Title: Beautiful People
Summary: Amateur photographer Arthur Pendragon is supposed to be taking author photos for Merlin Emrys's first novel. Instead, Merlin and his boyfriend decide to provide a more exciting material for the pictures.
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #42 picture prompt (hunk du jour)
Author's Notes: Edited. Many, many thanks to inspired_being for the beta! It now fits the word limit :D
It was the last job of the day and Arthur was exhausted.
He parked in front of a tenement and rubbed his forehead. It was getting late. The light was terrible, which meant wasting more time wrestling the lamps out of his truck before dragging all the equipment up the stairs. By then, he was teetering on the edge between irritated and fucking pissed off.
The doorbell played some cheery tune. Arthur contemplated buggering off, but no. The guy – “aspiring writer” in Morgana’s own words – was apparently a dear friend of his sister’s and this was really important to her. So, by extension, it was important to Arthur too; if he wanted to keep all his bits attached.
Arthur managed to school his features into professional indifference by the time the door was pulled open. He needn’t have even bothered. The stranger was wearing a blinding grin. Arthur found himself smiling despite himself.
“Hi! You’re Arthur right? Come on in.”
They weren’t strangers, Arthur realized. He recognized the guy – Merlin– from some of Morgana’s more outrageous Facebook photos. He was rather unassuming. Always kept to the side-lines, although he had the kind of face the camera absolutely loved.
Arthur found himself thinking technically; the contrast between Merlin’s smooth pale skin and dark hair; his sharp, wonderfully expressive features; flawless curve of lips and bright blue eyes. The ears were rather unfortunate at first glance but the longer Arthur stared, the more he thought “Cute.”
“Arthur Pendragon,” he said politely, shaking the man’s hand – gorgeous hands – “Nice to meet you. Morgana mentioned you needed a portrait for your book?”
“That’s right! I’m Merlin, Merlin Emrys.”
It seemed Merlin had an endless supply of bright smiles and childlike enthusiasm. He talked about his book while Arthur set up his equipment. It took some careful placement to fit everything amongst the piles of books, cosy-looking furniture and ancient TV.
Merlin made himself useful by a) fixing Arthur a truly excellent cup of tea and b) staying out of the way. Arthur saw his long limbs and knew there was an accident waiting to happen.
It turned out, Merlin didn’t live alone. Another man showed up – quiet and serious. He shook Arthur’s hand, business-like, and proclaimed, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Merlin introduced him as, “My boyfriend, Mordred.”
Arthur sighed inwardly. Of course Merlin was taken and the entire photo-op wasn’t some elaborate plan of Morgana’s to introduce him to the man of his dreams in order to make up for the birthdays and Christmases she’d forgotten over the years. Then Merlin beamed at Mordred and Arthur found he was unable to stay angry.
“Right,” he said. “If you could take your place?”
Merlin, for all the aesthetic pleasure he brought, was an irritating little git.
“Do you enjoy bossing me around?” he asked after almost an hour, losing his boyish charm in favour of an angry scowl. Arthur snapped a picture, enjoying the furrow of his brow and the hard set of his mouth.
“Yes, actually,” Arthur said. “Now lean against the bookcase – stop pouting. Merlin, this isn’t a Mills & Boons cover.”
“I can’t believe I’m paying you for this,” said Merlin incredulously. Wooden shelf laden with heavy tomes (who the fuck owns Encyclopaedias in this day and age) softened the slightly monochromatic colour palette of Merlin and his black button-up.
“You are. So shut up and look happy.”
Merlin looked at him with pure hatred and wow! Great picture.
“It’s a portrait for a book cover, not a Gay Times spread,” Merlin whined.
‘If it were, you’d be naked,” Arthur replied before he could stop himself. Merlin grinned, cheekily, relaxing his posture. It gave him an air of flirty self-confidence. Arthur snapped what was sure to be another great picture.
“You wishing I were?” Merlin asked. “Is that what’s made you cranky and prattish?”
“If you promise to shut up, I’ll give you 50% off a nude shoot,” said Arthur, deadpan.
Mordred chose that moment to walk in, eyebrow raised.
“Do I want to know?” he said drily.
“No, not really… Hey…” A slightly malicious smile crept over Merlin’s face. “Come here.”
Mordred complied. He tossed an unreadable look at Arthur and seemed strangely calm for someone who had just overheard his boyfriend discussing getting naked in front of another man.
Merlin wasted no time. He put both hands on Mordred’s shoulders before leaning in for a chaste kiss. He twisted slightly, so Arthur could capture them both in profile.
Merlin had a great profile. Arthur could spend another hour photographing it.
The couple shared a sweet, private smile, which made Arthur feel uncomfortable and voyeuristic. They proceeded to make out, causing Arthur to feel other things. He cleared his throat and snapped picture after picture, aware he was getting harder by the second.
He figured the moment Merlin slipped his hands under Mordred tee (black, too. What’s with these people) he should probably make himself scarce. But damn, Merlin’s long fingers looked unbelievable splayed against the dark fabric. Or when Mordred started unbuttoning Merlin’s shirt, kissing his neck. Or when Merlin threw his head back, eyes half-lidded and lips parted, while Mordred kissed down his exposed chest—
“Right,” said Arthur eventually. He lowered the camera. “Are you quite done?”
“Nope,” said Merlin, voice gone husky with arousal. “Got everything you wanted?”
Mordred got up and snorted, leaning against Merlin.
Arthur left them to do their cuddling, collecting his equipment in record time.
“Thank you,” said Arthur, stiffly. “It’s been a pleasure working with you.”
“No, the pleasure was all ours,” said Merlin cheerfully, looping an arm around Mordred’s waist. “We hope you enjoyed yourself!”
“Sure you did,” Arthur muttered. They were clearly evil.
In the end he e-mailed the best pictures to Merlin – after having an embarrassingly short wank – with a short footnote:
I wouldn’t recommend the last batch for your author picture but I can get you in contact with Gay Times if you want.