Title: Close Quarters
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Morgause, Edwin Muirden
Summary: University AU. Albion University's rather unique first-year orientation exercise has Merlin seeing red...and blue, and yellow, and green.
Word Count: 4K
Prompt: #110 ~ Strangers No More
Author's Notes: Yes, I know...a new high for word count. *hides* But, when I get an idea, I just run with it, no matter how many words it ends up being. Hopefully it will at least be entertaining. My thanks to ekishou for the cheerleading and k_nightfox for the quick beta. *glomps*
Merlin had just settled onto the arm of the sectional sofa in the main common room of Camelot Hall (which—according to the notice he’d received in the mail last week—was apparently his new dormitory) when a blonde haired woman clutching a clipboard called above the din, “Quiet, please. Quiet!”
As the rumble of voices petered off into silence the woman nodded and said, “Thank you, and welcome to Albion University. My name is Morgause.” She gestured toward a sandy-haired man standing next to her and continued, “And this is Edwin. We are your RAs here at Camelot Hall.”
Her speech was interrupted by a group of loud students that pushed, shoved, and laughed their way into the room. Merlin took one look at them and rolled his eyes. Every single one of them was built like they played rugby and probably had the combined intelligence of a doorknob. Great, just what we needed; a bunch of gormless footballers to drag down the average IQ of the room…
Morgause just stared at the group with a truly frightening glare until, one by one, they awkwardly fell silent. “You’re late,” she declared sharply, tapping the clipboard with the side of her biro.
The stupidly gorgeous, golden-haired demi-god that appeared to be the group’s ringleader nodded and replied in a voice that was much plummier than Merlin had expected, “Yes, I know. My apologies.”
“Hmm,” Morgause hummed, as if she wasn’t sure she would forgive him before she shrugged one shoulder and nodded toward the middle of the room. “Take a seat and we’ll continue.”
As the rest of the group split up and filtered in between other students to find the last few available seats, the student who had spoken to Morgause shoved his way past Merlin, almost knocking him onto the floor as he passed.
“Oi, you prat!” Merlin hissed, grabbing wildly at the chair back as he windmilled precariously toward the unforgiving-looking linoleum, “Watch where you’re going!”
The man looked back at Merlin over his shoulder and smirked. “Not my fault you have all the balance of a newborn foal,” he sniggered as he plopped down on the seat at the other end of the sectional, next to a pretty girl with brown skin, hair, and eyes.
Livid, Merlin opened his mouth to retort—something about bulls and china shops—when Morgause turned her very scary “Be quiet,” look on him, and that had him shutting his mouth with an audible click.
With a satisfied nod, Morgause continued, "Now that everyone is here, we're going to move this out to the quad for our 'Get to know your roommate' exercise. If you would all follow me, please."
Merlin groaned as he pushed to a stand. He had a bad feeling about this.
Oh, bugger me, Merlin thought as he entered the courtyard. A smattering of hoots, laughter, and applause echoed about the enclosed space. It's even worse than I thought...
Scattered along the grass that lined the pathways was plastic square after plastic square, each one of them adorned with rows of coloured circles.
"Now as you can see," Morgause continued as if she'd never stopped speaking, "we've set up twenty-two mats; one for each first-year room. Once we announce the match ups, we will be playing two man, or two woman, games of Twister."
Oh, great, Merlin thought to himself with more than a little distress, that’s just what I need. Seeing as his interests lay in the male form rather than the female, wrestling about with a complete stranger on a bit of plastic had the potential to be rather embarrassing.
Merlin closed his eyes and prayed for a roommate that he wouldn’t find attractive.
Meanwhile, Morgause held out her clipboard as she walked down the line of plastic squares, calling out the names of the roommates as she pointed to each one.
A moment later, Morgause called out in her clipped, businesslike tone, “Emrys!”
Merlin’s eyelids snapped open and he unconsciously stiffened from having everyone’s eyes upon him. “You’re with Pendragon.”
And that was when ‘Blond God with an Attitude’ shoved himself away from the wall he’d been slouching against with a leer of amusement.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck.
Merlin actually looked down at himself to see if he was standing there in just his y-fronts, because this certainly felt like a nightmare. But no, he was unfortunately not dreaming. Woodenly, he shuffled forward toward the square indicated by Morgause’s imperious finger of doom.
