"Have you ever gone down on a girl?" Merlin asks innocently, shining his torch directly into Arthur's face from the opposite corner of the tent.
Arthur covers his eyes with a hand and reaches out with the other one to bat the torch away.
"Are you trying to blind me?"
Arthur peeks through his fingers to see Merlin giving him the usual guilty, goofy smile. The sight is so inanely familiar that all Arthur can do in response is roll his eyes and settle back into his sleeping bag.
"What kind of question is that, anyway?" he asks, reaching behind his head to fluff his pillow. It's thick enough that he shouldn't, but he's sure he can feel rocks and tree roots through it.
"A normal one. I'm just curious. Have you?"
"Of course I have. Don't be ridiculous. Haven't you?"
"Well..." Merlin's high-pitched voice gives him away.
Arthur sighs and stares up at the slope of their tent. They're camping for the week, getting away from their parents and celebrating the end of college and taking one last best-mates-for-life trip before they go their separate ways for uni. It's summer and the tent is clammy and cramped and there are definitely some bugs moving underneath it. Arthur can feel them slithering under his legs.
"You went out with Freya for a whole term."
Merlin murmurs his agreement and Arthur glances over at him. He's fingering the edge of his sleeping bag and his face is positively pink. He stays silent for a while until Arthur nudges his shoulder with a foot.
"We never did oral," he mumbles.
Arthur props himself up on his elbows. "Seriously?"
Merlin shrugs and bites his lower lip, refusing to look at Arthur.
"You slept with her though, yeah?"
"Yeah," Merlin says quietly. "We just... we took things really slowly. She moved before we got a chance to... erm... do more than the basics."
"The basics?" Arthur tries not to laugh. "Mate-"
"What's it like?" Merlin asks, his gaze settling on Arthur.
Arthur lies back down, uncomfortable under Merlin's somber scrutiny. "I don't know. It's... it's different."
"Different than what?"
"Different than anything else. There's a lot of... smelling and tasting involved."
"You make it sound so sexy," Merlin deadpans. "I'm hard already."
Arthur kicks out a leg and manages to catch Merlin's ribs with his knee. "You asked."
"Because I wanted a real answer," Merlin protests, trying to shimmy his sleeping bag farther away from Arthur. He only manages a few inches before he rolls into the side of the tent. "Are you going to answer it or not?"
"I don't know how to answer that question," Arthur says, exasperated. The truth is that he doesn't really enjoy going down on girls. It's a lot of work and he hasn't done it enough to master any sort of technique and most of the time the girls don't even come from it. It usually leaves him feeling embarrassed and inadequate and distinctly turned off.
"What's it like getting a blowjob then?"
"I said we never did oral," Merlin said quickly.
Arthur looks over at Merlin, a strange feeling in his stomach that he's not sure he can blame on their pathetic excuse for a dinner. Merlin is gawky and shy - he has been for his whole life - but Arthur thinks it's sort of adorable. Between the two of them, Arthur gets far more girls, but Merlin's relationship with Freya was far more serious than anything Arthur's ever had. They're complete opposites and they always have been, but it works for them. Merlin helps Arthur with his English homework and Arthur helps Merlin meet new people and it all evens out in the end. Arthur gets laid and Merlin gets the serious girlfriend and it just makes sense.
Arthur stiffens and looks back up at the tent. "It's all right."
"Just all right?" Merlin scoffs. "Isn't it supposed to be brilliant?"
"Supposed to be, yeah," Arthur mutters. The truth is that he enjoys receiving oral sex about as much as he enjoys giving it. The girls who have gone down on him have been so awkward and unsure and nervous that it takes a lot of effort for Arthur get off from it. He wants someone confident, or at least someone who can act confident, and someone who doesn't act like his dick will break from the slightest bit of pressure.
"What's the best blowjob you've ever gotten?"
"Come on," Merlin whinges. "Let me live vicariously through your prick."
"That's a horrifying thought. Never say that again."
Merlin whimpers and Arthur's pretty sure that he's pouting.
"Fine." Arthur crosses his arms over his chest and tries to think. "I guess... I guess Gwen gave decent head."
"Well, it wasn't earth-shattering. But it was better than anyone else."
Merlin doesn't say anything for a while after that and Arthur closes his eyes and tries to ignore the bugs and the tree roots and the painfully hard ground. In the morning he can pretend that this whole conversation never happened.
