"That's him Gwen!" Merlin hissed spotting a familiar head of golden hair further down the street.
"That's who?" Gwen asked not looking up from the frankly massive concoction Merlin had put together for her. Though to be fair it was as much for her pleasure as it was for her safety, being six months pregnant in scorching hot summer weather could apparently make even mild tempered, sweet Gwen scary. He made a note to ask Lance if the swelling around his…royal jewels from the miss thrown book had gone down any.
"The kidnapping, possibly in a child slavery ring who for some reason brings them here for ice cream, possibly as a bribe to keep them quiet while he's doing his unmentionable crime business, likely Mafia business I'm thinking going by the suits guy!" Merlin hissed.
"Oh that guy you've been obsessing over?" Gwen asks absently swirling her spoon happily through the mint choc chip ice and bbq sauce layer.
"Obsessi….Gwen he comes in every day! With seven different children! He came in last Sunday three times through the day!" Merlin spluttered.
"And the fact you described him as having golden hair, bright blue eyes and a golden tan with a firm, muscularly strong body, that has nothing to do with your obsessing?" Gwen finally looks at him to raise her eyebrows.
"You're mean with hormones, I agree with Morgana, we're taking Lance for the snip so this never happens again," Merlin pouted as Gwen laughed at him.
"Alright inside and pick what you want," The likely criminal master mind that Merlin was not obsessing over said to the kidnapped child of today as he opened the door.
"You know you love me rea…" Gwen paused as the man spoke before spinning around. "Arthur!"
"Gwen!" The man gawped before he flushed a bright red.
"Aunty Gwen!" The four year old wriggled loose from the man and raced over to hug Gwen.
"Hello Sammy," Gwen smiled fondly.
"Wait!" Merlin exclaimed. "Arthur! Sammy! Morgana's Arthur and Sammy!"
"How do you know my name?" Sammy frowned suspiciously at him, and suddenly Merlin wondered how he could have been so stupid, from the pictures Gwen had shown him at least five of the kids the man, Arthur, had been bringing in were clearly hers!
"This is your uncle Merlin," Gwen chuckled.
"Merlin!" Arthur spluttered staring wide eyed and horrified at Merlin.
"Yeah? It's been on my name tag for the last four months you have been coming in here daily!" Merlin said defensively.
"But…but…" The man that Merlin had met, the put together, polite to the point of snobbery man was actually gawping.
"Yes he's that Merlin," Gwen said helpfully.
"You're the uncle Merlin that thends uth all the cool thtuff!" Sammy squealed happily. Merlin smiled at her cute lisp.
"Yeah that's me, what will you be having today?" He grinned.
"Bubble gum and mango with three chocolate flaketh and thprinkleth," Sammy listed off.
"Arthur!" Gwen hissed at him.
"I erm…" Arthur floundered.
"Uncle Arthur promithed I could have whatever I wanted if I came with him and didn't tell mummy or daddy!" Sammy pouted.
"Why?" Gwen frowned. Arthur coughed suddenly looking like a trapped animal as his eyes flickered between Gwen and Merlin frantically. "Wait you…Merlin's…oh Arthur," She looked so fondly exasperated Merlin wondered what the heck he had done.
"I don't…its…I couldn't and…they…"
"Arthur you bribed your nieces and nephews with ice cream so that you could come to shop daily to see Merlin," Gwen smiled.
"No!" Arthur denied forcefully with a glare to Gwen who just smiled back.
"Yes, why else where you coming here daily then?" Gwen asked.
"I wouldn't fight with it, hormones have made it vindictive and scary, you may also want to invest in a cup, shoulder pads, knee pads and a helmet if you are going to take it on," Merlin advised ignoring Gwen's glare as he knocked together Sammy's concoction. "And I finish work early on Fridays," He said smiling at Arthur when he had handed the ice cream to a happy Sammy.
