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Virginity for Sale!

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Arthur’s just tooling around on Craigslist London laughing at all the perverts seeking casual encounters when he sees it.

Virginity for sale! - m4mw - 18 - (London)

He’s curious, so of course he clicks.

18yo virgin male looking to sell big. I need enough money to take care of myself for the next few years of uni, so low bids need not apply. Doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl, will sell to anyone for the right price. CONDOMS A MUST, no matter how much you offer. Email for pics.

It could be anyone, Arthur rationalises. Really, any 18-year-old guy in London could need money for uni. But something feels off to Arthur, and he needs to know, so he quickly makes a fake Gmail account and responds to the post.

He types about two hundred different versions and settles on:

I’ve got the money. Send me the pics.

He likes it this way because he isn’t lying. He does have the money, and he’s tried to give it to Merlin on several occasions, but Merlin won’t accept. He hopes it isn’t Merlin, for any number of reasons, but he somehow isn’t surprised when he opens the response fifteen minutes later and sees Merlin smiling back at him. It’s a picture Arthur himself took, one where Merlin looks particularly gorgeous, his hair getting a bit too long and his lips curled into one of those soft, private smiles.

Arthur’s hands become fists in his lap, and he has to walk away from his laptop to keep from throwing it. Merlin is better than this. He’s worth more than this. He half considers calling Merlin and yelling at him, telling him to take down the post and accept the goddamn money, but there’s a rotten, twisting part of him that thinks that if this is what he wants, this is what he’ll get.

So he writes up another email, sick with himself but also oddly charged. If Merlin wants to be a whore, Arthur can certainly treat him like one.

You’re pretty, but I want to see what I’m paying for. Cock and arse, please.

It takes two hours this time for Merlin to respond—two hours Arthur spends staring at his screen, wandering off to make tea, and then staring at his screen some more. He tries to read one of his textbooks, to respond to an email from his sister, to do any number of things that may be productive, but it all ends the same way, with him logging out and back into his email, hoping to see what he wants while at the same time hoping it never comes, that Merlin will realise his mistake.

When the email actually arrives, Arthur can’t even open it. He just stares at the bolded line of text in his inbox, at the tiny paperclip at the edge, sort of wishing he’d never gotten involved. He gets all sweaty and nauseous, feeling like Merlin might show up behind him, see his email, and storm out and never forgive him. He wipes his hands on his jeans several times and glances over his shoulder every few seconds even though he lives alone.

When Arthur finally clicks to open the email, he stands and backs away, as though the pictures will be easier to deal with at a distance. But as soon as they load, Arthur is sitting again, leaning in close to his screen to open them all at full size, to see all the details, because what the fuck.

Merlin’s arse is not at all not how Arthur imagined it. He thought it’d be flat and bony, endearing but too skinny to be sexy, but underneath his baggy jeans he’s got this beautiful curve of flesh, hairless, and Arthur wonders if Merlin shaved just for this—just to give Arthur a clear picture of his lovely skin, of the dark pink of his hole when he spreads himself for the camera. Arthur thinks he’s probably blushing on the other end, where his face is turned down into a pillow.

The frontal shots drive Arthur a little mad. Merlin didn’t go for the out-of-context dick pic format like Arthur had expected. All the photos show him from nipples to knees, the straight lines and slight, delicate curves of his body lovingly displayed. And his fucking hands—his gorgeous, large, slim-fingered hands brushing over his cock, pressing it down as it gets hard, or his fingers spread into a vee over where his body connects to his pretty, thick cock as it juts out between them. Arthur liked cocks already, but he falls a little bit more in love with them at seeing the way Merlin touches his own. Everything about him like this is unexpected, and Arthur can’t fathom how he’s still a virgin when he looks so fucking at peace posing with his cock out in front of a camera.

Knowing that no one has ever tasted Merlin, and knowing that Arthur himself wants to be the one to show him how fucking brilliant sex can be, is what makes him respond so quickly with a number.

He thinks he’s bidding high when he offers 10,000 pounds, but Merlin gets back to him right away saying he’s already got an offer of 15,000. Arthur doesn’t really give a fuck whether it’s true or not, just ups it to 20,000 without thought. It takes Merlin about fifteen minutes to get back to him, to say the other guy is offering 30,000. So Arthur goes up to 50,000, because no one in their right mind would pay more than that for some kid’s completely unprovable virginity. When the counteroffer of 60,000 comes back, Arthur realises that no one here is quite in their right mind, and he says fuck it, offers 100,000 pounds because Merlin is fucking worth it.

It’s all adrenaline, the thrill of a high-stakes bet, until Merlin accepts his offer.

Arthur has no fucking idea what happens now.


Merlin sends Arthur a carefully worded contract the next morning, and Arthur can’t help smiling. Apparently Merlin has learned a few things from Arthur’s rants about business law after all. Knowing that he was actually listening makes Arthur feel even slimier for misleading him. He should come clean. He should call Merlin right now and tell him what he’s done, but he just stares at his phone on the desk, incapable of lifting his hand to pick it up.