This is going to be the worst year of my life, Merlin whinged to himself, convinced that God must hate him to stick him with such a gorgeous but posh plonker of a roommate.
Blondie’s smirk only got wider as Merlin approached. “Nice of you to join me at last,” he deadpanned in his plummy, priggish voice. “Didn’t realize you needed a formal invitation. Although, now that I think on it, you making it across the quad without tripping over your own feet was probably quite an achievement for you.”
Anger flashed in Merlin’s eyes as he deliberately turned his back on the man and spit out, “Please...don’t think. I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” And then, half under his breath, he added, “Arse,” for good measure.
Behind him, Blondie snorted. “You’d like to have a go at my arse, wouldn’t you, Emrys?” he breathed, way too close to Merlin’s ear for his liking. Or perhaps he liked it a little too much, since his traitorous dick twitched a little in his pants.
Merlin felt the flush tinting his cheeks, but it was just because he was angry...of course it was, he told himself furiously.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” he hissed, stepping away so that Pendragon’s hot breath was no longer caressing his neck in that thoroughly distracting way. “Your head’s already as big as your waist. If it swells any more, we might be cleaning brain matter off the cobblestones. Of course, that’s assuming you actually have a brain, and I certainly wouldn’t make that wager.”
This time, it was Pendragon’s impending tirade that was interrupted by Morgause.
“All right, now that we’ve got everyone paired up, we’re going to get started. We wanted you to have the opportunity to learn more about your new roommate as well as a little bit about yourself. So here’s what we're going to do: Edwin is going to spin the spinner and call out a move. The two of you will get yourselves into position, placing the correct body part on one of the spots of that colour. Once you’re all in place, I will ask a question. You will guess what you think the answer from your roommate will be. After the next move, your roommate will give you the correct answer.”
“And don’t worry if you fall over,” Morgause explained. “There are no penalties for that in this version of the game. Just reset to the last called move and continue from there. I realize this may sound a bit daft, but I assure you that this exercise is very enlightening.”
“Now, if you would all please remove your shoes; we don’t want to rip the mats.” Merlin reluctantly toed off his trainers and set them aside as the Pendragon prat did the same.
After another moment, Morgause asked, “Everyone ready?” If anyone was unprepared, it appeared that no one dared admit it to her.
“Good! Edwin, if you please.”
The sandy-haired man flicked his finger against the plastic pointer and then waited for it to stop moving.
“Left foot blue!” Edwin called out.
Merlin sighed and shuffled onto the mat, placing his sock-clad foot on a blue dot near the center of the line. Instead of facing away from Merlin, Arthur placed his foot on the spot directly in front of him so that their faces were only inches apart.
“First question! Guess your roommate’s first name.”
Merlin wondered if the wanker was standing so close just to intimidate him, or perhaps if he was hoping for some other kind of reaction from Merlin that he could later ridicule. Either way, he was going to find himself sorely disappointed. “Prat,” he ground out between clenched teeth as Merlin pointedly turned his head away from his obnoxious roommate.
A bark of laughter had him glancing back. “Is that your guess? If so, then I would have to assume your name must be ‘Idiot’.”
Before Merlin could come up with a fitting retort, Edwin was calling out the next move. “Left hand red!”
Merlin sighed and crouched down, placing his hand down on the corner spot behind him so he could angle his body away from his roommate’s. Of course, that condition didn’t last for long. The posh git squatted and then twisted at the waist so that it accidentally untucked part of his shirt. Arthur was almost draped over Merlin’s knee while he reached in for the dot near Merlin’s armpit.
“My real name is Arthur,” he said, tilting his head up to meet Merlin’s eye. “And you are?”
“Merlin,” he replied, trying very hard not to think about just how close that sliver of exposed skin was to his crotch.
“Wow,” Arthur teased, “your Mum really didn’t like you, did she, Merlin?”
Merlin narrowed his eyes and glared daggers at Arthur. “It’s a family name.”
“Right hand blue!”
