Word Count: 12,500
Warnings: Age difference (Merlin is 20, Arthur 35), American modern AU
Summary: Arthur does a favor for his nephew by giving his friend Merlin a ride across the country for the holidays.
Author’s Notes: Three things leapt out at me when I saw your prompt - age difference, road trip, and bottom!Arthur. I couldn’t shake them, and this is what happened. Thanks to cruentum for the beta!
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to Shine and BBC. I make no profit from this endeavor.
Part 1 is here.
All Arthur knew was heat, warmth surrounding him, head to foot, front to back. His face burrowed into his pillow, while the blankets bunched around his shoulders. A deep sigh escaped him. He could stay like this for hours. Lost in that euphoric darkness between sleep and wakefulness, cocooned in all the ways that made it hard to get up and go to work.
Behind him, the heat shifted. Tighter, closer. Something hard nudged against the back of his thigh, coaxing him to sprawl more loosely.
Though there wasn’t an inch of him that wasn’t covered, Arthur wanted more. One fidget rewarded him with an extra band of heat around his waist. Another brought more weight along his upper back. It pushed him farther into the pillows, into the bed, secure and satisfied.
Sleep faded away.
Cognizance drifted in. Memory of where he was replaced the foggy bliss of his dreams.
The hotel comforter wasn’t that heavy. And didn’t have arms. Or a long, lean leg currently nestled between his.
A second after Arthur stiffened, so did Merlin. His thigh jerked, pushing against Arthur’s balls with enough force to make Arthur groan.
All the heat disappeared with Merlin’s “Oh, shit.”
Groggy, Arthur rolled over to see Merlin on the other side of the room, yanking his jeans over his hips. Their bagginess did nothing to hide Merlin’s erection. From the glimpse Arthur got, Merlin was as hard as he was.
“I am so sorry,” Merlin said. “I’m not used to sleeping with someone else in the bed. I never planned on molesting you.”
His mouth twitched. He was too tired to fight the urge to smile. “I would’ve thought molesting involves more groping, less cuddling.”
“I wasn’t cuddling.”
“Really? It felt like that to me.”
“I was asleep. That’s not my fault.”
“And yet, the first thing you did was apologize.”
Though Merlin had gone a flustered pink, he paused and frowned. “Why aren’t you more upset by this?”
Arthur had no idea, except that it had felt good while it was happening and he wasn’t as oblivious to Merlin’s attraction as Merlin seemed to believe. Both good reasons, so probably, yeah, he had an idea why he wasn’t upset, but he didn’t need to tell Merlin that.
“Do you make a habit of clandestine cuddling?” he asked.
Now, even Merlin’s ears were pink. “Of course not.”
“Then what’s the problem?” He sat up, though he kept the blankets pooled around his waist, hiding his erection. Whether Merlin had felt it while they’d both been lying down, he didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to advertise the fact that he was still turned on as hell. “Forget about it. In fact, if it’ll make you feel better, we’ll call ahead and make a reservation in Toledo for tonight, so we’re guaranteed two beds. That way, if you get any unexpected urges to cuddle again, we’ll both be safe.”
“It wasn’t—” Merlin stopped, clamping his lips together. Smart kid. Arthur was having too much fun teasing him. Arguing would just prolong his agony. Grabbing his jacket, he hunted around for the room key, finally finding it next to the TV. “I’m going to look for some coffee.”
“Happy hunting!” Arthur called after him.
He laughed when Merlin slammed the door behind him.
The question of why he hadn’t been more bothered by waking up with Merlin wrapped around him niggled at Arthur for the first couple hours on the road. He should’ve been. His walls hadn’t just disappeared, and by all rights, he didn’t really know Merlin. Big, huge klaxons should’ve been ringing at the very first realization this morning.
It helped that Merlin had withdrawn after breakfast, probably using the music Arthur kept streaming as an excuse to shy away from conversation just like Arthur did. He wasn’t rude or cold, but the gregariousness of the past two days had ebbed to more contemplative levels, his questions and comments in the lulls between songs more about the music rather than anything personal.
