Notes: The text underlined was meant to be crossed out, but since ff net doesn't allow that, you'll have to use your imagination.
Notes: The text underlined was meant to be crossed out, but since ff net doesn't allow that, you'll have to use your imagination.
Merlin was sad to know Lancelot had been transferred. He was the only one who was nice to him besides Gwen; he would miss him a lot. Since Gwen was busy with work and Lancelot was preparing for his transfer, Merlin was alone in the coffee room. And just his luck, Idiot Blond appeared in the doorway, like Merlin hadn't had a bad enough day already before seeing his gorgeous face… Merlin's subconscious had chosen an inopportune time to betray him.
"Hello, Ears… I mean, Merlin." Blondie smiled.
Merlin stayed silent.
"What? Cat got your tongue?"
Merlin stuck out his tongue to prove to the blond that in fact he had his tongue, but he was refusing to speak to him after all he'd done to him. He was sure Idiot Blond had said something to Lancelot; he was acting weird around him.
Funny, Blond blushed when Merlin showed his tongue.
"Oh, don't be like that. I want to get to know you. So, you're an art major. What's that like?"
"I'm sure you wouldn't understand the concept of studying instead of paying for a degree." Merlin bit out.
"Aha! I made you talk," Blonde winked. He looked beautiful. Damn advisor, he/she/it had put ideas in Merlin's head. "Do you like your career?"
"No, I'm studying art just to see what comes out of it. Of course I like it, idiot. Who would study something that they don't like?"
"I always wanted to be a chef, but my father said that was stupid and I have to go business major as the family tradition dictates."
Blond looked awfully sincere. Merlin was starting to see a new side to him. He honestly seemed sad about his choice. Merlin sympathised, just a little. He'd been planning on entering nursing school so he could have a career that would produce money quickly, but his mother told him he should pursue his dreams. 'You only live once', his mum told him when she paid the tuition for the art major.
Merlin thought all the suits in this company were just spoiled brats. But seeing Blond, he got the impression that they lived trapped in their own world; like being in a cage made of gold. It was still a cage, they were still trapped.
"If you want to be a chef, you should do it and stop caring about what others want. After all, it's your life."
"You make it sound easy," Blond sighed. "Don't tell me your parents don't have expectations about your life."
"My father is gone, I never met him. My mum… she's great, she wants me to be happy."
"Well, I don't have a mother, but I'm sure that if I had one, she would be the same. My father is different, though."
"It's stupid that if you have the money, you can't do whatever you want. I don't have any, and I'm still studying what I like."
"I think that's because you didn't grow up with all those expectations on your back. I guess I envy you that." Blond looked remorseful.
"If you wallow in self pity, then you'll be miserable. You can still do both, you should buy a restaurant and then you'd have an excuse to learn how to cook."
"If I ever buy a restaurant, I'll be in charge of the administration, not the kitchen."
"That's because you're dumb. You can do both. Of course if you prefer to just keep whining, then don't complain."
"I don't whine, that's your forte, Merlin. The only one you have if may I add," the blond smirked.
"Do you have to be this insufferable? Honestly, I haven't met someone this intolerable in my entire life!"
"I could say the same. I haven't met someone this useless. You are the worst receptionist I've ever seen."
"Thank you, your opinion is always appreciated. Has it crossed your mind that I don't care what you think about me or my job? At least I'm useful, unlike others who think they can bother other people just for fun."
"There's something about you, Merlin…" Blond looked at him with a small smile.
Merlin sighed. Apparently he and Idiot Blond would never get along, he must be thinking of some new insult for him. Deciding it was best to just ignore Blond before he decided to share his brand new nickname, Merlin walked next to him to get out of the room, but then prat Blond took him by the arm and when Merlin turned around to see what the hell he wanted (and get evidence of sexual harassment), Blond Airhead threw his coffee at him. Just like that.
"Oh, my God, you idiot!" Merlin grabbed a bunch of napkins and wiped his now ruined shirt.
"I'm sorry, okay? It was an accident." Blond also grabbed a napkin and started scrubbing the front of the shirt. This could be labelled as sexual harassment.
"Don't touch me! Leave me alone!" Merlin batted Blond's hand away.
"I said I was sorry! My coffee was more expensive than your awful shirt and you don't see me complaining. I'll buy you a new one; I'll even make sure that the new shirt is as dreadful as this one."
If Merlin was a woman, he would have slapped Idiot Blond already. But since he wasn't, and he hated physical violence, he just glared and left the damn room. He decided to never set foot in there if Blond was inside ever again. And to think he was beginning to like this jerk. Good thing he always had a spare shirt in his bag. Gwen said he attracted problems, and seeing how Blond Airhead was still bothering him, he thought she was right.
After he changed his shirt, Merlin went to his counter and took out a piece of paper and a pen. He was starting that sexual harassment complaint right now.
