Title: Tandem Travels
Characters: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Modern AU with magic. On the eve of their quest's dangerous end, Arthur and Merlin cling to each other.
Word Count: 1760 (oops)
Prompt: #157, "release"
Notes: Don't be fooled by the summary. This is basically PWP, lol. The scenario is one that's been simmering in the back of my head, a modern AU with magic world where Arthur and Merlin have been lovers for years and are on a grand quest, just the two of them, someplace very cold. But this scene is basically just sex. ;)
They worked in tandem, moving silently around the other with the ease of decades. The tent, their supplies, shovels in the show creating small fissures to get to the frozen earth below. It took picks to hew away enough soil to drive the stakes into the ground. The first time they had done this, Arthur could barely get up the next day for all the fresh aches in the small of his back. Merlin had just laughed at him and reminded him to put something beneath his knees the next time to keep from soaking through to his skin.
The artificial light they set up caught the sparkles in the snow and sent them scattering. They would mesmerize if Arthur let them. Better to focus on the long lines of Merlin’s arms as he reached overhead and secured the top of the tent to a low-hanging branch. Here, in the far reaches of the north, they had few fears of natural predators.
The nightmares came from the unnatural ones.
He waited until Merlin lifted the flap of the tent and looked back over his shoulder. Their eyes met. Fresh lines scored the corners of Merlin’s. This journey had aged him far more than six months. Arthur followed him into the relative warmth of their sanctuary and immediately reached for him. Merlin let himself be taken without argument.
They fit together as he never had with anyone else. In spite of their dissimilar builds, all it took for mouths to connect was a simple lean forward. Whispers upon whispers, breaths upon breaths, kisses on top of kisses. Merlin’s breath wasn’t cold in here. It never was when Arthur touched him.
Their brows rested against each other. Eyes fluttered shut. Arthur slid one arm around the small of Merlin’s back and molded their lower halves together. Though their thick clothing hid it away, his cock strained to touch Merlin’s bare skin. Hand, cock, ass, lips…Arthur didn’t care. For six months, all they had had was the comfort they shared.
“I can’t believe we’re almost there,” Arthur murmured.
“You never doubted.”
“Nor did you.”
He took a deep breath. “Yes, I did.” He lifted his tired eyes to meet Merlin’s startled gaze. “I didn’t want to. But this isn’t my territory. This isn’t…hell, this kind of stuff shouldn’t even exist.”
“You never let on.”
“And disappoint you? I couldn’t do that.”
The corner of Merlin’s mouth lifted. The beard he’d let grow in made his full lips even more bitable. “I don’t think that’s even possible.”
“To disappoint me. Look at everything you’ve taken on faith so far. Six months ago, you could’ve told me I was certifiable and locked me in our apartment until I came to my senses.”
“You would’ve climbed out the window if I’d done that.”
“I did that once.”
“Once is all it takes.”
The smile remained, though it became softer, a melancholy beast instead of the fiery lion when Merlin was at his best. “Nobody else would’ve listened to me.”
“You’ve never given me reason not to.”
“Except for the fact that I always called all my family’s beliefs crazy talk. You had no reason to believe in the old ways.”
The old ways. Arthur hated those words. Merlin’s heritage was a specter at the edges of his life, of their lives together.
“Let’s not talk about any of that,” Arthur said. “We should get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.”
Merlin only tightened his hold. “Tell me you still don’t doubt what we have to do.”
“After everything we’ve seen? How could I?”
“Say the words.”
With a sigh, Arthur kissed Merlin on the corner of his mouth. “I trust you. With my life.”
The tension evaporated from Merlin’s body. His warm lips danced along Arthur’s cheek, seeking out the edge of stubble at his jaw. There, the tip of his tongue tickled along the smoother skin, and Arthur groaned.
They sank to the floor. The snow beneath the tarpaulin was cold, but they had their multitude of blankets and sleeping bags to help insulate them. Arthur knew it wasn’t smart to strip, but the desperate need to feel Merlin against him overcame any sort of reason. His hands fumbled with the thick zipper on Merlin’s coat. Merlin’s did the same. In the back of his mind, Arthur registered the fact that they both shook, but it didn’t hinder their progress so much as prolong the inevitable.
Coats were tossed aside. The orange light of the battery-operated lantern joined the flicker from the portable heater they had purchased at the last village. The locals were familiar with the killing cold. The illuminating rays mingled and twisted, licking across the etched lines of Merlin’s bared skin. They warmed the tone, tempting Arthur to lean down and test its heat.