It was exactly the sort of company Arthur had hoped for when he’d agreed to do this for Morgana. By the time they stopped for a bathroom break and snacks, he was bored out of his mind.
“What did Mordred tell you about my divorce?” he said after they’d hit the highway again.
Merlin paused in mid-chip-chew, frowning at him in confusion. “He didn’t do it to be mean or anything,” he said around the food.
“Oh, I know. I was just wondering how much you know.”
He swallowed, still obviously weighing Arthur’s shift. “Just that you’d been married since after college and that she left you.”
“For someone else.”
He was turning pink again. “Right.”
“And that’s it?”
“Yeah. Morgana knows, but I asked her to keep it quiet. I just didn’t know if she actually did.”
“You don’t have to tell me. I know I was prying when I was asking you about your dad.”
“No, I don’t mind.” He took a deep breath. Though his mind was made up, telling someone was tough. The one thing that made it better was knowing Merlin had no vested interest in Arthur. Plus, the truth would set his mind at ease about coming onto a straight guy. “Gwen did cheat on me, but she wasn’t the only one to blame for things breaking up. I cheated first.”
“With someone I worked with. A guy.”
Merlin’s brows shot up, and his attention zeroed in on Arthur, more alert than he’d been all morning. “Oh?”
“We were friends, actually. Good friends. And…then we were more.”
“So did she cheat because she found out you did?”
“No.” If only it were that simple. “We were starting to feel guilty about what was going on between us. He thought, since Gwen didn’t know I was even interested in men like that, that I should just come clean. He hated that we had to lie about it.” So had Arthur, but maintaining the lie had seemed imperative to not hurting Gwen. It wasn’t her fault he was bi, but she would’ve taken it as a personal failing she hadn’t made him happy. Or so he’d thought, anyway. “We compromised. I introduced them, supposedly to start laying the groundwork for opening up to her.”
“They hit it off. Really, really, really well.”
“Oh, shit…” Merlin sounded genuinely sorry, which actually made Arthur feel better about his own reactions to the situation. He hadn’t realized how badly he’d been seeking an ally until Merlin inadvertently became one. “That sucks.”
“Pretty much. The kicker, though? They fell in love. Like, more in love I’d ever known two people could be. I was just the catalyst to bring them together.” He was starting to get maudlin. Time to get off the pity train and find a new ride. “That’s all in the past, so, you know, it’s fine. I’ve dealt with it. But I wanted you to know, you don’t have to be knocking yourself out because you think you came onto someone who’s just waiting for the chance to bash your head in for thinking he was gay. I’m not completely straight, so I’m not worried about being turned gay because you were blowing in my ear.”
“I was asleep. I told you that.”
Arthur smiled. “Convenient excuse.”
Merlin didn’t laugh. It would’ve helped, because the longer it took him to respond, the more Arthur began to wish he hadn’t been quite as specific in his explanation. Five miles ticked by. Five long, boring, lost to the world miles.
“Why did you tell me all that?” Merlin asked.
He frowned. “I told you why.”
“You could’ve just said, ‘You’re not the first guy to touch me,’ and dropped it at that.”
“Ha. Right. You would’ve been digging for details before I finished the sentence.”
“But you wouldn’t have had to tell me.”
“And then I would’ve got annoyed because you can’t recognize a sleeping dog when you see one, and we would’ve had a repeat of yesterday, which I don’t think either one of us wanted.”
“And that’s not easier than sharing about your divorce with someone you just met?” Merlin’s gaze was unwavering, his tone as frustratingly sure as it had been every other time he’d prodded Arthur with questions he didn’t like. “You’ve only told your sister, you said.”
“And now I’ve told you. So I guess that doesn’t make me as emotionally stunted as you think it does.”
“What about your rebounds?”
He said it with such certainty, Arthur snorted. “There haven’t been any.”
“It’s been over a year.”
“I told you I don’t date or hook-up.”
