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Faded expectations (trust no one)

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In the four years since the conclusion of what Arthur thought was probably the most important case he would ever work, a lot had changed. In fact, Arthur thought it was safe to say that his life had been turned completely upside down.

The biggest change, however, was in his personal life. He was in a serious, stable relationship with another man, something he’d once thought was impossible, something he’d even dreaded. Not just because it was an actual committed relationship, instead of a string of one-night stands with a convenient semi-stranger, but because Merlin was a man and Arthur wasn’t ashamed of his sexuality anymore. He wasn’t out and proud, not like Merlin, not yet, but he was getting there.

Today marked the fourth anniversary of the day he had met Merlin. Arthur smiled as he waited at the lights. It hadn’t been easy, far from it. In fact, the very early days of their relationship, right after the birth of their daughter, had seemed to be a never-ending succession of fights brought on by Merlin’s stress and exhaustion and Arthur’s ego and addiction to work. But Arthur’s attraction to Merlin had been undeniable, even as they had fought, and Arthur had worked hard, cutting down on the time he spent at work and trying to be more understanding of Merlin’s situation.

And it had worked, it had actually worked. Once Merlin had noticed that Arthur was trying, he had also started to make an effort as well and the fights had died down. The fact that their daughter was finally sleeping through the night and that Merlin’s therapy sessions combined with strong anti-depressants were finally starting to have an effect had also helped a lot.

“I’m really sorry,” Merlin had said one night, after he’d put Lizzy to bed.


“About all that fighting, I was a bit of an arse.”

Arthur had pulled him into a hug. “I’m sorry too,” he’d replied. “I was a bit of a prat too. And I know you had a lot of issues to deal with.”

“Still, I shouldn’t have taken them out on you, not like that.”

“It’s alright now.”

“Yeah. We’re alright.”

They still didn’t live together though. When Merlin had moved from Ealdor to DC to be closer to Arthur, there hadn’t been many options available given his finances and the fact that he’d refused to let Arthur help. They could have lived together, of course, but that also hadn’t been an option due to Arthur still having trouble admitting, even to himself, that he was gay.

As far as the neighbours knew, Merlin was a single father who was left to take care of his daughter after the mother left, unable to handle the burden of parenthood. And Arthur, well, he was just a very good friend, helping out, and Lizzy’s doting godfather. Of course, who knew what they actually believed, given that Arthur seemed to be visiting all the time, even spending the night. Merlin would know, Arthur thought, he was friends with seemingly everyone in the building, even the grumpy old git in 302.

The lights changed and Arthur was struck by how little he wanted to go back to his place and how much he wanted to be with Merlin. He needed to be with him – it had been almost a month since he had last woken up next to him. And that settled it, the warm, brilliant memory of Merlin’s soft, sleepy smile when Arthur had woken him up with coffee and a kiss, rubbing his eyes and leaning on one elbow. It made him feel warm and fuzzy all over.

Arthur did an illegal U-turn at the junction and sped off towards Merlin’s place. He couldn’t wait any longer to see the man of his life and his beautiful little girl. Besides, Arthur had done so many things as an agent, so many things that would be considered terrible, that what was one minor infraction, really?

It didn’t take him too long to reach Merlin’s flat – there was hardly any traffic at this time of night and he got lucky with the lights, like the city itself was telling him to go be with Merlin. He left his car at the top of the road because he knew there was never any parking in front of Merlin’s building and briskly walked the few yards back down the street.

Arthur pulled out the set of keys Merlin had given him almost three years ago now so that he didn’t wake their daughter every time he visited late at night and smiled as the silver keyring caught the light from the street light. It was small and shaped like a sword.

“Just like Excalibur,” Lizzy had said when she’d given it to him two months ago. “Because you’re like King Arthur!” She’d grinned then, obviously proud of her present.