To: Human resources.
There's this idiot who keeps bothering me.
While I'm comfortable with my job, I think this company needs to be careful in the hiring process. You have a complete lunatic with an awesome butt working here, and said lunatic is harassing me every chance he gets. I'm the receptionist and I should be polite to everyone, but this jerk face person keeps hassling me for at least an hour every day. I'm sure he must have something else to do, and while he hasn't touched me in an inappropriate manner yet (too bad), I'm afraid he will be soon if I don't do anything (I'm still not sure if I want that or not).
I want to make a formal complaint about this idiotstupid person, he works here, on some floor, and he probably kills puppies in his spare time.
Merlin frowned, looking at what he wrote. This complaint wouldn't make any sense anyway; he didn't even know Blond's name or position. Maybe if he took a picture of him and attached it to the document. Merlin could do a community service and put the words 'Escaped Mental Patient' or 'Have you seen this man? Dangerous and gorgeous' under the picture.
And having a picture of Stupid Blond wouldn't hurt him either. He was reluctant to admit that a small part of him (but only a tiny, tiny part) would miss the blond. Lancelot approached him, smiling sadly.
"Everything finished?" Merlin asked.
"Yeah, I only need a signature. Merlin, did you finally figure out the guy's name you've been asking about?"
"No. It's almost like everyone here is oblivious about the guy."
"Well, I'll tell you who he is. He's –"
"Merlin! Can you help me with something?" Gwen interrupted Lancelot, looking a little bit nervous.
"Sure thing, hold on a minute, Lance was telling something I want to know."
Merlin saw Lancelot glancing at Gwen, almost like he was debating whether to tell Merlin or not.
"The blond's name is Arthur Pendragon, Merlin. He's the owner's son."
Gwen was shocked. She'd never thought Lancelot would say anything to Merlin, she'd asked him to keep the secret. It was true, Arthur played dirty, but Lancelot still shouldn't have said it. Arthur had spent so much time and money on keeping his identity hidden and creating an alias (how Merlin would actually believe that Arthur's name was 'King in shining armour' was beyond her), and now Merlin knew. He knew and looked completely appalled.
"Oh, my God… I called the owner's son an idiot. Oh God, I yelled at him, why hasn't he fired me? Oh, God, oh, God, I'm going to lose my job and I'll have to drop out of school!"
"Merlin, calm down." Gwen got closer to him, shooting Lancelot a reproachful look.
"I thought you should know, Merlin," Lancelot said "for your own good."
"Merlin!" Gawain shouted from the main door. "Help me with these!"
Merlin automatically walked away from the counter, still pale and rather scared.
"Why did you do that?" Gwen glared at Lancelot.
"Look, I know Arthur is your friend, but it's not fair. He can't keep hiding, and he can't buy Merlin. He has to stop messing with him, because I was honest since the beginning, and he just knocked out of the way because he could. I'm not letting him take the easy way. If he wants Merlin, he'll have to fight for him."
"Lance, you don't know Arthur. He was trying to do things right. He just needed more time."
"Well, we all needed more time. He should have played nice instead of blocking my way."
"You really like Merlin, right?" Gwen understood why Lancelot had done this, even though she didn't approve.
"I guess it doesn't matter now, does it?" Lancelot glanced at Merlin, looking sad. "Don't let Arthur hurt him, please."
"Even if you don't believe it, Merlin is my friend too, Lance. I would never do anything that could cause him harm."
Lancelot smiled miserably, making Gwen's heart twinge. He was so broken at losing Merlin that she was left wondering what was worse, having something and losing it or not having it at all.
Morgana tried to cheer her up, but she was still thinking about Lancelot. She knew that sometimes one person's happiness meant sadness for others.
"Maybe we can fix him with someone, Morgana." Gwen was trying to think of some solution that involved everyone being happy.
"We could, although if he likes Merlin, he'll probably be fixated on him for a while."
"I just want to help him. You should have seen him; I bet he wants to murder Arthur."
"Then he should get in line. I'm sure he'll find someone eventually, Gwen. Besides, how can he lose something he didn't have in the first place? Merlin made his choice the first time he called my brother an idiot. Lance never had a shot, honestly."
Gwen knew Morgana was right, still, that didn't mean she liked it. Hopefully Lance would find someone who would make him happy.
Merlin chewed the top of his pen in contemplation. If he quit, he'd have to drop out of school since he needed money for his final project. He was so close to completing the degree; he could suck it up and be nice to the owner's son. Maybe the guy was as mental as he thought and wouldn't remember anything from the last weeks. Merlin wanted to kick himself, how could he have been so oblivious that he didn't realise the guy was the owner of the place? After all, he acted like a spoiled child, which was the biggest clue Merlin got. He wondered why the others employees acted like they didn't know Arthur, if he owned the company. He was a temp, he didn't have a reason to know him, but what about everyone else? And most of all Gwen, who was his friend. Why hadn't she said something and prevented him from making a fool of himself?
