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January 2019

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[MERLIN] Fic: The Set Up (That Didn't) - Merlin/Arthur

Title: The Set Up (That Didn't)
Author/Artist: [livejournal.com profile] digthewriter
Pairing(s): Merlin/Arthur
Word Count: 9585
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: Originally written for the [livejournal.com profile] winterknights 2018 FEST.
Summary Merlin is desperately looking for a date to his best friend's wedding. Things don't go exactly as planned.

17 December.

Merlin sat at a table in the pub, which was playing Christmas music too loud, and stared at his own reflection in the mirror behind the bartender. What was he even doing here? He felt so foolish.

He couldn't believe he'd allowed Gwen and Lancelot to set him up on a blind date one week before Christmas. This was the worst idea ever. Even if he had all this pressure about taking someone to his ex-boyfriend's engagement party and making sure this bloke was decent enough that he could be Merlin's date. Blind dates never went well.

"Is this seat taken?" a man asked, and Merlin was going to say 'yes' but the other man had piercing blue eyes and a soft smile and he found himself at a loss for words.

He also didn't say 'no'.

"I'm waiting for someone, but I suppose he can sit on the other side."

"Are you Merlin?"

"Yes. Are you supposed to be my… uh…" He looked around self-consciously, then added, "the friend I'm supposed to be meeting?"

The man thought about it for a few seconds. Shit, now here he was thinking the man was so hot, and it looked like he wasn't even interested in Merlin. If he was, he was taking an awful long time to tell him.

"I…I'm a friend," he said.

That was vague. "Oh… okay. Can I get you a drink?" Merlin asked.

"Sure. I have time for a pint," the man said.

"I feel so lucky," Merlin replied, trying now to frown. Why was this man acting like he didn't have time for Merlin? If he wasn't even going to stay then why was he even sitting down? "If you have to go…"

"No, sorry. I'm just…conflicted."

"Can I ask why—"

"What can I get you?" One of the waitresses, Traci, stopped by to take the man's order.

"I'll have the same as him," the man said, pointing at Merlin's drink, and Traci nodded and walked away.

Merlin didn't come to this particular pub much, but he knew Traci because she was his neighbour. She'd suggested the pub as a neutral zone for him. She'd told him he didn't want to take his blind date to a pub he loved to frequent because if it went badly, he'd be stuck with the reminder forever.

"Conflicted about what?"

"I told someone I'd stop by their flat tonight and this sort of sprung up on me last minute and I didn't know if I should cancel on my friend or… try to leave early or…"

"Oh, well, like I said. If you have to go—"

"I'm Arthur, by the way. Arthur Pendragon. I see you in the mornings when you're out running." Merlin caught the look of surprise on Arthur's face which he quickly hid.

"Yeah?" Merlin said, surprised himself. "That's kind of weird."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to blurt it out," Arthur said laughing. He had a nice laugh and his smile was so bright, it could light up any room. "Still, why's it weird?"

"Because you have seen me before and you knew my name. I had no clue about you."

"What did Gwen and Lance say when they tried to set you up…" Arthur paused. "With me?"

"Tall and blond. Soft spoken. Nice eyes. Easy going smile… Well, Gwen did most of the talking. I think Lancelot would have been jealous if she weren't talking about a gay man."

Arthur nodded. "Those are all true things about your blind date."

"Self-centred much?" Merlin teased, and they both laughed. Traci returned with Arthur's drink and the chips Merlin had ordered before Arthur arrived.

"Let me know if you need anything else, loves." She looked at Merlin as if to ask whether it was going all right. Merlin nodded once and then she was gone.

"Do you know her from before? Is this one of your spots? Kind of far from where you live, isn't it?"

"You know where I live too?" Merlin asked with an eyebrow raised. "Now, I am starting to wonder if you were stalking me and made my friends set us up."

Arthur shook his head. "No, but if you run around my area then you must live around there too. And this is far from my flat."

"Traci suggested it."

"You two are friends?"

"She lives across the hall from me. I hold the door open for her sometimes when she's coming in with her food shopping and such. And yeah, it's a little out of the way, but I work not too far from here so I've stopped by once or twice."

Arthur nodded, looking hesitant again, and then ran a hand through his hair. They were quiet for a little bit, sipping their drinks, until Merlin broke the silence.

"So what do you?"

"I work with my father in a publishing firm. It's quite boring, actually. I don't get to do anything." Arthur took a sip again. "Sorry, didn't mean to sound ungrateful. I've always been told I'm ungrateful but, you know…I'm also bored."

"And you can't quit?" Merlin asked.

"Well, it's called Pendragon and Son so, you know, I'm the son." Arthur pointed his finger at himself and then brought it to his temple as if it were now a gun and shot himself in the head. "Again, sorry. It's been a bad week."

"Then why did you agree to this date?" Merlin asked, slightly frustrated. Arthur looked like he didn't want to be there. His initial smile had been charming, but then everything else about him was not.

If Merlin were honest with himself, he really didn't have time to waste his time.

"Why do you need a date so badly?" Arthur countered.

"Well, my friends coerced me into it. I'm invited to a wedding and I need a date."

"Whose wedding?"

"My best friend growing up. We made the mistake of becoming boyfriends a while back, which was a terrible, terrible idea. We had a hard time with the breakup, but then he met this girl, and now he's getting married…"

"He's straight now?"

"He's bisexual. Always has been. I…we were… I mean…"

"Each other's first experience?" Arthur asked and Merlin nodded. "And what? He went back to women and you didn't?"

"More or less. But I have to attend his wedding, and if I go alone, I mean, that looks bad—"

"Why does it look bad?"

"Nadia is a wonderful person, but she's also very insecure. If I show up without a date, she'll most likely thing I still fancy Will, and I don't want to take a female friend and I don't want to take a bloke who isn't a date date, so it's a mess…"

"When's the wedding?"

