1.) After that thing with the ale and the French spy who kept trying to tempt Chuck into corners, leading to a hideously uncomfortable (wonderful) fifteen seconds with Chuck curled in his lap, one arm slung around his neck and saying things like "You--you have surprisingly nice biceps".
(Casey dumped him on the floor and then the French spy drew her gun and later, Chuck didn't remember any of it. Casey wonders if he's supposed to be disappointed.)
2.) When Sarah broke up with him for the last time, Chuck cried his way through four beers and two shots of whiskey in entirely the wrong order. It doesn't count as cuddling when you're holding the man's head over a toilet and holding him up so he doesn't fall over.
(He knows why Sarah did it. Later, he'll hold her hair and listen to her cry and not wish that the world were just a little different, that she was harder, that Chuck wasn't so soft, that he didn't hurt so much for them both.)
3.) It's just sex, a quicky against the wall, watching Chuck fall apart in his hands, wishing he'd never learned to want someone this much. He leaves Chuck still shaky against the cage of the Buy More and pretends he doesn't see Sarah watching him as he goes to wash his hands.
(He won't talk about it. Sarah tells him he's wrong about why they broke up. He doesn't listen, either.)
4.) The bullet didn't go farther than flesh, but Chuck panicked and sat with him the entire night while stolen antibiotics and black market painkillers burn through his body in a depressing motel in the middle of nowhere. They've been running so long he's forgotten what it feels like to stand still. He wakes up with Chuck curled up around him, gun in one hand, and pushes him away, thinking Chuck should never have had to learn to sleep holding a weapon.
(Chuck's worth the end of a career. He's worth the end of a life, too.)
5.) Sarah finds them in Rio, tanned and brunette, curling up beside Chuck and when Casey starts to leave, Chuck says "Stay".
(They don't even fuck that night, and Casey goes to sleep with Chuck warm and happy in his arms, and Sarah grins from Chuck's other side and kisses him and says, "This is what I was trying to say."
This time, he listens.)
mardia: Five Times Merlin Couldn't Take His Eyes Off Arthur.
1.) Arthur pushes himself up on his knees, one shaking hand wiping away the blood from his mouth as he stares up at his father and the court of Camelot and says, "I won't let you kill him."
(Arthur on his knees, all pride stripped away, who offers up all that he is and will ever be for Merlin's life. Merlin thinks that before, he's never seen the king Arthur will become; now, he sees the king Arthur already is.)
2.) Fucking Arthur is like the slow thrum of magic in Merlin's veins, the vastness of power he can feel beneath his fingers when he touches the earth, the heady joy of having so much power condensed in his hands.
(Arthur's beautiful, but never so beautiful like this, when he gives up everything, all that he is and will be into Merlin's hands, and Merlin thinks he's never understood worship until he could offer it on the altar of Arthur's body, like this, with his hands and his mouth and his cock, take him apart and put him back together again.)
3.) They were driven back three times at Badon, the sea wolves breaking their lines, and Arthur jerked off his helmet, blond hair brighter than any crown could ever be, holding the line with the sheer power of his presence no matter the danger. They rallied to him the way they would for no other, knights and commoners alike, offering up their lives without fear or regret.
(They won, there was no way they could fail, not with their blood-soaked king in their very midst, offering up all that he was and would ever be at their sides, promising with every thrust of his sword that he won't fail, they won't fail, that the darkness would not fall here, not now.)
4.) He was crowned High King on the battlefield, still splattered in the blood of the men he killed while the Albion nations knelt at his feet with thousands of voices chanting his name like a benediction that seemed to fill the whole of the world.
(He didn't seem human, standing with the sun bloody orange behind him, lighting him up like a bonfire. Merlin forgot to breathe. Arthur reminded him, pulling him from his knees to kiss him and grin and say, "Today we won the war" and Merlin laughed and said, "Today you've won a world.")
5.) At the end, he wasn't so hard to find, staring at his body with the faintly dissatisfied look he always had when he felt the world had used him ill. "You know," Arthur says, "I wasn't done."
Merlin grins and pulls him away from the battlefield. "You'll never be done. Come on. We have a lot to do."
Arthur's fingers slide through his. "Where are we going?"
Merlin thinks of the new world before them, bright with promise, and Arthur pulls away with a laugh like the twenty year old prince he is again. "I'll race you," he says, running ahead, grinning back at him. "Are you coming?"
Merlin grins, running after him, feeling everything open up all new. "I can't take my eyes off you for a minute, can I?"
(Arthur's always known how to give himself up for something greater than himself. Maybe now, Merlin can make a world for him where he doesn't have to.)