Summary: Arthur and Merlin have been shagging for months but never talk about it, mostly because office romances are frowned upon, but also because Arthur is a utter prat and Merlin doesn’t have any feelings for him. Not at all.
Word Count: 2K
Author's Notes: Thanks to asya_ana for the beta!
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
“I. Thought. You said. Never again. At work,” Merlin panted out as Arthur thrust into him from behind. What a picture they would make for anyone unlucky enough to step into the gents—Merlin, trousers pooled around his ankles, hair wild; and Arthur, cock unceremoniously released from the confines of his flies, driving Merlin against the marble counter with quick-slamming hips.
In the mirror above the sinks Merlin watched Arthur’s blond hair flop over his forehead, imagining what Arthur must be seeing: his thick cock sliding in and out of Merlin’s arse. “It’s. After. Hours.”
“It’s never after hours . . . oh fuck. You know no one. Ever goes home.” Merlin grunted each word, making no move to stop the sex though he knew he was right—someone could enter at any moment since the London firm where they worked never closed. God, Arthur had no right to feel this good; it was what made him agree to fucks in the loo, the copy-room, even a couple times in Arthur’s office. Merlin loved Arthur’s cock, loved to suck it, loved to stroke it and ride it and would probably spend his last moments on this earth wistfully remembering it. Unfortunately, however, Arthur’s incredible cock was attached to Arthur, and Arthur was a giant prat.
“Do shut up. Mer-lin.” The winded nature of Arthur’s speech, along with his faltering rhythm, gave him away. It wasn’t without a trace of self-reflective irony that Merlin realised he knew all of Arthur’s tells, the way his expression intensified and his mouth dropped open as he approached orgasm. It was the only time Arthur Pendragon, top barrister and son of one of Britain’s leading MPs, looked anything but cool and composed.
“I’m just saying.”
“Well. Stop saying. I’m trying. To fuck you.”
After that it was less talking, more barely restrained moaning. Merlin grabbed his own erection and pulled, forgetting everything but the feel of Arthur, the way his hands gripped Merlin’s hips and held, the sounds of skin slapping and how Arthur looked gorgeous even illuminated by garish florescent lights. When he came, he muffled his groan into his arm, clenching his arse around the cock inside. After a few more rapid, deep thrusts, Arthur stilled and grunted, falling over Merlin for a moment while his hot breath gusted through the soft hairs at the nape of Merlin’s neck. Perhaps he was dreaming, but Merlin thought he felt the press of lips there. He stiffened in reflex, unused to the intimacy, and before he could regain his wits, Arthur withdrew, quickly disposed of the condom, washed his hands, and exited the loo.
It was a mutual, silent understanding never to speak of what happened between them when they weren’t fucking. Office relationships, while not forbidden, were frowned upon, and as one of the senior partners of the firm and the man who’d originally hired him, Arthur was for all intents and purposes Merlin’s boss. Perhaps most importantly, Merlin couldn’t afford for Arthur to discover his magic (which he’d failed to disclose on his employment papers) and send him flying by the seat of his trousers. Oh, and then there was the fact that though their private parts got on quite well, they didn’t even like each other.
Arthur was rude and imperious, never holding onto a PA for more than six months. He didn’t even attempt to restrain gleeful smiles when assigning Merlin the most rudimentary tasks. And when Merlin quickly finished whatever drudging chore Arthur sent his way (with a little help from his magic, of course), he never offered more than the most cursory praise. So it had come as a bit of a surprise when, in the midst of a heated argument over whether the firm should participate in Pro Bono week (Arthur said no, Merlin yes), they had wound up shagging on Arthur’s desk, the remains of their working lunch in Merlin’s hair and a bruise the exact size and shape of Arthur’s mouth at the base of his throat that hadn’t faded for a week. The next time it had happened, he’d given Arthur a similar souvenir in retribution. And so it went.
As long as Merlin could keep his magic under control while they were fucking (it had the annoying tendency to go a bit haywire whenever Arthur was near), he could see no reason why their non-relationship couldn’t continue as it was, just an occasional release of tension, nothing serious. Until the day he overheard Gwen and Morgana gossiping in the break room over a plate of biscuits.
“—heard she’s the Prime Minister’s cousin. Gorgeous, tall, blonde, rich. Ugh.” Morgana wrinkled her nose.
“Who are we cutting down to size?” Merlin grabbed his lunch from the fridge and sat down with them. Gwen was Arthur’s latest PA; so far she’d lasted four months, and seemed uniquely suited to deal with his twatishness. Morgana was a recent hire like Merlin.
Gwen shrugged. “Arthur RSVP’d with a plus one for the holiday party, and we were just taking bets on who. I figure it’s probably Sophia Mansfield, since she’s been calling a lot recently and he had flowers sent to her flat last week.”
“And I saw them out to dinner the other night,” Morgana added. The two women exchanged a meaningful glance. “They seemed rather intimate.”
Merlin kept his features schooled as they carried on with their conversation, but swallowing every bite of his ham salad sandwich was a chore. He’d never even considered Arthur might be seeing other people outside of their little arrangement . . . and it was shocking to realise that he himself hadn’t slept with anyone else, or even wanted to, in months. He felt a flare of something worse than indigestion in the pit of his stomach. At some point he’d fallen for Arthur bloody Pendragon.
