Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin, because if I did, it would be a very different kind of story where Morgana and Merlin ended up together and Gwen and Arthur were happily married without any betrayal. This is purely for fun. Enjoy!
She Works Hard For the Money
Suc-ker punch: n. an unexpected punch or blow.
E.g. "You're fired, Miss Leodegrance."
See accompanied image of devastated girl with deer-in-headlights look standing in her boss's office. Is prime example of sucker-punch victim.
Guinevere shook her head to clear the image from her brain as she washed the tears from her eyes in the bathroom. She never thought she'd see the day when she was no longer fit to work at a fast food restaurant.
"You turn our customers away," was her boss's apologetic explanation. "While our food isn't the healthiest, it's wholly unnecessary to recant just how unhealthy our food is. And those lists of healthy alternatives you handed out…what were you thinking? Some of our best customers haven't come back for weeks!"
Gwen sighed and wiped a paper towel over her face. Fine. Perhaps she did go too far, but it had sounded like an incredibly wonderful idea at the time. People deserved to know just what they were putting in their mouths.
She pulled a list out of her pocket and marked painful tally number 7 for "lost jobs."
She'd never imagined that keeping a job would be so difficult. It had seemed so simple to her; all she had to do was work the hardest she could and collect her paycheck. However, that was not the case. Every job she'd landed had ended abruptly. The pet store had fired her because she released a dog they were going to let down. The hospital fired her after she promised a kid that he didn't really have to get his tetanus shot if he didn't want to. And he made it abundantly clear to the entire hospital just how much he didn't want it. The jewelry store fired her after she began asking men searching for engagement rings if they were truly ready for marriage (80% of the were not), and convincing them to think over their decisions.
Gwen was good-natured, and good intentioned, but she had a difficult time switching into complete job mode. Her heart always got in the way of her brain.
With this last thought in mind, Gwen walked out of the bathroom, out of the restaurant and onto the streets of New York.
But not before reaching into her purse and posting her last copy of "12 healthy alternatives!" on the frosty glass doors.
"Oh, fuck me."
Arthur Pendragon, C.E.O of Pendragon Publishing Inc., began to bang his head against his desk in desperation.
Merlin raised his eyebrow at his friend and shook his head. "As… lovely as that sounds, Arthur, I'd rather not. I don't really swing that way—"
"Oh, shut up, Merlin, " Arthur groaned, his voice muffled against the hard wood of his desk. "You know how much I hate this entire process."
"Don't worry," said Merlin cheerfully, "Pretty soon, you'll run out of people willing to take up the position after they hear what he's done to the others. You'll have to hire people from outside of the country within the next few months."
Arthur rolled his eyes at his friend. "That is supposed to make me feel better? What on earth did I do to deserve this?"
"If I recall, you were quite the terror yourself, Arthur," said Merlin, tapping his temple in thought. "You poured baby food into your father's favorite record players and ripped apart his books page by page."
"True," Arthur replied. "But I never terrorized my babysitters quite like you-know-who."
"The kid's not Voldemort, you know." Merlin raised an eyebrow at his friend. "At least not yet."
"Saying his name in these interviews is bad luck, I told you," Arthur said, running his hand through his hair. "I don't want to jinx the new babysitter before she's even begun."
"Mr. Pendragon," said the tinny voice of his secretary from his intercom. "The first young lady has arrived."
Arthur sighed. "Send her in."
"And the first lamb has come to the slaughter…" Merlin whispered, narrowly avoiding Arthur's fist.
The good thing about being fired was that Gwen did not have to go to work. The bad news about being fired was that she now had no means to pay her bills and was likely to get kicked out of her apartment soon. Though the streets were just a minor step down from her crappy apartment, Gwen was sure she didn't want to commit to being a full-fledged hobo just yet—
There it was, the stereotypical event that always befalls a dejected, downtrodden heroine in a movie after a horrendous day: the tidal wave of shame that results from a fast-driving car colliding with a murky New York puddle.
Her entire body was drenched and the dirty water took away what little dignity she had left. The universe had just handed her a massive F- You just when she was at her lowest point.
She reached down to wring the water out of her blouse, and found a white paper had attached itself to her midsection. She peeled it off her body, ready to rip the paper to shreds in her anger. Her hands stopped mid-tear when she realized what the paper proposed:
No Prior Experience Necessary
Room and Board + other Expenses Included
Holding open interviews at Pendragon Inc. on February 5th, from 2-4
There will be crepes.
"Crepes, huh?" Gwen murmured, folding the wet flyer and placing it in the pocket of her jeans. "Just what I need at a time like this. And a job, any job would be wonderful!"
She looked down at her clothes and dismay. No man in his right mind would let her near a child looking as she did.
Her watch read 3:30. There was no way she would be able to make it back home and to her job interview in time. Unless…
"Excuse me, sir!" she nearly shouted at a man who had just passed her.
The man turned around and raised an eyebrow at her appearance. "I'm sorry, I don't carry change on me. Only debit cards."