Okay, he was going to be nice, he could do it. He could do it. He could do it.
Or maybe not.
"I told you my name is Merlin!" he yelled, and then remembered that he was supposed to be nice. "What can I do for you?"
Blond … Arthur looked at him weirdly.
"You could be more competent," the guy smirked. Maybe Merlin should have accepted that escort thing Will talked about.
"If you have any complaints about my job, sir, then you could talk with my immediate supervisor."
It seemed that the prat was surprised. He kept looking at Merlin with a frown; maybe because before Merlin knew he was the heir to Pendragon's Industries, he would have told him clearly that he should fuck off. Merlin was at loss, if this guy was the boss, why would he waste his time with him, when he probably had better things to do? Well, whatever his intentions were, Merlin's resolution was firm. He would not yell or insult the prat heir. Two more months and then he could quit loudly.
Arthur was flabbergasted. Ears had been extremely polite and hadn't snapped at him even when Arthur brought up the subject of the horrible scarf again. Merlin just pursed his lips and said that everyone had the right to their own opinion. Then it hit Arthur, he must know he was the owner's son. There was no other explanation for Merlin's weird behaviour. He knew it. As soon as people found out his last name, they changed. Arthur had wanted to believe Merlin was different. That he wouldn't care about Arthur's heritage. Well, he wasn't giving up. He would show Merlin that he was the best option he had and that it didn't matter if he was rich.
The advisor told him that if he punched Lancelot, Merlin probably would side with him because he was the victim; Arthur just needed to make Lancelot punch him and then Merlin would feel sympathy for him. The only problem was that Lancelot was gone (and Arthur did his small victory dance when he learned about this), and that left him without anyone who could hit him.
"You want me to what?" Leon was horrified.
"I want you to hit me, right in the face; but not on the lips or the eyes, I still want to look hot. Cheeks are good."
"Arthur, are you on meds? Why would you want me to hit you?"
"It doesn't matter, just do it."
"I could get fired, please, don't ask me to do this."
"Don't be such a girl, Leon. You're worse than Merlin."
"Who? Oh, right, the cute guy in reception. Have you seen those lips?"
Arthur scowled. Apparently everyone in this damn building loved Merlin. When he finally managed to get a date with him, he was locking Merlin up just for him. People could be real perverts, take Leon, he was drooling, probably thinking about what he wanted to do with Merlin. Sickos. The fact that Arthur had thought about it countless times wasn't relevant. He was entitled to think about Merlin that way, because Merlin was his. Oh, and Arthur had fine ideas for Merlin when they finally reached the touchy stage in their relationship. But Leon or anyone else had no right to think about Merlin.
"Arthur?" Leon shook him gently.
"Right. So, punch me."
"We are in the middle of reception, Arthur, everyone will see!" Leon seemed positive about defying Arthur. That annoyed him.
"I'm giving you an order, Leon. Don't worry about your job."
"It's not that… entirely. You're my friend, Arthur, why would I hit you? Besides, if your father finds out he'll kill me."
"Father's on a business trip, and I'm telling you to hit me. Do, it, damn it!"
Arthur turned around. Merlin was looking at them; this was the perfect moment.
"Hit me, come on, do it, do it! DO IT!"
Arthur just felt the blow land on his right cheek, without truly expecting it. He thought Leon would at least give him some warning like 'here I go' or something. Trying to maintain his balance, Arthur felt his cheek burning, this was great, Merlin probably was running directly into his arms right now.
Since Merlin was taking an awfully long time to approach them and defend Arthur from this abusive bully, he turned around again, only to notice Merlin was gone. What the hell? Where was he? Then he glanced and noticed Guinevere and Merlin carrying a box on the opposite side of the room to where they were standing. Damn it.
"Do you want me to hit you again?" asked Leon happily.
Arthur expected that his glare was answer enough.
Seeing his bruised cheek, Arthur knew he needed a better plan. Merlin even told him that he probably 'deserved' the punch because 'nobody punches people without a good reason'. Arthur was sure Merlin wanted to mock him but he restrained himself. This was frustrating Arthur beyond end.
Fine, if Merlin was getting stubborn, so was he. Arthur would order him to be nice and go out on a date with him. Finally something good would come of his last name. Unfortunately, after seeing the advisor's answer he was deflated. Apparently if he forced Merlin to go out with him by threatening to fire him, he could sue him. The stupid advisor told him to 'just ask him out', like it was nothing. Arthur had been trying to do that for a month, and somehow he hadn't managed to get through Merlin's thick head.
Okay, he was asking him out nicely. He could do that.
"Merlin, go out with me!"
"Oh, Arthur, you prick."
Arthur knew asking Morgana to help him with this was a bad idea.