He cleans all morning because guilt is the only feeling unpleasant enough to make him do it, and his sink is full of dishes. He’s not really sure how his bathtub turned orange, but he’s a bit grateful for the excuse to scrub it until his hands ache and his conscience feels lighter. He figures the next step is to do some serious revising, so he heads off for the library.

It’s working out all right until Merlin plops down next to him in the study lounge, his warm smile concealing any hint of nervousness he may be feeling. He just opens his laptop and pulls out one of his textbooks like any other day. Arthur rationalises not saying anything because it’s a library, and even though there’s a group of girls talking about a presentation just a few tables down, he feels it’s important to keep silent.

Merlin nudges Arthur’s arm, says, “Watch my stuff?”

Arthur nods and glances at Merlin’s book, opened to a page featuring an odd photo of a topless woman in a red feathered hat. He shakes his head at it and stares back at his notebook, realising he’s just been doodling in the margin for the past fifteen minutes. When Merlin returns, he places a cup of coffee between them and tilts it towards Arthur in invitation. Arthur wonders at it, the small, intimate gesture. How long have he and Merlin been sharing space this way?

Merlin makes a small gasping noise, and Arthur gives him an inquisitive look. Scooting his chair closer, Merlin whispers, “Just saw on Facebook that Mary Rennick is pregnant again.”

“Jesus,” Arthur says, looking over at Merlin’s screen, and sure enough, Mary’s just posted a status saying she’s expecting. “What is that, four?”

“Yeah, and after Steve swore he was getting the snip.”

Arthur snorts and looks back at his book, but he notices that Merlin doesn’t scoot his chair away again, instead pulling his things towards himself. It’s a bit odd, but not unpleasant, and Arthur finds he’s able to focus better with Merlin close enough that his arm sometimes brushes Arthur’s when he reaches forward to type.

Arthur fills an entire page with notes before Merlin captures his attention again, this time with a hand on his thigh, Merlin’s fingers spread wide and a little too familiar. Arthur feels a bit out of breath when Merlin’s fingertips creep inwards as he leans in to whisper.

“Hey, did you make up your mind about Saturday yet?”

“Saturday?” Arthur says, too loud, and Merlin’s hand disappears from his thigh. “Sorry. What?”

“Brunch with Gwen and Elena?”

“Oh, right,” Arthur says, his panic lessening. Merlin’s talking about Saturday morning with their friends, not Saturday night when Arthur trades a small fortune for the honour of taking Merlin’s V-card. “Yeah, I don’t think I can make it.”

“Oh,” Merlin says, and he looks decidedly crestfallen. “I really hoped you could. I mean, we all did.”

Arthur can’t quite figure out why Merlin stumbles over his words, and he wants to say yes, but he just … can’t. He doesn’t think he could sit through brunch acting like everything’s normal when he’s about to seriously fuck up his most valued friendship.

“Sorry,” Arthur says, bumping his shoulder against Merlin’s. Merlin smiles and shakes his head like it’s all right, but he seems stiffer and it’s as though a shadow has fallen across the room.

Arthur feels like he’s just ruined Merlin’s week, and he wants to tell him why, but Merlin is basically the one person he can’t tell, but also the one person he should tell, and … and it’s all a fucking mess. Arthur makes a big show of being engrossed in his book, but he can’t help watching Merlin out of the corner of his eye, noting the way he moves his pen against his mouth as he stares down at his own book. He runs it across the top lip like it’s a tube of lipstick, and Arthur imagines it is, that his mouth is smeared red and puffy. The tip of Merlin’s tongue comes up to meet the end of the biro every so often, licking against it like he likes the texture, and Arthur wonders if he’ll have his dick in that mouth come Saturday, if Merlin will take his cock in and over his tongue like he’s doing now with the pen.

Merlin glances at him, catches him looking, and smiles, his bottom lip pressed down prettily. Arthur feels his face heat and smiles back, and he’s embarrassed to notice the death grip he’s got on his phone. But then he looks down at Merlin’s book and sees it still opened to the same page, the same girl in the weird hat pouting up at him, and he wonders if Merlin’s been fantasising about Saturday night. Arthur feels oddly jealous, because Merlin doesn’t know Arthur’s going to be the one fucking him, so who is he imagining? It’s ridiculous, and Arthur’s starting to feel completely mental.

He has the signed contract in his bag, the one he’s bringing to a hotel room in three days to give to Merlin, which can only really end in Merlin ripping it up and slapping him for good measure. He’s thinking of pulling out the contract and thrusting it in front of Merlin’s face to just get it over with when Merlin says, “Don’t you have lecture?”

Arthur looks at the time, and it’s already four. “Shit.”

He throws everything into his bag and slings it onto his back, thrusting his phone into his pocket. On his way out, he squeezes Merlin’s shoulder, and he doesn’t really mean to look back at him, but he does, and Merlin’s smile nearly makes him vomit. The problem is, Merlin’s face is full of trust, and Arthur is about to break his fucking heart.