"We could practise," Merlin says, his voice so low that Arthur almost thinks he's imagining it.
"We could practise oral sex. On each other, I mean."
Arthur groans. "That doesn't make any sense. A penis is nothing like a vagina."
There is silence again and Arthur runs over their plans for the next day in his head so that he has something to distract him from the heavy way that Merlin is breathing.
"We could practise anyway."
Arthur sighs and shifts up on his elbows again. "Merlin, why are you trying to suck my cock?"
"I don't know, it just seems like it could be a good idea," Merlin says, the words jumbled so closely together that it takes Arthur a few seconds to register them.
"You're not queer, are you?" Arthur asks, mostly because it seems like it needs to be asked.
"I might be."
Arthur flops back down. "Jesus, Merlin."
"I couldn't think of another way to tell you," Merlin says, his voice high and anxious.
"You thought offering to suck me off was a good way to come out?"
"So you didn't actually want to know what it's like to go down on a girl."
"Well... no. No, not exactly."
"You are actually insane," Arthur complains. He scrubs his hands over his face and tries to wrap his mind around the fact that Merlin is gay.
"I'm not insane, I'm just in... I just fancy you a bit, is all."
The strange feeling in Arthur's stomach intensifies and he clears his throat for something to do.
"I don't really know what you want me to say to that."
"I don't want you to say anything. I just want you to let me suck your cock."
"Merlin!" Arthur chokes out, shock and nervousness thrilling down his spine. His cock actually twitches and Arthur can feel himself going red. He feels hot all over and he's absolutely mortified at the whole situation.
"I'd really like to. It could be practice, you know, for me. For all the hot blokes I'm going to shag at uni."
Arthur clenches his jaw as his chest tightens, images of Merlin naked with other men flashing across his mind.
"And who knows, maybe I'll actually be good at it. Maybe you'll finally get a blowjob that's more than just decent."
"Merlin." Arthur's completely hard now and all he can do is hope that Merlin can't see it through the sleeping bag.
Merlin sits up and gives Arthur an endearingly imploring look. "Please?"
Arthur tries to think of a reason - any reason - to say no, but all he can think about is the way his cock is already pulsing with precome.
"Fine, just - just get it over with," he rasps.
Merlin gets caught on his way out of his sleeping bag and has to spend several long seconds disentangling himself from it. When he's free, he gives Arthur a shy look that sends sparks down Arthur's spine.
Merlin unzips Arthur's sleeping bag slowly and Arthur tries to breathe but it feels like all of the air has been sucked out of the tent.
The top flap of the sleeping bag gets pushed aside and Merlin settles himself between Arthur's legs, his hands running firmly up and down Arthur's thighs.
"God, you really are gorgeous, aren't you?" he asks in a low voice, apparently talking to himself.
"Just do it," Arthur says sharply, unnerved by the butterflies in his stomach.
"At least let me enjoy the view for a minute."
"You talk too much." Merlin makes quick work of taking off Arthur's pants and then he spends an alarming amount of time staring at Arthur's stiff cock.
"Shush." Merlin rakes his gaze up over Arthur's chest.
Arthur can feel heat blooming underneath every inch of skin that Merlin looks at. He's sweating already and he's pretty sure his brain is going to start leaking if Merlin doesn't start touching him soon.
"It's a lovely view," Merlin says seriously, his eyes locking with Arthur's.
Arthur sucks in a mouthful of air and the hissing sound is wet and foreign. It makes Merlin's lips quirk in a small, knowing half smile that is just as inanely familiar as his guilty, goofy one. Arthur whimpers, then bites down on his lip to keep himself from making any more embarrassing noises.
Merlin leans down and Arthur holds his breath, ready and waiting. The first touch of Merlin's tongue is light and teasing, but not in a good way. It's hesitant and ticklish and nowhere near enough.
Arthur exhales and the tension drains out of him. He fists his sleeping bag, wondering if he is ever going to enjoy this.
Merlin sinks his mouth over Arthur's entire erection and pulls off slowly, his cheeks hollowed and his tongue doing something absolutely wicked.
"Don't stop!" Arthur rasps, digging his fingers into Merlin's hair and lowering Merlin's mouth back onto his cock.
Merlin makes a choked sound that makes Arthur's hips rise off the sleeping bag. Arthur tilts his head back, straining and gasping for air. He's never felt anything like this before, not even when he's positively drowning his own cock in lube and fucking into his fists with reckless abandon. Merlin's mouth is hot and there is suction and a tongue that actually seems to know what it's doing. It's the most painfully blissful sensation that Arthur can even imagine, but then Merlin's fingers tease the spot just behind his balls and it's more than he can handle.