"It's not even a wedding. It's an engagement party!" Merlin said, annoyed. "Who has those? I hoped to being seeing someone by the time the engagement party rolled around so when the actual wedding day arrived—"

"You'd have a boyfriend."

Merlin shrugged. "There are worse reasons to want one."

"There's no reason to actually attend this wedding. It sounds awful."

"Yeah. And if it were anyone else, I would have RSVP’d no, but it's Will."

"And if you didn't like your date? Tonight, I mean. Not saying you already like me or anything. I mean, I'm not…" He hesitated again, and it really confused Merlin. "Would you still go along with dating him and then after the wedding, break it off?" Arthur asked, and he sounded like he was judging Merlin.

Before Merlin could answer, Arthur waved at Traci and ordered another pint for himself. Merlin did the same.

"To be honest, I didn't have any hopes for a blind date. All I was looking for was maybe a friend. I don't have a lot of gay friends. So if it didn't work out, I would have asked my new friend to accompany me to the wedding."

"As a fake boyfriend." Arthur crossed his arms and stared at Merlin.

"Why are you so hostile?" Merlin asked, confused. "A moment ago, you didn't even know if you wanted to stay. You still have half a foot out the door. Not sure why you're even offended."

"Well, excuse me!" Arthur said, raising his hands in mock surrender. "I thought people went on blind dates to find companionship, someone to love, not to impress their ex-boyfriends they’re still hung up on."

"I'm not hung up on him!" Merlin said through gritted teeth. He'd known this Arthur for all of fifteen minutes, if that, and he was already getting under Merlin's skin. "I knew this was a bad idea, but Gwen and Lancelot were going on and on about their friend. How he was caring and compassionate. He worked with animals and, wait— you don't—"

Merlin's eyes widened when he remembered the little details Gwen and Lancelot had told him about his date. He'd been slightly drunk then; it was why he'd agreed to the blind date in the first place.

You'll love Leo

"Leo… they said your name was Leo."

"Leon, actually," Arthur said. "And no, I'm not Leon. He's actually a good bloke."

"And what the fuck are you?" Merlin spat out. He kept his tone low. "Who are you?" Was he really a stalker? Merlin almost panicked.

"Arthur."

Right then, Merlin’s mobile vibrated, and he quickly glanced at it. It was a message from Gwen.

Gwen: Merlin! I just heard from Leon he can't make it. He got bitten by one of the animals at the shelter and the doctors gave him an injection. He's sleeping it off. He said he found a way to reach out to you but in case you haven't heard. Call me when you get a chance.

"You're friends with Leon?" Merlin asked, looking up from his phone. "You're not my blind date," he added, hating how he sounded so disappointed and annoyed. As if this Arthur got to him.

Had he?

"Nope. I came to the pub to find you. I didn't know anything but your name. So when I spotted you, the bloke I see running in the mornings in those impossibly tight shorts…" He stopped to clear his throat. "I came over to…"

"You tried to pull me while you were here telling your friend's date he couldn't make it?"

"Leon's a bit old-fashioned. He thought it was rude to simply send a text message. He wanted me to come in person and apologise."

"Why didn't you just say so when you sat down?" Merlin asked, again feeling disappointed he wasn't being set up with Arthur. But why was he disappointed? Arthur was a total prat.

A rich, ungrateful, prat.

A cute, rich and ungrateful prat.

A judgmental, cute, rich and ungrateful prat.

And he wasn't the one picked out for Merlin.

"That was my intention," said Arthur, looking down at his pint glass. "I was going to find you, tell you Leon was sorry and ask if you wouldn’t mind rescheduling. Buy you a pint on him and then leave."

"I wasn't going to use him," Merlin said, now knowing why Arthur had got so defensive about Merlin's plan to find a date. "He sounds like a wonderful person."

"He is. And I don't want him to date someone who is only going to use him as a prop for a wedding."

"That wasn't my intention," said Merlin. "I was told I was going to find him adorable, and charming, and his easy-going smile was going to make me fall for him."

"Right," Arthur said, and then he finished the contents of his second beer. He stood up abruptly and pulled out his wallet. He paid for his and Merlin's beers and then some. "I should go then. He’s the one I'm supposed to go and check in on. If he's still sleeping, then I have to take his dog out for a walk."

"He has a dog?" Merlin asked, and Arthur nodded. "Do you like dogs?"

Arthur shook his head. "More trouble than they're worth. I don't like any pets. Had a bird once, but don't think it liked me either. My ex took it with her when she moved out so…"

Her? She? Gwen had a bird.

"But Leon's dog…"

"Leon's my mate. If he needs a favour, he needs a favour. And Angus is all right. He doesn't chew on my shoes."

"I'm a cat person," Merlin said. Not sure why. He needed Arthur to know he didn't like dogs either. "I don't have any right now, but I had one for over twelve years. She passed last year. Now I just go to the animal shelter near my house—"

"Camelot Rehoming Centre for Cats?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah. I go there to play with the cats sometimes. I mean, cats don't really play with you. They walk all over you, bite at your fingers and then walk away like you're not worth knowing…" Merlin laughed. "I kind of love them."

Arthur gave Merlin a soft smile, but it didn't reach his eyes. "I should go, then."

"Of course. You have to go and check on Leon and walk Angus."

"Right. I do."

"Brilliant. It was nice to meet you." They shook hands, and Merlin liked the way Arthur's fingers brushed against his and how his touch lingered just a bit longer than it needed to.

After he'd left, Merlin sagged back on the bar stool and buried his face in his hands. Arthur had stayed to talk to him because he'd seen Merlin. Watched him — hopefully in a non-creepy way. And he’d approached Merlin not realising Merlin was set up on a date with his friend.

It was all kinds of confusing.

Now if he met Leon…would he fall so quickly for him? Had he really been so easily charmed by Arthur?

"So, he was cute," Traci said after Arthur left. "You going to see him again?"

Merlin shrugged. It seemed, he was going to have to do a bit of stalking himself.



0-0
22 December.

