Rating: R (just to be safe)
Summary: In Camelot Hospital, secrets also need to be handled with surgical precision. Arthur finds it hard even though he should be used to it by now
Warnings: hospital themes
Word Count: 2256
Author's Notes: Thank you to p3rfectlyn0rmal for being my last minute beta and encouraging me on this gift exchange quest. And thank you mods for putting up with me. First time participating and I'm so excited to finally post and reveal my gift! I was given several prompts by my lovely recipient and decided to tackle #3: Modern AU - secret relationship. Sorry for not making it NC-17, it was heading there but the boys just wouldn't have it, not at work. But hope you enjoy the angst and the banter.
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Arthur took a long draw from his coffee as he passed through the automatic doors, footsteps bleeding into a soft tap tap when he trod onto the linoleum floor. The familiar smell of antiseptic laced the cool filtered air in the hospital, an ironic mixture of healing and death all at once. But despite the fear or pain or trauma that most associated with the smell, with any hospital, Arthur felt relaxed, relieved even. This was his home, the place he belonged. He loved his job, healing and helping, caring for the people of this city, of this world.
“Good morning Doctor Pendragon,” Gwen greeted him from behind the front desk with a warm smile.
“Gwen, how many times have I asked you to call me Arthur…”
The kind-hearted nurse just smiled, her eyes not straying from the computer screen in front of her. “Too many to count, and many more in the future, I’m sure Doctor Pendragon. I’m on a roll, why should I stop now?”
They had been playing this game for months now, her trying to annoy him with everything she had while Arthur smugly played along. It was a no win situation and she knew it but she stubbornly kept it up anyway.
Arthur leaned on the counter, eyeing her. “Two can play that way, Miss Smith.”
Gwen looked up at him, her smile turning into a sly smirk, “You have just a little over a month to call me that.”
“I'll make the most of every minute,” Arthur promised. “Have you figured out where Lance is taking you on your honeymoon yet?”
This earned Arthur a groan. “Not yet, that bastard,” Gwen growled and Arthur couldn’t help but feel a bit of satisfaction at her annoyance. “And not a damn soul will tell me. Not even Merlin!”
Arthur’s heart swelled with more than just pride. “Good boy,” he smirked.
Gwen glared at him. “I hate you all.”
“Have a nice day Miss Smith,” Arthur said with a final smug smile before heading down toward the on call rooms.
“Fuck you, Doctor Pendragon.”
He turned, walking backwards a few steps as he shouted, “Don’t let your fiancée here you say that.”
Gwen’s grumbled muttering followed Arthur down the hallway and he didn’t bother trying to hide his chuckle.
The early morning hustle and bustle was well under way already as he walked further down the hospital corridor. The first patients of the new day were being wheeled, assisted and led to their assigned rooms and beds, nurses rushing about for this medication or that supply as calls and pages sounded over the intercom overhead. He passed the nurses and doctors just getting off the night shift, freshly showered and changed with exhaustion weighing their shoulders and glints in their eyes. They nodded in greeting and Arthur warmly wished them a good day.
“Doctor Princess,” a singsong voice carried down the hall. Gwaine was striding toward him, grinning, hands in his lab coat pockets as though he were just taking a leisurely stroll down the city walk. “So nice of you to grace us with your presence.”
Arthur raised a customary eyebrow at the doctor. “Gwaine.”
Gwaine came up beside him and elbowed him playfully. “Mrs. Hensley has been asking for you all morning. Wondering when that ‘blonde fit doc’ was going to see her. She's been contemplating the merits of faking a heart attack just to lure you in.” Gwaine laughed, the sound echoing down the corridor as he elbowed Arthur again.
Arthur shook his head. “I'm still not her doctor.” Though if Mrs. Hensley had her way, he would be. And her new husband to boot.
Gwaine flipped his hair with a huff that quickly turned into a mock pout. “Yes, well my charms don't seem to work with her, surprisingly enough.”
Arthur couldn't help but chuckle at that as he continued on his way. “Indeed, that is surprising.” Every patient seemed to have the hots for the scruffy long haired doctor and Gwaine happily flirted right back. He danced precariously along the thin line separating professionalism and unethical. But his skill as an E.R doctor was unmatched, except by maybe Arthur himself when he decided to take a break from the O.R.