"Look, witch, I'm doing this because I'm desperate. Would you please take it seriously?"
"I'm taking it seriously, Arthur. I don't know Merlin, but Gwen says he is a very nice man. You have to work harder if you want him."
"What was wrong with my question?"
"It wasn't a question; it was you ordering him to go out with you."
"You did the same with Gwen, she told me!" Arthur frowned.
"Yeah, but I have these." Morgana grabbed her breasts in a very indecent manner. "She could hardly say no."
"Well, I do love those," Gwen appeared in the living room, smiling widely "but I guess Morgana was less pushy."
"I'm not pushy," Arthur sneered.
"You are a spoiled brat who thinks everything belongs to him."
"And?" Arthur expected to at least hear something nice.
"Nothing. That's all, I wanted to say it out loud." Morgana smirked.
"How about this?" Gwen sat down next to Arthur, taking his hands. "Merlin, may I go out with you?"
"May I?" said Arthur and Morgana at the same time.
"It's far too formal, Gwen," said the witch disapprovingly.
"That's lame," agreed Arthur.
"Okay, fine, I was trying to help." Gwen crossed her arms in a huff.
"You are too sweet, my love." Morgana stood up and leaned down to kiss Gwen chastely on the lips.
"I told you, if you are doing that in front of me, you have to at least let me watch the best part," said Arthur.
"Look Arthur," Morgana sighed "just ask him nicely. I think even you can get that right."
She would be surprised. Arthur was preparing himself to ask Merlin out nicely. Leon wasn't helpful either, and Arthur was beginning to suspect he was a sadist since he kept asking if Arthur wanted him to punch him again.
Arthur arrived at Merlin's counter, where he was writing something down.
"Good morning, Merlin." Arthur shuddered. He didn't say good morning to anyone, not even Gwen.
Merlin must know that too, since he looked at him, shocked.
"Good morning," he said, looking like a scared puppy. It shouldn't be this adorable, yet it was.
"So, Merlin, do you like Italian food?"
"Oh. How about Chinese?"
"Too many condiments."
"I'm not particularly fond of spicy food."
"Damn it! What the hell do you eat then? Dirt?"
Arthur was tempted to call Leon so he could hit him again. He was trying to be nice, but Merlin was making this incredibly difficult. Merlin frowned, like this was what he expected from Arthur.
"I mean," Arthur tried to do some damage control "would you like to go out with me, on a date? We can go whenever you want."
Merlin stood very still, like he was frozen.
"A-Are you asking me out?" Merlin stuttered.
"Yes. How about tonight?"
"I can't either. Look, Arthur," Arthur felt something light up in excitement inside him at hearing Merlin's voice saying his name "I'm sure you are a… somewhat decent person. But I'm not sure we are compatible."
"How do you know? You need to go out with me first and then decide."
"I suppose… I'll have to think about it," mused Merlin.
Arthur was agape. This was the first time in the history of his life that someone actually told him they needed to think about dating him. HIM. He was expecting either a yes, or a no (mostly a yes), but this was new. What was he supposed to say?
"Have it your way," Arthur finally managed to say, feeling incredibly hurt by Merlin's rejection. "I'm a good catch; it's your loss, man."
Arthur walked away with what was left of his dignity. He would kill whoever ran that stupid website. He'd just humiliated himself for nothing. This must be how all those girls Arthur had cast off had felt, it wasn't nice. Morgana would say that this was karma. Arthur didn't believe in any of that crap, and yet after hearing Merlin saying that he would 'think about it', Arthur felt like he was doomed.
Fine, Merlin didn't want him, he could deal with it. It wasn't like Merlin was the only guy on the planet. He could get anyone he wanted, well, that wasn't entirely true, he wanted Merlin and he couldn't get him, but the main point was that if he wanted anyone besides Merlin, he could get them. Yeah, that was the point. This was a rare event, and he shouldn't think so much about it. He was rejected, big deal, he'd survived worse things; he grew up with Morgana, and that was hell. He needed to stop thinking about it. Now would be excellent.
Arthur was looking at the 'Dragon's Eyes' catalogue, wondering why his order hadn't arrived. He'd paid a lot for those night vision goggles, and he would need them since Merlin was a blind idiot who couldn't see the awesome boyfriend right in front of him. The person at the stupid website told him that he should wait, because he had been treating Merlin like a servant. He hadn't, by the way. He was nice and polite and Merlin didn't appreciate it. But whatever, Arthur had invested a lot of time, effort and money (particularly money) in this, and only got his heart broken. He finally got all those comments about how empty you feel without the one you desire. He was turning into a bloody girl.
Merlin glanced at Arthur, who had stopped his intrusion at Merlin's counter two days ago, seeing him chatting with Leon. He looked a little bit sad, and he seemed to have decided to avoid looking at Merlin's work station. Merlin knew the guy was proud, he'd probably been hurt by Merlin's words, but he didn't say them with that intention. He honestly needed to think about it because before the prat asked him out, he was considering suing him for sexual harassment.