Arthur isn’t sure how three days are simultaneously interminable and not long enough. He thinks it must have something to do with how studiously he avoids Merlin, veering away from the places they normally intersect, texting him to cancel their weekly pub night. He can’t stand to be around anyone like this, so when he’s not at lecture, he’s at home hoovering the curtains or having a guilty wank to the dirty pictures Merlin sent. If he were a decent person, he’d delete them, but the idea of never seeing Merlin like this again makes him ache, and it’s not as though he isn’t already the most dishonest friend in history.

Anxiety weighs him down, makes him feel like he needs to keep busy. By Friday afternoon, all the folders on his hard drive are reorganised and he’s rearranged his wardrobe at least eight times, so he says fuck it and goes out to get a haircut. Somehow he ends up walking out of the salon with a manzilian, feeling traumatised and ridiculous. He goes to the Indian place on the corner for curry and calls Gwaine, who he figures would appreciate the story of his spontaneous waxing experience, but then it’s Merlin’s bright, excited voice on the other end, and his joy makes Arthur’s chest feel more raw than his balls.

“Arthur! Where are you? Let’s get together!”

“Erm, sorry. Can’t,” Arthur says, and he sounds like a fucking arsehole. “Hey, can you just tell Gwaine I’ll call him later? I can’t remember what I wanted to tell him.”

“I … okay,” Merlin says, sounding confused, maybe a bit hurt, and Arthur clamps his mouth shut to keep from spilling. “Is everything all right?”

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Arthur says, and he tries to sound like he means it. “I’ve just got a lot going on this week. Later, yeah?”

“Yeah, okay. Bye.”

Arthur stays on the line too long waiting for Merlin to hang up, sharing a few tense breaths across static. When he finally pulls the phone away from his ear to end the call, he hears Merlin’s faint voice say, “Arthur?” but it’s too late. Arthur has already hung up.


Arthur spends an eternity fussing over what to wear. He tries to recall if Merlin has ever complimented him on any of his clothes, but nothing comes to mind. He settles on tight dark jeans and a black T-shirt, the one that’s just a little bit too small and makes the coffee shop girl give him extra caramel. Before he leaves, he repacks his overnight bag, ticking items off the list: laptop, toothbrush, underwear, socks. He realises his condoms expired two months ago and wonders at himself, because he didn’t think it had been that long, but then he doesn’t even remember who he last fucked. When he finally places it as the girl he dated briefly at the beginning of last term, he starts feeling like a bit of a virgin himself, out of practise and underprepared.

Arthur stops by Boots for condoms and lube on his way to the hotel, even though he fully expects to bring it all home with him unopened. Maybe he’ll have a nice, long, sloppy wank in the hotel room to get his money’s worth. He booked them a spot at the Egerton House Hotel, because Google said it was the best, and at nearly 1,000 pounds a night, Arthur would hope so. When he gets inside, he snorts at how overdone it is. The heavy curtains over the bed match the ones on the window, whites and beiges and tans washing the room in a dullness that can only reflect British luxury. He wanders into the bathroom while he waits for his laptop to power up and smiles at the deep tub, imagines another reality where he’d be allowed to rub too much of the fancy complimentary soap down Merlin’s chest, his hips nestled between Arthur’s legs and head laid back on Arthur’s shoulder. It’s a stupid fantasy, and Arthur takes a vindictive piss just to mess up the perfect cleanliness of everything.

After he logs in to his fake Gmail account and sends Merlin the room number, it’s a matter of waiting, which is just as agonising as ever. He pulls the contract out of his bag and props it up on the table by the door so it’ll be the first thing Merlin sees when he walks in, like that’ll make a difference somehow. He fans out the condoms on the bed and then realises how disgusting that looks, so he just stuffs them and the lube under one of the puffy pillows. Several minutes are spent pacing and fretting until Arthur glances at his phone and realises he isn’t even expecting Merlin for another hour. So he grabs the remote and plops down on the settee, flipping through channels and trying not to vomit.

Even after everything, he isn’t ready for the knock when it comes, the sick, roiling feeling in his belly ratcheting up to might-actually-puke proportions. He clicks off the telly and drops the remote on the settee, straightening his shirt as he walks to the door. Somehow he thinks he can put off the inevitable by hiding behind the door as he pulls it open, like he can just stay in that little triangle of space long enough for Merlin to shrug and leave again, but it isn’t that easy. Merlin walks inside and says, “Hi,” and Arthur can only tell the cheerfulness in his voice is fake because he knows him so well. He lets the door fall shut, does everything he can to keep from crumpling into a horrified ball, and waits for Merlin to turn and look at him.

The reaction is instantaneous. Merlin’s face looks how Arthur’s insides feel, pale and nauseated. “What are you doing here?” Merlin says, and his voice is higher than usual.

“Erm,” Arthur says, and it occurs to him that he should have been spending his time thinking of the perfect thing to say, but as it is, he’s completely unprepared for the talking part. “Hi,” he settles on, which isn’t an answer, and Merlin calls him on it right away.

“No, seriously, what the fuck are you doing here?”

“I sort of bought your virginity,” Arthur says, hoping he sounds cute and bashful and not like the giant fucking creeper he is.

