Fandom: Merlin: Modern Day
Beta: No one
Summary: Written for schmoop_bingo. Arthur is determined to find out why his best friend has been avoiding him and gets more than he bargained for.
Prompt: Showering Together
Disclaimer: Not mine, they belong to legend… and the BBC.
Part One| Part Two| Part Three| Part Four|
Waiting for Merlin to come home was like waiting for the all clear to sound during war time; at least it was in Arthur’s overly dramatic head, even the rain pelting on the windows sounded a little like gun fire. He had gone straight home from the hotel, hoping to find that Merlin had beaten him there, but the flat was dark and quiet upon his return. He had tried calling Merlin’s mobile a few times but it went straight to voicemail and there was no way Arthur was having this conversation with a machine.
Basically, during the thirty-seven minutes it had taken from the kiss in the men’s room to stepping back inside his own front door, Arthur had made some very serious decisions concerning, not just his future, but Merlin’s as well.
It was actually pretty simple really; Merlin loved Arthur, Arthur loved Merlin (in a matey way but it was still love) and if he could he would rather spend all his time with Merlin than with anyone else in the world. So, obviously, in conclusion, they should totally be boyfriends. Arthur wasn’t thinking too much about what that would actually mean, figuring they would cross the gay bridge when they came to it.
It was nearing midnight and Arthur was starting to worry, imagining Merlin walking the streets of London alone at night in the pouring rain. If he had any good sense, which Arthur was certain Merlin hadn’t, he would have gone to Lance’s or The Witches’ place but knowing Merlin he probably wouldn’t want to put any of them out.
The flat was dark and there was a slight chill in the air. Arthur found he couldn’t bring himself to care enough to go and get a jumper. When, finally, he heard a key in the front door, Arthur leapt up off the sofa and went to meet Merlin.
Merlin looked a bit like a puppy that had been left out in the rain; he had the sad droopy eyes and everything. Water droplets dripped from his hair and down his face and he was very visibly shivering.
“You idiot, Merlin, tell me you didn’t walk all the way home?” Arthur demanded, running into the bathroom and coming back with a white fluffy towel. He draped it over Merlin’s head and started rubbing it until Merlin shrugged it off and moved to the side to take off his wet coat.
“I needed to think,” Merlin finally answered quietly, his eyes studiously not looking at his friend.
“You’ve been out there for hours. You know what a delicate flower you are, you’re going to make yourself sick,” Arthur scolded, turning to switch on his Tassimo coffee maker. It had been a present from Morgana and Gwen last Christmas and the coffee selection he had ordered online could rival Starbucks. Merlin loved the frothy hot chocolate it made and Arthur kept marshmallows in his flat just because Merlin liked them melted on the top.
“Go and change, or better yet have a hot shower.”
Merlin opened his mouth to argue but slumped in defeat, turning towards the bathroom, the door clicking noisily shut behind him.
Arthur pulled out a big, blue, bulbous mug with Sebastian from The Little Mermaid on it. Clearly, not something Arthur had bought into the flat. All of his mugs matched and were pure white. He stopped himself from thinking in metaphors about how Merlin had bought colour into his life and rolled his eyes.
When they had first met, well a few weeks after to be precise, when Merlin had broken his leg and called Arthur to come pick him up from the hospital, Arthur had spent the night in Merlin’s tiny flat which he then shared with three other people.
None of his flat mates, including Will, who was too drunk to do more than point and laugh at Merlin and try to write obscenities on his cast, had offered to help him once they were inside the door. The idea had been to help Merlin up the stairs, because of course Merlin couldn’t afford a flat with a lift, and then leave Merlin in the care of his friends.
He stood in the doorway, having said goodbye to his new friend, and watched as the boy struggled to make his way into the bathroom. Will was already on his knees in front of him with a felt tip pen and the idiot would have knocked Merlin down if Arthur had sprinted over to them and steadied him.
“If I leave you’re going to fall down and break your other leg aren’t you?” Arthur asked with a put upon huff, which just made Merlin smile.
“I need to shower; I’ve still got wet leaves in my hair.”
“Well you can’t get your cast wet,” Arthur pointed out. He thought about it for all of two seconds before just giving in. Arthur was nothing if not practical. “Okay fine, I’ll help you.”
Just minutes later they had been crowded into the tiny bathroom with Merlin sitting in the bath, his nakedness concealed by the bubbles and his injured leg sticking out over the side. It couldn’t have been comfortable but with Arthur’s help Merlin managed to get clean.
“It was this or shower together,” Arthur said, not noticing the flush that invaded Merlin’s usual pallid complexion. “And I don’t think we know each other anywhere near well enough for that.”
Arthur had gone back the next day, and the day after that and so on until Merlin’s cast was off. It surprised everyone, most of all Arthur, that he had it in him to be so caring. He couldn’t imagine doing the same for any of his other friends, but then there was something about Merlin that made people want to look after him and feed him up. Merlin had managed not to let his mother know he had broken his leg until it was healed, because he knew she would have been on the first train up to stay with him until he was better.