However, seeing him like this, Merlin felt like there was more to the blond than the stalking and the rudeness. Merlin's philosophy was to never judge a book by its cover; maybe he could give Arthur a chance and see what he was like outside this building. Like a normal person. Oh, he hoped he wouldn't regret this.
"Arthur, can I talk to you for a moment?" Merlin approached Arthur and Leon, interrupting them. It didn't look like they were discussing anything important.
Leon smiled widely, and patted Merlin's arm as he walked away from them. Merlin liked Leon, he was nice, although a little bit weird. Arthur didn't look too fond of Leon, since he glared at him strongly as the man entered the elevator.
"Well?" Arthur returned his gaze to Merlin, waiting for whatever he had to say.
"I've thought about it. And although I get the feeling I'll regret it, I want to go out with you." Merlin tried to say this without blushing. He must have failed, since he could feel his cheeks burning.
"I want to go out with you," repeated Merlin.
"Sorry, I didn't catch it right, what did you say?"
"Okay, fine, if you're going to be like this then forget about it!" Merlin huffed angrily. And to think he was considering giving this idiot another chance.
"No, no, sorry!" Arthur grabbed Merlin's wrist right before he made his dramatic exit. "How about tomorrow night?"
"Tomorrow is fine," said Merlin curtly, still in defensive mode.
"Okay, I'll pick you up after your classes at the university. Seven o'clock, right?"
"Right… how did you know about that?" Merlin frowned. He didn't remember mentioning this to Arthur.
"That's not important," smiled Arthur. He had a nice smile, Merlin had to admit. "See you tomorrow at seven then!"
As he saw Arthur walking away looking unbearably smug, Merlin felt relieved that he'd bought that stun gun, just in case Arthur got obnoxious.
Arthur was ecstatic. He kicked karma's ass and he got a date with Merlin. Now what?
Though every fibre of his being protested, he wrote to the website again. He needed to know what to do, should he buy Merlin flowers? He seemed like the girly type, he must like flowers or chocolates. He hadn't felt this nervous since father told him he would take over the company in his twentieth birthday. Arthur had dated, a lot, why was he so nervous?
This was another date, it wasn't something special; except it was something special, because he was dating Merlin. Merlin, the guy he had been stalking for the last two months, the one he followed almost every day and the one who made him feel like an idiot every time he smiled. Merlin and his beautiful smile, and his great ears, and his horrible scarf. He needed this to be perfect, and as he was reading the reply from the website, he felt like witches truly existed.
Gwen received a text from Morgana, warning her about Arthur. So it wasn't a big surprise when she heard the 'GUINEVERE!' coming from Arthur's office. Breathing heavily, she walked towards the office, resigned to what was happening next.
"Yes, Arthur?" Gwen entered the office, trying to look calm.
"YOU KNEW! You knew Morgana ran that stupid website and you gave me the address anyway!"
"You needed help, Arthur," she said. "And well, you have a date with Merlin, right? Everything worked out fine."
"No, you let that witch meddle in my life! I knew she was behind this. I knew it, nobody else could be that rude and evil."
"Well." Gwen didn't know how to object that. Morgana was rather devious. "It doesn't matter, Arthur. You have a date with Merlin, you should be celebrating."
"I guess you're right. And by the way, tell your girlfriend that if she says anything about this to father or anyone else, I'll kill her."
"I'll pass along the message."
"And that Sophia was fat, that wasn't my fault."
"I'll add that too. Anything else?"
Gwen was wide-eyed, putting a hand on her mouth. Arthur was … grateful. Merlin really must be a wizard.
"You're welcome," she said, after a long pause to give Arthur the opportunity to take back what he said.
Gwen smiled, leaving Arthur's office happily. Merlin was the best thing it could happen to Arthur. She was sure of it.
Merlin was chattier today, and Gwen listened carefully to everything he said about his recent date with Arthur. He seemed happy about it.
"Even when he's a little spoiled, he's nice, he even bought me flowers the first time we went out, although I'm not a girl, it was still lovely."
"I'm glad you two finally worked things out, Merlin. Do you like Arthur?"
"I think I do. Maybe I'm as mental as he is."
"Maybe you are."
"And you wouldn't believe the flat he owns. It's huge; I think it's bigger than my mum's house. It has all these rooms; I even got lost looking for the bathroom."
"Oh, so you spent the night there, huh? I didn't know you were this easy, Merlin." Gwen winked at him, enjoying how Merlin blushed.
"It wasn't like that, he forgot something there; we didn't do anything!" he said heatedly.
"It's an old trick, Merlin. Pretending he forgot something to make you go into his flat and then… well, there's always a convenient bed for you two to sleep in."