Merlin had rolled his eyes and huffed something about not feeding Arthur’s ego. Arthur had just laughed and picked Lizzy up, his heart threatening to burst with the love and pride he felt for his daughter. Merlin had just smiled at them, warm and fond. And when Arthur held his arm out, Merlin went right to him, snuggling in close.

Soon, Arthur was right outside Merlin’s flat, quietly unlocking the door and letting himself in. The hallway was dark but there was light coming from the living room. He was careful not to drop the keys in the bowl by the door, instead gently placing them in it, and made his way to the living room in silence, just in case Merlin was asleep on the sofa again. It doesn’t matter how many times Arthur had told him it was bad for him, Merlin still fell asleep in front of the TV.

Merlin wasn’t on the sofa, instead he was in the comfy recliner, the one he’d brought all the way from Ealdor, by the window, completely immersed in a book, wearing what looked like one of Arthur’s red uni hoodies and black boxers, an empty wine glass on the table next to him.

Arthur couldn’t help his smile as he remembered all those times he’d visited and found Merlin in that very same recliner, their baby in his arms as he fed her formula. Kids grew up so fast, and there was a thought that made him feel old.

“Shouldn’t you be wearing your glasses?” Arthur asked, because yes, Merlin should definitely be wearing his glasses.

Merlin almost jumped at the sound of Arthur’s voice. He looked at him for a moment, completely speechless, his book slipping from his fingers and losing his page.

“Arthur?” he finally said.

He sounded rough and sleepy and a bit confused, as if the real world had stopped making sense, like he always did when he’d been immersed in a good book for hours.

“I didn’t think you’d come tonight,” he said as he stands up.

“I needed to see you.”

Merlin was by his side in an instant, pulling him close, looking worried. “Is everything ok? Are you hurt?” he asked, looking him over, his hands patting up Arthur’s arms.

Arthur circled his arms around Merlin’s waist and buried his face in the crook of his neck. “I’m fine, everything’s fine,” he murmured as he breathed in Merlin’s scent. The edge he’d been feeling earlier, that urgent need to be with Merlin was fading now that he was here.

Merlin let out a deep, long breath, and Arthur felt him relax in his arms.

“Good. I’m glad you’re here,” Merlin said softly. “I missed you.”

Arthur let out a short huff of laughter. “You’re such a girl, Merlin.”

Merlin shakes his head slightly. “Yet you’re the one who couldn’t go one more night without seeing me.”

They stood like that, holding each other warm and close, in comfortable silence.

“How is she?” Arthur asked eventually.

He’d called Merlin a few days ago (almost a week, actually, Arthur thought, and it was no wonder he’d felt the need to see Merlin tonight), like he always did when he was away for work. It was a great cover for work, actually. It made him look like a business man, far from home and missing his spouse, not like the undercover special agent that he was.

So he’d called Merlin, and of course, the discussion had quickly turned to Lizzy. Merlin’d told him that she’d come down with the flu, and, more worryingly, a high fever.

It was times like that that made Arthur really, truly feel the physical distance between them. He should have been there for her, he’d wanted to be there. Not that he could have done anything to help, but he could have been there for her, spoiled her rotten because she was his only child and meant the world to him.

Merlin pulled back slightly so that he could look Arthur in the eye. He gave him a small smile. “She’s fine now, Arthur,” he said gently.

It hurt a bit to hear that. Not that Arthur wasn’t glad that his daughter was fine, of course not. But he should have been there for her, it was what parents did. It was what Arthur had always wanted from his father, and he was determined that his daughter would always know just how much Arthur loved her. Arthur wasn’t his father, and he was determined to show it. Maybe that made him embarrassing, uncool – or it would in a few years, when Lizzy started elementary – but it was infinitely better than being left to guess whether your father, your only parent, even cared about you.

Merlin seemed to understand him. He kissed Arthur gently.

“It was just the flu, Arthur.”

“I should have been there,” Arthur answered.

