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take me back to the night we met

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Arthur barely had enough time to feed and brush his horse after the long journey they just had, when Dutch spotted him. It wasn't unusual for the other man to greet Arthur after he arrived, especially if he was missing for more than a few days but it was getting less and less common.

Ever since Dutch almost got himself killed and returned to the camp with a man who supposedly saved his life, he was busy. The man, Micah Bell, was full of ideas and Dutch just couldn't get enough of hearing them. It was worrying how much time they seemed to spend together, the time that before was reserved to Arthur and Hosea, now occupied by this stranger. But Arthur wasn't a little boy, he wouldn't go crying because his father didn't pay him enough attention. Dutch's infatuation with the man would soon pass, as with many before him, men and women alike, who fascinated him in different ways, but always ended up the same. All except Arthur and Hosea.

"Arthur, I want you to meet someone." Dutch approached, hand clasping Arthur's shoulder in greeting.

So it wasn’t a social call. Arthur managed to mask his disappointment behind a shrug, following obediently, as Dutch’s hand on his shoulders guided him towards the other side of the camp.

There was a man sitting there, still unaware of Arthur’s gaze on him, hunched down, sharpening a hunting knife. He was dark-skinned, with long black hair that was falling around his face while he was working. His whole posture as non-threatening and unassuming as a man of his size could look. He abruptly looked up, when he heard them approaching, expression carefully schooled into calm indifference.

“Mister Smith, I want to you introduce you to my best man.”

Arthur didn’t have much time to contemplate those words, how he stopped believing them some time ago, because the man was suddenly standing up. Up close, with shoulders straight and thumbs hooked into his beltloops, he looked as intimidating as someone his size should look.

“Meet Arthur Morgan” Dutch’s hand left Arthur to rest on the other man’s shoulder. Arthur couldn’t miss the way he almost unnoticeably flinched at the touch, like it was something he would bear if he had to but wasn’t welcome. “Arthur, this is Charles Smith. He’ll be joining the gang.”

A handshake.

Dark, cautious eyes meeting blue.

Arthur’s assessing gaze, lingered on the other man a little too long, causing his jaw to clench tightly, only sign of how tense he was. He noted with satisfaction that Charles Smith wasn’t as good at hiding himself as he wanted to be. He briefly wondered what happened to the man to make him want to hide himself so badly, but quickly discarded the thought. It wasn’t important. They only important thing was whether the man would be useful to them and able to pull his own weight. From the looks of him it certainly seemed so. Dutch was right about this sort of thing most of the time.

“Nice to meet to, Mister Smith” Arthur greeted without losing a beat, letting go of the man’s hand after a brief moment.

“Charles” the man corrected immediately, his voice low and steady, the kind of voice that was designed to give nothing away.

Arthur raised an eyebrow, intrigued at the first contradiction in the other, he didn’t seem like someone who liked to get familiar with other people, but conceded with a sharp nod, giving his name in return.

“Mister Smith here is a very good hunter. For the last few days, we’ve been eating better than ever” Dutch explained, letting go off Charles with one last pat on his shoulder.

“Really?” Arthur turned to Charles curiously, receiving only a shrug in response. “Maybe you can take me with you one day, teach me a thing or two. God knows I’m awful at hunting.”

At hearing those words, something in Charles’ expression shifted. Suddenly, he looked a bit less guarded, his shoulders sinking down, barely noticeable if Arthur wasn’t watching him so closely. Something softer appeared on his face, not quite a smile, but a beginning of one.

“Anytime” he agreed easily, throwing Arthur one last long look before sitting back in front of the fire, continuing his work.

“Well, I should be going. Micah has a lead he wants to discuss with me. He said it’s very promising.”

Arthur didn't even have a chance to respond. Not that he could argue with Dutch about Micah's plans and how they always landed them in trouble. He knew better than argue in front of the gang, especially Charles who they barely knew. Especially when recently every disagreement with Dutch's decision was taken as challenging his authority by the older man.

He just nodded dumbfounded and suddenly he and Charles were the only people left around the fire. Arthur coughed, feeling uncomfortable as he hovered over the other man. Unsure if he wanted to be left alone. He sure looked like it, from the way his eyes were focused on the task before him. Before Arthur had a chance to awkwardly retreat, knowing that he was standing there unsure for too long for it not to be awkward, he was stopped by Charles' words.

