Title: That Familiar Feeling
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Percival, Gwen, Lancelot
Summary: Arthur goes to see a friend and drown his sorrows.
Warnings: Angst. Modern!AU.
Word Count: 820
Prompt: "Perfectly Imperfect" for camelot_drabble
Author's Notes: Unbetaed. Part Three of the "All Too Familiar" series.
Part one, Part two
Arthur flopped down on the bar stool at The Scholars Pub and nodded at the bartender. Percy gave him a grin before he came over and asked, "Gin, or bourbon tonight?"
"Oh, was it that bad?"
"It was Merlin."
"What was Merlin?" Percy looked confused, and reached behind him for a glass and the bottle of bourbon. "Say when..." he said, pouring.
"That's fine," Arthur said when he figured enough drink had been poured in his glass and he didn't want to get completely wasted. "And my blind date. It was Merlin."
"How is that even possible? Doesn't he live on the other side of the town? I mean--he was at Avalon?"
Arthur shrugged. It was just his luck, he supposed. His life - which was perfectly imperfect at times, or absolutely fucked up at other times. He took a long sip of his drink, and in one go, explained everything to Percy.
When Arthur looked up at Percy again, the man looked genuinely nervous.
"What's the matter?"
"Well, it's been two years. Can't say the two years did him wrong," Percy said, observing something past Arthur's shoulder.
"What are you talking about?" Arthur asked, annoyed.
"He's just walked in."
"What?" Arthur snapped, turning to look at the entrance door. "Why would he come here?"
"It seems he still knows you," Percy said, and placed an empty glass next to Arthur. "What do you think he'll want? Gin or Bourbon?"
Arthur turned around before Merlin could tell that Arthur had seen him. He took a long, deep sigh before he replied Percy. "It's almost eight o'clock on a Thursday evening."
"You're right," Percy said, and both of them at the same time spoke, "seltzer with lime."
Merlin sat down on the stool next to Arthur, and Arthur stared at him for a few seconds. He was still shocked that this was actually happening. That Merlin had showed up at Scholars. They had now been divorced for almost two years, and Arthur hadn't seen Merlin in any of their usual hangouts, like the Avalon Coffee Shop. or The Scholars Pub. Merlin had even started grocery shopping at a different location.
"Figured I'd find you here," Merlin said, and before he could order, Percy had his seltzer with lime ready for him.
"Thanks, Perc. How are you?"
"I'm great Em, how's it going with you?"
"Yeah, so I heard about the blind date," Percy said and Arthur glared at him. Percy raised his hands up in surrender, and walked away from Arthur and Merlin. "You boys play nice now."
"So, you just left."
Arthur shrugged and didn't say anything. He simply stared at his drink. "What was the point?"
"The point? The point was that you could have told me, and I wouldn't have just sat there like an idiot."
Arthur scoffed. "And talked to you again? When I came over the first time--"
"You were already starting a fight before you even approached my table."
"And so why would I want to go back?" Arthur asked. "Anyway, it's a fucked up situation. You didn't have to come here to tell me what an arse I am. You did that enough while we were married."
"That wasn't while we were married," Merlin said, sounding hurt, and something inside Arthur shook. Yeah, he was right, it wasn't while they were married--it was mostly towards the end. While they were getting a divorce.
"How do you even know Gwen?" Arthur asked, trying to change the subject.
"Her boyfriend Lance is in my sculpture class. He stayed late one day as we were discussing his assignment and she came by the class. We became friends and well..."
"She thought you'd be perfect for her boss."
"She fancies herself a matchmaker, says she's matched several people with their soulmates and was convinced she could find someone for me--That was-- Nevermind when that was."
"What?" Arthur asked, turning to face Merlin. They were so close to each other. Arthur hadn't been this close to Merlin in years. During their divorce, they'd sat across the table from each other while the solicitors did all the talking and the negotiating. Now, he was so close, Arthur could simply reach over and touch him. He felt the heat radiating off Merlin's body and mix in with his.
No, that kind of thinking was not a good idea.
"It's not important," Merlin said.
"Right. Nothing ever is," Arthur turned away again and sipped his drink.
"Well, then. Here we are..." Merlin mumbled, seemingly to himself.
Percy came back then and he brought a small basket of chips that he placed it between Arthur and Merlin. "Okay, here you go. It's not fancy Avalon paninis, but best chips in all the bars in this area."
He walked away, taking both Merlin and Arthur's empty glasses to refill them.
"And here we are," said Arthur.
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