"Hey, I told you it wasn't like that. He didn't try anything, he was a perfect gentleman. And honestly, I never thought I would see those two words describing Arthur."
"I'm just teasing you Merlin, I know you and I know Arthur. He's my boss after all."
"WHAT? Why didn't you tell me anything?" Merlin glared.
"And miss all this fun? Never!" she smiled. "And… well, I must confess something."
"The website I told you about... My girlfriend owns the company, and she runs the place."
"And?" Merlin was too smart, he sensed she was leaving something unsaid.
"She's kind of Arthur's sister."
"You told me to ask advice from Arthur's sister?" Merlin was appalled.
"Well, no, no. No his sister… his stepsister." Gwen chuckled nervously.
"Oh, that's better, thanks," Merlin said sarcastically. "I can't believe this!"
"Morgana is really sweet, Merlin, she was trying to help. And she did, you two are together now, right?"
"But she's his sister! His sister! I made a fool of myself asking her for advice. She probably was laughing at me this entire time!" Merlin started moving his arms up and down; that never was good.
"Of course not. She was laughing at Arthur. They have a complicated relationship. Come on Merlin, enjoy your romance."
"I'm angry with you for this." Merlin crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"I'm sure you'll get over it."
And seeing how Arthur entered the coffee room and kissed Merlin on the lips, making him blush, she knew Merlin would get over it really quick.
"I know you said you'll quit when you finish your degree." Arthur was anxious. He was ready to make a bigger commitment, even when they'd only been dating for a month and a half.
"Yes, I only worked at your company to pay my tuition. School over, tuition over."
"Okay, fine… but… you don't have to."
"Valerie will come back eventually, Arthur," smiled Merlin and Arthur had a hard time to not pinning him down on the damn table and having wild sex with him right there in the restaurant. Arthur should have been smart and made dinner in his apartment instead. Then this could have been a lot easier.
"Yeah, but she is useless. Not that you're any better, but at least you are cuter."
"Do you even know who she is?" Merlin frowned.
"Sure I do." Arthur didn't, but he wouldn't admit it to Merlin. He'd already chastised Arthur because he didn't know half of his staff.
"What does she look like, then?"
Arthur just leaned down and kissed Merlin to see if he forgot the subject. A little cough distracted him though. Looking up, he saw his waiter bringing their meals.
"You totally don't know how she looks like," smiled Merlin while stabbing a small meatball with a fork. Arthur tried to stop his shudder. He and forks hadn't make peace yet. Merlin seemed to notice it.
"Are you okay?" he asked with concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"You don't look fine."
"I have this thing with forks." Seeing Merlin smirking, Arthur got what he thought about this. Pervert. "It's nothing kinky!" Disappointment flashed through Merlin's eyes. "My ex was a little bit… crazy. She stabbed me with a fork when I broke up with her."
"Oh, my God! Are you serious?"
"Yes, Father filed a restraining order against her. I think she's married now. But I still can't look at forks the same way."
Merlin was laughing. Laughing at him! And the worst part was that Arthur didn't mind. He actually enjoyed making Merlin smile, even at his expense. He loved that laugh.
"Well, I can see how your family is used to filing legal things then. You know your sister suggested I file a sexual harassment complaint against you? I even had the draft written."
Morgana what? That witch! When Arthur found out that Merlin had also consulted the blasted website, he wasn't thrilled. Morgana had played them both, and well, as nice as the result was, she was deceptive and manipulative. But now that he knew that bitch told Merlin this he was going to get his revenge; soon.
"Morgana is mental, honestly. I can't believe we're associates now."
"I can't believe you didn't know Morgana owned Camelot's industries," Merlin said cheerfully. "Or that the company had a website and it was the same one you wrote to for advice."
Yeah, that was really dumb on Arthur's part, he admitted to himself later. He had all the clues, but he never put them together. He blamed Merlin, since his sexy lips always distracted him from important stuff.
And remembering important stuff, Arthur got anxious again since he still hadn't asked what he had in mind.
"Merlin, you know the big party the company throws every year?"
"Gwen told me about it, yes."
"How about you go with me… as my boyfriend."
Merlin looked surprised at Arthur, dropping his fork (Arthur was grateful for that). Every second Merlin didn't answer, Arthur got the hateful idea he was going to reject him.
"I'd really like that," Merlin finally smiled, making all Arthur's insecurities evaporate.
Arthur grabbed Merlin by the arm, pulling him closer and kissing him soundly. Merlin responded enthusiastically, however when Arthur's free hand went down to his crotch, Merlin batted it away.
"We are in a public place, Arthur," he said, while Arthur kissed his neck. "Do I have to remind you what happened in the last restaurant we did this?"
"I never liked Thai food anyway," grumbled Arthur, with his lips still on Merlin's neck. "Fine, let's go."
"What? But my meal!"