For the next few days, Merlin stayed strictly on his running route. He wore his gear and went around in circles trying to find out where Arthur lived. He was almost always disappointed. Thankfully, the footpaths were cleared off from all the snow so he didn't slip on ice, but of Arthur there was no sign.

Two days before Christmas, on what would be his last run until after Christmas, a dog came running after Merlin. He was barking, but it wasn't in anger. It was as if the dog wanted to play and he was so excited he nearly knocked Merlin over.

"Angus!"

Merlin's eyes widened, and he looked around for Angus's owner. Or the owner's friend.

He met the owner.

A tall, blond man with soft eyes and an easy going smile ran up to him and Angus. He looked nothing like Arthur. "So sorry about that. Not sure what's got into him. My mate's been taking care of him, so now he thinks he can do whatever he wants."

"Are you Leon?" Merlin asked, standing up and trying to straighten himself up.

The man looked perplexed. "Yes, I am, and you're— wait— I see a Doctor Who t-shirt, tight black shorts, well defined thighs which should be ‘illegal,’ I'm told…" He did the air quotes around the word illegal, "…and the big ears — of course, there they are…"

"What?" Merlin asked, touching his ears. "What's wrong with my ears?"

"You're Merlin."

"I…"

"So we have a friend in common; who is kind of in love with you, I reckon, given he didn't shut up about you before you'd even met and now…"

"Where is he?" Merlin asked, unable to help himself. "I've been running here every da—"

"I know. He told me. He's been hiding. Too embarrassed, I suppose."

"Why?"

Leon rolled his eyes. "You were meant for me, and all that."

"Um… I hate to break it to you, mate, but I'm not exactly a dog person. I think Gwen and Lancelot forgot one detail."

Leon threw his head back and laughed. "No worries at all. Besides, the moment I realised you were the same bloke my best friend has a crush on, I knew I would never go on a date with you after that. I mean, I'm not Gwaine."

"This really is just a small world, isn't it?" Merlin asked, surprised Leon knew his friend Gwaine.

"It’s Camelot," replied Leon.

"So, um…" Merlin said, running his hand through the back of his hair nervously. "Can you give me his number or…" Even better, "take me to him?"

Leon replied quickly, "Yeah. Let's go!" And Merlin jogged with Leon as Angus led the way to Arthur's flat.

Leon rang the bell and looked at Merlin. "Angus and I are going to leave."

"What? Why?" Merlin asked, feeling skittish.

"I was on my way home, so it's okay. You'll do fine, mate," he said, and then he and Angus were gone.

Arthur opened the door and his eyes widened when he saw Merlin. His eyes raked up and down Merlin’s body, and he visibly gulped. "I…uh… I mean. Hello."

"I met Angus," Merlin said stupidly. "And Leon."

"Oh." Arthur looked like he was trying to read Merlin's face for a reaction. "And?"

"He's not interested in me."

"Angus?"

Merlin burst out with laughter. "Exactly. Angus and I are not going to live happily ever after."

"What did Leon say?"

"Not much," replied Merlin. "His dog attacked me. I told him I wasn't a dog person. He said it was fine. Then he showed me to your place and here I am."

"I see," said Arthur, looking guarded. "Do you want to—"

It seemed after that, Merlin had just about had it. He took a step closer to Arthur, grabbed him by the back of his neck and kissed him. Arthur let go of his hold on the door to his flat and placed his hand on Merlin's waist. He kissed Merlin back, and as Merlin opened up for him, he slid his tongue into Merlin's mouth. They both moaned, almost in unison, and stumbled into Arthur's place.

When they broke apart, Arthur looked winded, and Merlin felt the same. "Sorry," he said.

"For what?"

"I don't make moves like that usually. I don't know what came over me."

"It's fine," replied Arthur clearing his throat. "I should have said something."

"When?"

"When I knew you were running around here in the mornings, looking for me. I saw you pass by several times. You weren't concentrating as hard as you often are. And you looked like you were searching. I had a feeling, maybe, it was for me. Maybe I was hoping—"

"I was looking for you. I didn't like the way we ended… the way you left."

"I wasn't your date. I didn't want to lead you on and—" The conversation was interrupted when a beeping noise came from another room. "Sorry, one second."

Arthur left the room and Merlin turned to look around at his surroundings. He realised the door to Arthur's flat was still open, so he went to close it. As he waited, he removed the phone still strapped to his arm and the headphones attached. He slowly wrapped the headphones around the phone and placed it on the coffee table in the sitting room.

He was so nervous. This felt like he was on a first date, again. And this time, it wasn't a blind date exactly. He'd met this man before. He'd found him attractive, and annoying, and it was exhilarating. He'd never felt this way. Never met someone and had a weird instant connection.

Which was completely insane, because he didn't know anything about Arthur except: he lived alone, worked with his father, and hated his job. Okay, so maybe he knew a little bit about him. And he knew the man had honour. He'd backed off Merlin, even if he was interested in him, because Merlin was supposed to be dating Leon. And maybe, Arthur had once dated Gwen.

Merlin still wasn't too sure about that detail yet.

Arthur returned to the sitting room with two cups of coffee and handed one to Merlin. "I hope you drink coffee."

"Yes, of course. Thanks!" Merlin took the mug and sipped it.

"Did you want milk or sugar?"

"No. Black is fine."

"Great. Should we sit?" Arthur asked and sat on the big sofa in his living room. Merlin didn't know if he should sit across from Arthur or next to him so he hovered in the middle instead.

"I…"

"If you're uncomfortable…" Arthur began.

"I'm not," Merlin said, quickly sitting down next to him. "I'm just nervous. It's morning and I kissed you like a crazy person and I'm all sweaty and dressed like a—"

"Hot. You look fucking hot," said Arthur.

Merlin chuckled and placed his coffee down next to his phone and headphones. "Is it mad I want to kiss you again?"

