Be my Knight in Shining Armour
cover for Be My Knight in Shining armour
Beautiful cover done by Nicci_mac

Pairing: Merlin/Arthur
 
Category: Modern day AU, Humor, First meeting
 
Rating: R
 
Summary: Lancelot's getting married, Arthur takes part in the activities of the stag party and promptly forgets about the festivities when he faces the Black Knight.
 
Notes: Nicci set a trap (by making a manip) and I walked right into it. Ta-dah!
 
For a giggle, the working title for this one was Back in Black and Nicci suggested A Hard Day's Knight XD

It wasn't Arthur's idea of fun, but when your best mate since childhood threw away his freedom to become a married man, who was Arthur to tell him no? And quite frankly, seeing as Lance and Gwen had been dating since they were ten (according to Arthur, even if Lance said it was nonsense and they hadn't started going out till they were 20), it made perfect sense.

All in all, because of that and because you couldn't let your mate get married without a stag night, Arthur found himself in a sort of theme park that had seemed perfect for the venue. Lance had always been the more chivalrous of the group and with a weakness for medieval literature; they had all agreed that it was too good a chance to pass up.

He knew that Lance was into this sort of thing, but he'd never really understood why.

And yet, there he was, decked out in a full knight's (fake) outfit, complete with chainmail and (fake) plate armour. Most of the parts he had no idea what were called, but they were bloody uncomfortable and heavy anyway.

Gawain nudged him and he looked up. Their instructor was a weathered looking man with salt and pepper hair and he'd been putting them through sword practice for the past hour.

Arthur felt as if his arm was going to fall off if he swung that damned sword one more time. Considering that it was a fake sword, it was damned heavy too.

"There are refreshments in the barracks over there," their instructor said with a smirk, obviously knowing that they'd fall over if he kept going for much longer. "I will be expecting your all back here for your tournament in half an hour."

There were various moans of relief from the group and Arthur wiped sweat off his brown as Lance almost bounced over to him, looking as if he could easily do twice the exercise and still climb a mountain afterwards.

"This was a brilliant idea, guys," Lance said enthusiastically as he clapped Arthur on the shoulder. Arthur may have sagged just a little under the additional weight, but still managed to keep pace with Lance as they made their way over to the refreshments. Theirs was not the only group in the area that day, but the only stag party and by far the biggest with the twelve of them.

Arthur went in with the rest of them, grabbing a bottle of water and downing it in one huge swallow. Leaning against the open door, he let his attention wander all over the place until he spotted a figure walking across the training grounds they had occupied a few minutes earlier.

Swallowing hard, Arthur stared. The man was around his own age, if Arthur had to guess, at least as tall as he was, but of a narrower and more sinewy built. He was clad in dark leather from top to toe and carried a sword at his hip. Hair black and although Arthur's raised an eyebrow at the size of the ears, he could not tear his eyes from the full lips and the sharp cheekbones.

"You're drooling, Arthur," Bedevere said to him, laughing as he came over and followed Arthur's line of sight. "And what has your attention now, my friend, the local milk mai..." Bedevere went quiet and then started laughing. "Oh, Arthur, I thought those 'youthful indiscretions' were a thing of the past."

"Oh, do shut up," Arthur grumbled, but obviously they had not been quiet enough and Lance came over to see what was going on. "What's going on?" he asked.

"Arthur's thinking with his dick again," Bedevere teased.

Arthur rolled his eyes and shifted, feeling the uncomfortable weight of the armour.

"As long as you're only looking," Bedevere said with a wink. "And of course, as long as there's no looking in return."

"I'm 28," Arthur argued, feeling annoyed, "I think I can make my own decisions, thank you very much."

The others just looked at him without saying anything and Arthur felt the heat flush his face. "Shut up," he muttered while the others had a good laugh at his expense. He'd only been 17 at the time when his father had walked in on him and a friend making out. Arthur had been mortified and although his father had been painfully focused on letting Arthur know that he didn't mind, that he fully accepted Arthur's choices, it hadn't made it any less embarrassing. Since then Arthur had been in a few relationships with both girls and guys, but nothing that had lasted for very long.