Merlin smiled fondly. “Lizzy and I both know that you would have been there if you could have. She wouldn’t stop talking about how excited she was that you’d be home soon. And I know that if it had been something serious, you would have dropped everything to be there. I know you.”

Arthur smiled a bit at that. “I really would, you know.”

Merlin pulled him close again and Arthur rested his head on Merlin’s shoulder. “I know,” Merlin murmured.

They stayed like that, in each other’s arms, for a long, tender moment. It felt so good to be home, to be with Merlin again.

He started pressing kisses to the warm skin of Merlin’s neck and Merlin leaned his head to give Arthur better access.

“I see you’ve nicked my clothes again,” Arthur murmured against Merlin’s neck.

Merlin laughed, low and sultry. “You caught me,” he moaned as Arthur bit at the soft skin.

“I love it when you wear my clothes, drives me crazy.”

“I know.”

Still, the problem with Merlin wearing Arthur’s hoodie was that it was keeping him from exploring Merlin’s body. He pulled at the hem. “Up,” he said and Merlin lifted his arms so that Arthur could remove the hoodie, tossing it to one side carelessly.

“Arthur,” Merlin moaned as Arthur’s hands stroking his sides. “We should take this to the bedroom.”

Fair enough, Arthur thought. Once, Lizzy had almost walked in on them in the living room, and that was one thing Arthur definitely wanted to avoid a repeat of.

He slowly caressed his way down Merlin’s body until his hands were on the back of his thighs, picking Merlin up with ease.

Merlin laughed, his legs coming to hook around Arthur’s waist, his arms over his shoulders. “So strong,” he pretended to swoon, laughing as he did.

“Shut up, Merlin,” Arthur retorted jokingly.

Merlin just leaned down to kiss him instead as Arthur slowly, as carefully as he could while he was distracted by Merlin’s lips, walked to Merlin’s bedroom. Their bedroom.

He closed the door behind them and pressed Merlin up against it. “Hi,” he said, looking up at Merlin.

Merlin gave him a huge, delighted smile in response. “Hi.”

Arthur put Merlin down so that he didn’t have to look up at him as much. “I missed you,” he said softly.

“Arthur…” Merlin said, looking away, embarrassed. But Arthur knew he’d caught a hint of fondness in his eyes.

Arthur kissed Merlin’s cheek. “I always miss you, you big nerd.”

“’M not a nerd,” Merlin mumbled half-heartedly.

“You can speak Klingon, I think that qualifies you as a nerd, Merlin.”

“Do you want me to speak Klingon in bed then?” Merlin teased, looking at him coyly. “Is that what this conversation is about?”

Arthur just laughed, absolutely giddy with love and delight. “I love you, idiot,” he said before kissing Merlin again.

“Good, because I love you too, clotpole,” Merlin said. “Or should I have said that in Klingon?”

“Shut up,” Arthur laughed.

Merlin just grinned at him. “Make me,” he moaned, leaning forward to briefly nip at Arthur’s lip.

Arthur kissed him again, slowly, unhurried, like he hadn’t been desperate to feel Merlin’s body against his own. Just kissing Merlin was enough for now, he thought, their bodies gently moving together. He could feel Merlin grow hard against him, and Arthur’s cock hardened in response. But it still wasn’t enough to stop kissing Merlin, not yet, there was no urgency to it.

Merlin, however, seemed to have something different in mind. His hand trailed down Arthur’s chest, a hint of nails through his shirt, before moving further down, hovering just above Arthur’s cock.

“You’re such a tease,” Arthur moaned.

“Like you’re any better.”

“I’ll show you better,” Arthur murmured, pushing his hand inside Merlin’s pants, his fingers circling Merlin’s hard cock, gently squeezing it.

“Fuck, I missed you,” Merlin moaned.

“Yeah?” Arthur asked, slowly teasing Merlin’s cock with one finger, stroking just under the head. “Missed you too.”