Arthur followed suit and did the same. In a moment, Merlin was on top of Arthur on the sofa. They were lying flat, Merlin resting in between Arthur’s legs and kissing him. Arthur had his hands on Merlin's arse, which he was squeezing and kneading, and moaning at the same time. Or maybe that was Merlin moaning, he wasn't sure.

As the friction between them increased, Merlin knew he was close. It was all kinds of wrong; they were both fully dressed, and Merlin's cock rubbing against Arthur's jeans wasn't helping. He made himself stop.

"We can't. We can't go on like this. I'm going to come in my—"

"Then let's take our clothes off," Arthur said, and he reached down to take Merlin's shirt off, throwing it on the floor before doing the same to his shirt. "Do you want to stay on the sofa?"

"It's up to you. I don't know if I can move—"

"It's fine," Arthur said, panting. "The sofa is fine."

Merlin loved how Arthur was just as desperate as him. There was no barrier between them now and even if this was a bad idea, there was nothing going to stop him. Arthur patiently watched as Merlin removed his shoes, socks, and then his shorts.

"How can you even run in this weather with those tight…fucking tight things? Do you know how they make your arse look? I could fucking write sonnets about your arse and the way it moves…" He laughed. "If I was into poetry."

Arthur gasped when Merlin's cold hands touched his stomach and unbuttoned his jeans. "You need to get naked too, mate," he said, ignoring what Arthur had said for a moment. Then he said, "I don't always run in these shorts. I have proper gear. It wasn't as freezing this morning so…"

Then, Arthur had Merlin pinned down on the sofa. He wrapped his hand around both their erections and started to tug. Merlin moaned as Arthur buried his face in Merlin's neck and sucked on the skin.

"Fuck, you're so hot, Merlin."

"Same." Merlin was panting. "Fuck." And then, "Yeah. So close, Arthur."

Before he could give a proper warning, Merlin spilled himself all over Arthur's hand, and Arthur climaxed shortly after. It seemed like a waste, having got undressed for such a short relief, until Arthur said, "Do you want to take a shower with me?"

The question surprised him, though he wasn’t sure why. He'd obviously made an impression on Arthur, and had come looking for him. It wasn't like he'd expected Arthur to throw him out the second they were done; Arthur was a gentleman, and because of that, Merlin couldn't say no.

He didn't want to say no. He was sweaty from the run, and sticky from what they'd done. He couldn't just put on his clothes and run on home, could he? Well, he could, but it'd be awful and extremely uncomfortable.

In the shower, they took their time. Arthur kissed Merlin as if he'd been kissing Merlin for years, yet exploring new things about him at the same time. His hands kept on finding their way down to grab Merlin's arse, and Merlin didn't mind. He loved Arthur's hands. Loved the way they held him, squeezed him, and made him feel safe.

Eventually, Merlin dropped to his knees and took Arthur in his mouth. Arthur made the most delicious sounds when Merlin swirled his tongue around his cock and licked him from root to tip. It didn't take Arthur long before he had his hands in Merlin's hair, yanking on his locks and setting the rhythm.

The hot water poured on them, steaming up the shower, and because of the noises Merlin was making himself, he couldn't hear what Arthur was saying. But he was fairly certain it wasn't anything coherent. He himself couldn't think of anything more than what he was doing, what he was experiencing, and how good he wanted Arthur to feel.

He felt a strong tug from Arthur before he noticed Arthur was pulling off him. Merlin immediately grabbed Arthur's arse, pulling him close, making sure Arthur knew he was going to take him in. Take him all in.

"Oh, my—fuck, I can't—" was all Arthur said before he spilled himself down Merlin's throat.

Merlin took his time, licking and cleaning Arthur up with his tongue before he stood up. He didn't know what to expect after that, but he knew he was achingly hard. He wouldn't have minded it if Arthur had returned the favour to him, but he didn't care much about it. All he wanted was Arthur's body pressed against his, and Arthur kissing him the way he had on the sofa.

As if Arthur read his mind, he ground their hips together, kissing Merlin and tasting himself on Merlin's tongue. He moaned around his mouth until his hand came and gripped Merlin's cock. "Can I get you off like this?"

Unsure if he could actually speak, Merlin nodded.

"I'll make it good, I swear…"

"I don't doubt that," said Merlin, tilting his head back. "Best shower ever."

Arthur laughed, his body vibrating against Merlin's as he helped Merlin get off for the second time that morning.

When the water started to run cold, they stepped out.



0-0
"Do you want me to give you a lift home?" Arthur asked, leaning into Merlin's back where Merlin stood above the sink. He had nothing but a towel around him, and Arthur was the same. Arthur pushed his groin against Merlin's arse, and though he wasn't hard, Merlin still felt Arthur against him. He wasn't sure if he had another go in him just yet, but he sure as hell could try.

"I…what?" Merlin asked, finally realising what Arthur had said.

"You came running here with your gear, but don't think it's appropriate to wear those again, is it? And what are you going to do—jog back home?" Arthur pressed his face in Merlin's neck. "I can give you a lift. You can borrow some cloth—"

"Isn't it a bit strange?" Merlin asked, unable to help himself. "I mean, we just met and hooked up, it's not like we're anything to each other."

"Oh," said Arthur, pulling himself away from Merlin, and Merlin immediately regretted it.

"I didn't mean…I mean…I don't want you to feel like you owe me or anything."

"That's not what I feel…"

"I know, I'm sorry. I'm nervous," Merlin said hurriedly. He didn't want Arthur to get the wrong idea — whatever that idea was. Merlin didn't know himself.

"Mer—"

"I'd love a lift home," interrupted Merlin. "And I'd love to wear your clothes." He laughed a bit. "I mean, what's better than having an obvious excuse to get you to come into my place for more sex? I'm wearing your clothes, here, let me take them off for you."

Arthur bit his lower lip and tilted his head. "You're quite special, you know that?"

