Title: Steep Price
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Maybe a friendship with Arthur would be as rewarding as sleeping with him?
Warnings: Not much plot!
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Well at least it's more cheerful!
Merlin’s head hung as he panted for breath, arms trembling from supporting his weight. Arthur’s pace was getting more urgent and Merlin knew he wouldn’t last much longer. Hoping that he was right, he lifted one hand to reach between his legs and stroked himself to match Arthur’s frantic thrusts.
They came together, and Merlin knew this was neither the first nor the last time. Arthur pulled out, disposed of the condom and chucked Merlin the towel after he was done wiping the sweat from his face. Merlin rolled over, flopping onto his back as he tried to catch his breath before cleaning himself up. Then he instantly left the bed and found his clothes.
“Tuesday alright?” he called, pulling on his trainers as he did so. Arthur made a noise of affirmation from somewhere in the kitchen and Merlin left.
The cool night air woke him up and he blinked, startled as he pulled his jacket around him. He hadn’t realised he had been there so long. Normally, Arthur was in his pants as soon as Merlin walked through the door and an hour later, they were done.
Something had been different this time though. Arthur had been out of sorts when Merlin had arrived, and before he knew what he was doing, Merlin had made him a cup of tea. They had sat and chatted for a good hour before Arthur had made hints towards taking things further. It had been more effort than usual to find the lust that normally burnt deep inside every time he saw the blond, and Merlin knew it was because he had been relaxed and comfortable in Arthur’s presence.
Shaking his head, Merlin hurried for home. They had both made it quite clear that there was nothing deeper to this than sex a few times a week. Merlin knew Arthur felt how he did though: that it was the best sex either of them had had for a long time. What had today been about then?
It troubled Merlin all weekend and he was the one out of sorts when he got to Arthur’s flat that Tuesday. Arthur wouldn’t quite meet his eyes and Merlin knew he was not the only one who had felt something shift during their last encounter. Something emotional rather than just physical.
But they didn’t let that stop them. That wasn’t the arrangement, after all. It didn’t take Merlin long to have Arthur flat out on his back, one leg over his shoulder as he pounded into the man. They seemed to spill quicker this time, and there was something far more intense about it. Merlin only realised afterwards that Arthur had never looked away from his eyes the entire time Merlin was buried inside him.
They had agreed the next meeting would be on Friday. But on Thursday night, Merlin realised he couldn’t do it. He didn’t know what “it” was any more and that was proving to be a problem. A text later and Arthur had agreed to meet him in a pub that was situated halfway between their houses.
“What’s wrong?” Arthur said as he sat down. Merlin shook his head, not being able to find the words. The trouble was, he didn’t know. He didn’t know what he was thinking, he didn’t know what he was feeling. All he knew was that the room felt a bit brighter with Arthur in it and that wasn’t good considering their agreement.
“I can’t do this anymore,” he admitted. He knew there was no point trying to find excuses. To his utter surprise, Arthur blew out a long breath and combed his fingers through his hair.
“I thought it was just me.”
“Excuse me?” Merlin looked at him and Arthur met his eyes, smiling even as he blushed.
“I was thinking,” Arthur said slowly. “You scream my name three times a week and yet I know nothing about you. Not what your favourite colour is, not even what you do for a living.”
As Arthur spoke, Merlin realised he was hitting the problem perfectly. They had amazing sex and didn’t know the first thing about each other.
“Maybe we’ve been doing this wrong,” Merlin said. “We could just try being friends first and see if things progress.”
“Or, you know, just forget it…” Merlin knew he was blushing. But Arthur looked so perplexed he couldn’t help but wonder if he had got it wrong after all. Then Arthur suddenly smiled.
“Friends would be good. I warn you though, I’m not good at holding onto my friends.”
“Maybe that’s because you sleep with them after you’ve made friends rather than before?” Merlin retorted playfully. He had picked up enough to know Arthur had slept around a lot. Arthur flushed but didn’t drop his gaze.
“So that’s where the friendship has gone wrong all these years. I’m supposed to screw them first.”
“Yep. Saves all the un-pleasantries afterwards.”
Merlin didn’t realise how relaxed he felt until he suddenly realised they had been in the pub for hours. As they left, he didn’t know how to say goodbye to Arthur. He never had to before. Then Arthur stuck out his hand and Merlin shook it formally, trying not to laugh. The twitch to Arthur’s lips revealed he was having the same problem.
As he walked away, Merlin suddenly thought of something. Turning, he cupped his hands around his mouth and called Arthur’s name. When Arthur looked back at him, Merlin grinned despite knowing his new friend wouldn’t be able to see it from that distance.
“My favourite colour! It’s blue!”
He turned to carry on walking as he heard Arthur laugh.
“What?” Merlin stopped again and twisted, although he had a feeling he knew what was coming.
This time, he managed to get home. But he couldn’t help but think a friendship with Arthur was going to be just as rewarding, if not more so, than screwing his brains out three times a week.