“Hey, have you seen Merlin?” Gwaine called after Arthur, halting him in his progress again. “Wanted to see how his date with that mysterious bloke went last night.”
With his back to Gwaine, Arthur allowed himself a small smile. “Nope, haven't seen him,” he said over his shoulder before turning around and giving Gwaine another mocking eyebrow. “I'll be sure to let him know you have an active interest in his love life though.”
A smirk crept across Gwaine’s face and Arthur tried not to panic at what it might imply. But no, it couldn’t be. There was no way he could know.
“We all do mate, we all do,” Gwaine finally said and Arthur subtly breathed a sigh of relief even as his heart continued to try and beat out of his chest. “And don't you try and deny it.”
Arthur managed an innocent smile and held up his hands as he continued down the hallway. Gwaine was a tricky one, keen eye, alert hearing, and the uncanny ability to know anything and everything that happened in this hospital. It was a damn miracle he hadn’t found out yet, honestly. A single give or mishap on Arthur’s part could have their whole carefully constructed ruse crumbling before the day was up.
Finally he reached the on-call room and quickly slipped inside. He caught a subtle whiff of the cheap soap they used for bed baths as he closed the door before ice cold nimble fingers cupped his cheek and nape of his neck and he was pulled into a familiar kiss. His hands bunched into the man’s nursing scrubs on instinct, pulling the lanky body against him even as his skin pimpled under the cold touch.
Arthur hissed into the kiss. “Damn, Merlin your hands are freezing.”
Merlin nipped at his lower lip. “Been handling ice packs all morning trying to bring your patient’s fever down.”
“Kaley?” Arthur asked, breathless.
Merlin hummed against his jaw. “Mmmhmm.”
With an enormous effort, Arthur pulled back a hand's breadth. He met Merlin’s deep blue gaze with a frown. “Why wasn’t I paged?”
Merlin smiled at him, his eyes softening. “We had it under control. Nothing to worry about.”
Arthur sighed. He felt an obligation to his patients, all of them, and liked to be called in especially when the welfare of his youngest patient was at risk. But he was glad the hospital had the foresight to at least call Merlin in. He was an excellent nurse, and would go above and beyond for any patient, for anyone really. There was no one Arthur trusted more with his patients.
Arthur ran a hand across his face. “She was doing better yesterday, what happened?”
Merlin shook his head. “Just a slight setback is all. Alice said her fever spiked in the early hours. They were just fetching the ice packs when I arrived but we managed to get it down and adjusted her meds. She’ll be just fine.”
Arthur breathed in relief, letting his hands sweep Merlin’s dark hair from his forehead before he dipped his head and kissed Merlin’s neck, making his way up the side of his throat. Merlin whimpered under his ministrations, gasping when Arthur nibbled on his sensitive ear.
“Mmmmm what a fine job you did.” He sucked on the lobe and Merlin shuddered against him.
“Yes, well someone has to around here,” Merlin replied rather breathlessly and Arthur couldn’t help the smug smile from tugging at his lips. “The doctors are so lazy.”
Arthur growled, biting Merlin’s ear a little harder than necessary and earning him a satisfying groan from the nurse. He grabbed the nurse’s waist, pulling him flush against his body before letting his hands roam up under his scrubs and across the expanse of soft taut skin beneath. He felt his way up Merlin’s back, across his heaving sides, tracing each and every rib with tantalizing fingers before teasing his nipples to hardness. All the while he kept working his mouth along Merlin’s neck, jaw and ears, never giving the man any sort of reprieve.
“Fuck Arthur, you better stop that unless you plan to follow through.”
Arthur caught Merlin’s mouth in a languid kiss and reluctantly slowed his teasing touches. He let his hands come to rest on Merlin’s hips, just above the waistband of his scrubs. “I missed you,” he said in between kisses.
Merlin chuckled. “I just saw you last night. Was our date not up to your satisfaction?”
“More than. I want more though,” Arthur whined against Merlin’s lips. “I don’t want you to leave every night.”