"That's not what I—"
"You know," said the man in reproach, "you should really think about getting a job. A pretty young thing like you should find a job in no time. The streets are no place for a young—"
"I don't think she's homeless," said a man from behind her. "You can spare her the lecture."
The man looked affronted. "The nerve of young people these days…"
Gwen giggled as the man walked away in a huff and turned to face her savior. She nearly dropped her purse in surprise.
God, this man was handsome. He was the kind of man you'd see on a billboard selling a product for manly men. And he was a true modern day gentlemen that had just saved her from a stuffy old man with a stick up his ass. Her day was beginning to look up.
"You're drenched," he said, upon giving her a once over. "Here, take my coat."
"But it's freezing out here!" she protested. "You'll catch a cold or something."
"And yet, you're not wearing a coat." He raised an eyebrow at her apparel and she shut her mouth. "Just take it. I'm about to get in my car and I'll just turn on the heat."
"You're too kind," Gwen whispered as he removed his coat and placed it over her shoulders. "If I ever see you again, I'll give you your coat back."
"Naw," he waved his hand at her in dismissal. "I've got plenty."
"Well, thanks, uh—"
"Lance," he finished, looking slightly surprised.
"I'm Guinevere," she said, holding her hand out to him. "Most people just call me Gwen."
He instead raised his lips to her knuckles, causing her to blush a little. "A lovely name for a lovely girl. Nice to meet you."
"Thank you…likewise. Except, not about the lovely thing obviously. I wouldn't want to wound your—" She checked her watch and gasped. "Well I've got an appointment to get to, so, I better head out. Thank you so much, Lance. I hope I get to see you again so I can thank you properly for your kindness."
She waved to him as she ran as fast as she could for the interview. Today would be the day her life would change. It was the best job she could ever hope for! And the crepes! Oh lord, the crepes.
"Wait!" Lance called after her, "You've got… oh never mind."
"Wait, he's the kid who shaved off all of Nina's hair. I knew the name sounded familiar—"
"Don't say it!" said Arthur suddenly. "Anyways, he's changed since then—"
"Nina quit two days ago," said the woman in a deadpan voice. She stood up and grabbed her purse. "Now I'm desperate for a job, but I'm not that desperate. The kid's reputation precedes him. "
Arthur sighed as he made tally number four hundred forty-five on his list of New York nannies that were now terrified of his son. If things didn't look up soon, he'd really have to call up an agency in India or something.
"I'm so screwed Merlin," Arthur sighed as he looked to his friend for guidance, advice, support, anything.
"Yeah," Merlin said, chomping on his bagel. "I couldn't have said it better myself. You're lucky if you can find anyone in the world who would be willing to look after the little tyrant. I don't know what I would do if I were in your hopeless situation. I don't envy you for even a second."
"Clearly this is why I keep you around," Arthur grumbled, reaching for an aspirin. "I need someone to trample on my spirits on the daily."
Merlin bowed to his friend. "Glad to be of service to you in these troubled times."
"We might as well close the doors," said Arthur with a dejected sigh. "I suppose I'm calling India—"
"Young lady, wait!" said the exasperated voice of Arthur's secretary from behind the door. "I don't think Mr. Pendragon is available to see you today, or any day to be perfectly honest with you—"
"For the last time," said an annoyed voice Arthur did not recognize. "I. AM. NOT. HOMELESS. I'm here for a job interview."
"Send her in," Arthur ordered.
The doors burst open, revealing a woman who looked like she had just escaped from an asylum. Just what the doctor ordered.
"So," said Gwen awkwardly as the men gawked at her. "Is this the right place?"
Oh, what the hell, thought Arthur as he gestured for her to sit on the leather couch. If she's actually crazy then my son won't scare her away.
"Why do you want this job?"
A crazy question, Arthur thought. Who actually wanted this job?
"I… well…" Gwen sighed, staring him right in the eyes. "I know there has to be something I'm good at. I'm hoping this might be it."
Arthur was taken aback. He wasn't expecting such an honest answer. He was expecting the usual bullshit about children being the future. All that rhetoric usually went right out the window after a few days. Many of his babysitters called his son devil spawn and swore never to have children after the experience.
"You don't come from an agency do you?"
Gwen shook her head. "I'm afraid not. I know you're probably used to that kind of nanny and I can't offer you that service. I can only promise you that I won't look like a wet dog if you hire me. It's a one time thing."
"Glad to hear it," Arthur chuckled. "One more thing… do you know how to get gum out of hair?"
"Peanut butter," Gwen said immediately.
"How do you treat a chemical burn?"
"Run it under hot water for ten minutes."
"Splint, elevate, and call an ambulance immediately."
"Gunshot wounds?" Merlin asked.
Arthur glared at him, "Really, Merlin?"
"What! We might as well include all of the possibilities."
"I think you just use pressure to stop the bleeding and don't dig it out unless your name is Sawyer and you're stranded on a desert island. Then, dig it out by all means," said Gwen, smiling.
"You just made a LOST reference in normal conversation," said Merlin, astonished. "I love you. I'll hire you if he doesn't."
