Summary:Arthur wants to have a talk with Merlin.
Author's Notes: This is another chapter of On Notice. The ongoing 'discussion' between Merlin (who knows he wants to parent one day) and Arthur (who was sure he didn't want to, but is willing to think about it). I'll post links later, as I'm rushing out and need to post early because I won't be able to post later and meet the deadline, so I expect to edit and maybe change this a bit in the next day or two.
Merlin opened the door and took Arthur’s overnight bag from his hands. Arthur wrapped his arms around his lover, while Merlin nuzzled Arthur’s neck, inhaling his scent and relaxing into his strong arms. “I love Fridays,” breathed Arthur. “I fucking love Fridays.”
“C’mon in,” urged Merlin, “I’ve missed you like crazy. It feels like a month since Monday morning.”
Merlin led Arthur towards the sofa. Arthur plopped down, grabbing Merlin’s elbows and pulling him down so he was straddling Arthur’s thighs—one of their favorite arrangements for sharing long, slow kisses. Eventually, Merlin slid off Arthur’s lap into the seat beside him. Arthur angled towards him, resting his back against the arm of the sofa, kicking off his shoes, and throwing his legs over Merlin’s knees.
“How about we stay in tonight?” asked Merlin. “We could order from that Thai place we’ve wanted to try. You don’t look like you can move off the sofa, anyway--we could watch a movie, or catch up on Dr Who.”
Arthur reached for Merlin’s hand, and took a deep breath. “Thai sounds great, and I’m all for staying in. It took me all week to get back here—I’m in no rush to leave. But, after dinner--could we talk a bit?”
Merlin’s brow furrowed. He was very still for a moment, gazing intently at Arthur. “Is everything ok, Arthur?”
“Are you telling me the truth?”
“I am absolutely telling you the truth. Really, I swear, this is not one of those we-have-to-talk moments. It’s good, really, but I just need to settle in a bit before getting into it.”
Arthur watched as Merlin tried to hide his apprehension. “Trust me, love. Everything is alright. I promise.”
Merlin rose and leaned down to kiss the top of Arthur’s head. “I do. I really do trust you. Do you want to get out of that suit and rest a bit until the food comes?”
Shooting Merlin a grateful look, Arthur stretched right out on the sofa and closed his eyes. “Mmmph. Yeah. In a minute.”
“Wake up sleepy head,” said Merlin quietly, gently caressing Arthur’s shoulder. He continued, in soft tones, “Up and at ‘em, lazy daisy—the food is here.” Merlin waved his hand over the pad thai, wafting the smell towards Arthur. He put down the dish and took Arthur’s hand. “Let’s get you out of this suit.”
Eyes still closed, Arthur smiled, and lifting Merlin’s hand to his lips he kissed it. “Mmm. It smells great,” said Arthur, stretching and standing up. “I’ll be right back.”
Merlin lit some candles, and poured some iced coconut juice into tall glasses. Arthur returned in a t-shirt and jeans, carrying a small box tied with string. “Look what I brought!”
“Oooh. Do I dare hope—are those my favorite chocolate covered marzipans?”
Arthur grinned, handing the box to Merlin, and they settled down to dinner. After spending some time appreciating the food, and comparing it to other favorite take-outs, they packed away the leftovers and put up the kettle for tea. Arthur went to open the chocolates, but Merlin stopped him. “Those are too special to just glomp down straight out of the box,” said Merlin, arranging the hand-dipped marzipan on a pretty little china plate Arthur had never noticed before. “Thank you for going out of your way to bring me these. I know your week was pretty brutal.”
Arthur laughed, “I’d easily go twice as far to see the way your face lights up. Get us the tea and let’s talk a bit. I want to tell you about my week.”
They both settled onto the sofa. They faced each other, holding hands, with their legs crossed under them, knees touching. “I had lunch in the park on Wednesday,” he began. “It was a beautiful day, and I found a nice shady spot on one of the benches near the playground.” Arthur let go of one of Merlin’s hands and reached up to stroke his cheek. “There were several nannies in the park, a couple of moms and one dad.”