“You know why.” Merlin leaned back, his hands cupping the nape of Arthur’s neck again, his touch warmer this time. He met Arthur’s gaze, full of love but laced resignation.
Arthur growled. “Screw the regulations.” Screw the whole system. He wanted Merlin, rules be damned.
“And your father?” Merlin cocked an eyebrow.
“Screw him too.” His father would never approve, Arthur knew that. And it wasn’t the fact that Merlin was a man, at least, Arthur didn't think so. No, it was that Merlin was a nurse, nothing but a doctor’s lackey in Uther’s eyes. It didn’t matter how good he was, didn’t matter that he knew more than some of the doctors on the floor. Dating amongst hospital staff was forbidden, especially if one worked below the other. Status and reputation mattered to Uther and until Uther retired and let Arthur take over his large share of the hospital, his seat on the board, both of their careers rested in his hands. And they both knew who was more replaceable.
Merlin shook his head, his gaze dropping to the floor as his grip on Arthur tightened marginally. “You’re not the one who has to worry.”
Arthur groaned, wrapping his arms around the nurse and pulling him closer. “I know, I know. Just...fuck, Merlin. I want to spend the night with you. The whole night. I want to wake up next to you, make you breakfast, drive to work with you. Fuck the dating regulations, fuck my father’s prejudices. I want you.”
The endearing smile Merlin flashed him was almost enough to make Arthur forget why they kept this whole thing a secret. “You’ve got me. I’m not going anywhere.”
“You know what I mean.” Arthur kissed Merlin’s forehead before resting their heads together.
Merlin shook his head against Arthur’s. “We’ve talked about this. I want to, I want to so bad, you know that.” He closed his eyes, dark lashes fanning against pale skin and took a deep breath. “I just...we can’t risk it. Your father would have me fired and blacklisted in a heartbeat.”
“I could talk to him…” Arthur suggested, not for the first time.
“Yes, because he approved of you dating Sofia last year,” Merlin deadpanned. “She was one of your nurses and do you know where she is now?”
Arthur buried his head in Merlin’s neck. He knew, god everyone in the whole hospital knew what had happened to Sofia. His father had made sure his rules were understood, and not just by Arthur.
“Working at a nursing home in the middle of nowhere last I heard,” Merlin continued with a wince. Arthur knew Merlin would have been excellent in any nursing job, no matter how trivial. But his talents would have been lost, his spirit crushed in that sort of environment. He needed the spark that kept the fire of his passion burning that only a true hospital setting could bring. “As part of the janitorial crew,” Merlin finished.
“Serves her right, she was a lying, thieving bitch.” Arthur’s attempt to turn the tone of the conversation fell flat but he pressed on anyway. “Nearly got me investigated for malpractice. Not that there was any merit to it.”
Merlin fixed him with a glare. “Not the point.”
“Yeah, got it.” Arthur nodded reluctantly. He unbuttoned his jeans and shucked them off. “Still don’t like this.”
“Neither do I,” Merlin agreed, grabbing Arthur’s scrubs and lab coat that he had fetched for him and holding them at the ready. “You know I love you, though.”
Arthur leaned in and gave Merlin a quick kiss. “And I you.”
“That’s all that matters.” Merlin tucked the scrubs under his arm and reached for the hem of Arthur’s shirt. He pulled it up and over Arthur’s head before tossing it on the nearby bed. “I’m not going anywhere, you’ve got me.”
“Mmmmm indeed,” Arthur hummed. He grabbed onto Merlin’s hips again, earning him a startled yelp from the lanky man as he pulled him flush against his bare chest. On instinct, Arthur’s lips found Merlin’s neck again and his hands began roaming.
Merlin’s hand pushed against Arthur’s bare chest and he shivered at the touch. “Don’t you start that again,” Merlin chastised. “You’ve got patients to see to. And three surgeries today.”
“Spoil sport,” Arthur muttered, stepping back and pulling on his scrubs.
Merlin held open his lab coat, allowing Arthur to slip his arms in before settling it on his shoulders. “You can exact your revenge tonight.”
Arthur turned and pulled a grinning Merlin into another kiss. When they broke apart, he leveled the nurse with a heated gaze. “Oh I will, don’t you worry.”