“Oh, Jesus,” Merlin whispers, hands scrubbing over his face and moving up to clutch at his hair. “Oh, fuck.” He spins around, facing the bed, and Arthur is immediately grateful he didn’t leave the condoms lying out on display after all. Merlin turns and moves for the door, and Arthur hurls itself in front of it without thinking, blocking Merlin’s path.

“I’m leaving,” Merlin says, face red and eyes fixed on his shoes. “Get out of my way.”

“No.” Arthur doesn’t mean to say it, or at least not like that, but at least it makes Merlin look at him. He tries to sneak past Arthur, but Arthur leans back against the door and says, “I think we have some unfinished business.” Merlin’s eyebrows shoot up, and Arthur sort of wants to strangle his idiotic brain for coming up with something so creepy.

“God, fuck you,” Merlin says, looking like he’s about to cry. “You’re a magnificent fucking bastard, you know?”

“I should have told you,” Arthur says.

“You don’t fucking get it.” A few tears fall down Merlin’s cheeks, and he wipes at them, a jerky, frustrated motion. “I thought you were fucking done with me.”

“What?” Arthur suddenly feels two steps behind.

“You’ve been avoiding me all week, and I thought you’d found out somehow, that you hated me.”

Arthur laughs, because Merlin is ridiculous, but then Merlin shoves him hard against the door, and he stops smiling.

“Is this fucking funny to you?” Merlin says, voice verging on hysterical.

“No, it’s—”

“I fucking ….” Merlin’s face falls into a grimace. “I fucking sent you pictures of my cock. Please tell me you didn’t look at them.”

“I did look,” Arthur admits, the images flashing in his mind and making him inappropriately breathless as he looks at Merlin and knows what’s underneath his grey T-shirt and jeans, his fingers itching to get inside.

“Fuck you,” Merlin says, shaking his head. “I know this seems like a big joke to you, but this was the only thing I had left, and now you fucked it up.”

“Jesus Christ, Merlin,” Arthur says, exasperation coming on thick and fast, and he picks up the contract, thrusts it in Merlin’s face. “That’s my fucking signature, yeah? I signed the fucking contract.”

“So?” Merlin bats the contract away, and he has that stubborn look on his face that drives Arthur mad with frustration.

“So that means I’ve agreed to pay 100,000 pounds to fuck you.”

“Fuck off.”

“Okay, no, you’re not getting it,” Arthur says, wanting to shake Merlin until he stops being upset, or at least stops being upset about the wrong things. “I didn’t just look at the pictures you sent. I fucking wanked to them.”

“Bullshit.”

Merlin’s posture is stiff, his arms tight across his chest like he’s holding something in, and it dawns on Arthur that Merlin isn’t angry with him because he thinks Arthur has cost him the money he needs; he’s angry because he thinks Arthur doesn’t want him. And that makes Merlin stupid, and it makes Arthur want to peel off his clothes and show him just how wrong he is.

“Take your clothes off,” Arthur says, pushing Merlin deeper into the room.

“What the fuck?” Merlin asks, but he lets Arthur manoeuvre him, his cheeks tingeing red like maybe he knows they’re on their way to the bed and he’s got no intention of resisting. At least not yet.

“Or would you like me to do it for you? Because I’ve had some choice fantasies of getting you out of your clothes.” Arthur’s hands are already playing at the hem of Merlin’s T-shirt, hesitating only a moment, long enough to let Merlin stop him if he really wants to. Merlin keeps his arms held stiffly at his sides, and Arthur has to jerk them around a bit to get the shirt off. He drops it and gets to work on Merlin’s belt, stepping in too close and running his nose down Merlin’s neck. “You smell better when you don’t wear this stuff,” he says as he gets Merlin’s jeans open and pushes them down his legs. “Just the smell of you is perfect.”

“You’re a pervert,” Merlin says, and Arthur almost believes he means it. He fingers at the waistband of Merlin’s pants, looking down to see slim black boxer-briefs, and Merlin’s breath hitches as Arthur slides them down and steps away, looking at him.

Merlin’s cock is still mostly flaccid, and he glances down at it like he’s proud of himself. “Happy now?” he says, leaving his jeans in a pool around his ankles. “Satisfied your curiosity?”

“Let’s satisfy yours,” Arthur says, pulling his shirt off. He runs a hand over his chest, brushing fingers over one nipple, then the other, looking down at himself and then up at Merlin. Merlin’s cock twitches, but his face remains unimpressed, so Arthur runs his hand over the front of his jeans, across the bulge of his cock. “You want to see more?” he asks, noting the way Merlin’s nostrils are flared.

“Not particularly,” Merlin says, but his eyes are tracking Arthur’s hands as they undo the button and then the zip, as he pushes his pants down far enough on one side for Merlin to see the hairless juncture of his hip and groin.

“You sure?” Arthur says, looking down at himself, knowing what he looks like as he runs a thumb down his abdomen, over the smooth skin above his cock, pushing his briefs down as he goes, stopping at the very top of his prick, just the base visible under his hand.