When she finally did come up she hugged Arthur as though they were old friends, and thanked him for helping her son. Arthur found himself a little bit in love with Merlin’s mum, especially when she made them cakes and tea and did other mumsy stuff. Since then he has sent her flowers on not only her birthday but on mother’s day too, which Merlin complained about because he thought it made his little set of bath oils look bad.
Smiling at the memory as he put the finishing touches to Merlin’s hot chocolate, Arthur thought to himself that if he and Merlin were boyfriends then Hunith really would be his mum too, and that alone was worth the whole thing in his eyes.
“I’ve given it a lot of thought,” Merlin began behind him, dressed in just an old sweatshirt and a pair of boxer shorts, obviously ready for bed. “And I think I should move out. I get that this has all been hard on you too and I think if our friendship is going to survive in the long run then we need to draw a line under tonight and have some space for a while.”
Arthur, frowning, pushed Merlin’s hot chocolate across the breakfast bar to him and leaned on it. “No.”
Merlin took the mug and blew on it, making a hole in the melted marshmallow layer to cool the liquid beneath. “What do you mean, no?”
Arthur just shrugged casually. “I mean no. I’ve been thinking too, and I think that if our friendship is going to survive then we need to be together, as a couple.”
Merlin sputtered and coughed around his mouthful of hot chocolate, a bit of the liquid escaping and dribbling down his chin. “What the bloody hell are you talking about?”
Arthur sighed with impatience and came around the counter to face Merlin. “It’s simple, Merlin. You’re in love with me, I love you more than anyone else in the world, so us not seeing each other is just going to hurt us both. However, if you and I are a couple then nothing really changes from how it is now.”
Merlin gapped at him. “You’ve gone bonkers.”
“I have not, I’m talking complete sense here,” Arthur insisted. He was so calm and laid back about what he was saying because as far as he was concerned it was all going to be fine.
“And the part where you’re straight and have a girlfriend?” Merlin asked, his hot chocolate now forgotten.
“I dumped her, for you. And no one is really straight nowadays,” Arthur pointed out. “Think about it, what is a relationship really anyway? It’s spending time together, well we do that already. I know I can sleep in the same bed as you without you snoring or kicking me.”
“Oh well, that’s all right then. Those are the main reasons for people to be together, because they can tolerate each other’s sleeping habits,” Merlin scoffed, running his hand through his damp hair.
“I’m sensing sarcasm here,” Arthur told him with a disapproving frown. “I’m being deadly serious and I want you to think about what I’m actually suggesting.”
“Arthur,” Merlin despaired, getting out of his seat. “What you’re suggesting is letting me have what I want at the expense of what you want.”
“You are what I want,” Arthur insisted, effectively shutting Merlin up. “This is the only scenario I can think of where I won’t be totally miserable. Where neither of us will be miserable.”
His shoulders slumping, Merlin rubbed his eyes tiredly. “This is a terrible idea that will end with my heart breaking.”
Arthur came to stand right in front of him, his hands going to Merlin’s arms and rubbing soothingly. “Isn’t it already? Because mine is.”
Merlin let Arthur pull him into a hug, their arms winding around each other and holding on tight. They stood in silence for a while, both of them taking the comfort and strength that the embrace gave them.
“Lots of couples don’t have sex,” Arthur said quietly and out of the blue, making Merlin’s body stiffen. “We’ll just have to wank a lot.”
He said it so matter-of-factly that Merlin found himself shaking with silent laughter. “This is going to end so badly.”
“I mean, I suppose you could watch me if you like, if it helps you. I wouldn’t mind. Maybe we could even do it at the same time; I don’t think that would bother me. That’s a sort of a sex life right?” Arthur was more thinking out loud than talking to Merlin and Merlin was too embarrassed and horrified to agree with him.
Slowly they broke the embrace, neither able to look the other in the eye. Arthur frowned and cocked his head to one side, considering his own thoughts before sharing them. “I recon I might be okay with you giving me a blow job as well, that doesn’t seem like such a big deal.”
“Oh my god,” Merlin said with a cringe, putting his hands over his face. “And on that note I’m going to bed.”
He left Arthur standing in the living room, seemingly proud of himself for being willing to go so far across the gay bridge.
When Merlin got into the bedroom he noticed that his own bed, which had been made up on the floor, was gone and that his pillow was now beside Arthur’s in the big bed.
“Arthur, where has my bed gone?”
Arthur popped his head around the door and smiled. “Well, I wasn’t going to let you say no to this, so I figured you can go back to sleeping in my bed with me.”
“You are such an arrogant prat,” Merlin cried, pulling down the duvet and slipping into the luxurious bed.
“I know, and you still love me. There has to be something pretty wrong with you, mate,” Arthur told him, stripping off his shirt and flicking off the light before getting into bed beside Merlin. He allowed himself just a moment of uncertainty. Usually when getting into bed with Merlin they kept to their own sides, said goodnight and that was it, but Merlin was his boyfriend now and he was most certainly in new territory.
Telling himself to man up Arthur turned onto his side and slid an arm around Merlin’s waist, bringing his chest into contact with Merlin’s back.
He was spooning with his boyfriend. Take that gay bridge. Arthur, as with everything else he had ever tried his hand at, was going to rock the fuck out of being gay.
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