"Remember how I said they weren't together?" Morgana says into Mordred's ear as they watch Merlin and Arthur chat with the other guests at her party. "Well. They are now."
"Oh." From across the room, Mordred notes Merlin's lingering touch on the small of Arthur's back. "I see. For how long?"
"Couple of weeks." Morgana sounds wry. She sips her cup of punch. "I know. Pity to have them both taken off the market at once, isn't it?"
Mordred shrugs. "Didn’t expect either of them to notice me anyway. I'm always the outsider."
Morgana gives him a pained expression. She's done up her eyes in black and glittery makeup, and the neckline of her dark green dress dives in an ultra-plunge into her cleavage. The Santa hat at a jaunty angle on her head rather diminishes those dramatic touches. "You won't always be," she says. "You mustn't resign yourself to that."
"Maybe it's the way I like it."
She presses his arm in sympathy. We may be different, her voice says to him in his head, but it's a source of power, you know.
If you say so, he telepaths back at her, and her perfect pale lips curve into a smile.
After a glance around, he leans a bit closer. "Have you ever had strangers notice you thinking at them like that? I swear it's happened to me a few times, on the Tube or the street or something."
"Oh, yes." Morgana gazes at the crowd, and lifts her cup with a smile to someone across the room. "I'd say it's maybe one in a thousand who can talk that way. But most think it's their imagination and never pursue it."
"One in a thousand. So we're freaks. As I thought."
"But think, Mordred. In a city the size of London? That's thousands of people. You needn't feel so alone."
"I'm telling you, I'm used to it." And he smiles so she won't pity him.
She kisses his cheek. "We'll find you someone. You're quite adorable, you know. Even in this." She pinches the sleeve of his garishly striped holiday jumper.
"Cheers, but no matchmaking, I beg you."
"Mm," she says in noncommittal playfulness, then steps away. "I'd better go make sure that if my guests are slipping into bathrooms and cupboards together, they're at least wiping up after themselves."
Mordred cringes, which makes her laugh, and she sashays off into the crowd.
He pulls back to get out of the way of everyone drifting around. His elbows end up in the Christmas tree. Ornaments jingle. He stays put, clutching his cup of punch, and lets his gaze track down Merlin and Arthur again.
Despite what he told Morgana, he does feel a twinge of regret that they're officially off the market. He's not exactly their friend; he only sees them at Morgana's parties. He's been her friend for two years, but they've known her longer; Arthur's related to her somehow.
He thinks they probably know his name. Maybe. He definitely knows them. In fact, his twinge of regret is fading into a delicious eroticism, because Arthur and Merlin together? That's been one of his favorite secret fantasies ever since he first met them.
For one thing, they clearly belong together, which anyone could see right away; honestly, it's ridiculous it took them this long to finally become a couple. For another, they're both so beautiful, in their different ways. Arthur's your buff, golden-haired, rugby-captain variety of beauty. Merlin's your pale, slim, geeky bookworm variety. Tonight Arthur's managing to make a red jumper with big white snowflakes on it look strangely attractive, and Merlin is unfairly adorable in a pair of reindeer antlers atop his usual jeans and brown hoodie. Mordred would take either man in a heartbeat. That is, if he were the sort who pursued anyone, ever, which he isn't. The few blokes he's fooled around with took the initiative and approached him, mostly at university, where everyone was more daring. Now that he's out of uni, he's hit a dry spell.
It's true he's used to being the outsider, though. Growing up a foster kid did that to you, especially a gay foster kid in a small Welsh village. Especially a gay foster kid who could move things with his mind and sometimes invade people's thoughts.
Morgana's the only one who knows about his telekinesis and hasn't dropped him from her life. She's also the only one he's ever used telepathy with as a two-way communication. She can do both those things and more with her "magic," as she calls it, and she thinks he could too, but he's afraid to try. Those two abilities are already quite enough to set him apart from the rest of the world, thanks.
But he's found ways to enjoy being on the outside, watching others. You could get a lot of pleasure from watching. Those blokes at university approached him because they noticed him watching them, for instance, but he was also fine with just watching others.
