It drives you mad, how gorgeous he is. Makes you insane with want and jealousy, but you won’t own up to that. You tell him you envy him when he takes beautiful women to his quarters, joke that he can do the massage and the tea ceremony, and you’re willing to swap places with him when it comes time to fuck. He tells you you’re crude, that seeing a companion is about more than sex, and you roll your eyes and turn your back, making for the bridge. His business gives you access to the higher rungs of society, important for a pirate with a grudge, so you let him get on with it. Deep down, you know you couldn’t stop him if you tried.
The crew gives you looks. You feel judged and stupid because they know you so well. Maybe you’ve always been an open book, quick-witted and good with a gun but transparent in your motivations, your desires. You tell them they’re imagining things and to get back to work, but the only one who listens is him—Merlin.
It’s worst when Merlin takes his occasional male clients, because you can’t stop imagining a cock pumping into his arse, drawing satisfied gasps from him as his fingers fist in his deep-blue silk sheets. You imagine a rough beard chafing his soft chin as some man who isn’t you—isn’t you, but you’d never admit, even to yourself, that that’s the problem—is allowed to taste Merlin’s soft lips, feel them give and open, tongue slipping inside to possess him. You imagine anyone getting to see him soft and unguarded, and you can’t name the feeling it gives you; you just know it’s a low and slow kind of burning that follows you all week.
“Do you let them fuck you?” you ask, biting down the bitterness, and he just stares at you, nostrils flared, angry. He turns to leave, and you want to stop him, to grab him by the lapels and shove him against the bulkhead and kiss him, but you can’t. So you stomp down the stairs and yell at the first person you see. Gaius looks at you like he knows, and you retreat to your bunk to hide your shame, trying not to imagine Merlin spread open for some other man, lips parted like he enjoys it.
There’s a tipping point, always is. The fulcrum skews, and everything tumbles down. For you, it’s Merlin kissing the Archduke on the gangway like it’s just a leisurely Sunday and he’s going on shore leave with his lover. You follow him back to his quarters after the Archduke leaves and press him hard against the wall before you remember that you don’t touch him, ever.
He struggles against you, eyes wild and voice angry, but he’s stronger than this—you know he is—and that’s why you kiss him. And you don’t know why he kisses back, but he does, hard and sloppy like he’s been aching for a real, dirty kiss, and you’re the one that’s going to give it to him. You slip your leg between his thighs and rumple his perfectly pressed shirt as you tear it out of his trousers and slide fingers up hot skin, finding a nipple and squeezing, groaning as his hips buck against you.
When he tears his mouth from yours, he asks if you want a tea ceremony, and you lick around his earlobe when you say you’re just looking for a massage. He gets you out of your clothes, but it’s him who winds up face-first in the bed that smells like someone else’s sweat. You rub the oil low on his back, dipping down to his arse, kneading your hands in the firm flesh there until you can’t tolerate the tease, the way he’s hitching his hips against the bed and gasping every time your thumb brushes inside the high curve of his thigh.
When you finally press your fingers to his entrance, he’s dry and tight, unfucked, and it makes you ache that much harder to get inside him, fuck him open and make him feel what it’s like to be taken by someone who wants him, and him specifically.
And he’s not perfect for you. When you fuck him, he gets pinched and ugly as he looks over his shoulder, watching you move. He holds his breath and then lets it out in a harsh pant when his face is red and he needs air. He’s drowning in you, and you know—know it like you know the grip of your sidearm—that no one else has ever been this close, this genuinely inside of him. With his clients, it’s soft moans and delicate, deliberate features. With you, he’s torn raw and nasty, his moans shrill as you dig your fingers into his hips, leave tiny cuts no one else would be allowed. He begs you for more, and you give it—deeper, harder, closer. You suck bruises into his neck and he wrings his fingers in your hair and holds you there. When he comes, it absolutely shatters him. He’s a fucking mess, shaking and gasping, and it’s so violent, so fucking perfect, that you kiss his gorgeous mouth. He whines and sucks your tongue in deep, and you’re lost, helpless, emptying yourself into the delicious heat of him as he rubs his sweaty forehead against your neck.
He keeps his quarters but sleeps in yours. It doesn’t mean anything, but you’re pleased anyway. You smooth his lapels and suppress the awe that he lets you do this—lets you take care of him. You’re still a criminal, but he loves you anyway. And though you’d never admit it, you love him, too.