Merlin feigns a yawn, patting his hand over his mouth, but his eyes are just a bit crinkled, like he’s fighting off a smile. So Arthur smiles for him as he slowly, slowly pushes down his pants, pausing as his cock springs out, hard and obscene. He leaves his jeans halfway down his thighs and wraps a hand around his prick, watching Merlin’s face as he jerks himself. Merlin’s lips are pursed and his eyes are dark as he stares down at Arthur’s hand. His cock is fully hard now, standing straight out from his body and making Arthur want to get on his knees and be the first person to swallow Merlin’s come, but Merlin acts like he hasn’t noticed.

“If I—” Arthur pauses to moan, hoping to make his point clear. “If I remember correctly, you came here planning to lose your virginity.”

“Yeah?” Merlin says, and his voice has gone thin, breathless.

“I’m thinking that plan won’t go very well if you let me keep going.” Staring down at his hand, he groans and thrusts his hips into his grip. He pretends he doesn’t notice Merlin kicking out of his shoes and socks, stepping out of his jeans and walking closer. He doesn’t even look up until Merlin’s hand wraps around his forearm, stilling him.

“You’re such a wanker,” Merlin says, and his grin is all coquettish as he slides Arthur’s jeans the rest of the way down his legs. Arthur kicks them away as Merlin’s fingers run down his hips, his breathing quick and lips parted as he looks down Arthur’s body and says, “Well, I suppose you’ll have to do.”

“Don’t do me any favours,” Arthur says, feigning offence.

“Fucking touch me, if you’re going to,” Merlin says, rough. Arthur pulls Merlin against him, hands sliding up Merlin’s sides, around his back, and the feel of him is so good that Arthur groans.

When Merlin’s fingers drift down Arthur’s back, Arthur smiles, face hot. “I feel I should warn you, I got my arse waxed for you,” he says, and Merlin bursts into laughter.

“You did not.”

Arthur laughs, joy spreading warm and thick through him because it feels like he’s got his friend back. “That was what I called Gwaine to say.” He knows his grin is too wide and dopey-looking, but Merlin’s is, too.

“God, fuck you for that phone call, by the way,” Merlin says, pressing his forehead against Arthur’s shoulder, and Arthur runs his nose behind Merlin’s ear, where he smells like himself. He cradles Merlin’s face, positioning it as he kisses down Merlin’s neck, revelling in how fucking good it feels to have Merlin’s lovely skin under his mouth.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Arthur promises, pushing Merlin back until he staggers, his legs running into the bed. Arthur pushes him—just a nudge, really—but it’s so easy to get Merlin laid across the bed, his limbs spread out and relaxed. Arthur climbs on top, straddles Merlin’s hips and grinds his cock down once against Merlin, just to get that lovely moan out of him. His mouth is on Merlin’s chest, his neck, and he says low into Merlin’s ear, “Not many people can say their first time was the best fuck of their life, but I’m going to give that to you.”

“Fuck,” Merlin groans, his hips pressing up against Arthur.

“I’m gonna make you feel things you haven’t dreamed of, and then if you let me, I’ll do it again in a couple hours, and then again after that until you’re so fucked out you can’t get the smell of me off you for a week.”

“Jesus Christ,” Merlin says.

“You will not have a single fucking scrap left of your virginity by the time I’m done with you, because I’m going to fuck you every way I know how until you can’t take it anymore. I’m going to get my tongue and fingers and cock up that arse, and maybe someday you’ll want my fist, and I’ll fucking give you that, too, because I’d give you anything.”

“God, please,” Merlin whimpers. Arthur licks up Merlin’s chin, kisses around Merlin’s mouth, and Merlin is helpless beneath him, shaking apart with desire.

“I’ve never been fucked before, but I’ll let you do it. I’ll take that gorgeous cock up my arse, and I’ll let you fuck me until your come drips out of me. I want to be sloppy with you.”

“God, god, god,” Merlin murmurs, his eyes squinted shut tight, and Arthur thinks Merlin might already be on the verge of coming, just from Arthur on top of him, saying the filthiest shit he can think of and meaning every fucking word of it.

“Tell me what you want, and I’ll give it to you,” Arthur says between kisses down Merlin’s jaw.

“Kiss me,” Merlin says, and he sounds wrecked. When Arthur looks, his eyes are glistening, and Arthur wants to kiss him until he cries.

It’s harder than it should be, finding the courage to press his lips to Merlin’s, but Merlin helps him with a gentle hand on the back of Arthur’s head, pulling him closer. It’s Merlin who closes the distance, leaning up and brushing his lips over Arthur’s.

Arthur doesn’t really expect it to be a life-changing kiss, because he’s never had one and doesn’t know what they’re like, or didn’t until now. But when Merlin’s arms wind around him, he sort of feels like crying, because Merlin holds him tight like he’s precious, his lips opening easily to welcome Arthur closer.

This would be enough for Arthur. Just kissing Merlin feels like the most intimate thing he’s ever done, like licking slowly into his best friend’s mouth is teaching him what it is to be in love. It’s too soon to think about those things, but he thinks them anyway as he strokes Merlin’s cheek and sucks lightly at his lips until they’re red and puffy.

