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Title: From Either Side of a Closet Door
Fandoms: Merlin/The Traitor Game
Characters/Pairings: Merlin/Arthur, Michael/Francis
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, Swearing like sailors (not in Latin), discussions of sex, homophobia, stress of remaining closeted, lack of Britpicking, and me trying to be serious and meaningful while the characters (particularly Arthur and Merlin) insist on being amusing and hot.
Wordcount: 1200
Written for: [livejournal.com profile] hs_bingo; it could count for several prompts and I haven't decide which one.
A/N: I think this may be the first fic for The Traitor Game ever to be written. I'm afraid they don't show up until about halfway down, but they are in there, I promise. I hope you'll be able to grasp what's going on even if you only know one canon. Now has a Merlin-specific tie-in/prequel here.

----

“Come on, Merlin, dance with me!” Arthur badgered, half-yelling over the music.

No, you bastard, there are people around.”

“So? Who cares?” Arthur demanded, leaning one hand against the wall next to Merlin’s head and administering his best persuasive,
smoldering stare.

“Well, we’re going to end up publicly humiliated again,” Merlin grumbled.

“Oh, honestly, it isn’t that hard to dance.”

“No, but –” He threw up his hands. “Oh, dammit, why should I?”

“Because I’m your boyfriend, and you adore me.” Arthur added an insufferable grin to the persuasive stare.

“I do not!” Merlin protested. Arthur snorted.

“You owe me a dance for that one.”

“Well, it’s true. I like you and I am perfectly willing to shag you senseless, but I don’t adore you. And I’m not going to dance with you.”

“I wouldn’t say you’d shagged me senseless, quite,” Arthur nitpicked, positively leering by this point.

Merlin eyed him sideways. His expression started with knowing and shifted by steady, miniscule increments into outright smug. Arthur
rubbed the rather heated back of his neck, hoping he wasn’t blushing.

“If you’re thinking about the time we were drunk, it doesn’t count.”

“I wasn’t.” He added a bit more smugness, with a hint of outright sin. Arthur forgot he was trying to seduce him (well, seduce him into
dancing) and glared.

“What were you thinking about, then?”

“Who said I was thinking about anything?”

“You did, you miserable bastard.”

“I didn’t say anything,” Merlin chuckled, shifting to echo Arthur’s earlier posture braced against the wall. It pulled the edge of his battered T-shirt up over the edge of his jeans, exposing a thin line of pale, soft skin. And his voice was getting just a little bit husky. Damn him.

“You have the most infuriating ability to say absolutely pornographic things without talking at all. Come on, what were you thinking about?”

“Oh, fine. Two weeks ago, down by the lake.”

Arthur smirked – that had been a good night, especially after months of nowhere but the back of his car. Still. “Senseless? Really?”

Merlin just grinned and raised an eyebrow. Arthur sighed.

“You do realize that if you’re discussing our sex life in public, you might as well just dance with me, right?” he asked.

The dark-haired boy sighed, glancing from Arthur’s face (which seemed to have become hopeful and possibly even earnest by this point, dammit) to his outstretched hand. “If it matters that much to you,” he grumbled, placing his palm lightly against Arthur’s and tracing his thumb across the inside of his wrist.

“Knew I’d win you over,” Arthur chuckled, folding their fingers together and dragging him towards the dance floor. This was going to be fun.

***

“Oh, God,” Francis muttered, straightening up abruptly. Michael, leaning against the wall beside him, craned his neck as he tried to follow the redheaded boy’s gaze. “Are those two…?”

Michael hissed as he spotted the cause of Francis’s alarm. Right in the middle of the crowd, two boys were dancing together. The idiots. Not just joking around together, either – actually grinding like half of the straight couples around them. The blond bloke was behind the darker-haired one, rubbing a hand along his companion’s hips; the darker one had his head turned back as if to say something. Or as if he’d only have to twist a little bit more and they would be kissing right in the middle of the dance floor. The bloody idiots.

“They’re going to get murdered,” he said, clenching his fists.

“Oh, definitely,” Francis sighed, rubbing the back of his head tiredly. Michael spotted the unhealed scab on the side of his neck and winced. Oh, this wasn’t going to end well for them or for the dancing tossers. “Is Shitley here?”

“No, he said earlier today that he had better places to be than a stupid charity ball. Typical Shitley.”

“Thank God. But still, some of his damn posse will be around here somewhere.”

“Should we warn them?” Michael asked anxiously, glancing again at the bloody dancers. The blond one was laughing now, head thrown back, and their hands appeared to be twined together. Somehow that made it twice as bad.

“No-o,” Francis said slowly, leaning back against the wall. “Nobody seems about to jump them in the middle of the dance floor , and they’re having a good time, so let’s leave them alone for now. We should keep an eye on them, though, if they wander off anywhere. Someone will notice.”

“Right.” Michael had taught that to Francis – don’t bunk lessons or wander off somewhere, someone will notice. For just a moment, he wanted to let the tossers deal with their own problems, since they’d gotten themselves into it by bloody grinding in the middle of the crowd. But he couldn’t. For one thing, Francis would look at him with that damn mix of disappointment and sympathy and possibly a little bit of pity, and he just couldn’t do that. And for another thing, well. He didn’t want to think about those two out behind the dumpsters, getting spat at or half-strangled or knocked down and kicked in the ribs. They didn’t deserve that, even if they weren’t bloody idiots. Besides, most people would think twice before bothering four people, even four pansies.

Francis was looking at him, Michael realized – looking anxious and fond and just a little bit sad, and Michael wished they were in private so that he could wrap an arm around him, or at least just squeeze his hand. Although probably no-one would notice in this crowd, especially with everyone already staring at the absolute lunatic dancers –

“I’ll go get us some more punch,” he said quickly, and ducked away through the crowd.

----

About an hour later, Francis tapped Michael on the shoulder. “I think the dancing tossers are getting ready to leave.” He jerked his head towards the aforementioned tossers, who seemed to be making their way through the crowd. The St. Anselm’s boys shoved ahead of them and made it out into the parking lot a few seconds before.

There was a miserably tense moment as Michael and Francis hovered in the dim light between the door and Michael’s (well, Michael’s mum’s) car; then the door burst open again and the idiots half-stumbled out in a cascade of light and noise. The blond one was tugging the other one along by the hand, both of them laughing like idiots, and Michael heard one of them say “My house will be empty now, so come on and let’s test out this senseless theory.” They hurried across the parking lot, not as if they were frightened but as if they were eager to get wherever they were headed now, and then they’d gotten into the obnoxiously posh car at the end of the lot with absolutely no trouble.
Michael and Francis blinked at each other, and Michael realized that he was ready to laugh himself silly out of sheer relief.

“Well, that was much less dramatic than I expected,” Francis observed. It was dark and they were alone, so it was safe enough for Michael to reach out and take his hand.

“Let’s go back to my house and watch a movie or something,” he suggested, pressing his slightly sweaty palm against Francis’s.

“Sounds good to me.” They made their way to Michael’s car, hand and hand and carefully scanning the darkness for any sign of an attacker.
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