Title: First Impressions
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Arthur knows how important first impressions are.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Hope you enjoy!
Arthur would never admit it, but the fault was his own. He wasn’t looking where he was going, he wasn’t paying attention. His thoughts were running over everything he needed to remember, all the things he had to say in order to make the right impression.
But when the other man started apologising profusely, Arthur rolled with it and let him think it was his fault.
Arthur stared down at his coffee stained shirt in dismay.
“I’m so sorry,” the man babbled, clutching an almost empty cup. “You just came out of nowhere!”
“I was walking along the street,” Arthur responded heatedly. Anger seethed beneath the surface but he forced himself to remain calm. If he lost his temper, he would arrive angry and coffee-stained. One was bad enough.
“I know, I know! I’m such an idiot! Here…”
Arthur watched as the man unravelled his scarf. The blue matched his eyes, Arthur couldn’t help but notice. Then he instantly flushed at the thought – he was supposed to be angry that his concentration had been destroyed, not noticing the colour of the man’s eyes.
His hands hung limply at his side as the man gripped the coffee cup between his teeth and awkwardly wrapped the scarf around Arthur’s neck. It hid the majority of the coffee stain and the man stepped back, tweaking it before looking pleased with himself.
“You should give me your number,” Arthur said, “so I can return it.”
“Just keep it,” the man said. “Maybe we’ll bump into each other again.”
He hurried off before Arthur could say anything else. He supposed that he wasn’t the only one in a hurry that morning. He took a deep breath, trying to refocus his thoughts and set off down the road, conscious of the weight hanging around his neck.
Thankfully, the rest of the journey passed without any mishaps. Nerves fluttered in his stomach as he stared up at the building. It was stone and brick, nestled between two larger buildings. A far cry from the glass and steel building that he was used to.
“You want this,” Arthur muttered, taking a deep breath before entering and heading towards reception.
He was directed towards a comfortable looking sofa to wait and Arthur bit back a groan as he sank into it. It was perfect. But he didn’t have long to enjoy it before he heard voices coming his way.
“-and in this weather as well, Merlin? I’m surprised at you – you’re never without it.”
“I had to give it away,” a familiar voice said. “I was a klutz and the guy looked really upset.”
“What did you do?”
The man – Merlin – was saved answering when he appeared in reception. A petite and pretty girl was standing next to him. Her jaw literally dropped when she looked at Arthur. But Arthur didn’t need to ask why. He suddenly understood their whole conversation.
Clearly, Merlin never went anywhere without a scarf, and here Arthur was, wearing it.
“You?” Merlin asked, then a breathless laugh escaped him. “I told you we would meet again.”
“I’m going to leave you to it,” the girl said, shooting Merlin a look that clearly said she wanted the entire story.
“Arthur Pendragon,” Arthur said, stretching his hand. “Mr Emrys?”
“Call me Merlin,” Merlin said, shaking it. “Come on up, Arthur.”
Arthur’s heart was thudding hard as he walked up the stairs to Merlin’s office.
“I really am sorry about this morning,” Merlin said. “No wonder you looked so upset, I know what first impressions mean.”
“It’s fine,” Arthur said. He was hardly going to admit he thought the clumsy man on the street had just ruined his chances at a new job, not when said man was the one interviewing him.
“I’m such an idiot,” Merlin said, opening his office door.
Nerves clawed at him as Arthur stepped into the office. But once he was settled in another (comfortable) seat and the interview started, his fears that it would be an unconventional one was put to rest. Merlin asked all the right questions and Arthur didn’t feel self-conscious as he answered. He was proud of his achievements and he let that show.
“So why do you want this job?” Merlin asked, his fingers steepled and his chin resting on top. “You already work for a good company. Your father’s company?”
Arthur nodded. He knew that would come up and just about hid his flinch.
“I’m working my way up from the bottom,” he said, “my choice. I didn’t want to be handed a position I didn’t deserve. But being at the bottom and being the son of the boss doesn’t make it…” He paused, trying to work out what he wanted to say.
“Doesn’t make it the best working environment.” He thought of the sneers and malicious comments, the degrading remarks and hostility from some of his co-workers. He was never included – they didn’t dare have a drink with the boss’ son.
“Schoolboy antics?” Merlin asked and Arthur suddenly realised that he understood. He nodded.
Arthur wasn’t even sure what they spoke about for the rest of the interview. But when he stood up to leave, his hands rose to unwind the scarf at his neck. Merlin stopped him.
“Give it to me on Monday.”
“Congratulations, Arthur. You’ve got the job.”
Arthur couldn’t stop beaming as he shook Merlin’s hand again and left the building with a bounce in his step. It was a smaller company, but the role was more senior and it was more money. It was the first promotion he knew that he had got on his own. No one could scoff at him now.
When he reached his flat and unwound the scarf from his neck, Arthur stared at the coffee-stain and smiled. He thought it would ruin the shirt. But now he didn’t care – he would keep it anyway. He would keep it as a reminder that even when things start off badly, they can only get better.