Arthur comes with a shocked wail, his body arching off the ground as heat explodes behind his eyes and throbs in his cock and shoots through every vein.
He loses himself for a moment, his mind perfectly blank, but then Merlin lets out an undignified grunt and he looks down. His hands are still in Merlin's hair, forcibly holding Merlin's mouth against his still-hard cock. There is come everywhere because of course Merlin decided to drool it all over Arthur's crotch instead of swallowing properly.
"ARFA!" Merlin complains then presses his teeth just slightly into Arthur's cock and Arthur lets go of his hair in a hurry.
Merlin sits up and starts wiping his mouth with his sleeve but then thinks better of it and takes his shirt off completely. He uses it to clean himself up first before rubbing it roughly around Arthur's cock and balls, thinking nothing of gentle, loving touches.
"You're giving me rug burn," Arthur snaps, propping himself up on one elbow and pushing Merlin's shirt away with his free hand.
"Sorry." Merlin smiles sheepishly, not actually meeting Arthur's gaze, and drops the shirt into his own lap. It shields his cock from Arthur's view, but Arthur knows he's hard. "So... that was pretty gay," Merlin says slowly as he nervously runs his fingers over Arthur's knees.
"You're hopeless," Arthur decides. He pushes himself up quickly and shoves Merlin down in the same movement. Merlin makes a pleased, surprised sound and Arthur grins as he peels off Merlin's pants.
Merlin's cock is angrily red and already slick with precome. He inhales loudly and holds his breath, waiting.
Arthur finds that he wants to make Merlin wait. He wants to tease Merlin and draw out the moment as long as possible. He wants to see Merlin completely lose it and start begging.
"Fuck, Arthur," Merlin whinges, his hips twisting.
Arthur feels like he's been punched in the chest with the sound of Merlin moaning his name, and he takes a moment to collect himself before leaning down and sucking the tip of Merlin's cock into his mouth. Merlin lets out the most pathetically wrecked sound Arthur's ever heard, but he absolutely loves it and can't wait to find all of the ways to make Merlin do it again.
"Oh, fuck - fucking fuck Arthur - shit shitshit!" Merlin's cries grow louder until he's actually shouting and then he comes before Arthur's even managed to take in his whole cock.
Arthur does his best to swallow but Merlin's orgasm seems to go on forever. He settles for licking languidly up and down Merlin's cock as Merlin pants, "ah - ahh - ah" and the last of his release pulses out over his stomach.
"What have I done?" Merlin mumbles when Arthur finally pulls his tongue away and sits back up. "WhathaveIdonewhathaveIdonewhathaveIdone?" he chants, covering his face with his hands.
Arthur frowns and grabs Merlin's wrists, pinning them to the floor of the tent.
"Why are you freaking out?" he asks, feeling strangely calm. Usually after sex with a girl, Arthur just feels bored and guilty and dirty. But after sex with Merlin, he feels right. He feels like he wants a cuddle and another round of blowjobs in the morning. He feels better about it than he's ever felt about sex before.
Merlin turns his head and stares at the side of the tent, still avoiding Arthur's gaze.
"I... I didn't actually think that whole... thing... was going to happen."
"Right. But. You. Merlin. Merlin, would you just look at me," Arthur pleads, unable to take it any longer. Merlin has been his best mate for years and he's not going to give that up just because Merlin think they made a mistake. They didn't make a mistake.
Merlin lifts his head slowly, his eyes firmly focused on Arthur's chest. His cheeks are pink and his lips are pornographically red and they make Arthur want to do the whole thing over again as soon as possible.
Arthur waits and waits and waits. He's prepared to wait all night if he has to, but eventually Merlin's eyes drag upward until they reach Arthur's, and Arthur smiles.
"I really enjoyed that."
Merlin's cheeks flare a deep red but he doesn't look away. "But you hate oral sex."
"I don't hate it, I just don't enjoy it. I mean, I never enjoyed it before. But, um... that was amazing."
"Which part?" Merlin asks a bit breathlessly.
"The whole thing." Arthur leans down for a kiss and Merlin immediately arches against him, smearing come between them and grabbing onto the back of Arthur's neck.
"You're straight," Merlin gasps into the kiss.