Merlin reached straight back and placed his hand on the blue dot on the one next to the end so that he was a little bit cross-cornered on the mat. He looked a bit like a demented crab, but he was still in better shape than Arthur, who was going to have to pretzel himself in some way to reach toward the blue row with his right hand.
Arthur caught his bottom lip between his teeth and stared at the mat for a long moment. Then he crossed his arm over his chest but under his other one, tucking it between Merlin’s open legs to touch the only spot he could reach: the one directly underneath Merlin’s hovering bum.
Merlin tried not to react, but bugger it if that position didn’t force Arthur’s forearm right up against Merlin’s bollocks! How the hell was he supposed to even think straight under these conditions, let alone answer questions?
Just as his eyes started to flutter shut, his dick perking up and taking interest in his new predicament, Merlin heard Morgause’s voice ask, “So, where do you think your roommate is from?”
“Buckingham Palace,” Merlin retorted dryly, desperately trying to concentrate on how much of a git Arthur was instead of the warmth of said git’s arm that was starting to seep through the material of Merlin’s jeans near the base of his cock.
Startled, both of Arthur’s eyebrows shot up and then he laughed heartily. “Really? I didn’t realize Wills and Harry had a brother.”
Merlin gritted his teeth against the resulting vibrations that Arthur’s laughter had caused and hissed, “Well, you certainly act like you own everything, so I figured you must think you’re some kind of royal.”
“Ha, ha, ha,” Arthur chortled dryly. “Well at least I’m not from Narnia.”
Eyes widening in astonishment, Merlin spluttered, “What are you like? Merlin was from the legend of Camelot, as you should bloody well kn…”
“I know,” Arthur cut in, his one raised eyebrow clearly indicating how much of an idiot he thought Merlin was for believing he was serious. And as Arthur continued to stare at him, Merlin swore he could feel Arthur’s hand slowly creeping forward, as if purposefully trying to increase the friction between his arm and Merlin’s arse. “Can you do magic like your namesake, Merlin?” he asked lightly.
“If I could, you’d be a frog right now, trust me,” Merlin groused, which only made Arthur laugh again.
“Left hand green!”
Picking up his left hand, Arthur deftly twisted his body around so that he was practically lying across Merlin’s lap in the other direction and then set his hand down on a green dot. Merlin shoved himself up and twisted his torso so he could touch the green dot past Arthur’s nose with his fingers...which unfortunately meant that Merlin’s face was practically buried in Arthur’s hair at the nape of his neck.
“I’m...from Westminster,” Arthur admitted, a little bit sheepishly.
“Ha!” Merlin cackled triumphantly in Arthur’s conveniently-placed ear. “Say hello to the Queen for me!”
Merlin sucked in a breath and got a wee bit lightheaded from the enchanting smell of Arthur’s cologne.
“And you’re from?” Arthur’s voice had a slightly breathy quality to it that Merlin chalked up to physical exertion.
“Camarthen. That’s in Wales,” Merlin admitted.
“Hmmm, a Welshman named Merlin. Why am I not surprised?”
“I told you it was a family name.”
“So you did,” Arthur agreed.
The call of “Right foot yellow!” did very little to change their current positions except to hunch them both slightly closer together.
“What is your roommate’s field of study?” Morgause prompted.
“Computer Science,” Arthur guessed, the cocky quality of his voice giving away how certain he was that he was correct.
Merlin‘s breath ruffled the hair at the base of Arthur’s skull. “Athletics,” he replied, equally smug in his answer.
“Right hand red!” Edwin called out, and Merlin and Arthur struggled to move again. Merlin had to learn further down over Arthur’s face in order to stretch his arms wide enough apart for him to touch the red corner spot his other hand had formerly occupied. In the meantime, Arthur finally unwedged his arm from underneath Merlin’s buttocks, but the situation went from bad to worse when Arthur’s new position put Arthur’s buttocks into direct contact with Merlin’s crotch.
Trying in vain to keep his mind centered on the task and not the glorious pressure being exerted by Arthur’s peachlike arse on his now rock-hard dick, Merlin breathed, “Medicine. I’m studying medicine...”
“A doctor?” Arthur snorted from below Merlin’s armpit. “Remind me never to go to whatever hospital you’ll be training at.”