"You can sit if you like" he spoke without looking up. His tone was calm, seemingly not caring, but the way he held his breath until Arthur sat down next to him was saying otherwise. Somehow Artur felt like he was granted a privilege given only to a few.

Without a word, he pulled out his journal and a pencil, noting amused how Charles glanced his way, interest piqued.

The next few minutes were spent in silence. Arthur was doodling in his journal without much purpose behind the drawings. He was much more interested in trying to decipher the man beside him.

Charles Smith was certainly an enigma. Arthur could sense the danger inside him, hiding behind that unassuming mask he was donning so readily. The man preferred to be invisible, the opposite of what folks usually did. And silent. He had to admit that it was a pleasant change from the rest of the gang. In the camp, when people saw Arthur approaching, most of the time they did their best to talk nonsense until he was too irritated to bear them any longer. He also knew how dangerous the people who wanted to be invisible usually were. But for some reason his instincts were telling him to trust Charles and his instincts were rarely wrong.

That was why, upon seeing Charles glance towards his journal yet again, he decided to do something he rarely did. Start a conversation.

"I like drawing. Animals, plants, people, whatever I come across while traveling" he explained, gaze traveling from the pages of his journal and towards the other man.

Charles hummed, still not looking up. "Anything interesting today?"

"Not really, no."

Silence. Arthur sighed internally. That was more difficult than he imagined. He wasn't good at small talk and, from the looks of it, Charles was even worse. He was beginning to get annoyed with himself for even trying, when he noticed an amused quirk of Charles' lips.

"You know, I was about to go hunting. You want to join me? Maybe you will find something interesting to draw."

Arthur studied his face closely, when Charles finally turned to face him. The man seemed sincere enough. It looked like he wasn't inviting him just to be polite. To be honest it was difficult to imagine him doing something just to be polite. Charles actually wanted him to come, even if the question was punctuated with a shrug. Again, Arthur had a feeling that it wasn't an offer he extended often.

"Just give me a moment to pack my things" he agreed easily, already standing up. He almost didn't notice Charles breathing a relieved sigh.

On the way to his tent he walked past Dutch and Micah, plotting something again from the looks of it, but the sting he would usually feel at seeing Micah in a place not so long ago reserved for him was suddenly much more bearable.

*

"Busy?"

Charles looked up when he heard Arthur approaching, stopping briefly whatever he was doing. That was the thing with Charles, he was always doing something. Arthur was yet to see him sit idly for longer than a few minutes. Really, the man was putting all of them to shame.

"The usual. You look awful." Charles said bluntly, gesturing for Arthur to sit.

Arthur didn't need to be told twice, collapsing heavily onto the ground with a tired sigh.

"Thanks" he snorted, before closing his eyes briefly, finding support against the log behind him. He was so tired. Now that he finally had a chance to sit down the feeling of weariness that was under his skin for the whole journey back returned with full force. "Feel awful too" he admitted quietly, looking at Charles through barely opened eyes.

Charles hummed sympathetically, his hand settling on Arthur's shoulder for a brief moment, squeezing. "Want to talk about it?"

"Not really."

Silence. Charles was waiting patiently, knowing well enough that Arthur would eventually talk. He always did, after a particularly tough day. He didn't have to wait long, with Arthur too tired to even pretend he was putting up resistance.

"I had to kill half of a town today" he admitted finally, eyes fixed firmly on his hands.

"Micah?"

Arthur could only nod, trying not to break down in front of the other man, as the memories of Micah laughing madly came back to his mind. The smell of gunpowder and death, the maniac in the middle of it all and the joy in his voice as they went through the city like knife through butter, leaving only destruction. Arthur went along with it. No matter how nauseating it was to kill unnecessarily, how sick he felt shooting men who never did anything to him. All because that crazy bastard wanted to get his guns back.

Suddenly he felt shame burning through him. The thought of Charles knowing what he did was almost worse than the act itself. For some reason Charles had this notion that Arthur was a good man, had it ever since they'd met. No matter how much Arthur was scoffing when the other man called him good, he secretly hoped that one day he would become the man Charles thought him to be. It seemed that Arthur would disappoint him just like he did everyone else.

