Title: Dinner with the Fan (2)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Merlin learns more about Arthur Pendragon.
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #250: Pick up lines
Author's Notes: Continuation of last week’s drabble, found here Dinner with the Fan (1)
The night is alive, through the car window Merlin can see lights pass by in a flurry, people ready to take on the town on a Friday, streets and roads are left behind, if Merlin could focus on something other than Arthur sitting next to him on the backseat, their closeness, and the fact he could slide to the right and their shoulders could be touching, if he wasn't nervous and too aware of the Arthur Pendragon with him Merlin Emrys, then Merlin could have noticed they've been driving for almost an hour. It should be worrying to be taken somewhere mysterious by someone who is practically a stranger. Yet, somehow, it isn't.
Merlin presses his forehead against the window, the cold catching with him. He still doesn't know how to talk with Arthur. After they left the restaurant they stood awkwardly waiting for Arthur’s driver to bring the car over, Arthur trying to cover his face to avoid being recognized. It wasn't until they were about to get in the car that both noticed they were still holding hands. Merlin can't remember who pulled away first, but the awkwardness lingered.
Arthur only has spoken instructions to the driver and is currently glued to his phone while Merlin is trying not to look tense or uncomfortable. He imagines he's failing.
"That was my sister," Arthur says suddenly almost startling Merlin, he blinks in surprise. "She's asking how we're getting along, apparently she thinks I'm going to mess up and you'll start the twitter hashtag boycott Pendagron."
Merlin isn't sure if Arthur’s serious, just in case. "I would never. I'd take my complaints back to my friends not social media."
Arthur nods grateful. "So, do you?"
"Do I what?" Merlin would like to object to his mortifying way of interacting with Arthur.
"Have any complaints," Arthur formulates.
"No, can't say I do."
"Excellent, because we're here," Arthur says. Merlin can see nothing, it's too dark outside. This time he wonders if he should have trusted the actor, seeing his movies doesn't mean Merlin knows the first thing about him. Except for his full name, birth date and zodiac sign. Merlin feels himself blush. Thankfully the night obscures his face.
When they're out, Merlin has to adjust his sight to the darkness and watch his footing. Tripping would only make things worse.
"Wait here," Arthur says disappearing before Merlin has a chance to ask where they are. Merlin doesn't move, even if he wanted to he wouldn't know where to go. Suddenly there's light, the field before him illuminated. Tall trees, flowers and the greenest grass he's ever seen. Arthur reappers at his side, grinning.
"You brought me to a park," Merlin states, not understanding why go to a park. At night.
"No, Merlin," Arthur says, "This isn't a park, it's where I grew up."
Merlin wants to smack himself, he's in the Pendragon Estate, that mythical land where Arthur was born and raised, not a single tabloid or reporter has been able to get current pictures of the house, old ones are always featured, to Merlin it looked like a castle the first time he saw them, and now he's here. When the night started he was expecting to walk away with a pricey dinner, an autograph and a selfie, and perhaps a lukewarm hug, this turn of events is surprising though not unwelcome.
"Want to take a look?"
Merlin is surprised his head doesn't fall off from the excessive nodding he does.
The property is enormous, the grounds beautiful and well kept. Arthur tells him that neither Morgana or he live there anymore, after their father died Arthur entertained the possibility of moving back but he couldn't, instead they keep it neat like a shrine to their childhood memories.
"You could do tours, I know people would pay to see this," Merlin says looking down from a balcony. Gwen would.
Arthur laughs out loud, it's not malicious or dismissing. It's a bright sound that echoes into the emptiness of the old house. "I should pass this business idea over to Morgana."
Merlin takes the time to look at Arthur, really look at him. Not at the movie star, not the actor, not his crush, but the man who'd rather take a stroll on his family's old house and look up at the night with Merlin. Arthur is nothing like Merlin imagined, at least not when it comes to his personality, he is every bit as handsome as he looks in his movies, even more this close up because he's the real thing.
Arthur peers at him curiously. "For what, for not being terrible company after all?"
"No, for showing me your house."
Arthur smiles, looks away. "Hey, am I wrong in thinking you wouldn't have brought a fan here?"
"No, you're right. I like to come here sometimes, and I guess I just wanted the company tonight," Arthur says, "I wouldn't really bring anyone here."
Merlin gets it, this is special for Arthur, like a secret. One Merlin is willing to keep.
"Sometimes life gets overwhelming." Arthur leans against the railing, crossing his arms. "A bit of peace is nice."
"Is this the part where you tell me that you're miserable and you hate the cameras, that fame is the worst thing that ever happened to you?" Merlin is serious when he asks but Arthur like he's done so far answers by laughing.
"No, I love the spotlight. I like my job and where it's taken me. I'd only like to have a moment to myself and not worry if a paparazzi is going to catch me with the same clothes as the day before when I go out for coffee." Arthur chuckles, shakes his head like he can't believed he voiced his thoughts out loud for Merlin to hear. "This is starting to resemble a date, I'm telling you all about myself. This is like the getting to know you part, isn't it?"
Merlin knows Arthur said it as a joke, but he can't help the flare of hope and something else, more warm and pressing manifest. In a moment of boldness he steps in front of Arthur willing himself not to break eye contact. "If this were a date, how would you woo me? Make me fall, Arthur Pendragon."
Arthur straightens his back, as if he's ready to take the bait. He wets his lips and Merlin can't take his eyes off of him. Arthur moves closer, their noses bumping, he puts one hand on Merlin's hip, Merlin hopes Arthur can't feel him trembling underneath his palm. "You have beautiful eyes," Arthur whispers hotly, intently, with all the seriousness in the world.
Merlin blinks stupefied, only to burst out laughing, shoving Arthur back. Arthur joins him. He doesn't know what he was expecting. Arthur is a good actor. That's one of the things he likes about him. Just a very miniscule one among others he's just discovered.
"That's the most clichéd and ridiculous pick-up line in the history of pick-up lines, you should be ashamed of yourself, Arthur Pendragon." Merlin says accusingly, unable to get rid of the laughter in his tone.
Arthur shrughs. He's not bothered by Merlin's accusations.
"I get it, this is strange, going out with a fan who won a contest. Surreal."
Arthur stops, reels Melin back in by the arm, they're close again. So close Merlin is going crosseyed. "But Merlin, you're not just a fan, are you?"
When Arthur kisses him Merlin's mind goes blank, his focus is on the feel of Arthur's lips on his, softer than he imagined, in Arthur's tongue parting his lips to taste him and give Merlin a taste of him in return. The kiss doesn't last long enough, but it's all Merlin needed to embrace Arthur and kiss him again, and one more time after that because he's been granted permission and in that moment they're just Arthur and Merlin. Just that.
Gwen and Gwaine are sitting on his sofa when he comes back, both sharing a tub of ice cream, their identical expressions begging him to spill every single detail about the night.
Merlin leans down to kiss their cheeks goodnight. He ignores them after, walking straight to his room without a single world.
A bit of suspense never hurt anyone.