Merlin huffed his annoyance against Arthur’s neck and swore he felt Arthur shiver in response, but then just as quickly decided that he must have imagined it. “What about you?”
“International Relations,” was Arthur’s unsteady answer.
The husky timbre of Arthur’s voice made Merlin’s cock twitch and throb and he caught himself halfway through the motion of rubbing against his probably very-straight roommate’s fleshy buttocks. Shit.
Belatedly, what Arthur had said registered.
Arthur, a politician? What a joke! “God help the fate of this country if you ever get into power,” was Merlin’s cheeky retort.
As if in punishment, Arthur finished Merlin’s aborted movement for him, grinding his arsecheeks down against Merlin’s cock with apparent abandon. Merlin could not quite hold back the tortured groan that resulted from that.
“What’s the matter, Merlin?” Arthur whispered as he turned his head into the crook of Merlin’s neck and let his lips ghost against his pale skin. “Feel something you like?”
Humiliation flooded Merlin as he dropped to the mat in shame. How dare the bastard tease him like that and then make fun of him in the very next breath? “Fuck you, Arthur Pendragon,” he cursed as he extracted his limbs out from under Arthur’s. “You can just sod right the fuck off!”
He pushed himself to a stand with the purpose of heading right to the admissions office—stocking feet and all—and demanding another roommate, preferably one that was not such a queer-baiting fuckwit.
And then there were warm fingers clasped about his wrist. When Merlin looked down, Arthur’s face didn’t look anything like the smug bastard he’d been to him just seconds before. “No. Wait, please,” Arthur softly begged, the contrition plainly written on his features. “I’m sorry. Please come back.”
Morgause and Edwin were staring at them, and other people had started to notice the commotion as well. But Merlin only had eyes for Arthur, and damn it if his particular brand of sincerity and pleading didn’t worm its way into Merlin’s heart.
Arthur’s arm pulled at Merlin’s wrist tentatively, and Merlin reluctantly allowed himself to be dragged back onto his knees on the mat. “Oh, all right. Fine. Let’s get this over with.” He put his right hand onto the closest red spot and let out a put-upon sigh.
He felt both gratified and strangely disappointed when Arthur’s right hand was laid onto a spot two away from his, leaving space between them for the first time since the exercise began.
“Right foot yellow!”
Merlin shuffled around so his foot would cover the yellow spot directly behind his hand. Arthur’s foot landed right beside his but with their torsos angled away from each other, there was still plenty of room between them.
But just when Merlin was starting to think that this bizarre situation would work out all right after all, the penny dropped.
“What is your roommate’s sexual orientation?”
“It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of,” Morgause went on, “but you don’t have to answer this one if it makes you uncomfortable. However, if you guess, then it’s only fair that you also have to answer.”
Merlin didn’t know when what Arthur thought of him had suddenly become so important, but evidently it had. After Arthur had called him back to the mat, Merlin had hoped that they might simply be able to forget what had happened and move on, but now that seemed impossible.
In that moment, Merlin was convinced that God really did truly hate him. He hung his head down between his shoulders in defeat.
After all, it wasn’t as if the answer to this question would be a shock to Arthur, not with the way Merlin’s cock had been prodding him in the arse very insistently a few minutes ago.
And, true to form, Arthur leaned in a little bit and spoke quietly so that no one else could hear, though it still didn’t keep the little note of triumph from colouring the man’s voice as he declared emphatically, “You’re gay.”
Merlin closed his eyes against the sting of tears, imagining Arthur lounging across his bed in their shared room, lording it over his buddies about how he’d already “gotten the poof hard for him” and then sniggering about how easy a target he had been.
God, this year is going to be unbearable...
“And you’re straight,” Merlin mumbled miserably, the end of the word barely audible over Arthur’s swift intake of breath.
A stifling silence stretched out interminably between them, so long and sharp and painful to Merlin that he was on the verge of just begging Edwin to get on with it when he heard the man call out, “Left hand red!”
Keeping his head down to hide his red-rimmed eyes, Merlin placed his left hand onto the dot directly next to his right and sighed. “Yes, Arthur,” he admitted quietly, “I’m gay. I know...big surprise, right?” he replied self-deprecatingly.