Merlin listened quietly, giving Arthur his full attention.
“There was a man sitting on a nearby bench with a picnic basket. He was tall, thin, with a dark curly mop—he reminded me of you, if a little older. A little girl kept calling to him—‘Watch me daddy, watch me!’ It was sweet, though I wondered if I’d have the patience. I noticed because I don’t often see men with their kids. More often it’s the mom.” Arthur shifted, pushing Merlin back into the corner of the sofa, he stretched out, rested his head on Merlin’s lap, and butted his head against Merlin’s hand, just like a cat looking for strokes. Merlin easily complied and began to pet his boyfriend’s lovely hair.
“A little later another man rushed over to join the little girl’s father. He apologized for being late, sat down, shifted the picnic basket over, and wrapped his arms around the first man. You know how it is. I kind of wanted to go over and say, ‘Hey, I’m gay too! So glad to see you here!’”
“You didn’t, did you?” asked Merlin.
“Well, no. You know that’s not really my style. Anyway, they were obviously enjoying their moment together. It was nice to see though. Time was, it was a lot less common for two men to feel comfortable being so open. A few minutes later, Sophie—that’s the little girl—came barreling over, and the new man had a lap full of little girl for a few moments until she ran off again, shouting, ‘Papa watch me, Daddy, watch me!’ Arthur paused, settled further into Merlin’s touch, took a deep breath, and continued. It’s funny, as much as we’ve talked about it, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that they were both her dads, and that I’d never ever actually seen that before.
Merlin fought the urge to question or comment, and just continued to stroke Arthur’s hair.
“Moments later there was some loud wailing, and both dads ran off to gather up Sophie, who had taken a spill.
“Was she ok?”asked Merlin.
“Oh yes, some cuddles and kisses, and she was off and running again. But while they were off tending to her, the pigeons had come to steal their lunch—so I went over to protect it for them.”
Merlin chuckled, “I can just see you waving your arms at the pigeons. Arthur Pendragon, protector of the lunch meats.”
Arthur poked Merlin in the side, and continued, “Yes, well, they were very grateful. They invited me to join them and we talked for a while.”
“Oh, that’s nice—making friends at the playground! Did you join them?”
“Hrmph. If you aren’t nice to me, I’m not going to let you pet my hair anymore,” said Arthur, pushing his head against Merlin’s hand again. “Anyway, yes, I did join them. Pedro, is the one who reminded me of you, and Gil is the other one. We talked for awhile. I told them about you, of course. I ended up telling them about our situation—I mean about you being sure you want to parent, and me being not so sure.”
Merlin squirmed a tiny bit at that, finding himself a little anxious.
“They told me how Sofia came to them, how Gil had always wanted to be a dad, but Pedro wasn’t so sure. Sofia is Gil’s niece. There was no one else to take her in. Pedro said he was really conflicted for a while, during the adjustment-- but that now he wouldn’t change it for the world. He said that this is the best and greatest adventure of his lifetime. An ADVENTURE! That kind of blew my mind.”
Arthur sat up and pulled Merlin into his arms. “They gave me their number, and invited us for lunch next Saturday. They also said I should call anytime if I want to talk about this stuff more.”
“Do you want to talk about this more?” asked Merlin quietly.
“I do,” answered Arthur, into Merlin’s hair. “Merlin, I can’t say for sure yet. I can’t promise anything yet. But—I think—maybe this might be an adventure that I want to take. Not yet, not for a while. But some day. And with you. There is no one I would trust more than you. There is no one I could want to share this with as much.”
Merlin turned to face Arthur—awed, hopeful, and scared to hope. He put his hand on Arthur’s cheek, searching his eyes. Arthur mirrored his action, placing his own hand on Merlin’s cheek, and pulling in for a kiss. Forehead to Merlin’s and tears in his eyes, Arthur said, “I love you so much. Please don’t give up on me--on getting what you want from me.”
“You are what I want from you. You are what I need. Always,” whispered Merlin.