He knew his friends considered him too picky for his own good.

With a sigh, he took a step back. "It's all theoretical anyway," he said, turning to give the table with a variety of sandwiches a once over before choosing... something that at least seemed to be edible.

Lance leaned into him, the armour clanging and making a metallic scraping noise that set Arthur's teeth on edge. "You'll never get your happily ever after if you give up this easily," he said quietly.

"I think you're confusing me with yourself," Arthur said with a snort. "You're the one who has been looking for the happily ever after."

Lance shook his head and left Arthur to his perusal of the sandwich table. Arthur had to admit that he could totally do with a round of booze right around now.

The break was over far too fast, but as Arthur made his way back to the training ground where they were to meet with their instructor again, Lance caught his arm. "Right," he said in a low voice, barely able to conceal his smile, "the guy you were drooling over earlier, is named Merlin Emrys. He is the resident Black Knight, and although he normally only takes part in the shows they have here and not the sort of tournaments we're doing, he's agreed to take part in our tournament to add a little extra challenge to it."

Arthur stared, completely speechless, at Lance. "For fuck's sake," he whispered, trying to keep the rest of them group from hearing it. "You were gone for what? Five minutes?!"

"Oh, he was really nice and accommodating," Lance said with a wink. "You can thank me later." With that, the bastard harried off again to be at the front line of their gang, leaving Arthur at the back of it, where he could hiss and spit in peace.

"You are a dead man, Lance," he rumbled under his breath. He should have known better than to express any sort of interest in someone near his friend, because since Lance had been with Gwen for so long, he'd always been such a bloody matchmaker. A trait that had gotten Arthur into trouble more than once in the past.

"Gentlemen," their instructor called, voice booming out over the group. "Please follow me to the tournament ground and we'll get started."

The voices from the group this time seemed more cheery than before and Arthur wanted to join in, but... he couldn't help the dread at the bottom of his stomach. Even though there was no reason for Emrys to notice him, Arthur had many years experience when it came to Lance's matchmaking. It was bound to end in tears.

Once at the tournament ground, they all stopped and their instructor held up a hand. "Normally, we'd have you boys fighting against each other, but we're going to give you all a bit more of a challenge today. Mr. Emrys here..."

Arthur missed everything else as his head jerked up, and he stared at the figure up front. Emrys was dressed in chainmail, plate armour and a black robe thing, covering his front and back. Under his arm, he held a black helmet; at his side Arthur couldn't have missed the sword.

What he couldn't tear his eyes away from, however, was the face. Emrys' hair was as black as his robes, and his face was pale. A combination that surprised Arthur. Whenever he'd been attracted to another guy, the template had been big, buff and suntanned. All of which Emrys most obviously was not.

Arthur could do nothing but stare as Emrys walked to one side and they were all herded to the opposite. Then he realized what he'd missed. They all had to go up against the Black Knight. Arthur reminded himself again that there was no reason for Emrys to notice him.

Hadn't Arthur's attention been so much on Emrys, he would have had a blast watching his friends boast and then be put to shame as they came up against the black knight. Each and every one of them obviously underestimated Emrys and when it was Arthur's turn, he hardly managed to take more than three hits against his shield, trying half-heartedly to swing his own before he found his feet literally swept out from underneath him.

He was glad that the helmet he was wearing was covering most of his flushed face, and he made sure to keep it on for a minute or two after the others had pulled him to his feet. He came up to watch Gawain get much the same treatment and Arthur finally decided that he could blame his flushed state on the exercise, and not the fact that his whole body seemed to be into the way Emrys moved, avoiding their attempts at fighting with him, all the while taunting them.

