Title:You'll Ruin Your Eyes
Summary: Merlin gets an e-reader. Arthur may be jealous.
Word Count: 727
Author's Notes: What do you think--is the title too silly?
“You are going to ruin your eyes, reading that tiny font,” grumbled Arthur. He was turned on his side, facing Merlin. Merlin was lying on his belly. His chin rested on his arm which was folded across his pillow. With his free hand, he swiped to the right to turn the page on his e-reader.
“This is really good. You should read it,” said Merlin, distractedly. He continued to read, while Arthur pouted.
Arthur huffed. “They say it’s really bad sleep hygiene to use electronic screens before bed. That’s probably why you’ve been having headaches.”
Merlin sighed, patiently replying, “I’ve had headaches since I was a child. Way before I ever had electronic books.”
"You know," countered Arthur,"lying on your belly like that isn't very good for your back."
Merlin didn't even bother to reply to that.
Arthur flipped onto his back, while Merlin continued his reading. He let out a sigh. No reply. He waited a minute or two more, and then let out a deeper sigh. No reply. He twisted, and turned, and finally turned again to face Merlin and just watch him. Nothing. So he sighed again—this one was drawn out and long-suffering.
“Fine. I give up, Arthur. I can feel you staring at me. What’s going on? Did you want to talk about something?”
Arthur had the grace to look sheepish, and just shook his head.
“Well, what is it then?”
“It’s nothing. I mean—it’s not a big deal. It’s just—um—every night we get into bed, and you’ve been so wrapped up in what you’re reading that we don’t even kiss good-night. And we’ve hardly even had sex since you started reading that series.”
Merlin stared at Arthur, eyes wide. “That’s not..."
“Yes, Merlin, it is. It’s true. It’s been three weeks. And I’ve tried to be patient, but I’m starting to feel neglected, and jealous of the damned e-reader I got you for your birthday. I’ve had fantasies of throwing it out the window.”
Arthur felt his eyes begin to burn and turned away to hide his face. “I know it’s ridiculous, but I miss our bedtime closeness. I feel like I haven’t slept really well in weeks—like something is missing when you get into bed and we don’t even kiss goodnight.”
Merlin slid out from under the covers, stood up, and picked up his e-reader. Arthur watched, frustration and pain written plain across his face. He threw himself down onto his pillow and stared at the ceiling, trying to let numbness settle in.
“There!” said Merlin, sliding back into bed. “That thing has been banished from the bedroom!” he said, sidling up close against Arthur, snaking one hand underneath his shoulder, and the other around his chest, Merlin rested his ear above partner’s heart.”
Arthur wrapped his arms around Merlin, and felt himself calming. “I feel a bit of a fool for being jealous of a piece of plastic and glass, but I’ve really missed this.”
“I have too. I just didn’t realize it. I’ve been losing myself in another world at the expense of this one right here. Pretty silly, when everything I’ve most wanted is in my arms right now.”
“Merlin,” said Arthur, giving Merlin a funny look. “I know you aren’t going to stop reading. And I wouldn’t even want you to. I love how you think about things, and imagine things. I know your reading is a big part of you.”
Merlin laughed. “Of course I’m not gonna stop reading. But I’m gonna be a lot more careful about balance—I’m not gonna let anything stop me from being here and now with you. And this time right before we go to sleep—that’s really special to me too. I love ending our day together, and waking up in your arms to a new one. So, now hear this, because it may be a looong time before you hear it again: 'Arthur, you were completely right.'”
Arthur grinned, rolled them both over so that he hovered over Merlin, who was now on his back, and let out a whoop, gloating rather obnoxiously about having been right. Merlin pulled him down into a long, slow kiss. They settled on their sides, looking quietly into each other’s eyes. Arthur traced a finger along Merlin’s lips. “I just—thank you. You’re wonderful. I knew there was some reason I love you.”
“I love you too, and I’m the one who should be thanking you for bringing it up,” answered Merlin, nipping at Arthur’s index finger. “Turn off the light. Let’s go to sleep. Or…not.”