A/N: Written for the Summerpornathon on Live Journal. All entries have to be between 500 and 750 words – hence the shortness, keeping it small and (hopefully) perfectly-formed is part of the challenge.

The acrid scent of smoke coats Arthur's throat as they stand on the edge of the Burning Lands. The bleak scarred landscape stretches to the horizon, where distant volcanic peaks spill constant clouds of ash into Earth's ruined atmosphere.

They work in efficient silence. The sooner they get their samples collected, the sooner they can start the return journey to the compound. It's only been a few days, but already Arthur is longing to see a tree, some grass, a living creature other than his companion.


The day they were introduced by the team leader at Unit Epsilon, Phoenix had held Arthur's hand a little too long and stared at him intently.

"Found you at last." His dark blue eyes seemed to reach into Arthur's soul, seeking some connection.

"I'm sorry... have we met before?" Arthur had frowned, disconcerted, his hand trapped in the tight grip of slender fingers.

Phoenix smiled, the slice of his cheekbones eliciting a brush of distant memory, skin pale against the bitter coal-black of his hair. "My mistake." His lips lifted at the corners, but his eyes told another story.


Arthur's gaze is drawn to Phoenix as they work. His dark head bent in concentration, pale long-fingered hands carefully tipping dust samples into bags. Arthur suddenly remembers a dream from the night before, lost on waking but now thrown back into sharp focus by the sight of those hands.

Bone-white fingers entwined with Arthur's as he presses them down into a mattress. Flickering candlelight painting delicate shadows on a lean body, taut beneath his own. Blue-black eyes stare up at him and bony hips lift to meet the slick, insistent slide of his erection as Arthur teases, wanting to hear him plead again.

Arthur gasps, dropping the soil sample he's holding.

Phoenix turns to look at him curiously. "You okay?" And Arthur's face burns hot, like the land around them, as he licks his lips and swallows hard.

"Fine," he mutters. "Just clumsy." He watches as Phoenix straightens up and moves to a new location. His eyes trace over the slim hips and straight shoulders; the tight, high curve of buttocks over long legs.

Arthur's hands splay lean limbs wide as he moves down to take a flushed, swollen cock in his mouth. His tongue traces delicately around the foreskin, tasting sweet-salt and musk. Arthur's fingers, slippery with oil, press carefully into tight, willing heat; probing and searching, then finding the place that makes his lover writhe and whimper. He looks up to see the desperate flush on those pale cheeks, dark hair tangled from his hands and damp with sweat, lips bitten-pink and wet. "Please, Arthur."

The muffled sound of an explosion, like the rumble of far-off thunder, brings him back to the present.

"Look," Phoenix points and Arthur moves to stand beside him. A volcano is erupting in the far distance, belching new clouds of dark smoke into the air.

As they watch, the sun edges below the almost-permanent cloud cover and casts tentative rays of golden-orange light on the ravaged landscape, as though unsure of its welcome. Arthur meets Phoenix's eyes and sees the gold reflected there.

Legs wrap tight around his waist, drawing him in, urging him on as he loses himself in possession. Arthur's lips taste the salty tang of sweat as he licks and bites, sucking angry purple marks into flawless skin. Bodies press close as they rut together, the tension crackling around them like something tangible. Arthur lifts his head, because he never tires of seeing his lover's eyes when he comes. Murky blue flares gold as they clutch each other and their bodies tense and pulse and spill.

"God, Merlin!" Arthur cries as his climax rips through him like a tidal wave of destruction, tearing him apart and rebuilding him in that fleeting, endless-seeming moment of ecstasy.

He stares at his companion.

"Merlin?" His voice is barely more than a whisper, like smoke on the wind. He waits, breathless.

And then Phoenix reaches out his hands and pulls Arthur to him. The kiss is real, but it feels like a dream. So familiar, yet not. Phoenix tastes of smoke and dust. But the soft brush of his lips and the curl of his tongue are like a spark to tinder, and the heat that ignites is like nothing Arthur has ever felt.

"You remembered." Phoenix's smile is radiant as he pulls away. "Here we are again, Arthur. Risen from the ashes."

A/N: Thanks for reading. And before anyone asks – no, I have no plans to continue or expand this. It is what it is, but I hope you liked it anyway. If you liked this and haven't read any of my other stuff there are lots of longer Merlin stories on my profile.