It took everything he had to look up. Arthur never thought of himself as a coward, but he was terrified to see the look on Charles' face, to suddenly lose one of the last people who still believed in him.

But Charles wasn't judging him. When Arthur's eyes met him, his expression was soft and full of sorrow. Not because of what Arthur did, but because he had to do it. There was an understanding there that Arthur knew he didn't deserve but was possibly the only thing keeping him from falling into despair.

Before Arthur could say anything, Charles was shifting towards him, pulling him into his arms.

A hug.

It was the first one between them. They rarely touched, other than occasional hand on the shoulder or pat on the back. Casual physical contact wasn't something neither one of them was good at, so Arthur was left frozen, dumbstruck by the sudden shift in their interactions. His arms flailing weakly for a moment before he awkwardly placed them around Charles.

"I'm sorry" Charles' words were a soft breath in his ear, so overwhelming and comforting at the same time that Arthur relaxed despite himself.

"Not your fault" Arthur grunted, voice rough with emotion. His head rested heavily on Charles' shoulder as he exhaled the tension that was building inside him the whole day.

Charles still wasn't letting him go, which he was completely fine with. Being held like this felt nice, the comfort it provided was exactly what he needed to keep himself grounded.

It was such a long time since anyone held him like that, he couldn't even remember who it was. Probably John, he was always very tactile. When they were younger he would hug him whenever he noticed that Arthur was feeling sad or melancholic, which was often, especially after Eliza and Isaac. Arthur always went willingly, quietly suspecting it was as much for his benefit as it was for John himself. But it wasn't like that between them for a while now. Not since John left them and returned a year later. Now they rarely even talked without getting into each other's faces.

Having Charles here, drinking in the warmth that the man was offering so willingly, it was difficult to let go. Even though Arthur knew he would have to, eventually. He couldn't hold on forever, no matter how much he would like to, things would turn awkward soon.

With a tired sigh, he finally let go, leaning back to look at Charles. The man was smiling softly at him, reassuring without words, causing Arthur to grin back automatically. They shifted almost simultaneously, returning to their previous position, propped up against the log. But this time Charles was sitting closer, his tight touching Arthur's. It was like he knew how much Arthur longed for closeness still, especially after he got a taste of it after so long. It was a little scary to think that someone understood him so well, but Arthur wasn't afraid. Not when it was Charles.

"Things weren't always like this, you know?" Charles looked up, but didn't respond, giving Arthur a chance to organize his thought before he spoke again. "We had a code. Dutch said it was the only thing separating us from them. No killing unless it was absolutely necessary. And look at us now, bunch of killers, the same as everyone else."

"What changed?"

"I don't know. Times got tougher. Dutch had to get tougher. Or maybe he stopped caring, maybe it's just easier for him that way."

"You can't make him care if he doesn't want to, Arthur."

"I know, I just wish things could go back to the way they were."

Charles chuckled at that. "You want to get rid of me?" His tone was teasing, as he lightly bumped his shoulder into Arthur. That forced a laugh out of Arthur, loud an unexpected, before he shook his head, small smile still playing on his lips.

"Not you, I'd very much like to keep you." The words came out before Arthur had a chance to stop them. Mortified, he could feel his cheeks heating up. That wasn't what he wanted to say at all. "Oh God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that. Just ignore me, please" he mumbled, hands shielding his face from view.

His blush only deepened when he heard Charles laugh, loud enough to be heard by half of the camp. No matter how embarrassing the whole thing was, Arthur couldn't help but be a little proud that he caused genuine laughter out of Charles. It was so rare to hear anything more than occasional chuckle from the other man that he cherished every time it happened.

"Too bad" Charles shrugged finally, after his laughter subsided, with amusement still clear in his voice. "I might have let you."

Arthur snorted in disbelief, looking up to see Charles' eyes twinkle mischievously. They stayed like that for a moment, amusement slowly dying between them until they settled into a comfortable silence.

Arthur could feel his eyelids slowly dropping, as he stared into the fire. Feeling Charles presence beside him was so soothing he couldn't help but let the rest of the tension slip away. For now at least. He was sure that tomorrow all of his questions and doubts would come back to him, but right now he just wanted to enjoy the temporary relief.