"You don't have any kids, Merlin," Arthur said, rolling his eyes. "Thank god for that. I can't imagine what disasters would befall the earth if you were to procreate."
"My hypothetical kid would trump your kid, no contest—"
"Sir," Gwen said after clearing her throat, "I know I don't have much to offer you, but if you give me a chance, I promise to give you my very best effort—"
"You're hired," Arthur said.
He nodded and held out his hand for her to shake. "If you give me your address, I'll send someone to pick you up tomorrow morning."
Gwen shook his hand vigorously and beamed at him. Arthur felt his stomach do a somersault. "You won't be disappointed, sir!"
"Right," Arthur said slowly, feeling overwhelmed by her enthusiasm. "Leave your address with Nancy on your way out."
"She also knows where the crepes are," Merlin added.
Arthur jabbed him painfully in the side. "The crepes are finished, unfortunately."
Gwen looked crestfallen for a moment, but quickly regained her composure. "Though I was really looking forward to them, I got something much better! Thank you very much, Mr. Pendragon. See you tomorrow!"
"Wait," said Arthur as she began to take your leave.
He wanted to tell her that her life was about to become a living hell that she would want to off herself by the end of her first workday. He wanted to tell her to run far, far, away and never come back if she wanted to retain what little sanity she had left.
Instead he only said, "You've got a rather large twig sticking out of your hair. I thought you ought to know."
Gwen blushed and patted her head until she located the offending object. "I promise I only make a fool out of myself every once in a while. I'll just….I'll just go home now."
She hurried quickly out of the room before Arthur could utter a single word.
"I've clearly hit rock bottom when the only nanny I can find is certifiable," Arthur moaned as he sunk down in his comfortable office chair.
"I like her," Merlin said, smiling. "She's plucky."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"I think she's resilient, you know, and God knows she'll need to be to deal with him."
"I think otherwise, Merlin," said Arthur, reaching into his desk for a pen and a paper. "I bet she cracks in a week."
"I hope you're wrong," said Merlin, looking at the puddle Gwen had unknowingly left on the floor. "She seems like such a nice girl."
"They always do," Arthur reminded him, not even lifting his eyes off his work.
"I can't believe you used crepes to lure in potential employees," said Merlin after a moment. "You have hit rock bottom indeed."
"It worked, didn't it?"
"I'm ashamed to call myself your friend."
"Good, we'll both definitely be the better for it," Arthur said wryly, finally looking up to smirk at his friend. "Now run along now, Merlin. I'm busy."
"Fine," said Merlin, sighing. "Just promise me you'll give this one a chance."
"She'll need a lot more than my support. She'll need a miracle. Let's face it: I'm feeding her to a wild, hungry lion."
"Ay." Merlin winced, recalling Nanny #407 who had woken up to find her bed covered with warty toads. "I knew her well."
Gwen placed her hands in her pockets and smiled all the way home, ignoring the odd stares she was getting from passerby. She didn't care. Today was the happiest day of her life.
She opened the door to her dingy apartment and cringed as a cockroach crawled over her toe. After today, she'd never have to deal with unwanted creatures, leaky faucets, or peeping toms for a long while.
Gwen stepped over the loose floorboard and to her dresser, where a faded picture of her father stood. She kissed her fingers and pressed them to his face with a sad smile.
"Don't worry daddy, I'm not going to be a nanny forever. It's just for the time being. Someday, I'll make it big. Someday… someday I'll make you proud."
As she removed her coat, something fell out of her pocket and onto the wooden floor. Curious, she picked it up and started to read.
So, you probably think I'm a complete dork, and I don't normally do this, but would you like to go out for a coffee sometime? My number's on the back. Call me whenever you wish. - L
Gwen was puzzled. She had looked positively dreadful today. Even at her best she didn't think she could ever attract such a gorgeous man. For all she knew, he could be an axe murderer or something.
She shook her head. No. No one that gorgeous would ever have to resort to axe murdering. He probably had girls killing themselves just to talk to him.
Gwen sighed happily. She'd had the fortune to meet a handsome stranger, a handsome boss, and secure a wonderful job all in one day. So much happiness called for a scoop of Ben and Jerry's Mint Cookie Ice Cream.
As Gwen happily indulged in God's gift to junk food, her new seven-year-old charge was plotting how to make his new nanny's life a living hell.
"I'll show her," said Mordred, as he scribbled his plans vigorously in his Spider-man notepad. "I'll make her wish she'd never been borned…"
If Gwen had known what was in store for her, she would have run away before it was too late. But it was too late. And, worst of all, she had no idea what was coming.
New story! Came to me while I was eating a delicious bowl of chili, oddly enough. Anyways, let me know what you think. It's my first try at modern day Merlin. I know everyone seems to hate Lancelot, but I actually like him.
Anyways thanks for reading and, as always, let me know what you think. The more feedback I get, the faster I update usually. I don't plead for reviews. If I don't get feedback, I still update, but the motivation isn't as strong because I'm not sure if people are interested or not. I write for myself, but mostly for you guys so please let me know if you're reading so I can decide to continue or not .
:: The title of this chapter comes from Donna Summer's song of the same name::