me daily.”
“Not daily Merlin.” Arthur knew this was a small point to make, but he didn’t want Merlin to think that he was fucking other guys every bloody day. “And I wasn’t cheating on you. None of it means anything, it’s just work.”
Merlin snorted. “If you believed that Arthur why didn’t you tell me what you did? ‘Working in TV’ didn’t really cover it.”
Merlin waited. Everything depended on this. Yet even then he didn’t know if he could live with Arthur and his job. “You lied to me Arthur,” he prompted into the awkward silence, all too aware of his hand in Arthur’s, the connection between them still there.
“I didn’t, I -”
“You lied by omission Arthur. You kept something from me so important...am I even safe? We stopped using condoms; I knew I was clean...you told me you were but how can you knowthat? I trusted you!”
Arthur pulled his hand out of Merlin’s and leapt off the bed, tucking himself away as he did so. “I would never put you at risk, I couldn’t -” he began to pace. “I didn’t tell you at first because, well, what was I supposed to say? We literally bumped into each other, and straight away I was gone. I’ve never felt like that before. Ever. I didn’t want to scare you away.”
This was new to Merlin, Arthur feeling so strongly for him as soon as they met. It had been like that for him too, but he’d never told Arthur because he didn’t want to come across as...as...what? Didn’t want Arthur to know how quickly he’d fallen for him? Didn’t want to admit Arthur had made him believe in love at first sight? He didn’t know his reasoning. It seemed they were both holding back in the honesty stakes.
“That excuse works OK for the first week or two Arthur, but what about after that? Why’d you need to do it anyway? You could be anything you want to be.”
Arthur carded a stressed hand through his blond hair, “I was in love with you - am in love with you - and the longer I left it -” he paused, fixing Merlin with his sincere blue gaze. “I’m sorry Merlin. I should have been honest from the start. I dug myself into a hole I couldn’t get out of.”
“You know,” said Merlin, refusing to break eye contact. “I didn’t mind – I mean I can’t say Iliked it – when I thought it might have been something you’d done in the past, before you met me...but then I saw the tattoo.” He didn’t realise he was crying until he felt the hot tears rolling down his cheeks. He furiously wiped them away with the back of his hand, ashamed to be showing so much emotion.
Arthur was across the room in seconds and Merlin was swept into his strong arms, “I’m sorry, I so sorry,” he murmured into Merlin’s ear, his hot breath sending shivers down Merlin’s spine.
Merlin let the tears flow then, the hurt and pain pouring out, and Arthur just held him as he gave in to it.
“Will you give it up?” Merlin asked in a low whisper as the tears began to abate. “Will you give it up for me?”
Arthur pulled back, needing to have eye contact. “I – I, that is Morgana and I, own the company.”
How the hell was he going to explain this? He knew he would do what Merlin asked. How could he not? He just needed Merlin to understand the whole story.
“Sit down,” he guided Merlin to the sofa under the window. Merlin sat down without demur, watching Arthur carefully. Arthur sat at the other end, aware that he didn’t need the distraction of physical contact – he was half hard again just from hugging Merlin.
“I want to tell you how it happened OK?”
Merlin nodded, biting his lip nervously. Arthur still hadn’t given his answer to Merlin’s million dollar question.
Arthur took a deep breath, “You know I was eighteen when my father cut me off?” Merlin nodded, Arthur had furnished him with a lot of his back story already.
“Without him I had literally nothing. I was about to start uni, and suddenly I was faced with tuition fees, rent and all the other expenses that come with living independently. I couldn’t get a grant because Father has more money than the national fucking debt and he was denying he’d cut me off.” Arthur had fallen a long way, from spoilt rich kid to destitute overnight.
“I went to stay with a friend for a couple of weeks; her parents didn’t mind me crashing on the sofa. I’d got good grades, I knew if I deferred going to college I might never go back. I found a cheap house share near the uni, and applied for every part time job I saw.” If it hadn’t been for student loans to pay tuition fees he wouldn’t have been able to do it.
“Then I met a guy in the student union bar. I was desperate by then, glass collecting for a few quid a week. I hadn’t paid any rent – if it hadn’t been for Viv’s parents lending me the deposit they would never have let me move in – I was seriously thinking of jacking it all in and going on the dole, at least then you get your rent paid for you. Anyway, this guy, he was cruising the bars for fresh ‘talent’ and before I knew it I had agreed to pose for him.” He’d known the ‘modelling’ wasn’t couture high fashion, more for wank mags, but he’d been desperate, and what did it matter if it paid for him to get through uni?
He watched Merlin for reaction, but the other’s face was blank. Arthur pressed on, “That was how it started. When I was offered a few hundred quid to fu-have sex with another man on camera, I couldn’t afford to refuse. Part time student jobs were rarer hot summers in England.”
It had been such easy money. He’d never been hung up about his body, sex was just sex. He’d been no blushing virgin.
He went on to tell Merlin how he’d made a name for himself, though really he thought it was just a fluke, a lucky combination of his looks and stamina. Then, when his step-sister Morgana had come back into his life, having seen one of his videos at a friend’s hen night, they’d gotten their relationship back on track, and she’d offered to give him the money to set up on his own. It had gone from there. Morgana’s mother had left Uther long before Arthur had been cut off and these were her savings – so Arthur had insisted she become a partner in the business.
Three years later, Arthur was twenty-four years old and a bit of a worldwide phenomenon in the gay porn industry. Morgana was the marketing and money, he produced and ‘performed’.