"Thank you" he mumbled, mind hazy with beginnings of sleep, but feeling that it should be said.

"Anytime, cowboy."

*

Everything hurt. He wasn't even sure where exactly the pain was coming from, it felt like it was coming from everywhere, his whole body pulsating with it.

Arthur wasn't sure how long he was out. The last thing he remembered was Micah shooting him and the sight of Dutch walking away into the night. Damn bastard, couldn't even shot him well enough to kill, leaving him stranded there to die slowly.

Arthur knew he was going to die. There was no one around to help him. He sent John away to protect his family, knowing fully well how confrontation with Dutch and Micah could end. And, for the first time in his life, John listened. Good. It was easier to die knowing that at least he got out. One less regret at the end of his life.

He briefly wondered how long he laid there. Probably not that long since the sky was still mostly dark. He should get up. At least try to. His mind was screaming at him that he was shot and losing blood fast, but he was so tired. Besides he was prepared to die when he climbed that mountain.

In the end, it really didn't matter if he survived or not. As long as John made it, everything was fine. John was the one with family and something to live for. Arthur's family just betrayed him, so now he had nothing. Better to die here than live knowing that the man he loved like a father left him to die.

With that thought in his head he resigned himself to death. Everything still hurt and he couldn't remember ever feeling so cold, but it would pass soon.

He could feel himself slowly losing consciousness, his eyelids getting heavier until it was impossible to keep his eyes open. Then he heard something that made him blink back into awareness with a startled gasp.

A voice.

It sounded desperate, panicked, too loud for the silence around him. It was calling his name.

Arthur scrunched his nose in confusion. The voice was calling him again, insistent, not letting him fall into the warmth of unconsciousness. He recognized the voice. His mind suddenly bringing back images of long nights in front of the fire with warm touches and teasing smiles. A different kind of warmth. He almost forgot how it felt.

But the voice didn't sound right. In place of usual fondness that accompanied Arthur's name there was fear. He hated being the cause of that. There was nothing he wanted more than to make it disappear. To replace it once again with easy happiness.

It didn't matter that he had nothing to live for anymore, that he was broken by bullets and betrayal. Charles didn't deserve to find him dead.

It would be so much easier to just let go, even keeping his eyes open was becoming too hard to manage. But he couldn't. He heard his name shouted again and this time he croaked a reply. His voice breaking at the end of Charles' name, but it was enough for the other man. He was beside him, before Arthur could gather enough strength to speak again.

Careful hands were running down his body, shushing Arthur when he groaned in pain.

"You're going to be fine, Arthur, just stay with me" Charles soft voice broke into Arthur's consciousness once again. But this time he was too weak to do what he was asked. He couldn't keep himself awake any longer. He welcomed the darkness with a relieved sigh, trusting Charles to bring him back.

When he woke up a week later the first thing he saw was Charles smiling, warm and soft, his eyes shinning with relief.

Chapter Text

Arthur woke up with a pounding headache. He groaned at the light coming through the window and shinning directly into his too sensitive eyes. Reaching blindly, he found a blanket that he kicked to the end of the bed during the night and threw it over his face.

It was a long time since he got drunk enough to suffer from a hangover. With everything that happened since Saint Denis, being shot, recovering, then getting their own ranch and working to keep them all alive, he didn’t have much time to drink. Even if he did, the worry and responsibility he was feeling for all of them was too great to let him have a moment to relax.

Until last night. They were all so happy last night. Celebrating their freedom, sitting around the fire, laughing and drinking, like a family. For the first time in months Arthur could fully feel that he belonged. It was something he was sure, he would never feel again. Almost forgotten feeling from many years ago, when he was young and John was still a kid. Those nights around the fire, with Hosea and Dutch talking over each other, telling them stories of their adventures, lying more often than not, just to make John gasp with wonder. Before everything bad that happened to them. Before the worries and doubts and the fighting for survival.

This time, the faces around the fire were different, but the sentiment was the same. Finally, everything felt right. Seeing John and Abigail looking at each other with so much adoration, having Sadie there, alive and well, laughing at Arthur as she got him more and more drunk, feeling Charles next to him.