"I know," Arthur said confused before blushing darkly. "I mean…"
"I like Italian food, especially that one on Whetstone Lane, Angelo's," Merlin informed him with amusement.
"Ok…oh! Oh! Right I…erm…five o'clock?" Arthur was blushing darkly now.
"Sounds good," Merlin nodded.
"Right, right, good, great. Sammy come on," Arthur picked Sammy up when she didn't seem to be moving quick enough and hurried to the door before pausing and hurrying back. "I will get you a year's supply of sewing…stuff if you do not tell Morgana about this!" He hissed.
"And stop Gwaine from buying anything inappropriate for the baby?" Gwen raised her eyebrow.
"Deal!" Arthur groaned before with another blushing look to Merlin ran out the shop, Sammy still held in his arms happily licking at her ice cream and waving bye to them.
"Shut up and don't say a word!" Merlin glared at the stain he was obliterating from the counter.
"I know your mother taught you to speak better to women, especially pregnant ones," Gwen sniffed.
"You aren't a woman right now, you are a scary, manipulative monster," Merlin said factually.
"Morgana is never going to let you live this down," She sing songed behind him, not denying his claims he noticed!
"I said not a word!"
"She's been trying to get you two to go on a date together for two years!" Gwen carried on.
"Oh, wait till I tell Lance, he's going to love this!"
"Gwen!" Merlin whined fruitlessly.
Merlin fiddled with the cuff of his shirt as he waited outside the shop, resisting the urge to check the time again. Arthur was running fifteen minutes late the last time he had checked. And he was aware of Freya's increasingly sympathetic looks through the window.
"I am so sorry!" Merlin jumped as a car screeched to a halt in front of him, Arthur calling to him through the open passenger window.
"Not a great first impression," Merlin commented a little coolly, mainly he was relieved Arthur had shown up.
"It was work, things just exploded the last two hours and every time I tried to get out the door there was just another call I had to take!" Arthur explained. Smiling a little Merlin slid into the car and buckled himself in, taking note of the amazingly comfy leather seats and clearly expensive car. "I didn't even get a chance to go home early like I planned and change," Arthur muttered unhappily as they turned down the road to Angelo's, it was really only a few minutes from the ice cream shop. Looking at him Merlin realised he looked less mafia boss and more just starting to unwind from a hard day businessman.
"What would you have worn?" Merlin asked as Arthur looked for somewhere to park his car.
"Hmm? Oh, erm, I planned on changing into a near pair of trousers, a blue button up and silver tie with a jacket matching my trousers," Arthur said looking a little confused as he parked and turned the car off. Slipping out of the car without saying anything Merlin made his way round to Arthur as he got out himself.
"Hmm, let's see…" Arthur stared at him confused as Merlin reached up and undid his tie and threw it into the still open car, then reached up and undid the top three buttons of Arthur's shirt. He reached down and took Arthur's cufflinks out, carefully slipping them into the driver's side door pocket before he rolled both sleeves up to Arthur's elbows, revealing delightfully muscled forearms that Merlin just knew he had! "Perfect," Merlin grinned up at him.
"This is perfect?" Arthur frowned looking down at himself.
"Well, a pair of jeans would have been nicer, but yeah, perfect," Merlin nodded before snatching Arthur's keys and shutting the car door and locking it, he then grabbed Arthur's hand and started tugging him to the restaurant.
"But it's a first date," Arthur frowned sounding confused.
"And I want to spend it with you, not someone stuffed into a suit. I prefer relaxed to impressive any day of the week," Merlin laughed.
"Huh," Arthur sounded as though he couldn't comprehend that but Merlin let it go as they entered Angelos. He was impressed with the fact that they got a seat straight away, Angelo's was pretty popular and was known for a good half an hour wait for a table. But Arthur muttered something and the next thing they were sitting down.
"So," Merlin started to say after they had ordered their drinks.
"Go on," Arthur sighed.
"Four months and you couldn't ask me for a date?" Merlin asked.