“You’re right there, you did.” He pointed a finger only inches from Arthur’s face. “That’s what makes you emotionally stunted. Which is your phrase, by the way, not mine.”
How did Merlin manage to do this? Every single time, he turned a perfectly fine conversation back on Arthur, forcing him to look at it in a new light whether he wanted to or not. In this case, he especially didn’t want to. This was his life, damn it, and he’d made his choices. Someone who wasn’t even legal to drink didn’t have the right to criticize it.
“That’s what you should give yourself for Christmas,” Merlin announced.
His head was spinning from all the turnarounds. “How on earth did we get from my divorce to Christmas presents?”
“You need a rebound,” he went on. “The longer you go without, the bigger you’re going to build up Gwen and your boyfriend in your head, until there’s no room for anybody else.”
“You’re twenty. What makes you such an expert?”
“Watching my mom get lonelier and lonelier for the last nineteen years since my dad died.” He held Arthur’s eye until Arthur had to break it off. “Look. I think you told me because you know you’re ready to move on. And you’re going to be in DC tomorrow, a place you’ve got a built-in excuse to leave again, so it’s the perfect chance for you to find someone without any strings. Then, when you get back to San Francisco, who knows?”
Who knew, indeed? Arthur hadn’t thought of the upcoming holiday season as an opportunity to break out of his shell. It was supposed to be about family, and catching up, and listening to his dad try to convince him into moving back or running for office or something other than what he was currently doing. But Merlin might have a point. This could be a different kind of vacation entirely.
The choice was his.
“Two beds.” Merlin dropped his pack onto the one nearest the window and flopped backward onto the heavy quilted comforter. “Just like we ordered.”
“Just like we ordered,” Arthur echoed. They’d made the call after his embarrassing confessional, at Merlin’s reminder of all things. It wasn’t until he’d hung up that Arthur wondered if he’d just failed some test, where he should’ve protested the need and thus laid claim to his bisexuality, once and for all.
His head hurt. He’d been thinking too much all day. He didn’t like it.
“Are you going to shower now or in the morning?” Merlin asked.
“Morning.” If he took one now, he’d just jerk off again. “You?”
“Probably morning.” His eyes shut, his breathing slowing. “Taking one now would require moving.”
“All you did was sit on your ass all day. If anyone should be tired, it’s me. I did all the driving.”
“Which would also require you sitting on your ass all day. So by your logic—”
His argument was choked off by the pillow Arthur threw at his head. With a laugh, Merlin rolled to the side and sat up, tossing the pillow back onto Arthur’s bed.
“Not that it isn’t a fine ass,” Merlin went on. “Which I’m allowed to acknowledge now that flirting is no longer off the table, right?” He grinned. “Of course, that didn’t stop me before, but at least I don’t have to pretend about it.”
The ache behind his eyeballs got in the way of following that wild left turn in the middle of what Merlin said. Arthur opted to concentrate on the latter for the matter of simplicity. “You were flirting with me? When?”
“Pretty much since you picked me up.”
“How did I not know this until now?”
“Trust me, I have no idea. I thought I was being pretty obvious. I kept expecting you to put me into a headlock to make me knock it off.”
Of all the positions he’d imagined them taking, a headlock had never even made the list. “Another way of getting the boring, unfun old man to loosen up, I presume.”
“No.” The smile widened. “Because my ride to DC was hot as fuck.”
No chance of misinterpreting that, headache or no. And if Arthur’s head hadn’t been capable of deciphering it, his cock sure had no problems. Blood was rushing everywhere, not just south, though, and he began fumbling with his overnight case to try and hide his heated face. The control he thought he’d mastered today, of his reaction to Merlin, to the whole situation, vanished at the knees of a single compliment.
“That wasn’t meant to push you away again.” Merlin sounded closer, but when Arthur glanced over, he was still sitting on the bed, leaning back on his hands. His obvious amusement had faded, even that damnable twinkle in his eye that usually convinced Arthur he was mocking him. “Just…well, I was thinking about your rebound person you’re going to find in DC.”