Arthur sat up abruptly with a pained hiss, immediately turning red at the memory. He was just beginning to remember how close he got to Charles as the night progressed, how he leaned into him and buried his face in Charles’ chest. Suddenly the hangover was forgotten, replaced by mortification at his actions.

He cursed aloud at his stupidity. What was he thinking, getting drunk in front of Charles, just a few hours after realizing he had feelings for the other man. He always got more tactile when drunk, his usual inhibitions gone. In this case making him brave enough to do what he wouldn’t dare sober, cling to Charles with embarrassing desperation.

There was a knock on the door, bringing Arthur back from his thoughts. For a moment he had an insane thought of hiding under the blanket and pretending he was still asleep in case it was Charles knocking. Anything to keep him from making a fool of himself once again. He wasn’t ready to face the other man yet. His memories were still jumbled together and he needed time to process everything that happened. But the thought of hiding was quickly disregarded. Arthur Morgan wasn’t a coward.

“Come in” he rasped, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to sit up.

Arthur Morgan wasn’t a coward, but he couldn’t deny the relief he felt at seeing Sadie at the other side of the door.

“Morning” Sadie entered the room, looking too cheery for his liking. When she saw Arthur, bleary eyed and clearly in pain, her smug smirk only widened.

Arthur grumbled a greeting in response, squinting suspiciously at her, as she sat down on the chair opposite him, looking like she had no intention to leave anytime soon.

“Isn’t it too early for a social call?”

Arthur stood up, trying to hide his still reddened cheeks, by turning away and busying himself with making the bed. He was proud to notice that he stumbled only a little, when a sharp pain shot up through his skull.

“Early? It’s almost noon, sleepyhead.”

The words caused Arthur to pause and turn sharply towards her. His gaze wondered towards the sun shining through the window, high above the horizon. He didn’t realize it was this late.

“I wanted to bring you some water, knew you would need it” Sadie added, extending a jug of water towards him.

Arthur was beside her in two strides, grabbing the jug from her hand and almost spilling the contents. He groaned at the cold water coating his dry mouth and burning throat, taking big gulps, until the jug was half empty. He paused long enough to thank her, before drinking once again, this time slower, more measured sips.

Sadie observed him patiently, still smirking. In the hindsight Arthur should have expected that she had something good up her sleeve.

“And freshen up your memories of last night.”

She didn’t even try to hide the glee in her voice as she delivered the line with perfect timing, causing Arthur to choke on the last sip of water and cough violently. Arthur could feel himself turning a new shade of red under her knowing gaze, as he heaved and tried to catch his breath.

“My memories?” He managed to ask after finally gathering enough air in his lungs. Sadie didn’t seem to be fooled by his oblivious act.

“You know, about you getting cozy with Charles for the whole night, snuggling into him. It was really cute.”

“Sadie…” Arthur started, unable to look her in the eyes. It was one thing to do something embarrassing in front of Charles, it wasn’t the first and probably not the last time. Having the others see it, imagining them laughing behind his back at how big of a fool he was, even thought deep down he knew they wouldn’t do it to him, was entirely different. He could feel his jaw setting, involuntary movement designed to mask how uncomfortable he felt. Still, his eyes were cast down and face burning, making his unease obvious.

He heard a chair scratch on the floor, as Sadie stood up and moved towards him. One of her hands rested briefly on Arthur’s shoulder, patting it in silent apology.

“For what it’s worth, Charles looked really happy.”

Arthur startled, looking up quickly just to meet Sadie’s eyes, looking at him softly and still sparking with amusement.

“What do you mean?” Arthur asked, his brows frowning, as he tried to stop false hope from taking place in his heart. Charles liked him, that was for sure, they were close almost since the moment they’d met. But only as friends. This new feeling that he was developing for him was confusing and terrifying, but there was one thing Arthur was sure of. Charles didn’t feel the same way. Allowing himself to hope he did would be stupid and could possibly ruin their friendship.

“I mean what I’ve said, Arthur. Just talk to him. God knows he’s been staring at you longingly for some time now.”

“I’m his friend” he argued, shaking his head, as if trying to stop Sadie’s words from getting to him.

“Honey, I can assure you, no one looks at their friends like that. Not unless they want something more than friendship.”