Merlin rolled onto his back, his eyes doing the same upward into the sockets. His hands smoothed down Arthur’s back, hot and hard and hungry to pull Arthur on top of him. He went, willingly, eagerly, and though they hadn’t yet managed to divest themselves of trousers, their cocks nudged against each other, adding fresh kindling to the already raging fire within their flesh.
In spite of their time traveling together, intimacy had been brief. Their journey required focus. Arthur could count on one hand how many times in the past month they’d been able to lay skin to skin, touch each other in ways that had always been their sustenance before.
His head bent to catch the smooth line of Merlin’s shoulder between his teeth. Hands flew to cup his ass, squeezing in anticipation of what was to come. There was no top in their relationship. There was no bottom. Need dictated who took what role, and now, tonight, on the verge of regaining the order of their lives, their needs meshed with silken precision.
Merlin’s mouth sought Arthur’s skin, and together, they sampled the salt of the other’s body. Arthur throbbed in anticipation. When they finally came together, it wouldn’t last long, of that he was certain. They had gone too long without release.
He shuddered when Merlin slid hot fingers beneath the waistband of his heavy trousers. Lifting his hips, he made it easier for Merlin to find his aching cock, groaning aloud when that willful hand curled around his shaft and pulled.
“This’ll be over a hell of a lot sooner if you keep doing that,” he warned.
“For you.” Merlin bit his earlobe. “Who says I’d let you just roll over and go to sleep then?”
“Keep it up, and I might even make it for a second round.” History proved that Merlin could hold back long enough to stoke Arthur to full arousal, even after coming once.
“Can’t wait that long,” Merlin muttered. He freed the rest of the fastenings on Arthur’s trousers and then pushed him away. “Get the lube while I get undressed.”
Arthur nearly tripped as he hastened to get up. The cold did nothing to flag his erection, though he noticed Merlin made sure to grab the thickest of the blankets after he was naked. The sight of Merlin’s long, slim cock disappeared from view all too quickly, which only spurred Arthur to quicken his search.
Merlin watched with heavy lids, his nostrils flaring every other breath. He folded one arm under his head, and for a moment, Arthur was transfixed by the sinuous flex of muscle. Graceful and sleek, dangerous and decadent. He yearned to have the time to map each dip and swell with his tongue, but now was not the time.
He waited until he was firmly beneath the blankets, straddling Merlin’s hips again, before flipping open the lube. Merlin took it from him, coating his fingers rather than Arthur’s. Arthur’s chest seized at the first slick glide of fingers along his hip. He widened his position, grunting when Merlin grasped one cheek and separated it from the other. Two fingers probed his opening. It didn’t burn, probably wouldn’t with as careful as Merlin always was. But when they sank into his channel, Arthur clenched on reflex, pushing back until he felt the knuckles brush against his flesh.
“I don’t need stretching,” he said through gritted teeth.
“I’m not doing this because you need it.”
He rocked back and forth on Merlin’s fingers until he didn’t know where he ended and Merlin began. At some point, Merlin added a third, and then a fourth, but it wasn’t about making Arthur ready. It was about the pleasure, about the anticipation. This joining was all they had in that moment.
When Merlin pulled his hand free, he grasped his cock at the base and ran the tip down Arthur’s shaft, over his balls, poising at his opening.
They moved at the same time. Up, down, flesh meeting flesh. Arthur shuddered with every inch, like it was their first, like it was the last. Neither stopped when Merlin was fully sheathed, reversing their motions to glide apart. They knew this rhythm. It was as natural as breathing.
The blankets slipped over his shoulders, but he didn’t notice whatever chill there was in the air. Enough heat generated between them to forget about where they were, though he could never forget about why. The specter of tomorrow and what they would face remained at the periphery. It made him cling to Merlin all that much harder.
Arthur squeezed his eyes shut and fused their mouths together again. He stopped thinking when they kissed. And he didn’t want to think. He wanted to feel. Merlin needed it, too. Their bodies slapped against the other in an ever-increasing sting, and even that was welcome. Staccato beats like hearts hammering. Again. Again. Again.
His cock rubbed against both of their skin with each stroke. It was the only stimulation he needed to come, crying out soundlessly into Merlin’s mouth. The reverberations running through his body did nothing to slow their pace. If anything, Arthur drove harder and harder down onto Merlin’s shaft.
In the end, all it took was a hoarse, “Do it,” for Merlin to shout his release. He jerked beneath Arthur, slamming into him one final time. His cock throbbed within Arthur’s ass, and the warm sensation of come coating the inner walls sent one last shudder through Arthur’s body.
“Don’t move,” Merlin panted. His arms wrapped painfully around Arthur’s back, his face buried. “Whatever you do, don’t move.”
Arthur mouthed the stark tendons of Merlin’s neck. Salt. Moisture. Life.