Merlin shrugged. "Maybe," he said. "Or maybe, I just have a thing for blonds with intense blue eyes. Every time you look at me, I feel like you can see beneath the surface. Not that there's anything special there, but you know, it's—"

"Merlin…" Arthur placed a finger on Merlin's lips to silence him. "Let's get dressed and have breakfast."

"Very well," Merlin said, nodding seriously. "Lead the way, Sir."

Arthur rolled his eyes but grabbed Merlin's elbow and dragged him out of the bathroom.

"Here, find what fits you," he said to Merlin once they were in the bedroom and Merlin was looking at an immaculate collection of blues and greens and reds, all hanging properly on hangers like clothes were meant to do that.

Merlin himself was kind of a mess. He had a system, but his system wasn't for other people. Everyone thought of him as organised chaos and he liked it that way. He knew where his clothes were, which ones were clean, and which were not. But he didn't have a system. Not like Arthur.

He found an old band t-shirt and a pair of jeans which were slightly big around the waist. He asked Arthur for a belt and then looked at himself in the mirror. He looked like someone else entirely. But he could see Arthur in his look which made him smile.

"So, breakfast then?" Arthur asked, looking uncomfortable, but he didn't actually comment on what was making him so uneasy. Merlin didn't press the issue either.

"Sure, do you need help?"

"No," Arthur said, and Merlin followed him as he walked into the kitchen. "I've already got hard-boiled eggs and then it's just beans and toast, unless you want something more fancy?"

"Nope. I don't need fancy. I've got an engagement party and a wedding weekend coming up. I'll have all the fancy then."

"Right. Almost forgot," Arthur said, his back to Merlin. "You were going to try to see if Leon was the perfect date to make your ex jealous."

"Oh, for crying out loud!" Merlin said, exasperated. "Totally not the case. And you're totally blowing it out of proportion. This whole jealous-slash-jaded look doesn't suit you, Pendragon."

Finally, Arthur turned around to look at him. "Straight to the surname. Not sure if you know me well enough for that, Merlin."

"Given not long ago you came in my mouth, Arthur, I might have to disagree just a little bit."

At that, Arthur had the decency to blush. "Right, sorry."

"Don't be. I love the way you taste."

"I…" Arthur seemed to be struggling. "Let's have breakfast and I'll drop you off at home."

Merlin couldn't help himself but smirk. "You could be my date for the party, you know? And the wedding. You'd certainly turn some heads." Merlin took a sip of the freshly brewed pot and tried to look innocent.

"Using me to make others jealous or show me off — or something?"

"Or you know, I could actually like you as a person or something — and want to spend a romantic evening with you. I mean, it's not like we're going as an engaged couple or anything. We'll be there as two people dating — having hot sex — because why not? And I can fulfil an obligation at the same time. I mean, you're hot beyond all fucking reason. Even if you didn't want to fuck me at our hotel after the party, I'd still be basking in your presence."

"Are you always such an arse—like, all the time?" Arthur asked, clearly sensing Merlin's jokes.

"Well, you're hot. That's not sarcasm."

"But everything else is? I mean…do you want a date or not?"

Merlin didn't reply for a while. Then he said, "Do you want to be my date? Do you want to take pity on my poor soul and—"

Of course, Arthur interrupted him immediately. Fucking unbelievable. "Is this why you came here? Because Leon turned you down?"

Merlin rolled his eyes. "Of course not. I felt something between us from the moment you arrived at the pub that day. And sure, you acted like you were upset because I was being set up with Leon, but — this — whatever this thing is between us, it's not one way. I fancy you. You saw me running around in circles in your area so I could find you. How can you even think—? You know what, forget it."

He went to pick up his clothes off the floor in the living room and put on his shoes without socks. He was too cross to care at the moment.

"Where are you going?"

"Home."

"You don't even have a proper jacket. Let me drive you—"

"No," Merlin protested, even if he was worried about walking out in the cold. But he was wearing his running shoes, and he'd just run home in Arthur's clothes. He didn't care.

"Merlin …" Arthur said and came close to Merlin. He was chest-to-chest with the man, taking in his scent. "I'll give you a lift."

"Fine," Merlin huffed, all fight leaving him.

"I didn't mean to offend you. I just…I don't think it's a good idea."

"Right. I was only teasing anyway," replied Merlin. "I don't know you like that."

"Like what?"

Merlin shrugged. He didn't meet Arthur's gaze and simply waited by the door.

"So no breakfast then, I reckon."

"No. I think it's best if I just get home." He felt so foolish. He couldn't believe he'd rushed in like this. He'd barely known the man, yet already he’d had sex with him, and now he was feeling hurt. It was a joke. And yet, the idea of taking Arthur to the engagement party still sounded like a good idea, not just because it was an engagement party, but also because it was New Year's Eve. Merlin wanted to be there with Arthur on New Year's. He wanted to kiss him then.

"Okay," Arthur said, and Merlin wanted to believe he sounded disappointed.



0-0
Merlin's house wasn't too far from Arthur's, and they had only driven for five minutes before they reached it.

"Thank you for the lift," Merlin said softly, looking down at his own clothes rolled up in a pile. "I will drop off your—"

"Merlin," Arthur said, turning to look at Merlin and taking Merlin's hand in his. "I hate how this awesome morning turned into something so awkward."

Merlin looked up to see Arthur's face and was surprised to see the hurt mixed with something like hope. "I'm sorry if I offended you about the party—"

This time, it was as if Arthur was the one who had had enough and pulled Merlin close to kiss him. "I want to see you again," he said, handing his mobile to Merlin. "Put your number in so I can call you."

"You think I want that?" Merlin asked, trying to sound serious but unable to hide the smile.

"Yes. You want that," said Arthur.

At that, Merlin raised an eyebrow. "Think you have me figured out, Pendragon?"

Arthur shook his head. "I wouldn't dare say that. Just…I know I can be good for you."

Merlin bit his lower lip and started to type his name and number into Arthur's mobile. Then he sent himself a quick message so he would have Arthur's number as well. He desperately wanted to believe Arthur could be good for him. It was what he wanted.