Merlin breaks their kiss to shift up on the bed, the motion pushing one of the pillows to the floor. His shoulder lands on the lube, and when he reaches to push it out of the way, it’s like he suddenly realises what it is. His face goes redder as he looks at it, but he picks it up and pushes it into Arthur’s hand, nodding.

“You’re going to tell me if anything hurts or you want to stop, yeah?” Arthur says, squirting lube into his hand. Merlin just nods, his brow furrowed, fingers restless at his sides. “Okay, see, right now you look like you don’t want to do this.”

“No, I do!” Merlin says, too abrupt.

“We don’t have to.” Arthur curls his hand around the lube and rests it beside Merlin. “We can do other things or just kiss, or you can leave. Or I can.”

“Stop trying to talk me out of this,” Merlin says, and he grabs Arthur’s hand and stuffs it between his legs, bending his knees. “I’m just …. This is new.”

“I know,” Arthur says, and he leans down to kiss Merlin, who sort of melts. Merlin’s hands are steady when they reach for Arthur’s waist, his kiss earnest and consuming. Arthur presses his fingers to Merlin’s opening, soothing over it before he pushes one inside. Merlin kisses him harder, his body relaxing around Arthur, soft whines urging him to push another inside.

Merlin whimpers, and Arthur pulls away from the kiss, asks, “That too much?”

“Just wait a bit before you do another,” Merlin says, and Arthur kisses his forehead, earning a smile. Arthur kisses him more, on his cheeks and his temples and even his nose, showering Merlin with the affection that’s trying to claw its way out of him.

“You’ve done this on your own, haven’t you?” Arthur asks, because Merlin seems surprised by everything, small gasps sounding every time Arthur changes the way he moves inside him.

“Honestly?” Merlin says, his fingers gripping Arthur’s waist as Arthur pumps his hand harder. “No. I haven’t.”

Arthur stops moving. “Who did you hope would be waiting for you here? Man or woman?”

“I didn’t really think about it like that,” Merlin says, clamping Arthur’s hips with his thighs, and Arthur starts fucking his fingers into Merlin again.

“You don’t have a preference?” Arthur pauses, considering. “I always thought you were asexual, honestly.”

“What?” Merlin asks, a smile crinkling his eyes.

“You never talked about anyone,” Arthur says, slipping in a third finger while Merlin’s distracted. Merlin groans and spreads his legs wider. “You only said you hadn’t had sex and didn’t really want to.”

“Oh,” Merlin says, face pinched. “Well, see, I wanted you. And I couldn’t exactly say that, now, could I?”

“I wish you had.” Arthur rests his head against Merlin’s shoulder, face turned towards his ear. “Think of how much fucking we could have done.”

“You didn’t want me.” Merlin sounds sad, and Arthur kisses him hard. “You always had some girl or another. You talked about them constantly.”

“Jesus, I was trying to impress you. I thought you probably liked girls.” In retrospect, that may have been stupid of him. “I never told you about the guys.”

“I don’t want to know about them,” Merlin says, too loud, but Arthur just laughs.

“Is my darling jealous?” Arthur winces. “Sorry, I probably shouldn’t call you that.”

“No, you can,” Merlin says, cheeks red. “I just really don’t want to think about you fucking other blokes when you’re meant to be fucking me.”

Arthur kisses the middle of Merlin’s chest, right on the soft patch of black hair there, then kisses his neck, says, “Get one of those condoms out from under your head, yeah?”

Merlin laughs, reaching up and grabbing a strip of condoms. “Laying on condoms. Classy.” He tears one off and stares at the package like it’s an exam he hasn’t revised for.

“Think you can ….” Arthur doesn’t finish the question, because he doesn’t want to make Merlin feel any more uncomfortable. Merlin’s hands only shake a little as he opens the wrapper and slips the condom out, holds it up close to his face to figure out which way is right-side-out. “You are so blind,” Arthur teases, pulsing his fingers in Merlin’s arse.

“Didn’t think contacts would be a good idea.” Merlin lowers the condom to Arthur’s cock. “I figured whoever was here would probably be gross.”

Merlin’s biting his lip as he rolls the condom on, his chest quivering, and Arthur smiles at him. “Oh, go on,” he says. “Tell your joke.”

Merlin laughs, body shaking and arse clamping down around Arthur’s fingers. “No, no,” Merlin says. “No jokes. Just. This is fucking weird.”

“I thought you were going for some kind of ‘and I was right because you are gross’ joke,” Arthur says, eyebrow raised.

“Oh, no,” Merlin says, face solemn. “That’s not a joke.” He cracks up again, and Arthur bites down on his shoulder, pulls his fingers out and quickly lubes his cock. He lines himself up at Merlin’s opening, and Merlin goes silent.

“What was that?” Arthur says. He pushes just slightly against Merlin, not enough to breach him but enough to get him charged with anticipation. “Are we laughing still?”

“Hold on,” Merlin says, and Arthur pulls away, gives him some space. “No, don’t go that far. Just. Give me a minute.”