That left only Lance to go, and as Arthur pulled his helmet off, he stared at Emrys, wondering what kind of end the tournament would take. They were obviously meant to be slaughtered by their opponent. He looked over at Emrys and froze to the spot. Even wearing the helmet, he could tell that Emrys was staring right at him. Arthur shivered as a drop of sweat trickled down his neck. His hair was sticking to his head and he felt utterly disgusted with himself as the thought made it through his head of how he might look to the other man. How dirty and sweaty and not at all as stylish as Arthur normally preferred to look.

Arthur looked away, trying to steady himself. He was glad that the rest of the group were busy watching Lance put up a good fight, because he was sure that at least Bedevere would catch Arthur's unease and exploit it, make fun of him.

A cheer roared through the group and Arthur looked up just in time to see Emrys faking a misstep back, falling to the ground on his back, sword flung to the side. From his position on the ground, his voice rang out, clear and loud. "I believe, sire, you have bested me in fight, I am yours to do with as you please."

Arthur knew that he meant kill or let live, but all that went through his mind was what he'd like to do if he'd been where Lance was now and been handed that invitation...

He watched Lance step forward, offering Emrys a hand up.

"Mercy is rare," Emrys said as he pulled his helmet off and Lance did the same. "For such a gesture, I offer my loyalty till death parts me from this world, sire."

Lance bowed in return, and although Arthur normally made fun of his attention to medieval etiquette, he had to admit that he felt a surge of something at that moment. As if this was how it was supposed to be done.

"I am honoured, sir knight," Lance said, "and I would be even more so, if you would join us at the feast tonight."

Arthur's smile fell. Lance couldn't be planning what he thought he might be. If he was, Arthur would make sure he met with a very painful death.

For a moment Emrys did nothing but raise an eyebrow at him, clearly surprised. Then he nodded and Arthur felt his stomach drop. "I would be honoured," Emrys replied.

Their instructor stepped up again, and Arthur tried to focus solely on him, ignoring Emrys who was walking off the tournament field, toward the castle area.

"Well, well, well, gentlemen, you have done well today, even defeated our Black Knight, who is the most fearsome fighter in the land. Your rooms are at your disposal and I suggest a good long shower before your banquet begins at 1900."

Everyone cheered this time and started going back toward the castle, an old restored mansion that came close enough without really ever having been a castle.

Arthur felt a hand on his arm and he didn't have to turn his head to know that Bedevere was there, with a bit shit eating grin on his face.

"Don't even think about it," Arthur rasped, speeding up and walking fast enough to catch up with the rest of the group, ignoring the laughter that followed him. He couldn't wait to get to the edge of the tournament field and the assistants there who'd help them out of the gear.


Arthur threw himself down on the bed, bouncing up and down a few times. At least the bed was fairly comfortable, even if the room wasn't all that big. He figured it was in the place's favour that it had Wi-Fi access. It made him wish he could just stay there, pull the laptop out of the bag and surf some porn. And to think he had been looking forward to the stag night.

Arthur snorted and rolled onto his front, the towel around his waist loose enough to fall to the sides. Burrowing his head in his arms, Arthur sighed. All he'd have to do for the night would be lay off too much booze, because he knew himself, knew that he'd do or say something stupid if he drank and there was anyone in the vicinity that he fancied the slightest.

And from what he'd seen of Emrys, he fancied, alright.

It was his own fault, he decided. Because he always talked himself out of acting on any attraction to another man, it would blow up in his face at some point. With his luck it would be here, he'd be laughed at by his friends and that would be that. He'd probably never live it down, but he had blackmail material enough on his friends to level the playing field when needed.

Of course that didn't mean he wouldn't come through this evening completely and utterly mortified.

Arthur rolled over again, onto his back and stared up at the cream coloured ceiling. Of course there would be nothing to speak of, because Emrys would turn out to be straight and Arthur wouldn't even have to have that problem. He'd avoid Emrys, and even if he did run into him, there would be no problem as long as Arthur wasn't drunk enough to make a pass on a straight man.