“I need to feel you inside me, Arthur,” Merlin murmured, slightly breathless with arousal. “Missed it so much while you were gone.”

And fuck, Merlin’s words went straight to his cock. He moaned and rubbed at his erection through the thick fabric of his trousers.

“You’re wearing too many clothes,” Merlin said, his trembling fingers desperately trying to unbutton Arthur’s shirt. “I need to see you.”

Arthur brought his hands up to hold Merlin’s, to steady them. Together, they quickly rid Arthur of his shirt and trousers, leaving them both standing there in their pants, staring at each other, a bit sweaty and a bit breathless, and completely, ridiculously in love.

“Come on, bed,” Merlin said, taking Arthur’s hand and pulling him towards the bed.

Arthur watched as Merlin lay back on the bed, legs spread and inviting, staring at Arthur with eyes dark with arousal. He quickly kicked his pants off and lay beside Merlin, warm and familiar. He propped himself up on one elbow and leaned in to kiss Merlin again.

As they kissed, Arthur’s hand trailed down Merlin’s body, all the way to the scar he bore on his abdomen. His fingers followed the salient white line surrounded by faded stretch marks in a gentle caress even as Merlin squirmed from the touch.

He knew Merlin hated the scar, hated all the memories associated with it. But to Arthur, it was a reminder that everything was real, that he had a beautiful daughter and that Merlin was alive and all his now. That he had a family now, a real one, where everyone was loved and no one was afraid of sharing their feelings. He couldn’t imagine what his life would be like without Lizzy and Merlin, just thinking about before made him feel cold and lonely.

He felt Merlin brush his fingers through his hair, pushing it off his face, and looked at him.

“I’m right here,” he said, smiling gently at Arthur. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“I know,” Arthur murmured before leaning in to kiss Merlin again.

As they kissed, Arthur fumbled with the drawer of the bedside table, finally getting his hands on a condom and the lube.

It didn’t matter how long they’d been together, or the fact that they’d both been tested and were both clean, neither of them knew whether Merlin could get pregnant again. And neither of them wanted to find out. So they were careful, always so careful.

Arthur got on his knees, struggling to remove his pants. And Merlin took advantage of it, kissing and licking his way down Arthur’s torso, his hands on Arthur’s waist, fingers digging in.

“I want you,” Merlin murmured before licking Arthur’s nipple.

And finally, finally Arthur managed to untangle himself from his pants, tossing them carelessly to one side.

Merlin didn’t even wait, his hand circling Arthur’s cock and squeezing it softly as he gently nipped at Arthur’s nipple. Arthur could only moan as Merlin drove him crazy with his hands.

Merlin grabbed the condom, carefully opened it and rolled it down Arthur’s cock, eyes closed, all the while kissing Arthur, his lips red and swollen.

This was one of the few moments Arthur almost regretted having a daughter, he thought, his cock twitching as he looked at Merlin, wrecked with pleasure. They didn’t have any real freedom to have sex when they wanted, unlike couples without children.

Still, it was only almost enough.

“Focus, Arthur,” Merlin moaned, gently trailing a finger up Arthur’s erection. “Sex now, thinking later.”

Arthur laughed. “Anyone would think you’re a bit desperate,” he joked.

Merlin smiled smugly. “Who was it that couldn’t spend another night without me again?”

“Shut up, Merlin,” Arthur moaned.

Merlin just laughed and leaned in to kiss him again. As they kissed, again and again, never enough, Arthur gently coaxed Merlin down onto the mattress.

Arthur then grabbed the bottle of lube and, kneeling between Merlin’s spread legs, he squeezed some onto his fingers.

He pressed two fingers into Merlin’s hole, tight and so hot. And it drove him crazy, watching Merlin writhe with pleasure around his fingers. Merlin’s hands were in his hair, making it stand on end. His eyes were half-closed and glossy and his face was flushed red. His cock was drooling come onto his pale stomach, irresistible marks against an even more irresistible expanse of skin.