"You said you didn't like Italian food that much."
Merlin, lying down on Arthur's enormous bed with said Arthur on top of him, found he agreed with Arthur's earlier remark entirely. Italian food would never surpass this. Actually, nothing would ever surpass this, Merlin was ruined forever.
Standing in the big ballroom, seeing all the elegant men and women, Merlin wondered if it was a mistake to agree to come with Arthur to this event. He was way out of his league, even when Morgana had kindly lent him a suit (that Gwen later told him she totally bought for him because apparently 'it suited him'), he felt apprehensive. Merlin knew he wasn't as bad as the psycho ex, but he still had a long way to go if he wanted to fit into this fancy world Arthur lived in. And he wasn't even sure that he wanted to fit in.
"Merlin!" Gwen ran directly to him, kissing him on the cheek.
"Hello." He tried not to fidget too much.
"Don't tug the sleeves, Merlin," chastised Morgana, approaching them. "You look like a five year old when you do that."
Gwen looked truly beautiful, Merlin mused. In her green dress, which fit her perfectly; rather discreet if you compared it with what Morgana was wearing. Arthur often said that his stepsister was an indecent exhibitionist and now he understood why. She was wearing a red dress that made her breasts quite noticeable. It must be a family trait, being stunning. Arthur always got glances when they walked together, and Merlin felt self-conscious about it. He wouldn't say anything to Arthur because the last thing he needed was Arthur thinking he was insecure, but still he felt it. Besides, Arthur was far too aware of his looks for Merlin to feed the blond's ego any more.
"Well, I'm bored," said Merlin.
"Arthur off with the vultures, I see," Morgana smirked. "You'll get used to it."
"Yeah, I did," Gwen smiled.
"I don't do that often, do I, darling?" Morgana frowned.
"Let's put it this way. You and Arthur are very alike in almost every sense, including this one."
Merlin knew this was getting way too personal for him to be there, so he tried to make a discreet exit when he felt someone's strong arm pulling him until he crashed into a well-built body. Arthur.
"Where were you? I told you to stay with me." Arthur glared.
"You seemed occupied, Arthur, I didn't want to intrude."
"You are very rude, dear brother. Leaving poor Merlin here all alone, if you aren't careful, someone might steal him from you." Morgana looked smug.
"You are no better, Morgana. You always leave Gwen alone, I have to chase away all the jerks who hit on her, you should be grateful."
Morgana opened her purse, taking out a small fork. Arthur looked dismayed, but he still kept glaring at Morgana.
"Who carries a stupid fork?" Arthur said. "And for your information, I'm not afraid of it anymore."
Before Morgana proceed to prove how Arthur was indeed still afraid of it, Gwen took her arm and smiled gently. Morgana sighed and put back the fork in her purse, resigned.
A group of men walked directly towards them, and Arthur chatted animatedly with them, still holding Merlin tightly. It wasn't until one of the men glanced at him that Arthur noticed his iron-grip on Merlin.
"Oh, this is my boyfriend, Merlin!" he said happily, while Merlin blushed.
Arthur introduced Merlin to almost every guy in the group. Then he started every conversation with 'This is Merlin, my boyfriend'. He even told the bloody waiter about it, like he would care who Arthur or Merlin were.
"Arthur." Merlin tried to sound sympathetic. "I get that you are…. committed to this relationship. It's not necessary for you to come out of the closet to every person we cross paths with. I doubt they care anyway."
"I'm proud of this. You're my first boyfriend; I want to show you off."
There's nothing to show off, Merlin wanted to say. He just smiled and chewed his bottom lip in apprehension. Arthur seemed awfully sincere about this, and the worst part was that Merlin truly believed him. When Arthur said 'we'll be together forever', Merlin believed it. Every promise and dream Arthur expressed about them, Merlin believed it.
It was the first time that Merlin took a leap of faith like that. So far, he wasn't regretting it.
Of course, he faltered when he actually saw Arthur's father. He was… scary. He looked serious and demanding, and far too judgemental. Morgana and Uther were talking (more like discussing) and Merlin tried to ease Arthur's hold that had moved from his waist to his wrist. Morgana was also taking Gwen's hand in her own, tightening the grip every time Uther said something she didn't like.
"You can't keep the website, Morgana, it costs money and it's useless."
"I don't care, I started with that website and I'm keeping it. Are you forgetting that I'm an associate now, and not just your daughter? I get to decide, and the website stays."
"Please, make her understand." Uther looked at Gwen, who smiled kindly.
Merlin knew that when Uther found out about Gwen, he disowned Morgana again. Morgana hardly cared, but Gwen convinced her to make peace with Uther and then the old man caved and accepted her into the family. Morgana said that Uther liked Gwen even more than Arthur and Morgana combined. Gwen had a certain charm, Merlin knew. It didn't mean he would have the same luck.