“What makes you think I’m getting one?”
“Because you stopped talking about it. Which meant you were thinking about it. But mostly because you didn’t just tell me that it was the dumbest idea ever and no way were you going through with it.”
How Merlin had learned to read him so well in such a short time, he couldn’t fathom. But there was the nail, and there was Merlin’s observation, and damn if he hadn’t smashed it straight through the head.
“You should’ve been a psych major,” he tried to joke. He pulled out his sweats. A shower was sounding better and better.
“It’s a little late for that.” Merlin cocked his head. “Not too late to be your rebound, though.”
His hand jerked as he reached for his toiletries, scraping the back of it across the zipper on his case. With a hiss of pain, Arthur yanked it to his chest, rubbing at the graze as he stared at Merlin. “You’re not kidding.”
“And you don’t think it’s weird you just propositioned your friend’s uncle?”
“I don’t think of you like that.”
“It doesn’t change the fact that I am.”
“It also doesn’t mean Mordred ever has to know, either.” Rising, Merlin came around the end of the bed to stand in front of him. He took Arthur’s wrist and turned it around to examine the raw scratch, his thumb soothing its length, back and forth, over and over, as Arthur stood there, frozen. “You’re thinking about this too much, which is why you’re in this mess to begin with. But I can see you don’t hate the idea, and if I’m just as hot to do it as you are, where’s the problem?”
Living in a time zone on the other side of the planet as far as Arthur was concerned. Because his skin crackled at the light touches, and the hair stood up on the back of his neck. Breathing was a problem, too, too short, too shallow, like he was a teenager all over again, or maybe a little like the first time with Lancelot.
The memory, as dark as it could’ve been, was chased away by the sudden duck of Merlin’s head and soft, parted lips skimming along Arthur’s. The kiss was tentative, hardly aggressive at all, but the contact thawed both his muscles and his doubts, enough for him to sway closer, for a sound like consent to rumble in his throat.
Merlin’s grip tightened, pressure against his pulse to make it quicken and jump. He nipped at Arthur’s lower lip and chased it with a tease of his tongue, but when Arthur tried to strengthen the caress, he dipped to the side, his smile a taunt against his cheek all the way to his ear.
“Tell me what you like.” He nipped at the lobe, freeing a tremor that ran through Arthur from nape to knee. “Got over a year to make up for here. Let’s do it right.”
Arthur braced against the onslaught of images the husky words evoked. Only one mattered. “Then fuck me.” He didn’t recognize this brazen self. “However you want. I just need you to do it like you need it more than anything else right now.”
“Oh, that part’s not a problem.” His arm snaked around Arthur’s waist, long fingers diving beneath the waistband to unerringly delve along the top of his ass. When Arthur squirmed, it ground their hips together, the thick line of Merlin’s cock more than ample evidence to support his claim. “Anything you don’t like?”
Merlin laughed, and the world went right.
With the rules laid out (because Arthur wasn’t so far along not to see how Merlin had humored him without ever calling it for what it was), he could touch like he’d imagined since the first night, hands groping to cup Merlin’s cock, mouth tasting the scruff of hair darkening his jaw. Merlin thrust into Arthur’s palm, a pale imitation of pleasures yet to come, and abandoned toying with Arthur’s ass to tug at his shirt. They had to separate to get it off, inches that felt intolerable until he got his hands back on Merlin and it was his tee landing haphazardly on the floor, but then they crashed back together, the slight jolt sparking hungrier kisses, more desperate touches.
He didn’t remember falling to the bed. One minute they pawed at what was left of their clothes, the next they stretched out next to each other with their feet dangling over the end. The difference in their heights was less noticeable this way, not that he cared. What mattered was that Merlin had already proven with the way he’d draped over Arthur the night before that he could cover Arthur how he craved when the time was ripe.