“But…”

Sadie didn’t let him finish. With one last pat on his shoulder, she turned around to leave.

“You will find him outside, working on the fence.”

With those parting words and one last pointed look over her shoulder, Sadie left him alone and more confused then before.

*

It took Arthur another several hours before he felt ready to talk to Charles. He spent the whole afternoon busying himself with small tasks around the house, being extra careful not to stumble onto Charles by accident. Even while working, his mind was still wandering, unsure what to do. When he finally convinced himself to talk to the other man, better now than later, before things got weird between them, the sun was already setting.

He didn’t have to search for him long. It almost seemed like Charles was waiting for him, choosing a spot next to the fire to make it as easy as possible for Arthur to find him. Arthur wouldn’t be surprised if he did. And, of course, he was sitting in the same spot as yesterday. Because universe was cruel and apparently it wanted a few more laughs at his expense before the day was over.

“Arthur” Charles greeted warmly as soon as he saw Arthur approaching. “You want to sit down with me?”

Arthur couldn’t do anything else but accept the invitation, especially when Charles patted a spot beside him. He sat down, and now they were mirroring their sitting arrangement form yesterday, but this time with more space left between them.

“I was wondering where you were” Charles said, turning slightly towards Arthur, light from the fire illuminating half of his face.

For a moment, Arthur couldn’t do anything else but stare at the shadows dancing across Charles’ skin, mesmerized by the flames reflected in his eyes. Then he realized that he was probably taking to long to answer and cleared his throat. Charles was still looking at him patiently when he finally managed to reply.

“Just doing a few things around the house, the usual. I woke up late and needed to catch up on everything.”

That caused Charles to chuckle. The sound warm and rich, causing a shiver down Arthur’s spine. He was hoping the other man didn’t notice it, which was nearly impossible, judging by how intensely he observed Arthur.

“That’s understandable. You had quite a day yesterday.”

Arthur understood what Charles was trying to do, giving him a chance to talk about Dutch and everything that happened yesterday. Not acknowledging the situation between them, but not really closing the door for conversation in the future. Arthur would gladly take that chance, if it wasn’t for his stupid mouth talking faster than he could think.

“And quite a night” he added, before he was able to stop himself. The pleasantly surprised look on Charles’ face was enough to stop him from regretting the words.

Charles’ eyes still didn’t leave his face and Arthur was surprised that he didn’t really mind. They’d spent countless nights like this, sitting in front of the fire, talking or sharing silence. Whenever Arthur needed to talk, when the burden he was carrying was becoming too much or he was feeling hopeless, he could always confide in Charles, knowing that the other man wouldn’t judge him. This was just another one of those conversations and Arthur was sure that Charles wouldn’t judge him this time either, no matter what.

“You were drinking a lot” Charles responded carefully, causing Arthur to snort.

“Only because you wanted to get me drunk.”

“Not me, Sadie. Like I said, I like you well enough when you are sober.”

Arthur huffed a laugh, catching a smile playing across Charles’ lips. The teasing tone in his voice giving Arthur all the assurance he needed to know that Charles didn’t mind last night.

“Yeah, I remember that” Arthur replied, his mind flicking briefly to the memory. He felt another shiver run through his body as he remembered Charles’ warmth all around him, as he rested in his arms. “I also remember you unwillingly becoming my personal pillow. Sorry about that” he shrugged, aiming for casual, but failing miserably. He held his breath as Charles’ eyes bore into his.

“I wasn’t unwilling.”

Arthur would admire the casual air with which Charles said those words, much smoother than what he was trying to do just moments before, if he wasn’t so busy trying to calm his racing heart. Charles couldn’t possibly mean what he thought he’d meant.

“In fact” Charles continued in low murmur, his hand lifting up from where it was laying on his lap.

Arthur barely noticed the movement, too captivated by the fire in his eyes. No longer reflecting the flames but burning on their own. He almost jumped, when he felt Charles’ hand settle on his back, his fingers running slowly up and down his spine. He had to bit back a gasp that threatened to escape his throat. Charles probably wanted the touch to be soothing, but it felt more like teasing. Or maybe teasing was exactly what he intended. All Arthur knew was that it made him simultaneously want to melt into the touch and kiss Charles hard. It really took a lot of strength to focus on what Charles was saying.