Right now he's watching Arthur murmur into Merlin's ear. Arthur's knuckle slides covertly from Merlin's ribs to his hips before they draw apart, smiling. To know with certainty that Mordred's two primary fantasy men are doing all kinds of wicked things to one another--yeah, that's actually quite a treat. A Christmas present of a mental image.
As the party spins along, Mordred drifts from one awkward small-talk conversation to another. He nibbles biscuits from the food table. He spends an inordinate amount of time in a corner playing with Morgana's cats. And he keeps an eye on Arthur and Merlin throughout, even though he never actually gets around to talking to them. When Gwen squishes Merlin and Arthur together under the mistletoe, and they gamely lock into a long snog while everyone whoops and applauds, Mordred gets hard and stays that way for at least fifteen minutes. Honestly, it's a relief that most of the world doesn't receive his thought transmissions.
If only his powers could let him become a moth on the wall in one of their rooms. The things he'd see…
He's got to cool it or they'll notice him staring. He escapes the main room of the party, gets into the kitchen and then out onto the tiny iron balcony, where he breathes the cold December air for a while and watches the busy London street four stories below. But nothing down there is anywhere near as worth watching as Merlin and Arthur, so Mordred slips back in and lingers in the empty kitchen, setting down his punch cup beside the sink.
A sound reaches his ear, closer than the main party in the next room. It seemed to come from the darkened pantry; an intimate sound, like a sigh or a groan.
Morgana did apparently expect her guests would be slipping off together for private moments. Intrigued, Mordred tiptoes toward the pantry.
Morgana's got a big flat, old and strangely laid-out, with lots of rooms, one of which is a sizeable pantry. She's fit two tight aisles of shelves in it; you can see one stretching straight ahead from the door, and the other only if you step in and look through the central shelves or walk around them.
Mordred halts at the threshold. The pantry light is off, but the light over the kitchen sink spills in, enough to show him a pair of reindeer antlers on a headband on the pantry floor. They're lying at the back of the room, right where you'd walk around to get to the other aisle. As he stares at the antlers, he hears another moan, and someone else saying, "Shh," then hushed laughter.
Mordred's heartbeat has become audible inside his ears. It couldn't be. It isn't.
He inches forward, staying in shadow as much as he can, and peeks between shelves.
Like wildfire, lust flashes through him. He's rock-hard again; his mouth goes dry.
Hoping to God the tins of vegetables and packets of biscuits are hiding him sufficiently, he stays still. And he watches.
Arthur is on his knees. Sucking off Merlin. Who has his pants down around his thighs, and is leaning back on some shelves, in profile to Mordred. Despite the shadows, Mordred can see so much more than he ever dreamed he'd get to.
One of Merlin's hands clutches the shelf behind him, knuckles flexing white. The other grips the hem of his jeans and dark gray briefs as if he's just pulled them down a few seconds ago. He's breathing hard and his lip curls in need as he gazes down at Arthur, who's currently got him so deep that his mouth is hidden behind Merlin's dark short hairs. Arthur lifts his golden lashes to send Merlin a look that manages to be naughty and teasing, even with his mouth so full, and then draws his face back slowly, sucking down the length of Merlin's cock until only the tip is left in it. His saliva glistens along Merlin's shaft, which looks hard, so hard and red.
Mordred stuffs his hand down his pants. There's no way he's not going to come watching this, he can already tell that, so he might as well pull himself into a comfortable angle and make it feel good. He grips himself--I'm just as hard as he is; we feel just the same right now, he thinks--and squeezes softly. That's all he'd better do at the moment if he means to pace himself. Stroking would end it too quickly. He wants to come when Merlin does.
"Come on, hurry it up," Merlin whispers, fast and breathless. After all, people don't sneak into pantries at parties for long, leisurely blowjobs; they do rather have to rush things in these circumstances.
Arthur obediently slides him back into his mouth, and begins sucking him in and out. Merlin tips his head back and makes a whispery groan, then lowers his head again to watch Arthur.
Like Mordred, Arthur's touching himself. On the hard tiles, he's kneeling on a cloth sack of rice--that's smart, Mordred thinks; easier on the knees--and his hand is inside his jeans, moving rhythmically.