As his head filled with the smell of Merlin’s skin, he silently thanked the decision to wait on showers. Merlin didn’t wear cologne, or aftershave, and if his anti-perspirant had a scent, Arthur couldn’t detect it. What emanated from his body was the musk of sweat and heat, sweetened with the tang of desire Arthur had nearly forgotten about in his abstinence, a mouth-watering concoction that compelled Arthur to lick and taste everywhere he could reach. No nook was safe, no cranny secure. He learned the hard line of Merlin’s clavicle, the softer hollow beneath his Adam’s apple, the tight buds of his nipples with their wisps of dark hair framing the darker flesh.
He took as much as Merlin allowed without sliding to the floor and worshiping the man’s cock then and there. The hold Merlin had on him forbade it.
Funny how Merlin had figured out that about him, too.
When deft fingers opened his fly, his hips thrust automatically into the fresh contact. Merlin chuckled, vibrations that went straight to Arthur’s cock.
“Reflex, or the secret desire to fuck me instead?”
“Not instead.” Arthur allowed a smile to escape. “Too.”
“You were the one who said I had to make up for lost time.”
“So you’re ready to admit I was right and you were wrong?”
“And give you a bigger head than you’ve already got? Please.”
“You’re begging now. It’s about time.”
Before Arthur could manage a comeback to that, his balls were cradled in Merlin’s hand, sizzling away any rational thought. The hiss through his teeth was obliterated by the crush of Merlin’s mouth to his, and he clutched at whatever he could reach to keep the room from spinning away.
Merlin was the first to move, gently nudging Arthur’s legs apart with his knee. He avoided touching Arthur’s cock, all focus still on his sac, but made up for the killer anticipation by stretching fingers to stroke along the skin behind it.
His hole clenched. Arthur needed nothing else, at least not yet, not until it wasn’t fingers teasing at the outer rim but a thick, blunt head ready to push its way inside.
“God, you’re going to feel so good,” Merlin murmured. He traced the tight muscle, biting at Arthur’s lip until it relaxed and allowed him to press the tip of his finger in. “Tell me you scream, too, and you’ll never get rid of me.”
Arthur was too intent on the slight penetration, the scant inch initiating the first stretch, to dwell on the hint behind Merlin’s words. “You planning on talking as much in bed as you do everywhere else?”
Merlin pushed deeper, and Arthur gave up on holding on to shove clumsily at his jeans. Better to get them out of the way than worry about falling off the bed. “You wouldn’t recognize me if I kept quiet,” Merlin said. He pulled out and yanked the pants off the rest of the way, his palm stroking up Arthur’s flank afterward to fondle his balls again. “You don’t want to forget it’s me here with you, do you?”
The question sounded innocent, but a faint insecurity shaded Merlin’s tone, enough to startle Arthur out of the moment and back onto the man next to him. “No,” he replied in all honesty. “I probably wouldn’t be doing this at all if it wasn’t you.”
Arthur’s assurances did the trick. The twinkle was back, and he slapped Arthur’s hip, the trace of fingers along his buttock too fleeting to be anything but torment. “Roll over.” Merlin did the same, except in the opposite direction, off the bed and bounding toward his discarded pack. “As tempting as it is to make you wait for it, I don’t have the patience for that tonight.”
Arthur was slower to get on his knees, too busy watching Merlin pull out a strip of condoms and a bottle of lube. At some point, Merlin had popped the button on his jeans, exposing the hard tip of his cock, his briefs damp where pre-come had already soaked through. His excitement had been etched in his almost desperate kisses, the way he’d explored more of Arthur’s body without hesitation, but this, this near-nakedness, conveyed such an urgent innocence, it slammed into Arthur’s gut.
This was just what they both needed. The age difference didn’t matter. Neither did his relative inexperience. This moment, this position, this place…if he believed in fate, he would’ve said everything had led to this.
Maybe he still would.
Merlin came back to the foot of the bed and grabbed Arthur’s thighs. “Scoot back,” he said with a tug.