When he handed Arthur his mobile back, Arthur looked at the screen. "Prat," he said.

"Yeah, it's how I'll store you on my phone. So I'll know when I'm having a bad day — whether or not I want to put up with the likes of you."

"You have a lot of bad days?" Arthur asked, sounding concerned.

"Sometimes," replied Merlin.

"Maybe you could call me for phone sex then. I'm sure your days would get better after that."

Merlin grinned at Arthur, surprised and happy at the reply.

"What is it?" Arthur asked.

"I can't believe Gwen and Lancelot didn't try to set me up with you. God, maybe they don't know I'm kinky like that. Or maybe they don't know that about you."

Arthur laughed and ran his hand through his hair, looking nervous.

"What is it?"

"I think they didn't try to set you up with me is because I used to date Gwen."

"You did?" Merlin was so glad he didn't have to come right out and ask it.

"Yeah, a long time ago. Before I…came out."

"So, what? You experimented with a man and realised you didn't want to go back to the old team?"

"Something like that," Arthur said. "It was just a kiss and it didn't mean anything. I mean, we're still friends. I was drunk and Gwen and I had just had a fight and Gwaine was just flirting—"

"Gwaine? You kissed Gwaine?"

"Um…who hasn't?" Arthur asked.

"That much is true…" Merlin said, thoughtful.

"So, can I, um…call you sometime?"

"Yeah," Merlin said with a smile. He leaned over and kissed Arthur on the cheek. "You better."



0-0
26 December

Christmas went by in a blur. Merlin was busy with his family and a few friends who had come over to his parents' house. Meanwhile, he was also busy sending and receiving text messages from Arthur. It had started out light, just a few jokes here and there, but as the hours went on the messages became more hot and heavy.

They ranged from… I'd much rather be kissing you tonight than my great aunt to … God, this party is so fucking boring. Want to send me a naughty pic so I can wake up?

"Who are you talking to, Merlin?" his mum asked, when Merlin once again checked his phone and smiled at a message Arthur had sent. It was an image of him looking bored with an empty wine glass.

"I…just a friend."

"A friend who makes you smile like that?"

Merlin shook his head. "It's nothing."

"Right. So when are we going to meet this friend?"

"Never."

"What?" His mum pouted at Merlin's response. "Are you taking your friend to Will's engagement party?"

Merlin didn't want to scowl, but he was quite certain he'd not been successful at the task. "No. It's not that kind of a friend."

"So just a shag-buddy then?" his dad helpfully supplied.

"I am not talking about this with you guys," Merlin said, getting up from the sofa and heading to the kitchen. "I'm going to get some more wine."

By the time he looked at his mobile in the kitchen, he already had four messages from Arthur.

Arthur: How's it going over there?

Arthur: Oh, are you ignoring me now?

Arthur: Don't tell me you've got a cute bloke who’s distracted you away from me

And then a message which truly surprised Merlin.

Arthur: Is Will there?

Merlin grabbed the bottle of wine and brought it to the sitting room where his parents were. "I'm just going to the toilet, be right back," he said and locked himself in the loo.

Merlin: Hey. Sorry. My mum started chatting with me and she hates it when I look at my mobile while talking to her. No, Will's not here. Just immediate family and a couple of close friends

Then he waited a few seconds before he added…

Merlin: Though. I think it's cute you were jealous..

The reply came immediately.

Arthur: I was NOT jealous.

Merlin: Still cute.

Arthur: I hate you now.

Merlin: So, no phone sex later?

Arthur: That's on the table?

Merlin: Didn't know it wasn't.



0-0
29 December

Merlin rolled in bed, having just woken up from a sex dream, when his mobile buzzed. He reached over to grab his mobile, unplugging it from the charger, and smiled when he saw who was calling.

"Hello?"

"Still sleeping?" Arthur voice was like honey. He'd been further away from Merlin for Christmas. While Merlin's parents lived close to Camelot, Arthur had travelled with his father and sister to visit their family. He'd not seen Arthur since that day — that one time — but they'd managed to keep in touch.

"I was having the sexiest dream possible," he said.

"Yeah? About what?"

Merlin chuckled. "Oh, I don't know. Some prat. He had my hands tied and was really pounding into me…" Merlin let out a small groan, his cock hard and pressing against his shorts. He held his mobile with one hand and used the other to shove the covers and his shorts down.

"Fuck…do you know how close I am to you?" Arthur said.

"What do you mean?" asked Merlin.

"We arrived last night. I just got home and took a shower. And now…if I wasn't so fucking tired and ready to crash…I could do that in real life."

"I've been enjoying our talks. Do you not like them?" Merlin asked innocently as his hand gripped the base of his cock, and he started to move his hand up and down. Painfully slowly. He liked torturing himself like this. He liked telling Arthur all about it.

"You're doing this to me on purpose…" Arthur whined.

"How are you right now? On your back?"

"No…" Arthur said, panting. "On my knees. Face almost buried in my pillow."

"Fuck. I love you on your knees. The visual. It kills me."

"I'm going to need to see you later," Arthur said, almost as if confessing. "Are you free?"

"I…" Merlin hesitated for a second. "I wish. But we can do this now. Get off together again. It's been so fucking good. I've wanted to feel you on top of me again, that way, on the sofa. When you pushed me down…" He moaned, and Arthur moaned with him.

"I keep thinking about how hot it was to have you in the shower. The way you were taking my cock in your mouth—when you'd looked up at me—I was going to spill right then. Just like now…so fucking close. So fucking close to you. Want your mouth on me again, Merlin."

"Me too, Arthur. I want to feel you inside me. Get you to tie me up for real. Tease me. Torture me."

Arthur let out a gasping laugh. "That's because you want to be able to do the same to me. You love having your revenge…You'd probably blindfold me as you ride me just so you can hear me beg for it."

