Title: Dinner with the Fan
Character/s: Merlin, Gwaine, Arthur
Summary: Merlin is nowhere ready for a night out with his favorite actor.
Warnings: Ridiculous clichés
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #249: Blind Date
Author's Notes: Happy Valentine's!
Merlin is at the library looking for a couple of books so he can finish his politics essay due next week, when a sheepish looking Gwaine slides up next to him. He doesn't say anything but Merlin can tell there is something he needs from the way he pretends he's interested in An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, he cradles the book in his arms making a noise of approval as if he's satisfied with the content.
"Gwaine, was there something I could help you with?" Merlin asks mildly miffed.
If there ever was a look of unadulterated guilt Gwaine is its poster boy. "What happened?" He narrows his eyes not sure he's ready for whatever's coming. It could be anything.
"I did a thing," Gwaine answers trying to shrug like it's nothing, but Merlin knows better.
"You better tell me right now what you did or I will cause you pain, I swear," Merlin says. He's not a violent person but even he has a limit. Gwaine almost drops the book but catches it at the last second, taking quite a bit putting it back, going as far as to caress its spine.
"There's no need for threats. I think you're going to find this funny actually." Gwaine doesn't look convinced. Merlin makes a sign with his hand asking him silently to go on. "Right." Gwaine falters. Takes a deep breath. "Do you remember around a month ago, how we got drunk and ended up in your room watching movies with that posh actor you like so much?"
Being friends with Gwaine means three out of the seven days of the week he's dragged to a party or to a pub or simply roped into ditching his homework to watch a Doctor Who marathon with him. So no, he doesn't remember what Gwaine is talking about. "You'll have to be more specific."
"You know, when we where in you room and that movie with sorcerers and dragons and forbidden love was on, and then you were waxing poetic about the blond actor's strong legs and golden smile, I might be paraphrasing here, but the sentiment is the same."
"You're rambling." Merlin remembers then. They were watching The Future King and his not so secret crush on Arthur Pendragon took center stage. He was drunk and well, a man can dream. "To the point, Gwaine."
"Anyway, there was this contest, Dinner with a Fan and if you won you could go to a five stars restaurant with Mister Pendragon? That's his name, right? And I was still sort of drunk when I found out about it and, well..." Gwaine's face is one of contrition.
Merlin puts two and two together and doesn't like what he comes up with. "Oh no, tell me you didn't."
"I might have entered you and you won. Congratulations!"
Merlin is too numb to do anything when Gwaine traps him in a smothering hug.
Merlin's never been surrounded with such opulence he might as well be wearing rags because nothing he owns could ever be up to the standard of the restaurant. It's possible the cutlery is more expensive than all the furniture in his flat put together.
He hates Gwaine for making this happen, he also resents Gwen because she pushed him out the door ignoring his stuttering feet, claiming he had to do this for both of them and the other fans who are crushed they didn't get their magical night with Arthur. Arthur Pendragon is as much her celebrity crush as it is his. Even her boyfriend Lance once joked about them starting a fan club.
He cleans his sweaty palms on his jeans--the nicest jeans on his wardrobe--wondering if the spiffed up people in the nearby tables find odd that a well known movie star and a broke student are sharing an evening together.
"Are you all right?"
"Eh," Merlin answers forgetting what Arthur just asked five seconds ago. It's surreal. Arthur Pendragon sitting across from him. He wasn't ready to meet him. The way he can't find something remotely interesting to say shows nothing could've prepared him for this moment. He clears his throat avoiding Arthur's almost too blue gaze. "Sorry. I was...Marveling a this place. It's so--" Merlin fights to find the right word, something that won't sound dismissing or judgmental.
"Over the top?" Arthur supplies, his tone unimpressed. He acts like Merlin feels, like he'd rather be back home than ordering a tiny exotic entrée he's not sure he'll like. "The company chose it. Not my idea." Arthur takes a sip of his wine, Merlin follows his tongue pushing out from between his lips to take a taste, his bottom lip wet and red. It's fascinating. Merlin drinks the rest of his own wine to quench a sudden thirst.
"The company? You mean your management company, right?" Merlin asks, using the fact he knows a thing or two about Arthur and his family to his advantage. You're bound to learn something about the life of the rich and famous when you've flipped the pages of a gossip magazine once or twice. In one interview Arthur said he owes his success to his sister, his manager. Arthur nods with an air of boredom in his actions. Nothing much has changed since he arrived and met Merlin outside the restaurant. He shook Merlin's hand, asked for his name and posed for a few pictures that no doubt will be featured on the online article about Merlin's experience with Arthur.
They fall silent and Merlin grapples for something to say once again. He can and will make it through this night, nerves be damned. It's Arthur who breaks the silence first. "So, Merlin, is this dinner everything you hoped for?" Arthur gives him one of those smiles he's seen before in the big screen. It's all white teeth and wolf-ish and absolutely rehearsed.
Merlin sighs. "No."
Arthur is taken aback. His eyebrows fly up, he regards Merlin with renewed interest. "No? Am I really that disappointing? Am I not what you where expecting?"
Merlin shakes his palm in a gesture clearly meaning no. "No, that's not it, please don't take it the wrong way. You're well, I don't think I have to say you're very attractive, you should know that, " Merlin and the grandmother he doesn't have know it. "But I can't say anything else beyond that, we've barely exchanged pleasantries."
"I guess." Arthur gives a not so modest shrug. He smiles again, it's a softer and more open expression. "We could get a conversation flowing. We must be capable of basic human interaction. I know I am. Are you?" This time there's mirth in his tone.
"Of course I am," Merlin counters a bit offended, but the feeling vanishes when he notices Arthur is messing with him. His stomach drops. Oh, okay.
Arthur taps his fingers on the table as if he's trying to figure out Merlin's thoughts. "How did you find out about the contest? I didn't myself until two weeks after it was announced on Twitter. Morgana did a great job hiding it from me."
His palms sure are sweaty tonight. "This wasn't my idea. My friend signed me up in the contest and here I am, out of place and making a fool of myself."
Merlin's words elicit another smile from Arthur. "Yeah, here you are. And believe me, you're not the only one out of place. I'm meant to charm you but it's clear to see you're not falling for it," Arthur says in a dramatic manner. Merlin gapes, this Arthur he likes. A lot. "I'm thinking that if your friend went through all that trouble for you, you at least need to have some fun tonight."
"Sorry but I'm not into the posh-ness of this overpriced place. I'd rather pull my teeth than spend another second here, this is nowhere near fun for me," Merlin says before he realizes how ungrateful he must sound, he adds, "No offense." He's so failing at the whole meet your celebrity crush stuff. He's sure others would fawn over Arthur not question the choice of restaurant and Arthur's lack of enthusiasm.
Arthur laughs attracting stares from the other patrons. "Do you want to know where I would've taken you, my fan, wait, are you even my fan?" Merlin nods. Of course he is. No reason to lie about it. Arthur's grin is dazzling, his mood more lively. He did a 180 in a couple of minutes. Merlin is intrigued. Arthur is full of contradictions and nothing like the man he's seen on the telly talking about his latest project.
"I've watched all your movies, I suppose that makes me your fan," Merlin informs him downplaying it.
"Brilliant, do you want to know?" Arthur gets up from the table offering his hand to Merlin.
Merlin nods again taking Arthur's hand and following Arthur out like he's in a trance, his steps sure this time around. There is a reason why he's a leading man, Merlin's getting it. Arthur Pendragon is hard to resist.
Whatever the night brings, he'll make sure to thank Gwaine. Someday.