"I…urgh look I come across as cocky and arrogant and egotistically confident and, I can be, but when it comes to people I…you know Morgana! Well, we had the same upbringing! And…everyone I have been with before I've never actually had to ask out per say, they just…they want to be with a Pendragon so if I show a small bit of interest I'm on a date with them. I just…didn't…I couldn't…" Arthur looks so frustrated with himself that Merlin reaches across the table and touches Arthur's hand gently.
"It's ok, you're right I know Morgana. The first time we spoke she absolutely ripped into me because she was scared that I was going to take Gwen from her," Merlin smiled softly.
"I don't understand, you two are good friends but you have never actually met?" Arthur asked.
"I know it's weird. We live in the same city and we've been good friends for just under two years, but any chances we have actually had of meeting each other we have never managed, though to be fair Morgana only actually wanted to meet me in person the last eight months. But we're good talking on the phone," Merlin shrugged.
"Leon grilled Gwen and Lance for about two hours to make sure you were actually gay with the amount of time that you two spend on the phone to each other. I'm pretty sure he asked for your entire dating history in detail," Arthur snickered.
"I know Morgana told me all about it, and how she was winding him up about it, your sister is one scary lady," Merlin laughed.
"You should have tried growing up with her, being the younger brother!" Arthur winced making Merlin laugh even harder.
"Oh God, I feel so sorry for you!" Merlin squeezed Arthur's hand, and then let go with a blush when he realised he had kept hold of it.
"Don't get me wrong I love her to death but she can be…" Arthur frowned as he tried to think what to say.
"A scary, cruel, cold manipulative witch?" Merlin offered. He blinked across the table at the sight of Arthur tilting his head back and laughing, his blue eyes sparkling in humour. It was…well it was an incredibly sexy sight.
"Exactly," Arthur nodded.
"So, is it true you asked Leon on his stag night if he had lost his mind or if she had put a love spell on you?" Merlin grinned mischievously as Arthur started spluttering.
"Yeah, too much to drink, I was sure she was going to skin me alive with her nails when he told her,"
"Are you ready to order?" The waiter smiled at them.
"Oh erm, I'll just have the spaghetti carbonara," Merlin said off the top of his head realising they had been here nearly fifteen minutes and not even looked at the menus.
"Ah, the same please," Arthur shrugged handing the menu over carelessly. "I believe we have you to thank you the fairy tale romance that is Gwen and Lance?"
"Yeah that's completely my fault," Merlin laughed holding his hands up. "I knew Gwen from when we were kids, met Lance in uni, and live to rue the day I introduced them. They are sickening aren't they,"
"I swear they spend hours at home just staring soulfully into each other's eyes and reciting sonnets to each other," Arthur sighed dreamily and fluttered his eye lashes dramatically making Merlin burst out laughing and Arthur look quite pleased with himself.
"Is it just me or can you hear the welling of a violin led move song playing whenever they see each other and kiss?" Merlin managed to ask between laughter.
"No not just you," Arthur laughed. "God help their kids, we're going to have a bunch of soulful, dreamy eyed little fairy tale princess and princes running around,"
"Oh god, don't," Merlin choked clutching his side as a stitch formed.
"You've pictured it to?" Arthur asked dryly. Merlin couldn't help but think he loved his sense of humour as he nodded in agreement.
"Save my side, how do you and Lance know each other?" Merlin asked taking sips of his coke to try and calm down.
"Ah, we went to school together, Lance was a scholarship student, I was a prat. I picked on him until one day I got frustrated at not getting a response from him and went to hit him,"
"What happened?" Merlin asked.
"We were pretty evenly matched, knocked seven bells out of each other. Our parents were called in and I took the blame because I didn't want to risk Lance getting kicked out of school because of his scholarship. He caught my father ripping me a new one as we went to the car. The next day he sat beside me and wouldn't take no for an answer," Arthur smiled fondly.