Merlin smeared the precome around on his cock and his hand started to move frantically. He was so close, and since he'd not been prepared and didn’t have his headset, he couldn't fuck himself on his fingers at the same time. Still, Arthur didn't need to know that.

"I'm so tired of my fingers, Arthur…need to feel you fucking me. Your fingers, your cock, your—"

"My mouth? You want my mouth, right?" Arthur said, almost whining. "That's the first thing I'm going to do. Taste you all over. I dream about it."

"I want your everything," Merlin shouted, coming all over his hand, and from the sound of it, Arthur was doing the same.

"Fuck," Arthur said into the phone.

"What's wrong?"

"I didn't mean to spend so easily… my sheets are ruined. That wasn’t planned so well… " He laughed, low and deep, and it made Merlin's spent cock twitch.

"I can't believe we're so close to each other. I could just roll over and leave… run over to come by and see you."

"I wish you could…but you said you're busy?"

"Yeah," Merlin said, feeling stupid to have brought it up. "I have to go to Will's. They're finalising the guest list, and I offered to help with any last minute shopping."

"The guest list?" Arthur asked, sounding like he was moving about now. It was so crazy, Merlin thought. They had only seen each other one time a week ago but had talked so much on the phone so Merlin could now tell when Arthur was sitting, or walking, or distracted, or whatever…He'd learned so much about Arthur in such a short time, it blew his mind.

Arthur blew his mind.

"Yeah, so I'm going to tell them I won't be bringing a guest to the party… Will's fiancée, Nadia, she doesn't like empty chairs so she wants to make sure all the seats at dinner are filled. Especially the ones up front for the pictures."

"Right. So maybe—"

"Ah, shit," Merlin said, "hang on a second." Merlin had to put Arthur on hold because he felt his mobile vibrating. It was his mother. "Listen, Arthur. I'm sorry but it's my mum and I think she wants to talk about the party details… I'm sorry, love, can I call you later?"

"Yeah. Sure…" Arthur sounded distant.

Fuck, did I just call him love? Merlin almost missed Arthur's response because he was too lost in his own thoughts. What had got into him?

"Great. Thanks. Talk to you soon." And then he hung up before he could make a bigger arse of himself.



0-0
Merlin was getting ready to leave his flat, intending to pick up his mum and then go over to Will's place. As he opened the door to exit, he was shocked to find Arthur there. Waiting for him.

"Hi," said Arthur.

"How long have you been standing there?"

"Not long. I just got here and was about to knock when…" He shrugged. "You look nice."

"Fuck you," said Merlin, and pulled Arthur into his flat and closed the door behind him. He pushed Arthur against the door and crowded into his space. His mouth was on Arthur before he could think about anything, especially stopping himself.

This was what he'd wanted. This was what he'd been craving for a fucking week.

Arthur kissed Merlin back without any hesitation, and his hands wrapped around Merlin's waist pulling him close. Merlin ground their hips together as he moaned around Arthur's tongue. This was so much better than the memory of what they'd had. A million times better than the phone sex they'd been having. Arthur was there, under his touch, breathing the same air as him, and it was everything.

Their moment was ruined when Merlin's mobile chimed, and he was forced to break the kiss.

"Shite," he said looking down at the message. His mother had been expecting him ten minutes ago. "Mum's going to kill me."

"I'm sorry. I just couldn't wait. I had to see you. After we hung up…"

"I know, I'm sorry, too. I shouldn't have rushed off like that."

"No, that's fine. It's just…" Arthur seemed to hesitate.

"What is it?"

"I don't want you to tell them you don't have a date for the engagement party."

"What?" Merlin asked, surprised. He took a step back from Arthur, feeling strange. Was Arthur taking pity on him? "It's fine. I realised I was just being stupid and insecure. I don't need to bring anyone—"

"I know… it's not that…"

"I'm not going to shag Will at his own engagement party, even if he wanted to or if I wanted to. Which I don't."

"It's not that…" Arthur said again, looking exasperated. "It's just…I want to be with you. I want to be with you on New Year's Eve. And this bloody party you can't miss is on fucking New Year's, yeah? And I don't want anyone to think you're single or whatever because you're not. I want to be your New Year's kiss. I know it's stupid—"

"It's not stupid," Merlin said, feeling relieved. "I want to kiss you on New Year's too."

"But…?"

"What do you mean, but…?"

"Merlin, we've been talking on the phone non-stop for a week. I know there's a but coming."

Merlin laughed. "You know I really hate it—"

"—when people act like they know you. Yes, yes. Move on from that. Tell me what's the but."

"This, what you and I have, what we share…you have to know it's wrong, right? I mean, not wrong in illegal or whatever, but it's not natural. I was supposed to be someone else's date and you kind of made me fall for you in one evening and then I went trying to find you or stalk you or whatever and we had sex within ten minutes of that. This isn't how normal relationships start. We've not done anything that's normal, and sure, it's fun, and it's all hot and heavy, but can you blame me for…for…" Merlin felt stuck. He couldn't bring himself to say the words.

"Thinking it will all crash and burn just as quickly as it started?"

"See, you think it too." And then Merlin's mobile buzzed again. This time, it was his mum calling him. "One second, I'm so sorry. Hello? Hi Mam. Yes. I know. Listen… can I… can you give me like another thirty minutes?"

His mum nearly shouted over the phone.

"Yeah. But this is kind of important. Can you please? I love you, okay?"

After he hung up, Merlin looked at Arthur. "So, you were saying…?"

"I don't know anything about relationships," Arthur started. "But I do know what I’m like, what I was like before I'd met you. For the first time in a long time, my family Christmas trip was bearable because you were there."

"Arthur, I wasn't there."

"I know. I mean, you were there for me. I could message you whenever and you would always write back. Even if it was stupid and we just joked around—I didn't feel alone. I mean, I've been wanting to leave the business for ages, and I was afraid to do it because I didn't know if I could. I didn't have any support. Just…you've made me believe in myself. I know it sounds insane—"

"It doesn't," Merlin said. "I liked our chats. It was good and different and unlike anything else ever. I know what you mean. I've come to need you, sort of, which is and should be insane but it's not. It feels like we…"

"Fit together."