He ended up with his feet hanging over the edge, his ass in the air. He almost laughed. Yesterday, he would’ve felt foolish like this, open and waiting. Now, he was practically shaking with anticipation.
Dropping onto his forearms, he ducked his head and closed his eyes, waiting for the first cold trickle of lube down his crack. His breath caught when Merlin grasped each cheek, his pulse making up for the lack of air.
Then that stopped, too, when the coarse hair of Merlin’s stubble scraped over his skin.
He tensed, and Merlin’s fingers tightened, spreading him even wider. “Relax,” Merlin said. “You’ll like this.”
Knowing Merlin’s track record so far, he was probably right.
Suspicion confirmed when Merlin dragged his tongue over the opening.
Arthur knew what rimming was. He wasn’t an idiot, and he knew how to look for porn online like any other sex-deprived man. But Lancelot hadn’t been into it, and Arthur had been grateful for what he was actually getting to not even consider asking for anything more. He wouldn’t have thought to ask Merlin for it, either.
But fuck if it didn’t make him wonder how anybody could not want this every second of every day for the rest of his life.
When Merlin licked again, Arthur pushed back, eager to strengthen the contact. His muscles quivered (so glad he’d buried his head in his arms already, they never would’ve lasted otherwise), and he had to gulp for air, but Merlin satisfied his unspoken urges by digging deeper into the hole, the tip of his tongue sinking past the outer ring until his nose was smashed into Arthur’s flesh.
He heard a moan. It might’ve been Merlin’s. No way to know for sure because his body had taken up a mission of its own and was grunting and groaning with every bite and thrust and graze.
The air felt cooler when Merlin pulled back, the effect of both losing the heat of his mouth and gaining the spit-soaked moisture. Merlin ran his fingers up and down the crease, massaging more of the damp into the hole when he passed over it, occasionally letting one slip inside where his tongue had been only moments earlier. Arthur focused on staying relaxed, allowing the gradual stretching to happen, but he was poised for it to just happen at this point, for Merlin to climb on and forget about being Mr. Nice Guy. He’d teased Arthur about begging when he hadn’t really.
That had been before. One more tease, and Arthur’s begging would be reality.
The sound of ripping foil sent a shiver down his spine. Arthur lifted his head in time to see Merlin rolling the condom over the flared head of his cock, the latex thin and tight where he had to stretch it to fit.
“When did you lose the pants?” he asked.
“Obviously when you were too wrapped up in what was going on to notice,” came the glib reply. He stepped closer, lining up their hips, and nestled his hard shaft between Arthur’s cheeks, rubbing up and down over the hole like he had with his tongue. “You ready?”
A mute Arthur nodded.
Merlin dribbled lube over both of them. His aim wasn’t the best. Some of it splattered onto the blanket. Enough dripped down Arthur’s crack and along Merlin’s cock to fulfill the promise Merlin had already made. Nothing stood in the way now.
Arthur exhaled in relief at the initial push against his opening. Then sucked the air back in as the first flare of pain shot through his hips when Merlin met resistance.
Though Arthur didn’t mean to physically react, Merlin froze. “I’ve got you.” Without pushing more inside, Merlin managed to lean forward, falling over Arthur’s back to land on one hand. His other reached around Arthur’s hip and grasped his cock. Lips pressed to Arthur’s nape, soft and warm. “Trust me, Arthur. The last thing I want is for this to hurt.”
Arthur believed him. Closing his eyes helped him concentrate on the heat surrounding his dick, the languid pulls at its length slicked up by the extra lube on Merlin’s hand. It made the ache ebb, but then so did the weight of Merlin against him, that sensation of being secure he’d enjoyed so much when he’d woken up in Merlin’s arms. He breathed in, out, mimicking the same tempo Merlin set along his shaft.
The weight shifted. Merlin eased more of his cock inside, taking his time with each inch to give Arthur what he needed to adjust.
They both sighed when Merlin’s balls brushed against Arthur’s skin.
“Oh, fuck…” Merlin muttered.