Arthur rests his head on Merlin’s chest, listens to the frantic thumping of his heart, tracking how it slows as Merlin relaxes. It would be easy to fall asleep here, to save the rest for tomorrow when they’ve both had time to grow accustomed to the idea of this. But then Arthur is rolled onto his back, and Merlin is on top of him, thighs spread wide, grabbing Arthur’s cock and lowering himself over it.

Arthur feels like the one who needs a moment now, needs some fucking air, because Merlin is a vacuum where all of Arthur’s attention goes, and things like breathing seem unimportant when Merlin is there leaning on one wiry arm, hair hanging over his eyes as he slowly sinks down on Arthur’s cock, gasps turning to groans the lower he goes. Arthur feels hot, like his skin is too warm and he needs to get out of it. There’s no escape from this, from the realisation that there’s no going back now that Merlin’s fully seated on his cock. Nothing will ever be the same between them, because this isn’t just a random fuck between friends—Arthur has taken Merlin’s fucking virginity, has planted his flag in Merlin’s soil, and Merlin can never just choose to forget this.

It’s all a bit horrifying until Merlin plants his hands on either side of Arthur’s head and looks down at him, cheeks pink and lips between his teeth. And then he smiles and Arthur thinks, fuck it, gives himself permission to enjoy the way Merlin feels around him, hot and tight and so fucking good when he finally finds the courage to pull away slightly and fuck back down.

Merlin sighs and stills, and Arthur worries he’s having second thoughts. “Now that the hard part’s over with, I think I want you on top again,” Merlin says, and Arthur laughs his relief. “If you don’t mind.”

“Come here,” Arthur says, pulling Merlin down and rolling him. Merlin crosses his ankles around Arthur’s waist, holds him close, and Arthur fucks him like that, chest to chest with his face turned in against Merlin’s neck, listening to his stifled groans and sliding into him long and deep until Merlin forgets to be quiet.

Arthur’s a bit oblivious for a while, just wanting to stay buried there in Merlin’s body, lazily kissing Merlin’s neck. When he remembers his promise to make this the best fuck of Merlin’s life, he’s not sure if he can deliver, but he wants to give it his level best.

When Arthur nuzzles his jaw, Merlin turns towards him, offering his mouth. Arthur gives him a brief, wet kiss before he pushes at Merlin’s thighs until they loosen up, legs sliding down Arthur’s sides. Merlin whines when Arthur pulls out, but it’s easy to roll him over and slide a pillow under his hips. He looks so fucking gorgeous like that, Arthur’s thumbs spreading him to expose his stretched, reddened hole, begging to be filled again. Arthur shoves Merlin’s legs together and fits his thighs around either side, leaning on one hand as he angles his cock back inside Merlin with the other.

He kisses between Merlin’s shoulders, then presses his chest to Merlin’s back, bringing his mouth to Merlin’s ear. “Just relax and let me do all the work.”

Merlin laughs. “I think I can handle that.”

He’s still and loose for a few moments, just letting Arthur move within him, until he forgets and starts rocking back into it. Arthur doesn’t say anything. He gets off on it too much, knowing the way Merlin wants him, how much he’s enjoying having Arthur inside him.

Arthur fucks him with deep, slow thrusts, wanting Merlin to fall gently into one of those long, satisfying orgasms that’ll make his limbs go numb. He hears the shift in Merlin, when satisfaction edges into neediness, and Arthur changes the angle a bit so Merlin’s prick will rub against the pillow, compounding the pleasure of having a cock up his arse until he overflows.

Arthur gets his hand on Merlin’s cheek when he knows Merlin’s almost there, turns his face a bit so he can watch, so he can see and know. The only sound accompanying Merlin’s orgasm is his strained panting, his eyes shut tight and mouth open. Arthur fucks him until Merlin goes boneless, his body loose and easy. Inch by goddamn impossible inch, Arthur pulls out of him, then flops on his back and pulls off the condom.

Merlin turns his head slowly, his glassy eyes travelling down to watch as Arthur pulls himself off. It’s fucking hot having Merlin look at him like that—just watching, unconcerned with joining in.

“You can come on me if you want,” Merlin says, voice a bit weak. “I’m already a mess.”

“You want me to?” Arthur speeds up his hand. “Where do you want it?”

“Mm, on my back. Too comfy to roll over.” Merlin wriggles his hips a bit in invitation, and Arthur levers himself up, gets his legs on either side of Merlin’s arse and looks down at him. The long, narrow stretch of Merlin’s body is beautiful, and it’s only a few rough jerks before Arthur is painting him, leaving spatters on his shoulders, the small of his back.

Arthur just sits there for a moment running his fingers through slick trails of come, smearing it over Merlin’s skin, towards his arse, sliding his middle finger down until Merlin groans, just a centimetre away from his fucked-out hole.

“This is a picture I’d like to add to my collection,” Arthur says. It’s a thoughtless comment, but he can see a grin on the side of Merlin’s face that’s turned to him.

“Sure,” Merlin says, voice playful. “Just don’t show my face.”