"Yeah…" Merlin said with a smile. "We fit together."

"So, I can only think of two options for you."

"What are they?"

"I need you to be my date for New Year's Eve. We can go to a club and party, get drunk and snog and go home and have loads of sex… or I can be your date to your stupid ex-boyfriend, current best friend's engagement party where we can party, get drunk and snog, and then go home and have loads of sex."

"You need me to be?" Merlin asked.

Arthur took a step closer to Merlin and nipped at his lower lip. "I want you to be."

"And I don't get a say?"

"No…" Arthur said; he grabbed the back of Merlin's neck and pulled him close, and then his fingers raked through his hair. "You're mine, and you want to be mine. So, no…you're spending New Year's with me. You get to decide how you'd like to do it."

A thrill went through Merlin as he realised he was on the verge of having a partner that gave him what he wanted. What he needed. He loved being controlled, but he also liked the idea of sharing that control. It was a hard balance to find, but it seemed as if Arthur knew just how to push Merlin's buttons.

"Wanting a hot man by my side was really how I'd got into this mess…" Merlin said, kissing Arthur's chin. "I'd love it if you were my date on New Year's Eve. If we go to the engagement party, great, but if we spend all day and night shagging in my bedroom, well, then…I can always find a new best friend. I hear good things about a bloke named Leon."

"You can't just steal my best friend from me, Merlin."

Merlin laughed. "Why not? You stole his potential boyfriend from him."

"You admitted you didn't want him because he has a dog."

"Well, my new boyfriend is a dog."

"That was terrible," Arthur said, shaking his head.

"I know," Merlin snorted. "It really was. Besides, now you have to come with me and meet my mum, because she's going to have my head for being almost an hour late and if I don't bring you with me — then she'll never forgive me."

"Cool," Arthur said, looking a little bit conflicted. Very similar to the way he'd looked when Merlin had first met him. "So we're doing this? We're giving it a go?"

Merlin smiled and pulled Arthur in for another kiss. "I feel like the answer should be yes."

"Good," said Arthur. "It should be."



0-0
One Year Later.

"A New Year's Eve engagement party and a Christmas wedding…wow, your friends are extremely self-centred, Merlin." Arthur twirled Merlin around the dance-floor at the reception for Will and Nadia's wedding. This time, not much to Merlin's surprise, they weren't seated at the front of the room.

Arthur had been Merlin's date on New Year's Eve, and almost everyone had paid more attention to Merlin and Arthur than they had to Will and Nadia. A fact which Nadia did not like. So for her wedding, she'd made sure Merlin and Arthur got very little attention. They were old news by now, anyway.

Hunith had liked Arthur immediately, and after dating him for three months, Merlin had finally met Uther. Arthur's father. He hadn't warmed up to Merlin immediately, and when Arthur had announced he was leaving the company to start out on his own, he'd blamed it on Merlin's influence.

Gwen and Lancelot had been the most confused to find out Merlin and Arthur were together, but Lancelot had told Merlin he wasn't surprised at all. He had known them each separately and seeing them together made sense.

Gwen had kept her distance from Merlin for a few months, but eventually had warmed up to the idea. She admitted she wasn't jealous, she couldn't be because she was happy with Lance, but it was weird to see her ex-boyfriend kissing another man.

"I know this wedding is a bit much, but my mum's friend Alice is here. I need to speak to her so it's a good chance for me."

"What do you need to talk to her about?" Arthur asked as the music changed, and the two of them stopped dancing and made their way to the bar.

"I need to find a new flat. They're increasing the rent for everyone because we have a new company managing the property. The old man who owned it retired and his kids thought it'd be best if he sold it. Alice has a room available and I don't require much. I mean, I'm always at your place—"

"You're always staying with me."

"Yeah, exactly…" said Merlin, confused with the way Arthur was looking at him.

"So, why don't you just move in?"

"What?" Merlin asked, pleasantly surprised. He had to admit the idea had crossed his mind a few times, but he just didn't know how to ask. He didn't want to assume. Arthur owned his flat and Merlin was barely getting by with his rent. He wasn't sure he could afford the bills.

"Yeah. The flat's paid for. So you can save money, which you're always complaining about. And I hate arguing about who is staying where every weekend. I don't want to just give you a drawer anymore. And if you think it's too small, we can find a bigger—"

"No," Merlin said quickly. "I like your place. I don't want to get a new place unless you do."

"I'm comfortable. I just want to make sure you are too."

Merlin grinned, feeling his face heat up, and he leaned in to kiss Arthur on the cheek. "Thanks, that's very sweet."

"Good, because I have a Christmas present for you and I didn't know how I'd deal with it on my own."

"What is it?" Merlin asked, curious and excited. He watched as Arthur reached for his mobile and pulled up a picture for him. It was a video of a small kitten sleeping. Merlin almost squealed.

"We can go and pick her up in a couple of days."

"Seriously? That's my Christmas present?"

"I figured it was time," Arthur said, laughing at Merlin's delight.

Merlin had been conscious about how close he was with Arthur at the party last year and today at the wedding. He hadn’t wanted to be the centre of attention, but now he didn't care. This time, instead of giving Arthur a kiss on the cheek, he pulled Arthur really close and kissed him on the lips.

"Happy Christmas, Arthur. I love you."

Arthur chuckled against Merlin's lips, and, before kissing him, said, "I love you too, Merlin."

His foolish desire to have a date for Will's engagement party had led to a chance meeting with Arthur. And now, a year later, he couldn't believe how happy he was. He was glad Arthur had stayed that night at the pub and talked to him, and he was even more glad he'd chased after Arthur. It'd been a great year…and Merlin no longer felt foolish.

He was on his way to having a great life.


This entry was originally posted at https://digthewriter.dreamwidth.org/674939.html. Thanks for reading