Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 50
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur had a plan to stay in the United States. That plan was Merlin. It worked!
Warnings: Fluff and ridiculously happy coupledom
Word Count: 884
Prompt: 245 Bruises
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom, which starts here. Also, thanks thismaz for remarking that I'd built Gwaine's shameless personality into Clyde.
Arthur leaves early enough for work to have plenty of time to drop a set of keys off with the dog walker. Merlin is keeping one eye on the clock while he’s reading the paper when he hears a metallic click behind him.
Clyde is by the back door, one paw experimentally pushing at the chrome flip top trash container’s foot pedal. In a split second, he’s got the lid cracked and is nosing it wider.
“No, Clyde,” Merlin shouts as he jumps up to wrestle the dog’s head out of the trash. He empties the can before Gwaine owes them a new kitchen. Clyde glares at him the entire time he’s tying the trash bag and taking it outside.
Merlin confines Clyde to the living room, hoping for the best. Gwaine has shared more than one story of his dog’s destructive antics (most notably one notorious night when he chewed through the laundry room door and ate most of a ten pound pound bag of dog food) so he and Arthur had dog proofed the living room to the best of their abilities, even going so far as to roll up the rugs and move them, the coffee table, its books and all the throw pillows to the guest room. Merlin looks at the beautiful wood molding and doors, praying it survives the next few days.
“Okay, Clyde, the walker will be here in a couple hours. Please don’t leap out a window or chew on anything that doesn’t belong to you,” Merlin says, slinging his messenger bag over his shoulder. Clyde jumps up when he hears the jingle of keys being picked up from the entry table. It’s a scuffle keeping the dog inside but Merlin wins. Barely.
As he’s walking to the bus stop, Merlin texts Arthur.
8:40 AM Merlin: Watch out when you let yourself in tonight. Clyde tried to push past me. It was a bitch keeping him inside.
A few minutes later his phone buzzes a text alert.
8:43 AM Arthur: Gwaine has raised the dog version of himself. I hope you hid the liquor.
8:44 AM Merlin: I thought some drinks might calm him down. Unsurprisingly, he loves tequila! smiley face
8:44 AM Arthur: If he throws up, you’re cleaning it up.
8:45 AM Merlin: barf face
Even though Merlin arrives at the theater early, the chairs are almost all filled. Mordred hands him a copy of the revised script. “It feels like it’s nearly finished but there are sure to be more changes as we go,” he says. Merlin only has time to mark his lines and glance over the flagged revisions before they begin.
The read starts out a bit rough, but they all quickly find their rhythm. It feels like the entire room is holding its breath when the new actor playing Buckley is about to deliver his first line. Part way in, the director is nodding his head and everyone relaxes, relieved.
It’s a long, productive day and Merlin’s feeling tired but happy with the work they’ve done. His character notebook is filled with new ideas to explore and he can't wait to sit down and sort through them all. Mordred suggests a local bar so they can all get to know one another but Merlin begs off, worried about leaving the dog alone any longer than necessary.
That feeling nags at him all the way home, so he’s braced for anything as he unlocks the front door. Surprisingly, Clyde doesn’t try to escape. Maybe he’s sleeping, Merlin thinks as he sets down his keys and bag, quietly walking into the living room. The dog bed is empty but the woodwork and furniture all looks intact. The doors to all the connecting rooms are shut just like he left them.
“Clyde,” he calls. There’s no answering scrabble of nails or barking. Merlin looks through the house but there’s no sign of the dog anywhere. He’s about to panic when he hears keys in the front door.
“Now wasn’t that more fun than staying home and working on the taxes?” he hears Arthur ask as he’s walking down the hall. Clyde barks in agreement. Now Merlin can relax.
That is until Arthur comes into view. The first thing Merlin sees is a pizza box but a second later his eyes land on the bruising on Arthur’s forehead. “What happened?” he asks, rushing over to take a closer look. Clyde promptly tries to push between them, but Merlin stands firm, examining the livid, red and purple lump.
Arthur laughs, “It’s nothing. We were at the park, walking along when Uther called. I didn’t notice Clyde had taken us off the path until I’d walked right into a Keep Off the Grass sign.
Merlin looks down at Clyde who’s smiling up at them both. “Your idea of a joke?” he asks.
“It’s not his fault. I should have been paying attention,” Arthur says patting Clyde’s neck, then looking down at the grinning dog. “It wasn’t your fault. I’m an idiot for taking that call.”
Merlin shakes his head and laughs a little. “You are an idiot. My idiot.”
Arthur shakes the box “Your idiot with pizza. C’mon, let’s pop this into the oven and you can tell me all about your first day.”