Feeling a little better about it all, Arthur sat up and looked over at the clothes for the banquet that he had been handed when he'd arrived. Even with the fake armour and weapons, not to mention the sword fighting, he had to admit that the place had been a perfect choice for Lance's last days as a free man.

Arthur grinned. It was silly, he knew that. It wasn't as if Gwen never let Lance out of sight. Just because they were getting married, he doubted that would change all that much. Besides, she wanted her time with Morgana as well - there was no way she'd deny Lance his time with Arthur and their friends.

Arthur ran his fingers down over the fine shirt. Wine-red with puffy sleeves, soft leather boots and a pair of trousers that looked to be at least half a size too small. Either that, or they'd fit him as well and tightly as the leather trousers in the back of his closet that he'd bought on a whim and only worn once. Not because he hadn't pulled that night. On the contrary. He'd pulled so fast it'd made his head spin, not to mention because he'd been drunk as a skunk, he was fairly sure he'd pulled more than once that night. He'd been sore enough the next day for him to realize that he'd definitely had more sex that night than he'd had that whole year up to that.

It wasn't that he hadn't been tempted to do it again, but if he was honest with himself he'd been a bit scared by it. He'd never aimed for being a slut, but he was fairly sure he'd fallen head first into the category on that night.

More than willingly too, hence the being scared of himself.

He found he was right when he slipped into the trousers. He actually had to take them off again and remove his boxers. Thankfully, he'd packed briefs as well, because there was no way he could make the trousers look good with the bulk of boxers underneath them.

And yes, the trousers were as tight as he'd expected, but they fit nonetheless. At least the shirt covered his crotch, even when he strapped on the belt. He caught sight of himself in the big mirror and had to laugh. He looked like an extra on Captain Blood. He tugged at the straps that tied the shirt together at the neck, and he sniggered when he realized that the slit went nearly as far down as his navel.

Adjusting the shirt, he went across the hallway to Lance's room after locking his own and shoving the key-card into his waistband under the shirt.

Two knocks and the door was pulled open and he was greeted by a shirtless, far to chipper Lance. Well, if Lance hadn't been a) taken or b) straight, Arthur would have gone for him a long time ago.

"Looking good," Arthur said with a grin when Lance let him in.

"You're not too shabby yourself," Lance said with a whistle as he picked up the white shirt on the bed.

Arthur stood aside and let him get dressed and he'd be lying if his trousers weren't a tad bit tighter when they left the room. If Lance noticed, he didn't mention it.

"So," Lance said, slapping him on the shoulder as they walked down the hallway to the stairs that would take them down to the banquet hall. "Am I right in thinking you're going to make a move on the Black Knight tonight?"

Arthur tried in vain to keep from rolling his eyes. "Lance, why did you have to go and invite him along?" Suddenly he felt every bit as tired as he had before leaving his room.

Lance stopped at the top of the stairs and looked at him. Arthur just looked back, staying silent.

"I actually kinda like the guy," Lance said. "He only works here for the money and because he thought it'd be funny. He studies Medieval history at Oxford University."

Arthur raised an eyebrow. He really shouldn't be surprised anymore how much people could and would tell Lance in the short span of one conversation.

"I like making new friends," Lance added, part in jest and part in defence. The latter wasn't lost on Arthur.

"I know, I'm sorry," Arthur said. "I didn't mean it like that."

"Look, Arthur..." Lance tapered off. "I know you tend to laugh it off, but you really need to set the bar a bit higher. It won't hurt your image to go for someone with a bit of brain."

Arthur forced himself not to sigh. "Yeah." He couldn't tell Lance he was wrong and maybe that was why no relationship had panned out for him. He got tired of stupid people rather quickly. No matter how good a shag they were.

"And we all know you need to get..." Lance broke off when three of the other doors were opened and more of their friends spilled out into the hallway.