Arthur leans forward and kisses him, all tongue because his lips are sore, then says, “But your face is the best part.” Merlin’s smile is so goddamn pretty that Arthur feels like his chest is swelling, like all this adoration might burst out of him in a mess of embarrassing words, so he bites his tongue.

“That part’s just for you, then,” Merlin says, and Arthur wants to kiss the blush off his face. He climbs off of Merlin and digs into the pocket of his jeans to get his phone, hands shaking slightly because he’s never done anything like this before and can’t believe Merlin is letting him.

Merlin buries his face under his arm, and Arthur smiles down at him. “You’d better pull your hair over your ear, or everyone will recognise you anyway.”

“Shut up,” Merlin says, his voice muffled in his upper arm as he adjusts his hair.

Arthur starts snapping photos as soon as Merlin is mostly unidentifiable, getting as many angles as he can conceive of, because he wants them all. The low sun casts pretty streaks of yellow light across Merlin’s skin, making him look warm and touchable.

“Spread your legs,” Arthur says, and Merlin does, exposing the mostly hairless skin of his inner thighs, his balls, his arse. Arthur kneels down on the bed, uses one hand to spread Merlin open so he can get pictures of Merlin’s freshly used hole, the skin red and puffy and lickable.

“You’re a pervert,” Merlin says, his voice thin like maybe he hasn’t been breathing.

“Fuck yeah, I am,” Arthur says, feeling a little lightheaded himself. “And you are bloody perfect.”

When he feels satisfied with the hundreds of photos he’s taken, he kneels near the head of the bed. “Stop hiding. I want a picture of you,” he says against Merlin’s arm.

Merlin lifts his head and says, “You already have a thousand.”

Arthur kisses him, then takes a picture right after, capturing that slightly dopey, sated smile of Merlin’s that Arthur didn’t know before today. “Not like this,” he says, and Merlin takes the phone from him, holds it out of the way as he digs his fingers in Arthur’s hair and kisses him long and deep. Arthur peeks and sees that Merlin’s taking selfies of them snogging—sort of loves him for it, in fact—and puts on a better show.

He keeps kissing Merlin even after Merlin has stopped, until Merlin laughs and pushes Arthur away with a hand to the chest. Merlin’s smile is irresistible, and Arthur strokes his face and kisses him again, gently, taking the phone back.

“Send me those ones,” Merlin says against his mouth, and Arthur nods.

“You want me to throw in a few of your arse for good measure?”

“Dear god, no,” Merlin says, his face solemn. “I absolutely never want to see any of those.”

“Oh, but you look so good,” Arthur says into Merlin’s neck, and Merlin laughs and pushes him away again, apparently ticklish.

“Go away,” Merlin says, smiling so big his eyes are nearly closed. “Get me something to clean up with. I’m getting … crusty.” He grimaces at that last word, and Arthur kisses his shoulder.

“Stay here a minute,” he says, spanking Merlin’s arse, which earns him a surprised grunt. “I’ll draw us a bath.”

Merlin guffaws. “One fuck and now you think we’re on shared bath terms? Someone’s presumptuous!”

“I’ll make you come again,” Arthur promises, waggling his eyebrows, and Merlin throws a pillow at him.

Arthur glances at himself in the mirror on his way to the bathtub and feels soppy and embarrassed when he notes that he’s never seen himself look so happy before. He fiddles with the tap until the temperature is just right, throwing in some complimentary bath salts just because they’re there.

“By the way, I’m tearing up that contract,” Merlin shouts over the sound of rushing water as Arthur’s heading back to the bed. He thinks he hears Merlin mutter something along the lines of, “You prick,” but he chooses to ignore it.

Arthur climbs between Merlin’s still-spread legs and leans in close, nuzzles against Merlin’s arse and kisses him there.

“Fuck,” Merlin groans, spreading wider, and Arthur presses his thumb to Merlin’s hole.

“You can be my kept boy,” Arthur says against Merlin’s thigh. “You can come live with me and let me buy you things.”

“No, Arthur,” Merlin says, his voice serious.

“I’ll keep you well fed and well fucked, and you can have an office where I won’t even bother you.”

“Seriously, no.” Merlin pulls away from him, sitting up and perching on the edge of the bed once he sorts out where his legs are. “I’m not letting you do that.”

Arthur slides off the bed and kneels between Merlin’s thighs, smiling at the dried come on his belly. He kisses Merlin’s hips and says, “Once we get you all cleaned up, I’m going to eat you out. We’ll see how you feel about it then.”

“That’s cheating,” Merlin says, matter-of-fact, and Arthur pulls him out of the bed, pushes him into the bathroom and into the tub.

He climbs in behind Merlin and turns off the tap, slips his hands down Merlin’s waist and curls them around his hips. “We can always sell dirty pictures of you to pay the bills,” he says, nose buried in Merlin’s hair, not even trying to be subtle as he sucks in his scent.

“Okay, that’s fair.” Merlin leans his head back onto Arthur’s shoulder. “Now wash me. I’m disgusting, and it’s all your fault.”

Arthur kisses the corner of Merlin’s smile, wanting to keep it for himself.