“God, you look –” Arthur moaned before leaning in to lick the drops of come off Merlin’s stomach, rubbing his face against the hot, firm skin.

“I look ready for a third finger,” Merlin managed, breathless with pleasure. “Please, Arthur, I need you!”

And who was Arthur to refuse Merlin when he begged so nicely? He lay down next to Merlin, keeping his two fingers inside him, buried his face in the crook of Merlin’s neck, kissing, licking, biting. But never leaving a mark, not where others could see.

When Merlin was nothing more than a writhing, wordless mess beneath him, Arthur pressed a third finger inside him, stretching him gently. He pressed in deeper until his fingers found Merlin’s prostate, brushing up against it.

Merlin made the most lovely noises when he was aroused beyond words.

Finally, Arthur deemed Merlin ready. He pulled his fingers out, causing Merlin to keen at the loss.

Arthur got up, kneeled between Merlin’s spread legs again, drawing a finger up his perineum just to see Merlin shakily contract at the touch.

Merlin wrapped one leg over Arthur’s shoulder, around his neck, as Arthur positioned himself.

They stayed like that for one long moment, looking at each other, panting, consumed with arousal. Then Merlin licked his bottom lip and Arthur could wait no longer.

He pressed in slowly, always in awe of just how good Merlin felt, tight and hot and so intimate.

When he was in all the way, he took one more moment to lean in and kiss Merlin. “I love you,” he said, the words coming easily now.

Merlin smiled, cupping Arthur’s face with his warm, gentle hands. “I love you too.”

Still staring Merlin straight in the eye, Arthur pulled out, slowly, so slowly, and then pushed back in, setting a slow rhythm that was sure to drive Merlin absolutely crazy.

“You bastard, stop teasing,” Merlin moaned, one hand on Arthur’s shoulder, his nails digging into his skin. It felt so good, that little twinge of pain amidst the pleasure.

And still, Arthur didn’t move any faster. He wanted to draw this out, make Merlin come completely undone beneath him.

With every thrust, Merlin let out a small moan, his muscles fluttering around Arthur’s cock. It all felt so good, Arthur wasn’t sure he was going to last.

And so finally, Arthur gave in to Merlin’s plea, thrusting harder, faster, his cock brushing against Merlin’s prostate repeatedly. He wrapped his hand around Merlin’s hard cock, smearing precome over the head, stroking it in time with his strokes.

“So close,” Merlin moaned. “So fucking close. God, you feel so good Arthur.”

Merlin babbling like he was was a sure sign that he was close to coming. So Arthur leaned in.

“Come for me, darling,” he murmured, his lips gently brushing against Merlin’s as he spoke. “Come on, come for me.”

It took two more thrusts before Merlin tensed around Arthur’s cock, so delightfully tight, calling out Arthur’s name in a loud moan as he came, come streaking his stomach.

Merlin’s tight hole squeezing around him was too much for Arthur, and he followed Merlin in orgasm, his world going white.

It took a minute or two before Arthur could move again. He pulled out of Merlin, eliciting a quiet grunt, pulled off the condom, tied it up and put it in the bin they kept next to the bed for exactly that purpose.

Then he lay back down next to Merlin, not touching as they were both too sensitive, but close enough that he could feel the warmth radiating from Merlin’s body.


The next morning, Arthur was awoken by shouting.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Lizzy called, jumping onto the bed and throwing herself at Arthur.

Arthur smiled and hugged her tight. “Baby,” he said, kissing the top of her head.

Thank goodness they’d taken the time to clean up and put their pants back on last night, he thought.

Merlin was awake too, lying on his side and watching them with a fond, loving smile on his lips.

This was it, Arthur thought. This had to be happiness. He had everything he had ever wanted, a loving partner, a lovely daughter, a good job and a roof over his head.

A family.

It didn’t get any better than that.