“Merlin,” Arthur said, one arm braced on the frame of the entranceway to Merlin’s cubicle. “We need to go over the Wilddeoren deposition. If you’re not too busy.” The tone of Arthur’s voice left no doubt as to his real intention, and the little smirk on his face indicated he didn’t expect refusal.
Merlin turned in his chair, making no attempt to hide the crossword puzzle he’d been solving. He tried to focus on anything but the way Arthur’s fine-cut suit highlighted his slim waist and broad chest, giving a tantalizing preview of body underneath.
“Sorry, I don’t have time. Loads of stuff to catch up on for the, er, Disir case.”
Arthur frowned at him. “Really.”
“I’m researching precedents for Leon.”
Glancing at the crossword, Arthur’s frown lines grew deeper, but he didn’t call Merlin out. His eyes narrowed as comprehension dawned. “I see. Well then, carry on.”
Merlin turned away so he didn’t have to meet Arthur’s eyes, and waited to exhale until he heard Arthur’s retreating footfalls.
The week leading up to the holiday party was more of the same; when they were alone together, Merlin never allowed the focus to stray from work. Now that he understood his feelings were deeper than he’d originally known, the most important thing was to protect himself, even if it was like carving his insides with a blunt knife.
Arthur grew cool and distant, so much so that it only confirmed their fling had meant nothing to him. Even so, Merlin dreaded the upcoming party, the hours he’d have to spend watching Arthur and Sophia being gorgeous and enchanting together. He considered his own options. There was his flatmate Will, but Merlin didn’t want to subject him to an evening of brown-nosing and meaningless small talk (especially given Will’s penchant for getting belligerently drunk and berating anyone who worked for the Man)—and then there was Gwaine, but Merlin hadn’t spoken to him in a few weeks, and he’d feel guilty calling now only to ask a favour—
The throat clearing behind him startled Merlin from his reverie, and he glanced away from the window where he’d been watching the snow, only to find Arthur standing behind him. His stomach gave a lurch, his magic quickening under his skin. It was late, almost midnight, and Merlin had been sure that Arthur had already left for the night. Here he was, though, his shirtsleeves rolled up and his tie loose, the tops buttons undone. He looked tired. “You seem to be thinking hard. For a change.”
“Oh, um. I didn’t know you were here, ” Merlin said, the words tripping dumbly off his tongue.
“Where else would I be?” Arthur came forward a few paces and looked down towards the street where the lights illuminated large clumping flakes that had begun to stick. Merlin bit back a petty retort, suddenly feeling empty.
“You’ve been avoiding me, Merlin. Why?” The question was asked with shocking sincerity. Arthur’s serious eyes met his.
“Just figured it was time to move on.” Even as he said the words, Merlin’s magic violently disagreed. It tingled the tips of his fingers as if trying to connect with Arthur through the air that separated them.
“You didn’t seem to dislike our . . . activities before. I think I have a right to know what changed.”
Merlin steeled himself for painful honesty. “I prefer to sleep with unattached men.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
Why did Arthur have to be standing close enough for Merlin to feel his body heat? It made his next statement almost impossible to get out. “I know about you and Sophia Mansfield.”
“What? That’s not—”
“Don’t. It’s none of my business.” Merlin made an attempt to leave, but Arthur caught him and held fast, and before he knew it Merlin found himself encircled in Arthur’s arms.
“Just listen, you idiot. I don’t know what you heard, but I’m telling you with all honesty there is nothing between Sophia and I.”
“She’s an old family friend. Her father just passed away and she’s taken it hard, so we’ve been spending time together. Look, if you don’t believe me.” Arthur moved towards the nearest computer and tapped some keys, bringing up an article on the recent death of Lionel Mansfield, complete with a photograph of the grieving Sophia at her father’s funeral.
“Oh.” God, how could he have been so stupid? He’d let his imagination run away with him with only hearsay for evidence, and now he’d really mucked things up.
“Yes. And if you hadn’t noticed,” Arthur said, moving closer again, “I’m not exactly interested in women.”
“Yeah, I . . . erm. Had noticed.”
“Merlin, Merlin. You were jealous. And here I thought you only wanted sex.” His devilish smile lit up his whole face, and Merlin experienced a lurch of hope.
“I did. I do. I mean, but that’s what you want from me, right?”
“Oh yes. But I was hoping maybe you’d want more. For instance, to go to the holiday party with me.”
“But—Gwen said you already had a plus one.”
“I was going to ask you.”
“A bit presumptuous, aren’t you?” Somehow they’d wound up so close that Merlin could feel the thump of Arthur’s heart. Their lips were almost touching as Arthur spoke again.
“Will you go to the party with me, as my date?”
“Not good enough.” Arthur kissed him gently.
Merlin’s magic danced along his spine as they kissed their first proper kiss, tongues and lips sliding together. Everything was going perfectly until he realised the lights above them were flickering and a nearby desk had begun to levitate.
“I can explain,” Merlin said as Arthur stared at him, mouth open and still kiss-swollen. He shrugged, helpless, as he waited for the fallout. But instead of the usual reactions of fear disbelief, or anger, Arthur cocked his head.
“So that’s how you finished the Racine report so quickly.”
“What else can you do?”
“Take me home and I’ll show you.”