Title: Friend Request
Summary: Modern AU. Percival gets a friend request from an unexpected source.
Word Count: 819
Prompt: #244, "accidental"
Percival stared at the email notification for almost five minutes before picking up his phone. When Arthur answered on the first ring, it felt like a sign which didn’t help his confusion in the slightest.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Arthur said. “You ready for that snooker rematch?”
“Are you?” Percival countered.
“As long as you promise not to cheat again.”
Percival chuckled. “A long reach is not cheating.”
“It should be.”
“You could always play someone your own size.”
“There’s no fun in that.”
“Well, I’m not playing with one arm tied behind my back, so you’ll have to wait a little longer for your rematch.” His gaze strayed back to his computer screen. “I rang about an old friend of yours, actually. Someone from uni. Merlin Emrys.”
“Believe it or not, he sent me a friend request on Facebook.”
“You’re still on Facebook?”
“Not really the point here, Arthur.”
“How do you even know Merlin?”
He didn’t. Hence, his confusion at the request. He knew of Merlin for the most part, though he’d been introduced to Arthur’s uni roommate at two separate parties before Merlin had taken a job opportunity in Dublin and moved away. He couldn’t pretend he hadn’t been curious about the man Arthur had described—generous to a fault, prone to finding trouble without having to try very hard—but he’d had no opportunity to find out if any of it was hyperbole or if the gorgeous guy he’d met really was that big of a trouble magnet.
“Maybe he’s trying to get a hold of you.” Percival clicked on Merlin’s profile and scanned the personal information. “It looks like he’s back in London.”
“Yeah, he moved back a month ago. His mum hasn’t been well, and he didn’t like being so far away.”
So much for that theory, then. “I’m sorry to hear that,” Percival said. “I didn’t realize you two were still in contact.”
“He was my best friend for four years. Do you really think I’d turn my back on that?”
Of course not. It was part of why he valued Arthur’s friendship so much.
“It was probably just an accident,” Arthur continued. “He must’ve been looking through my friends list to see if there was anyone still around he might want to reconnect with.”
As far as explanations went, that was the best one Percival had heard yet. It didn’t stop the slug of disappointment in his gut, though. He’d almost hoped—no, that was pointless. It was an accident. Pure and simple.
“You’re probably right,” Percival said. “I’ll just delete it.”
“Well, you don’t have to go that far. You two are bound to run into each other, now that he’s back. You could do a lot worse than having Merlin as a friend.”
Except Percival wasn’t convinced he could keep his interest in Merlin on a platonic level if they spent any time together. From the pictures he couldn’t resist peeking at on Merlin’s Facebook, the lanky young man had grown up in his eight-year absence from London. He was still slim, but the shoulders were broader, the arms stronger, and the beard he now sported was enough to leave Percival’s mouth dry.
He didn’t dare tell Arthur. The last thing he needed was for Arthur to try playing matchmaker again. Even if there was the remotest possibility that Merlin might be interested in such an arrangement.
“I’ll remember that,” he said. “Listen, I better get back to work. Sorry about bothering you with this.”
“Not a problem. You’re still coming on Saturday for Gwen’s birthday party, right?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
Though he disconnected with the answer he’d sought, Percival couldn’t find the wherewithal to actually close Merlin’s page. The truth of the matter was, he wanted to accept the friend request. His pulse had leapt when he’d seen who it was from. Besides, Arthur had a valid point. Since he and Merlin were still in contact, there was no doubt Percival and Merlin would cross paths. It was better to be on friendly terms first to ward off any awkwardness later.
He might even discover something about Merlin that would smother his little crush, too. His life would certainly be a lot easier if he didn’t have to worry about wanting to pin Merlin to a wall every time he saw him.
Before he could talk himself out of it, Percival clicked on the confirm button and sat back. There. For better or worse—
A chat window popped up.
I didn’t think you’d remember me.
His pulse picked up where it had left off before he’d called Arthur. That was fast. Even more importantly…
The request couldn’t have been an accident.
Arthur wanted them to be friends, though. It had to start somewhere.
He ignored the shaking in his hands as he typed back a response.
How could I forget?