Arthur agreed, even if he couldn’t get any words out. It was even better than he’d imagined, his entire body locked into some kind of stasis where the only thing that could move was the heat creeping along every piece of his body, up the back of his neck, along his arms, all the way to his toes and fingertips.
Minutes passed. Okay, in reality, it was probably only seconds, but they felt like minutes. Long ones. An eternity. Wasn’t that what heaven was?
“One of us is eventually going to have to move.” Merlin’s voice held more than a tinge of laughter.
Arthur smiled, though Merlin couldn’t see it. “You’re the one on top. You do it.”
A slap at his thigh. The sting helped to pull him back from the brink. “Do you think you can stop being so bossy for five seconds?”
“For both our sakes, I sincerely hope you last longer than that.”
“And for that…”
Merlin withdrew, slowly, almost painfully as Arthur’s body fought to keep him exactly where he was. Muscles contracted, clung, some he couldn’t remember ever flexing before, but then Merlin stopped, still several inches inside, and reversed direction.
That was the rhythm they took, slow and shallow, like Merlin was reluctant to completely abandon Arthur. He resumed jerking Arthur’s cock, though not as tight, understanding without being told that it would be game over a hell of a lot sooner than they desired if he kept up his original strength. He had a way of sliding all the way over the head, his palm smearing Arthur’s pre-come around the skin, then using the lubricant to ease his glide back down to Arthur’s balls, that did as much to drive Arthur crazy as his steady thrusts.
Arthur didn’t tell him that. Even though Merlin kept whispering hot encouragement in his ear to just let it all out.
Kisses rained along the back of his shoulders, surprisingly soft where Merlin’s thrusts grew rougher and rougher. Sweat began to soak into Arthur’s hair, and he shuddered when Merlin chased it, collecting and tasting it on lips and tongue.
“Please…” he heard himself pant. Just that single word, a lone directive, the most he could manage under this—and he suspected many other—circumstance.
And Merlin did it. He gave Arthur what he wanted, needed, understood and did without hesitation or argument.
He stripped Arthur’s cock to match each stroke. Though the pace broke occasionally, it was enough to pull Arthur’s balls tight, his nerves white-hot, the world nearly black. Merlin squeezed beneath the head on the next pull, and Arthur broke, come spilling over fingers, onto skin and blankets, vibrations taking root in the pit of his stomach to unravel him from the inside out. He couldn’t breathe. He wasn’t sure he wanted to. He trembled again and again, vaguely aware of Merlin slamming one more time hard into his ass.
They both collapsed onto the bed. Merlin buried his face in Arthur’s neck, the hand he’d been bracing himself on skimming down the length of Arthur’s arm to line up until he could entwine their fingers together. His palm was sweaty where it covered Arthur’s knuckles, but then so was the rest of him, binding them together as much as anything else. While Merlin was heavier than he looked, Arthur didn’t push him off. He relished the weight, the heat, the way his muscles felt liquid.
It really must have been too long. He couldn’t remember an orgasm ever leaving him feeling this depleted—and still so, so sated—before.
“Good thing we have two beds,” he said, though the words dragged out of him so slowly, he felt like he was speaking underwater.
The careful caress of Merlin’s thumb against the side of his hand paused. “We had two beds when we started.”
“Yeah.” Somehow, he found the strength to turn his head and skim lips across the nearest patch of skin he could reach. In this case, it turned out to be the bridge of Merlin’s nose, maybe the unsexiest part of him and yet Arthur couldn’t help but smile contentedly. “And now we don’t have to worry about falling asleep on a wet spot.”
Merlin chuckled and resumed his slow massage. “No, I guess we don’t.”
The third time Arthur thought, “What the hell did I get myself into?”, he woke up without the Merlin blanket he’d fully expected from his night of rebound sex. Nothing weighed over him except the scratchy hem of the blanket, and when he reached to the side (slowly, as not to be noticed, because fuck if he was going to get caught out wondering where Merlin was until he actually knew it), the other pillow was cold.
Something hard landed on the pillow he had over his head.