"Gwen spent the first three months of our friendship accidentally insulting me," Merlin offered.
"What?" Arthur laughed.
"She used to have this really bad habit of trying to say nice things to people and ended up insulting them by accident, realising it and then flustering and making it even worse. The first few weeks I thought she didn't really like me, then I realised that she was trying to be my friend," Merlin smiled.
"Oh!" Arthur blinked.
"What?" Merlin asked confused.
"When we first met, I thought she hated my guts but…"
"Yeah that was Gwen trying to be nice to you and make friends," Merlin chuckled.
"She made almost as good a first impression as me huh?" Arthur smiled sheepishly. Gods Merlin just wanted to hug his strong body and kiss him when he looked like that!
"Stealing your nieces and nephews and bribing them with ice cream to stay quiet…yeah that was a pretty impressive first impression," Merlin smiled teasingly.
"I feel a real idiot," Arthur groaned.
"Don't, it's cute," Merlin laughed.
"Cute!" Arthur spluttered looking affronted.
"Sorry you're not getting anything better than that, it was cute!" Merlin giggled. Arthur shook his head with a slight pout but he was looking amused.
"You know Morgana will be unbearable," Merlin smiled softly as he cut into their shared slice of chocolate cake. They had been in the restaurant for about four hours now, talking about everything and nothing.
"Why?" Arthur blinked at him, chocolate lying just on the corner of his mouth. Merlin chuckled shaking his head and reached across the table to wipe it for him with his thumb. He blinked and all his blood shot south when Arthur gently captured his wrist in strong, powerful calloused fingers, his tongue flicking out to take the chocolate off Merlin's thumb while his blue eyes locked Merlin's own wide ones in place.
"I…erm…huh…erm…" Merlin flustered.
"Morgana?" Arthur smirked letting go of his hand like he hadn't just bloody sensually licked Merlin's thumb!
"I she…she…" Merlin coughed and forced himself back together. "She's been trying to set us up pretty much the entire time I have known her,"
"Wait, you're the blind date she kept trying to set me up on?" Arthur gawped at him across the table, any signs of the playfulness from moments ago gone leaving Merlin to pout.
"Oh gods, I should have just let her! We would have met two years ago!" Arthur groaned.
"Ah, one of my old teachers from Uni Professor Kilgharrah, he always said that everyone is destined to meet the right people in their lives at the right time, not before and not after. And if you are meant to be important to each other than you'll meet when your destiny is ready for it," Merlin smiled.
"Sounds interesting," Arthur said thoughtfully.
"Like…if I hadn't gone to the uni I did, and if some first year hadn't knocked into me making me drop my flask a break it, I wouldn't have gone into the coffee shop and met Lance the way I did, and wouldn't have introduced him to Gwen three weeks later who had just broken up with her boyfriend and was more than happy to see Lance's big strong knightly shoulders and analy retentive politeness. And they would be getting ready to have the first of what is likely to be a large brood of soulful children," Merlin explained.
"I like that theory. We circled around each other with plenty of chances to meet but never did until the time was right," Arthur hummed.
"Exactly," Merlin nodded.
"I'm glad we did meet," Arthur's attention turned back to Merlin, his smile soft and slightly sweet in a way Merlin would bet that not many people saw.
"So…the ice cream shop?"Arthur asked slowly, clearly unsure if he was going to insult Merlin. They were walking slowly hand in hand across to the car.
"My uncle Gaius owns it but he broke his hip and had to have surgery, standing all day serving is a big no no. I've taken over running the place while he is recovering. I'm kind of stuck in a bit of a writer's block at the minute, so a change of scenery will do me good," Merlin shrugged.
"I can't believe that I have read and loved all your books after Lance told me you were his Merlin, and have been in the same shop as you being served ice cream and trying and failing to flirt with you for four months, and not known it," Arthur shook his head.
"Just think, you could have asked for my autograph months ago," Merlin laughed, blushing darkly at the compliment to his work.