Arthur was happy that he hadn't been forced to hear the last half of Lance's comment on what he needed. He so did not need to be told that he needed to get laid. Unfortunately he'd been more and more choosy the past few years and one night stands had sort of lost their appeal.

The dinner party was... amazing. Arthur had to admit to that. The food was, according to Lance, fairly authentic, venison, whole roast pork and a whole hell of a lot better than he'd expected. The wine and beer wasn't too shabby either and there was plenty of it.

The only thing that put a spanner in Arthur's works, was the constant knowledge of Emrys sitting at the table further down, obviously becoming fast friends with Bedevere. Of course. Now he'd conquered Lance, he'd move on to Bedevere and then someone else.

Someone else not Arthur. He glared into his goblet of beer and frowned. Of course he'd be a moody drunk tonight.

After the food was taken away, more beer was put on the table, and although Arthur did what he could to keep from drinking too much of it - not trusting himself with someone like Emrys to tempt him, was feeling more than a little dizzy and drunk. It was Gawain's fault, he decided, as the other man filled his goblet again.

Of course the blame fell on Gawain again when Arthur failed to not keep from gulping down the beer as well. The logic behind that had long since been lost to Arthur and he didn't really care about the whys anyway. As long as there was someone to blame.

Arthur leaned across Gawain to hear what some of the others were talking about, and when he sat back down on his seat, turning his head to the other side, he nearly choked on his beer.

"Hello," Emrys said, giving him a small smile.

Arthur opened his mouth to answer, but no sound came out. He closed his mouth and gave an annoyed snort, before opening it again, attempting his own 'hello.'

"Hi," he said breathily, staring at Emrys, completely focused on his lips, his cheek bones, his....

Emrys covered his mouth with one hand, while setting his own goblet down on the table.

Arthur was fairly sure he was being laughed at. It stung even through the booze.

"Oh, hey," Emrys said, reaching out for him, putting his hand on Arthur's arm, obviously sensing that something had gone wrong. "I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at you," he continued, giving Arthur a quirky grin.

For a moment, Arthur could only focus on the heat from Emrys' hand on his arm. It burned like fire through his shirt. Arthur suddenly stood up, the room spinning a little, but at least he managed to stay on his feet. "I need fresh air," he blurted out. Arthur made an aborted move, aiming to grasp at Emrys' hand, then managed to stop himself, getting to his feet and stalking off in the general direction of the exit, feeling the heat of embarrassment sneaking up his neck, not really caring whether or not the other man was following him or what any of his friends might think if they were paying attention.

Managing to get outside without falling over his own feet, Arthur continued along the wall, until he ended up in a fairly dark corner, then he stopped, leaned against the wall and drew a deep breath.

"Are you going to be sick on me?" Emrys asked, and Arthur swore he didn't squeak because he hadn't expected Emrys to actually follow him. Arthur swallowed hard and focused enough to catch the part humour and part concern in Emrys voice.

"Nah, I just needed some fresh air," Arthur said, not slurring his words as badly as he had feared. He needed to clear his head and for a moment he wondered who he'd pissed off in another life to deserve this situation, cornered with Emrys cutting off any escape route. Arthur knew that he was bound to do or say something stupid within the next 30 seconds. If he didn't, he'd be very surprised.

"If you say so," Emrys said.

Arthur frowned. "If I say so, yeah. I do say so. I just said so."

Emrys watched him for a moment, and Arthur felt like fidgeting under the scrutiny. "You don't really mind me following you out here, do you?" This time Arthur wondered if he was hearing things, because it seemed as if the confident air Emrys has been keeping up all night was wavering a little.

He opened his mouth to reply, though he had to close it again, without saying anything. He had no idea how to reply to it, apart from admitting that he had been a little bit in lust since he'd first seen Emrys, so of course he didn't mind being pursued, while at the same time he was mortified at having been seen through so easily.

"I mean, I could be reading you wrong, but erm..." Emrys trailed off and Arthur suddenly hated himself for having found such a dark corner of the courtyard. He wanted to see the expression on Emrys' face.

