Word Count: 695
Warnings: Mild pain/blood play
Summary: Written for challenge 1 for summerpornathon, using picture prompts. For Percival, not all pain is the same.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to Shine and BBC. I make no profit from this endeavor.
He knows how to take a punch, endure the burn from pushing his body harder, rougher than endurance should allow. Pain has long been a common bedfellow, so familiar he can forget about it without effort.
But not all pain is the same. The first time a girl scratches his back, Percival almost comes on the spot.
A sting is different. It’s an act of desperation that refuses to be ignored. It doesn’t matter where the scratch occurs—along his arm, his shoulders, the inside of his thighs—because the effect is always the same. The rivulets of fire scorch their way across the rest of his skin to consume any rational thought he might have left.
None of the others know. Once, he thinks Elyan has figured it out when a fall into brambles leaves Percival digging his fingers into the soft earth to try and keep some semblance of control. But his “Well, if you wore sleeves once in a while…” is more joke than discovery, and Percival can jerk off during his watch that night, his free hand worrying the fresh scores along his forearm, safe in his secrets yet again.
The thing about secrets, though…they need to be told. Shared. Their power comes in exclusivity, not one or three owning them, but two. He begins looking at the men and women of Camelot with new eyes, wondering if this girl will understand, if that boy will recoil in disgust. He sees pairs clutch at each other in dim recesses, caught in the spaces between, and walks away hollowed from his unfulfilled desires.
Spotting Merlin and Gwaine behind the tavern isn’t so much an accident as it might be fate. Because he goes hard the second he sees Merlin’s long fingers rake down the side of Gwaine’s neck as their kisses turn to grappling.
“Watch it.” Gwaine’s voice is muffled with laughter. “I’m running out of stories to explain those to Arthur.”
The only stories Percival has heard involve scullery maids, so he doesn’t think it’ll be that hard to explain at all. And he shouldn’t watch, or stare at the beads of blood half-hidden by Gwaine’s hair, or wish he was the one pressing Merlin to the side of the building, feeling those nails claw and mark.
Except he does. When it gets too much to bear, he ducks into a dark corner and reaches inside his trousers. One stroke is all it takes.
From that point on, he doesn’t seek strangers. His eyes search for Merlin, those few minutes he witnessed fervent echoes he can’t block out.
For all his cravings, however, Merlin is the one who comes to him.
“Are we all right?”
Percival tries not to stiffen and fails. “Course.”
“It’s just…you’ve been watching me.”
When his eyes steal to Merlin’s hands, his face heats. “I watch everybody.”
“That’s not what Gwaine says.”
Though he might’ve dreamed about shoving Merlin to a wall and tearing into his body hard enough for Merlin to take his turn tearing at Percival’s skin, he’s not ready for this. “I just…I saw you two. Kissing. And…” Another glance at the long fingers, and his words choke away.
A knowing smile curves Merlin’s mouth. “Gwaine likes kissing.” He steps closer, and there’s nowhere for Percival to run, to escape the fresh flood of warmth suddenly inches from his vulnerable flesh. “What about you?”
Percival swallows, or tries to. Everything he’s wanted is right here, an offering for the taking if he can only find the nerve. The best he can manage is tugging aside the neck of his tunic, baring the scratches he inflicted upon himself that converge into a delicious burn over his nipple.
The tip of Merlin’s tongue appears, not along his lips but the edge of his teeth, nostrils flaring, pupils dilating as he drinks in the sight. Then he reaches out, up, and the world tunnels down to fingers and nails and the shudders wracking through Percival’s muscles when fresh blood wells in the skin Merlin breaks open again. “So we are all right.” His voice has gone gruff. “But we could be better.”
And they are.