Mordred catches his lower lip in his teeth to keep from making a sound. He's sweating; he's at greater risk of being caught than they are, since he's right at the door between kitchen and pantry, and though his back's turned, it wouldn't exactly be hard to see what he's doing. But he's far too aroused to stop now, and no way in hell is he looking away. He's going to download this memory as long as he possibly can, to store it up in his mind so he can savor it the whole rest of his life.
"Let me see," Merlin whispers to Arthur.
Arthur shimmies his hips, tugging at his pants, and pulls them down enough to expose his rigid cock, his hand around it, while his mouth's still engaged around Merlin. Mordred grips himself tight, trying not to breathe audibly, though he wants to be panting by now. He's throbbing; he's close.
Arthur's gaze lifts again to Merlin, who is panting, straining his hips toward Arthur's face. Merlin's lashes flutter as he sweeps a look from Arthur's hand busy upon himself to his intent blue eyes and flushed face. Merlin lets go of the shelf and slides his fingers into Arthur's hair, cupping the side of his head, a gesture rough and tender at the same time. It sends a strange pang through Mordred. No one has touched him quite like that, while looking at him quite like that, at a moment like this. He doesn't usually mind, truly he doesn't, but…
"Ohhh--ah!" Merlin's face distorts, and he jolts, over and over.
Mordred jerks himself quickly, a few well-timed strokes, and that's all it takes; he's shuddering, knees weakening, hot come filling his hand and getting all over the inside of his pants. His vision is wobbling, but he manages to keep his gaze on the pair of them: Merlin's cock slipping wet and spent out of Arthur's lips, and Arthur's hand moving like a jackhammer until he comes onto the tiles, breathing through his mouth, ecstasy transforming his face.
Mordred withdraws a pace and slumps against the door frame, out of sight of the pair of them, letting his strength seep back. He thinks fervently, You're gorgeous, you're so hot, you've no idea how lucky you are. Thank you.
The rustling, chuckling sounds of Merlin and Arthur putting themselves back in order are cut short with a sharp, "Shh!" As if they're listening.
Mordred realizes he's inadvertently thrown his telepathy magic behind the thought, and he leaps back a step into the kitchen, heart thundering, his sticky hand dangling at his side.
Okay, but one in a thousand. Odds are with him. As noiselessly as he can, he skitters to the nearest toilet, a tiny powder room off the other end of the kitchen, and shuts himself in and cleans up. He stays long enough that Merlin and Arthur will surely have slipped back out to the party by the time he emerges.
As expected, when he creeps back into the crowd, they're lounging against the wall by the Christmas tree, chatting with Gwen, all afterglowy smiles. The reindeer antlers are back on Merlin's head, their clothing's properly buttoned up.
"There you are." Morgana strolls up to Mordred. "Having fun?"
"Mm," he agrees, and smiles, hoping he doesn't look too guilty. Nor too afterglowy.
"I was just talking to Gwaine," she says. "He's got a cousin coming to the city who sounds like he might be exactly your type."
Mordred shakes his head and turns to face the food table. "You're merciless."
"You'll thank me. I'll text you when I know more." She squeezes his arm and glides on past.
His mind is still reeling, somewhere between shame and bliss. He tries to focus on the snacks, which have become quite picked over. A couple of broken biscuits and several crumbs are all that's left on the sweets tray.
Someone steps up next to Mordred and reaches in to take one of the broken ones. "The three of us in that pantry, and none of us thought to pick up an extra pack of biscuits while we were there." The amused voice is Merlin's.
Mordred snaps his gaze up at him. He feels his own face go cold, then blazing hot. Oh God. Oh God, no.
Merlin returns his glance, his smile congenial, but his eyebrow arches wickedly. He bites into the biscuit.
"I'm…I'm so sorry…" Mordred begins. "I didn't…mean to…"
Merlin swallows his bite of biscuit. "Relax. We don't mind." He picks up a handful of crisps from a bowl nearby, winks, and steps away.
Mordred nods, stupidly.
As Merlin strolls toward Arthur, who's still hanging out by the tree, he glances back once at Mordred, and at that moment Merlin's melodious voice invades his head. You're welcome. Happy Christmas, Mordred.
Mordred's jaw drops. He lets it. Merlin casually turns away and returns to his boyfriend.
One in a thousand?
No. In the case of that man, more like one in ten million.