In response, Arthur slung an arm over Merlin’s back to touch the red dot on the other side of his body. Arthur slid closer so that it was almost an embrace, his impressively-muscled chest plastered against Merlin’s side.
“I’m gay, too,” he whispered in Merlin’s ear, his lips brushing against the earlobe tantalizingly. Then, as Merlin’s mouth fell open from shock, Arthur asked with a playful lilt, “Would you care to hazard a guess as to what kind of men I like, Merlin? I’ll give you one clue...” and then pressed his very hard cock into the meat of Merlin’s right thigh.
Holy shit, Merlin thought, struggling to process the last few moments of his very messed up life. Arthur's gay? Gay, gorgeous, and apparently hot for me? But how…?
Merlin’s train of thought derailed when Arthur ground his crotch rather emphatically against Merlin’s hip. “Oh, my God…” Merlin moaned aloud, not able to stop himself from leaning back into the touch.
Arthur’s chuckle tickled at the exposed skin at the back of Merlin’s neck, making him shiver. “Usually I don’t hear that particular epithet until after I’ve finished sucking cock, but to each his own I always say,” he teased smugly.
And then, as his dick stood at attention and throbbed against his zip almost painfully, Merlin came to a startling realization: Arthur had never been making fun of him...he’d been flirting with him the whole time!
Suddenly confident, Merlin ground his arse against Arthur’s cock, extracting a tortured groan from him. Merlin turned his head to the side so that his lips grazed Arthur’s cheek. “Feel something you like?” he asked, playfully mimicking Arthur’s earlier words.
The answer was immediate. “Fuck, yes!” Arthur agreed breathlessly as he nipped at Merlin’s ear with his teeth.
“Good,” Merlin said, his breath catching in his throat as Arthur licked a stripe along his neck behind his ear, “because I like yours, too.”
“Right hand blue!”
As the fingers of their right hands entwined over the same blue spot, Morgause’s voice announcing the next question faded into the background.
Arthur declared pompously, “Well, you should. After all, my dick is rather top shelf.”
Instead of being annoyed, amused laughter burbled from Merlin’s full lips. “God, you are so full of yourself!”
Arthur’s voice turned dark and smoky with desire. “No, but I wouldn’t be adverse to being full of you later…”
Merlin gave a full body shiver at that. “Fuck, Arthur…” he swore, barely coherent for the rampant lust now flooding his veins.
“Is that a threat or a promise? Or are you just a tease?” Arthur asked suggestively.
“All of the above,” Merlin panted, his hips hitching back toward the cradle of Arthur’s crotch of their own accord.
“Excellent,” Arthur agreed, dropping a kiss to the join of Merlin’s neck and shoulder. “Then perhaps later, when this is all over, we could re-enact the exercise without our kits?”
“Hell, yes,” Merlin gasped enthusiastically as Arthur thrust up against him again.
“If you two are quite done giving everyone here a show,” came Morgause’s icy voice from right beside them, startling them both from the bubble of their mutual seduction, “perhaps we could get back to the task at hand.”
Both men gawped at her for a long moment, struggling to re-engage their higher brain functions after all their titillating foreplay.
Merlin was the one who found his voice first. “Of...of course,” he stammered shakily. “Sorry.”
Morgause sniffed derisively at them both before flipping her hair over her shoulder and stalking away.
“Christ,” Merlin admitted out loud after Morgause was gone, “she is bloody terrifying.”
“And an amazingly effective cockblock,” Arthur added. “From ten to zero in two point one seconds, I swear!”
Merlin stared at Arthur as if he couldn’t believe what he’d heard...and then he just lost it, dissolving into a mess of hysterical giggling. Arthur kept a straight face for just a moment longer before he, too, started to snort and chuckle at his own joke.
And once they’d started, they couldn’t seem to stop. It was as if the adrenaline they’d built up in the last few minutes was thrilled to finally have found an outlet. Just as one of them would settle down, the other would corpse and set the other off again. Soon, their arms were shaking too much to support themselves and the two of them collapsed onto the mat in a heap of helpless laughter.
As a still-chuckling Arthur wound his hands into Merlin’s unruly locks and pulled him into a playful kiss, Merlin decided that he’d had it all wrong:
First-year was going to be, without a doubt, the best year of his life.