Arthur rubbed a hand over his chest, wondering why he was suddenly sweating like this. They were outside, it wasn't particularly warm, yet he felt as if he was in a sauna.

Emrys fell silent and Arthur was lost in staring at his silhouette. He could hear Emrys taking a deep breath.

"My name's Merlin," Emrys suddenly said, thrusting his hand out. "Please, no wizard jokes."

A laugh escaped Arthur. He didn't feel quite so drunk anymore, and he took the hand and shook it. "Arthur," he said, "and I suppose, combined with your name, I should ask for no sword in the stone jokes. I'm not king, once or future."

Merlin chuckled, a deep throaty sound that immediately shot the rest of Arthur's blood south of his waist, making his trouser even tighter.

Arthur realized they were still holding hands, but he was reluctant to let go. "I think after having seen you in action today," he admitted, "I wouldn't be making the wizard connection right away. You're good."

Merlin squeezed his hand but didn't let go either. "Thank you. I've spent many summers at medieval festivals and such. I've always enjoyed it."

"It shows," Arthur said before he could stop himself. Nor could he help his voice dropping a note. He swallowed hard, feeling sweat cooling on his upper lip as well as at his lower back, his own breathing speeding up a little, hitching as Merlin slowly ran his thumb over Arthur's hand, in a move that Arthur could only call a caress and a definite come-on.

Merlin stilled his hand, but still didn't let go of Arthur's. "I'm not normally this forward with the guests, or anyone else for that matter," he said with a small laugh, "to tell you the truth, I've never taken a guest up on a proposition."

Arthur wanted to point out that Merlin was the one doing the propositioning and he once again wished there was enough light for him to see Merlin's face, but as it was, the shadows were deep enough to hide anything that might help Arthur. So he had to rely on the fact that Merlin hadn't let go and his choice of words.

"So, err..." Arthur took a deep breath. He heard laughter from inside and steeled himself. They wouldn't miss him. Not now. They were mostly too drunk to give a damn anyway. "Would you..."

Merlin's laugh held more than a little relief, Arthur could tell. It helped with the interpretation that Merlin's hand slid along his to grip his wrist, giving a small tug that brought Arthur one stumbling step closer, close enough to feel Merlin's long body against his own.

Arthur bit his lower lip for a moment, then put his free hand on Merlin's hip. He didn't pull, just flexed his fingers a little. He relaxed a little when Merlin deposited Arthur's other hand on his other hip, lifting his arms up to drape them lazily over Arthur's shoulders.

"Yeah," Merlin breathed, so close that Arthur could feel the heat of his breath against his own mouth.

"So, you're..." Arthur began, then stopped, not knowing how to continue. Mostly because he couldn't think straight with Merlin this close to him.

Merlin chuckled and this time he leaned in, for a moment staying there, lips barely half an inch from Arthur's before closing that last distance, pressing a closemouthed kiss to Arthur's mouth.

Arthur let out the air he hadn't even been aware of holding back through his nose, then chased after Merlin when he pulled back. They both stood perfectly still for a moment, then Merlin moaned, his lips parting and Arthur felt obliged to take what was given to him. He tilted his head a little more, fitted his mouth to Merlin's and tentatively slipped the tip of his tongue inside. There was, however, nothing tentative about the way that Merlin sucked on his tongue, sending sparks through Arthur's body, making his earlier arousal tighter, harder, making his head spin.

For a dizzying moment, Arthur realized that he was being backed up against the wall and then... then he stopped caring at all about that, because the contrast of the hard, cool stones behind him and Merlin's body pressed against his front? Was bloody perfect.

Arthur slid his hands further back until he could cup Merlin's arse, enjoying how well Merlin matched him in height. The move also made Merlin moan into his mouth and the vibration of it drove Arthur crazy. He pulled hard at Merlin's hips, twisting his own to slide a thigh between Merlin's. Their kiss grew deeper, harder and Merlin's hands began roaming up and down Arthur's body, sliding inside the shirt, and Arthur gasped into their kiss at the touch of Merlin's long, deft fingers caressing his heated skin.