Then he’d met Merlin and his world had turned upside down.
“Back to the ‘safe’ thing though Merlin. Everyone is rigorously tested – we’ve got our own doctor. They sign disclaimers, get tested weekly... Believe me when I tell you I wouldcouldn’t put you at risk.”
Merlin watched him silently.
“So to answer your question,” Arthur finally said, and Merlin tensed. “I’ll stop performing for you Merlin. But I can’t stop my involvement in the company. We’re doing well, it’s my bread and butter, and Morgana’s too, I can’t let her down after all she did for me.”
Merlin didn’t say anything.
“Will that be enough for you?” Arthur held his breath. Please say yes. Please, please, please.
“I think so,” Merlin finally rasped. “But I need to understand – why me? You could have anyone you want.”
Arthur’s heart started beating again at Merlin’s answer. He had his second chance. “Have youseen you Merlin? You make me want to simultaneously protect you and fuck you. I want to touch you all the time; I’ve was never a tactile person before I met you. I can’t get enough of you. You turn me on like no else ever could. The job was just that...I’m not saying I don’t get pleasure from the sex, but I’d never known what sex could be like when I loved someone before.”
Merlin shifted uncomfortably, “Won’t you miss it?”
Arthur shook his head. “Once I’d met you it felt wrong anyway, because sex with you was amazing – it was real. That should have told me something. I only want you. I can be pretty dense at times.”
“I don’t think we can pick up where we left off,” Merlin suddenly said. “I think we need to start again.
Arthur’s heart stopped beating again.
As soon as he’d said the words Merlin wanted to take them back. Arthur seemed to be giving them considerable thought. Merlin watched, trying to keep a poker face as Arthur bit his lip and looked away.
Merlin had never been someone who had slept around, he’s only ever been with people he’d been in a relationship with, which before Arthur totalled two. He couldn’t equate the sex without feelings that Arthur was trying to say his job had been. However, if he wanted Arthur, he was going to have to accept it.
He wanted Arthur. God, he wanted him.
There was no point dwelling on what had already passed. They had to move forward if this was to work. Arthur had offered to stop performing and despite Arthur’s inability to tell him about his occupation, Merlin trusted him now.
“No!” Arthur jumped to his feet, bowing to his knees in front of Merlin, his hands on his knees. “I don’t want to start again Merlin, I don’t think I can. I need you too much. You don’t have to move back in yet, but I don’t want to go backwards.”
Merlin smiled joyfully, feeling his face split into two. He put his hands over Arthur’s. “Just promise me you’ll never lie to me again,” he said, brushing a stray lock of hair off Arthur’s face. “And I’ll tell you how much I missed you.” He parted his knees and Arthur shuffled in between.
“I promised I will never lie to you Merlin,” and he laid his cheek on Merlin’s thigh. “I won’t risk losing you again.”
That was all Merlin needed to hear. His hands threaded through Arthur’s hair. “Arthur?”
“I missed you.”
One month later
Arthur watched Merlin through narrowed eyes, arousal twisting in his stomach merely at his proximity. He’d planned on going over and saving him, but he didn’t look as though he needed rescuing, in fact his beautiful boyfriend was charming the socks off his father.
Uther’s 60th birthday party was in full swing. Morgana and her latest, Alvarr, were making hay in the corner; the rest of the room was full of business acquaintances of Uther’s, distant relatives, old family friends and a collection of what seemed to be – for want of a better word – bunny girls. Uther had turned into some kind of Hugh Heffner character in his old age.
Arthur supposed Uther could afford it.
When he’d met with his father a few weeks earlier, the night Merlin had left him, Uther had held out the olive branch, said he’d been mistaken in cutting Arthur off. He even knew about the porn and didn’t even seem to mind. Arthur had suffered a brief temptation to ask, ‘who are you and what have you done with my father?’ but it seemed that Uther had assessed where his life was going and found it wanting without his son.
Tonight Uther had told him he’d changed the will back and Arthur was heir to billions again. If he wanted, and he was tempted towards a new challenge, Arthur no longer needed to have any kind involvement in his movie business.
He’d discuss it with Merlin and they would decide together.
“Arthur, this feels so naughty!” hissed Merlin as he lowered himself slowly onto Arthur’s straining cock. “In your father’s house -”
“I don’t care. I’m not going without this for two weeks for anybody.” They were staying in Uther’s penthouse whilst in between flats, having both quit their tenancies in favour of getting a bigger place together and were waiting for the sale to go through on their new flat.
Merlin hadn’t spent a single night in his own flat since Birmingham, despite intentions. Taking it slow? Not a chance.
Arthur gripped Merlin’s hipbones and thrust upwards. “Fuck Arthur!” He pushed himself back into Arthur who was sitting back against the headboard, loving the feel of Arthur’s chest against his back.
Merlin began to raise himself off Arthur, slamming back down with a contented sigh before repeating the motion. Arthur’s hand found its way around Merlin’s cock, fisting it in time with Merlin’s movements.
The party had only ended an hour or so earlier and already they had christened the shower and the armchair. “So beautiful,” cooed Arthur in Merlin’s ear. “Come for me Merlin, come for me.” Merlin’s rapidly building orgasm let itself loose at Arthur’s words and he spilled his release with a loud cry. Arthur pumped up three more times and followed.
Merlin lifted his arse so Arthur could pull out, then rearranged his legs and settled back against Arthur’s chest. Arthur wrapped his arms around him and pulled him tight into him.
“Mine,” he whispered.
“Yes,” Merlin sighed. “Always.”