Then Uther glanced at Arthur, and Merlin froze. Maybe if he stood very still everyone would pretend he didn't exist.
"Arthur." Uther's voice was like a slap, honestly, how did he do that?
"Father." Arthur's tone was equally cold.
Uther looked at Merlin, like he was waiting for someone to tell him who the hell he was. Merlin tried to look calm even though he was a nervous wreck inside.
"Who are you?" Uther asked in a dry tone.
"I'm Merlin Emrys, sir. I'm a friend of Arthur's" Merlin tried to pull his hand away but Arthur moved his own hand and trapped Merlin's.
"He's my boyfriend, father." Arthur seemed decided, although Merlin noticed the small falter in his voice.
"Is that so?" Uther looked Merlin up and down, like he was assessing whether he was an acceptable boyfriend for Arthur.
"How old are you?" Uther frowned.
"I'm 23 years old, sir."
"Do you have a career?"
"I'm an art major; I'll graduate in a few days."
"Do you have a criminal record?"
"I once stole candy from my friend Will. He never found out, though, I don't know if it counts."
"Do you mind if I have you investigated by one of my people?" Uther smiled, almost like he expected Merlin to accept if he sugarcoated it.
"Father!" Arthur scoffed. "I don't care what you think, Merlin's my boyfriend, you can't ask –"
"I don't mind," interrupted Merlin, feeling like he was being tested. "I doubt they'll find anything interesting, but go ahead."
"I like him," Uther approved, and Merlin let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "You are adopting, I want grandchildren."
"Father, it's too soon for that kind of pressure."
"And you are marrying in the same place you mother and I did; you too, Morgana. I want a double wedding."
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Morgana said. "We want to take things slow."
"You have been with Guinevere for almost three years now, and… how long have you two been dating?" Uther looked at Merlin.
"Two months, sir." Merlin knew that it was soon, Uther would probably slow down after hearing this.
"It's enough time, none of Arthur's conquests lasted more than a month."
"Sophia lasted two," corrected Morgana, smirking.
"Because Arthur was afraid to break up with her." Uther waved his hand. "None of that, you are getting married and you are giving me grandchildren. Welcome to the family, Merlin." Uther raised his glass in a toast.
Merlin didn't know if being welcomed into the Pendragon family was a good thing, but at least he could breathe again.
They were dancing, feeling content about how the evening had gone, when Arthur laughed quietly.
"I can't believe you told my father he could investigate you."
"I don't mind. Don't tell me you didn't do the same. I saw the file on your computer; you could have at least changed the name so I couldn't see it."
"Damn it, I forgot! But my motivations were entirely different, I wanted to get into your pants, my father only wants to be a pain."
"Well, I don't know, I'm pretty adorable, maybe he wants to get close to me as well."
Arthur coughed, trying to erase that image from his head.
"It's too soon to think about marriage and kids," added Merlin to change the subject.
"Yeah, my father is being dramatic. He kept saying he'll die soon and he wants grandchildren before that. Gaius says he's as healthy as a horse."
"That's your family's doctor, right? Morgana told me."
"Yeah, he's awesome. Maybe marriage and kids are too much, but how about moving in together?"
Merlin tensed immediately. Arthur noticed, and frowned. He liked Merlin a lot. Damn it, he loved him, even though he wasn't that good at this emotional stuff. Why did Merlin doubt their relationship?
"I think that we should wait at least another month, don't you?"
"I'm sure of this, Merlin. I'm asking you to take a leap of faith, but if you don't feel comfortable, I'll accept it and wait until you are ready."
Arthur tried to sound reassuring, but his disappointment showed in his face. He couldn't help it, he hated to wait.
They kept dancing in silence, both lost in their thoughts. Merlin smiled, and tightened his hold on Arthur.
"I would love to move in with you," he said.
"Really?" Arthur smiled back.
Gwen glanced at the dance floor, seeing Merlin and Arthur dancing, and whispered to Morgana. She took out a camera, taking a picture of them.
"This is going on the wall," Morgana said happily.
"It will look great," approved Gwen.
Once they were back in their apartment, Gwen went to change into something more comfortable while Morgana opened her laptop.
A co-worker gave me this address. I don't know what to do. I always thought I was straight, but now I discovered that I'm a dominant gay. I had a small fling with my boss (well, we only kissed once and I hit him once too), and realised that I like that (you know… kissing and hitting). Does that make me weird?
I liked a co-worker of mine, but he was transferred. I'm seriously thinking in following him to where he is, but if he doesn't like me back, then what would I do?
I'm confused and I need help, please!
Long distance lover.
Morgana smiled. It seemed that another person was in need of her services.
But that's another story…
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the fic, even when comedy isn't my forte. I got the suggestion of writing another companion fic for Gaius and Uther; that would be interesting (after all Arthur learned his stalker habits somewhere). Thank you all for reading!