“I wouldn’t mind being your pillow more often. Amongst other things.” The words were punctuated, by fingers tangling into Arthur’s hair, not pulling or pushing, just staying there, waiting.

Charles didn’t have to wait long. All of Arthur’s doubts that were gradually squashed down by the ever growing want, made into quiet whisper at the back of his head were now easy to ignore and forget. The only thing left was the desire to run his hands down Charles’ body, to kiss him until he run out of breath. Suddenly Arthur was surging forward, Charles’ fingers in his hair tightening and pulling him closer just moments before their lips met.

A kiss.

Charles’ slightly chapped lips colliding against his own, noses smashing uncomfortably as they fell into each other. Arthur had enough mind to pull back, trying to correct the angle, when Charles grumbled unhappily, the hand on the back of his head holding him close. Arthur would laugh at that, if Charles didn’t choose this moment to run his tongue across his lower lip, making him groan instead. His mouth opened eagerly, letting the other man’s tongue in, desperately trying to pull him even closer. It wasn’t easy, not with their bodies craned uncomfortably and Charles’ knees pressing into his tight almost painfully.

Arthur growled in frustration through the tongue still filling his mouth, impatient to feel more of Charles against him. Slowly he crawled across Charles legs, careful not to break the kiss, and settled onto his lap, knees bracketing the other man. He could hear Charles groaning appreciatively, when their groins brushed against each other, causing him to make a noise in response.

He probably looked ridiculous, a man his size sitting on someone’s lap, but he didn’t care. Not when he finally could press himself against Charles, feel all the hard muscles of his chest.

He moved his hips down, slowly, experimentally, grinding against Charles’ cock that was beginning to harden beneath him. Charles gasped loudly in response, abruptly pulling back from the kiss as he arched backwards, neck pulled taut and mouth open in pleasure. Arthur took only a moment to admire him like that, before the sight of his neck, stretched and exposed became to hard to resist. He latched onto it, sucking and kissing a path from his Adam’s apple to his ear.

While he was busy tasting him, Charles’ other hand found its way into his hair and now both of them were griping his strands tightly, just moments away from being painful. Charles used this leverage to keep Arthur’s mouth where he wanted them to be and Arthur had to admit that it sent a strange thrill through him. That was new.

“Arthur” Charles gasped once again, but this time he was pulling Arthur away from his neck.

Arthur would never admit to the disappointed whine that left his lips when Charles kissed him lightly on the lips before pushing him further backwards.

“Anyone can see us here” he explained, voice rough, but still managing to sound slightly amused. It was really difficult to focus on why people seeing them was a bad idea, especially when Charles choose that moment to lick his lips, as if trying to have another taste of Arthur. That was why Arthur decided to ignore the reasoning in favor of trying to kiss him again. He managed another peck, before he was once again pushed away.

“Sweetheart” Charles growled, more desperate than annoyed, sounding as wrecked as Arthur felt.

“Sweetheart?” Arthur chuckled, startled, causing Charles to huff a laugh of his own, easing the tension a little bit.

Artur could feel his cheeks heating up at the nickname and tried to hide it by wrapping his arms around Charles’ back and pulling him into a hug, forehead resting on his shoulder.

“You don’t like it?” Charles hummed, hands finding their way to Arthur’s hips.

“It’s fine” Arthur shrugged, noncommittally, not willing to admit how this one word was causing warmth to spread all over his body. Charles probably knew it anyway. “Just, you know, not in front of the others.”

“Of course.” Charles assured, placing a gentle kiss on his temple. “Should we go inside?”

“Sure, just give me a moment. I think my legs have fallen asleep.”

“Should I carry you?”

Arthur barked a surprised laugh. “No! I still have some dignity left” he replied, faking indignance, as he slowly slipped off Charles’ lap and stood up on wobbly legs. “Besides, I’m too heavy for you.”

“Oh, I’ll be able to pick you up easily enough, sweetheart” Charles said teasingly, grabbing a hand Arthur offered him and pulling up. “I’m sure I can have you pinned against the wall as soon as we close the door to your room.”

He punctuated the words with a light slap to Arthur’s ass and headed inside, leaving Arthur to gap silently after him for a moment, before following.