It was an amazing feeling to be able to touch, to press his own erection against Merlin's firm thigh and to feel a pretty impressive bulge against his own. It had been so long since Arthur had last enjoyed the heat of another body, coupled with the hope for more.

Merlin pushed harder against him and Arthur gasped again, thrusting his hips forward, feeling the rough stone of the wall behind him, scrape at his exposed skin where his shirt had ridden down at his neck.

Burying his fingers in Arthur's hair, Merlin humped his thigh, then shuddered in Arthur's grip and Arthur realized he'd been left behind. Digging his fingers harder into Merlin's arse, Arthur pushed back, feeling as if he was rubbing his cock raw inside his trouser, not caring one bit as the friction was fantastic and a moment later he whined into Merlin's panting mouth, feeling short of breath as his own orgasm hit him hard.

They still didn't part completely, though Arthur broke the kiss, leaning his head down on Merlin's shoulder, panting hard to catch his breath, breathing the scent of Merlin's skin. Merlin didn't seem to be any better off, as his breathing sounded harsh and fast in Arthur's ear.

Arthur inhaled deeply, enjoying the smell of musk and sweat.

"I... I don't normally do one-nighters," Merlin muttered. Or at least, that was what Arthur could make out of the mumbled words.

He felt a sting of worry for a moment, then decided to go out on a limb himself. He wouldn't gain anything without a risk or three. Besides, it felt nice to stand like this, close and intimate with Merlin running his hands up and down Arthur's back.

"Can't say I do that either," he replied. "You starting a new trend for yourself?" he continued carefully, managing to keep his voice even. He sort of really wanted to do this again, and this time in a place with enough light so he could see the other man's flushed face.

Merlin stayed silent for a moment, then shook his head without lifting it up from Arthur's shoulder. "Not if I can help it," he said quietly. "Kind of depends on you, I guess."

Arthur flexed his fingers, wondering if Merlin would have finger-shaped bruises on his arse in the morning, then wondered what he could say that would manoeuvre him into a position to see that for himself.

"Takes two to tango," he eventually said. "Lance suggested I find someone with a brain," he suddenly found himself admitting, banging his head lightly against Merlin's shoulder, wondering if he'd lost his mind, what the hell had made him say that?

"What do you say to a date or two?" Merlin asked softly and Arthur realized he could feel the tension in the previously relaxed body. "To test the waters?"

Oh. Oh!

"Is it too early to spend the night and sharing breakfast?" Arthur asked, feeling cheeky even if he still worried about the reply.

"Not here," Merlin said, sliding a hand along Arthur's jaw, cupping his cheek. "I like this job, I don't want to lose it because I've been caught in flagrante with a guest. I'd really rather do this somewhere private. And yeah, that'd involve breakfast as well." He was quiet for a moment, then added, with a chuckle, "late and in bed, if I have any say in it."

Merlin lifted his head enough to press his cheek against Arthur's and Arthur could feel the heat of his blush against his own skin.

Arthur sighed. He was a little relieved that Merlin had turned out to be so smart and yet he was a little put out about not having more of him already.

Merlin took a deep breath. "If you have time tomorrow..." he began, his voice low and a little unsure.

"I do," Arthur said quickly. He would make time, damn it. Lance's wedding wasn't for another two weeks, so he didn't have to worry about that.

Merlin laughed throatily and it sent another shiver of pleasure down Arthur's back.

"Let's make it a good old-fashioned date, then," Merlin whispered in his ear. "Tomorrow's Saturday, so I get out of here at five and won't have to be back till Tuesday."

Arthur nodded, feeling stupidly happy and hopeful as he held onto Merlin. He could work around that, no problem there. Of course Lance was never going to let him live this down when he found out. However, Arthur didn't really mind so much.

The End