"You know, my father is a secret fan of yours," Arthur smirked stopping when they reached the car but making no move to get in.
"Uther? Scary Uther your sister told me about?" Merlin asked shocked.
"The same one, I found your books hidden in his desk when I was looking for a file I needed for work, and he's already pre ordered your next one," Arthur chuckled.
"That's….a slightly scary fan to have," Merlin said bemused, the thought of the Uther both Morgana and Arthur had described, leather gloves on, sitting in his high office at work, with one of Merlin's books in his hand eagerly reading it was kind of mind blowing.
"I should get you home," Arthur sighed.
"You could come in with me," Merlin said shyly before blushing fiercely. "Oh god I sound so easy! I don't normally invite people back on the first date it's just your you and I feel like I have known you for years and its really perfect tonight and I don't want it to end and I really want you and umph…" Merlin blinked twice before his brain kicked into gear and told him that Arthur was kissing him. Quickly he wrapped his arms around Arthur's waist and pressed back into the kiss, his eyes sliding shut as he soaked up the amazing feeling of Arthur's lips against his, the perfect taste of Arthur and the chocolate cake they had eaten as Arthur teased his tongue into Merlin's mouth. He felt so right and so perfect against Merlin….and oh god he had turned into Gwen and Lance!
"I don't want tonight to end either…and I want you more than I have wanted anyone else in my life," Arthur admitted quietly, closing his eyes as though expecting Merlin to laugh at him.
"You…have driven me mad this last four months with your looks, and now I find out you have a personality to match, even if you are a bit of a prat and socially awkward. I haven't felt like this with anyone else either. Come home with me?" Merlin asked softly, smiling a little to show the tease in his words.
"I'd love to," Arthur laughed contently leaning forwards to kiss Merlin again.
Merlin groaned as the sound of the phone cut through his comfortable haze of sleep. He was aware of the strong arm around his waist and the puffs of breath against the back of his neck. Arthur's body was glued to his practically chest to toes and felt…perfect. Though his arse was burning something a little fierce and he was shattered considering they hadn't actually gotten to sleep until around four in the morning.
The sound of the ringing started again through the room making Arthur groan into his neck. Huffing his reached down into the mass of clothing by the side of his bed and fished out the phone, fumbling in his half asleep…alright mostly asleep…state to answer the damn thing.
"Lo?" He mumbled into the phone.
"Why didn't you answer the phone I have called four times now and…Merlin?" Morgana's confused voice had Merlin blinking stupidly. "I could have sworn I called Arthur hang on…I did call Arthur…"
Merlin groaned and dropped his head back onto the pillow as he could hear the wheels turning in Morgana's head, rapidly adding things together.
"What's wrong?" Arthur grumbled tugging Merlin closer to his body again and snuggling into him, not bothering to open his eyes.
"I erm, may have accidentally answered your phone, and it may be Morgana," Merlin said softly biting his lip and wondering if Arthur would be mad. Grunting Arthur squinted an eye open and located the phone, putting it onto loud speaker practically blindly. The sound of Morgana both squealing and demanding answers burst into the room.
"Morgana I love you but we were up most of the night and you are intruding on my morning snuggled. We will call you later and talk to you, and actually arrange for you and Merlin to meet. Speak later, love you," He rushed off before hanging up and throwing his phone away after he put it on silent. Merlin blinked at him, ignoring the fact he could hear the pone starting to vibrate practically straight away.
"Hey," He smiled shyly.
"Morning," Arthur wriggled forwards and pressed their lips together softly. "Ok?" he asked concerned after they parted.
"Perfect," Merlin sighed, snuggling back into Arthur's body and closing his eyes to go back to sleep for a bit. He would enjoy having breakfast with this sexy, good looking and hopefully naked man in a few hours, hopefully between then and showering they would be able to fit another round…or two…in and then they would face Morgana. And after that…well perhaps Kilgharrah hadn't been wrong at all.