“Rise and shine!”
Arthur rolled onto his side to see a tray resting on the other bed, Merlin sitting cross-legged at one end of it as he pulled apart an onion bagel. A carafe of coffee waited to be poured, right next to a covered plate.
“You got breakfast?”
“Room service.” His hair stuck up in dark tufts, almost adorably so. “I’ve seen the way you eat. Someone’s got to take care of you because you sure don’t.”
Though he was still waking up, Arthur smiled.
Maybe he knew what it was, after all.
“And this’ll be your room.”
Arthur waited until Morgana had opened the door and stepped out of the way before entering and dropping his suitcase by the dresser. The bedroom reeked of Morgana’s style, all careful elegance bordering on just the right side of over the top, with a wide double window that looked out over the back yard.
“Is Father coming for dinner tonight?” The panes were frosting at the edges, broken lace crawling away from the cold. He touched the ice and watched it melt into a finger-shaped blob.
“Tomorrow. I thought you’d want at least one night to relax before the inquisition starts.”
“He’s going to ask, you know.”
Morgana sighed. “Arthur…”
Shifting to perch on the sill, he mimicked her sigh with a mocking roll of his eyes. She’d been the queen of condescending most of his life, but she’d finally matured enough to have a sense of humor about it. “Morgana…”
“At least tell me you’re happy. If I know that, I can back you up so he doesn’t spoil Christmas for all of us.”
Voices drifted from the hallway, one so familiar Arthur glanced past her automatically in search of it. His ass was still sore from the night with Merlin, compounded by having to sit on it for an additional eight hours as he sped to DC. But for every internal wince he made when it hurt, he knew beyond a doubt he wouldn’t have traded it for anything.
“I’m good,” he said. “Life’s good.”
Merlin appeared in the doorway, though Mordred was nowhere in sight. “I called my mom, Mrs. Gold. She’s working late tonight, so I can stay for dinner.”
“Good, good.” She sneaked a glance at Arthur, a sly smile curving her mouth. “You’ll have to give me the dish on everything my brother did to torture you for the last three days. I need some good blackmail material for the holidays.”
Arthur met Merlin’s amused gaze with his own, turning back to the window as Merlin replied, “I think you’re going to be sorry to hear that I was the one doing most of the torturing.”
“Oh, I doubt that…”
Arthur didn’t hear the rest of Morgana’s questions. Dense snowflakes had started to drift from the sky, getting ready to settle into a new blanket to cover the previous fall already on the ground.
Both Merlin and Morgana stopped in the middle of whatever they’d been talking about, and though Morgana wore a slight frown, Merlin smiled. “Yeah?”
“You owe me a rematch.”
The smile widened. He could definitely get used to that. “And I always repay my debts.”
“No, you don’t. I have the receipts to prove it.”
“Well, this one, I’ll do. Same rules?”
Leave it to Merlin. “Same rules.”
When Mordred poked his head into the bedroom, his Uncle Arthur was nowhere to be seen. Only Morgana was there, standing at the window. Curious, he joined her, gazing out to see two figures darting around the towering trees in the back yard.
“Is that Uncle Arthur?”
“Looks like it.” Without looking away, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a folded twenty-dollar bill. “I guess that means you win.”
As Mordred took the money, Arthur crept up behind Merlin and shoved a huge handful of snow down the back of his collar. Merlin flailed in shock, clipping Arthur along the jaw before he could dart away, and the two went down in a heap, a tangle of arms and legs it seemed neither had the desire to immediately extricate from.
“I just knew Merlin would get to him,” he mused. “Merlin gets to everyone.”
But as he watched, Arthur leapt to his feet, holding out his hand to help Merlin to his. Merlin was slower, but slower still was the release of their fingers, knots made between them that stayed secure for Merlin to tug Arthur closer. They kissed, a quick brush of lips, fleeting really, with surreptitious glances at the house from both of them before they separated.
A kiss Merlin instigated.
Apparently, someone could get to Merlin, too.