Title: We laugh and we cry (And we break)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Percival, Lancelot, Gwen
Summary: Arthur finds himself running after Merlin
Word Count: ~900
Prompt: 252: ham4cam Wait For It for camelot_drabble
Author's Notes: Thank you schweet_heart for the beta. This is part four of the "blind date/divorce!fic" I hope you enjoy!
"Anyway, I should go," Merlin said, pushing back on his stool and standing up.
He and Arthur had slowly eaten the chips Percy had placed in front of them, and had drunk their drinks in silence. It was the type of comfortable silence Arthur was used to. The type of silence he'd not had in nearly two years.
"What were you going to say before?" Arthur asked, and when Merlin looked at him confused, he added, "About Gwen. Something about her trying to play matchmaker with you...you trailed off or a bit."
"You should know that means. I don't like to discuss—"
"Tell me anyway. What have you got to lose?" Arthur asked and they were quiet again for a while. This time, it wasn't a comfortable silence as the tension hung between them. Regardless, Arthur was willing to wait for it.
"I told her it'd been some time since I'd dated. And she asked me specifically how long and I told her. So she was convinced that her matchmaking skills were going to guarantee me a hot night."
"After a coffee?"
Merlin shrugged. "She said I'd want you the moment I laid eyes on you."
"And did you?"
Merlin looked at him for a long minute. He reached into his jeans' pocket and brought out his wallet to leave a tip for Percy. He was good like that, Arthur remembered. No matter how much they drank for free, he always left a tip for his bartender friend. Even if he'd only had seltzer.
"We've made our mistakes, Arthur, and we should learn from them. Sorry I chased after you here. I wasn't even sure you'd be here. But I guess some things never change."
Arthur didn't say anything. He watched Merlin's hands fold around a twenty pound note which he placed under the chips basket, then put the wallet back in his pocket.
"I gave you that shirt," Arthur said. Why wasn't he ready to let Merlin go? Why was he still making some sort of a conversation with him? Really, Arthur. It's over. You're supposed to hate him, remember?
"Right, you did," Merlin said, pulling on his collar. "I honestly couldn't remember. I stared at it in the wardrobe for a long time, wondering if it was the right thing to wear. I wanted to go home and change before going to Avalon, but was just busy..." Then he paused, flushing slightly. Merlin did that when he'd realise he'd been going on on a tangent. He did never know when to shut up.
"Well. I'll see you, then."
As Merlin walked away, Arthur turned his attention to his glass of bourbon and finished it. He stared into the empty glass for a few minutes until Percy returned.
"You played nice?"
Arthur shrugged. "As nice as one could given the circumstances."
"You want to run after him, don't you?"
Arthur squinted his eyes and looked at Percy. "What would I even say?" he asked eventually, because yeah, Percy knew him well.
"Has that ever stopped you before?"
"Just go, Arthur. Get it out of your system."
Arthur shook his head at Percy's tone, but didn't stop himself from getting up. He would have left some money for the drink but he was certain he was going to return because by now, Merlin would already be far gone. So he all but ran out the door and onto the street looking for him.
He spotted Merlin walking on the footpath towards the Metro and ran.
Merlin stopped and turned around, looking bemused. "What is it, Arthur?"
"You still didn't tell me what you said to Gwen. There's more to the story."
Merlin rolled his eyes. "Why aren't you letting this go? You told Gwen you never wanted to see me again."
"That's not what I told her."
"Well, according to her it was something along those lines— so why do you care?"
Arthur crossed his arms and stared at him. Now either Merlin was going to tell him or he was going to walk away. There was nothing Arthur could do. Again, he had to wait for it.
"We met for coffee a few times after Lance introduced us. Well, tea really because Gwen detests coffee. During those times, she found out I was single, divorced, and, well, hadn't dated anyone since my divorce. So she took pity on me for my dry spell—"
"No one?" Arthur asked, unable to hide his surprise.
"Really? You've not shagged anyone since our divorce?"
"Fuck off, Arthur," Merlin said, turning around. He started to walk, no sprint away. Naturally, Arthur ran after him.
"Merlin. Wait. Me too."
"Go away, Arthur."
"No, listen to me!" Arthur caught up with Merlin and pulled on his shoulder so he could face him again. "I wasn't making fun of you, if that's what you're thinking. I was just going to say that I've been in the same boat. Maybe Gwen finds us both attractive—because I told her it's been almost two years for me since I've been with another man."
Arthur had no idea why he was telling Merlin all of this. Maybe it was the bourbon talking, or maybe it was just that he hadn’t talked to Merlin in two years and wanted to tell him everything. Even if this was going to lead to a fight.
Merlin glared at him for a long while before his body visibly relaxed. "That's unfortunate. And, I didn't need to know that. It's over, Arthur. It's been over. I'm trying to move on with my life. You should too."
And with that, Merlin was gone for good.
read the next part here