Title: Swings and Roundabouts
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Will
Summary: Merlin is a bit of a disaster, and Arthur has a tendency to jump to conclusions. Somehow they work things out anyway.
Word Count: 1000w
Prompt: 310 Song Prompt (Roundabouts)
Author's Notes: Hey look, I wrote a thing \o/
“Arthur? Hey, Arthur!”
The sound of his name brought Arthur up short just as he was about to step off the curb, and he paused for a moment to glance back up the road, shoulders hunched against the chill of the wind. He had to squint through the driving rain to see him, but as soon as the figure crossed in front of a streetlamp Arthur recognised the lanky build and dark, messy hair. His stomach flipped over.
“Hey, Merlin,” he said when Merlin caught up with him, thanking his lucky stars when the words came out sounding calm and casual. “How’s it going?”
“I’m so glad to see you,” Merlin said, beaming, skidding to a stop a few inches before he would have collided with Arthur’s chest. He wasn’t carrying an umbrella, so he looked a bit like a drowned rat, but to Arthur's dismay this did nothing to diminish his desire to kiss him. “I’ve been hoping to run into you for weeks, but I seem to keep just missing you.”
“I haven’t been around much,” said Arthur, who had been avoiding The Rising Sun in the hopes of forestalling just such an encounter. “Things are really busy at work right now, so I haven’t had much free time. You have my number, though, right? You could’ve just called me.”
Whether Arthur would have picked up was another question entirely, but Merlin didn’t need to know that.
“I, uh, may have dropped my phone in the Thames,” Merlin said sheepishly, rubbing a hand along the back of his neck. Had it been anyone else, Arthur would have suspected he was being fed a line, but Merlin was just about the clumsiest person Arthur had ever met, with the possible exception of his cousin, Elena. “I lost my wallet as well, and your telephone number. I’ve been going spare trying to get in touch with you—I’m so sorry.”
He looked up at Arthur with an earnest expression, his blue eyes pleading, those stupidly long eyelashes all clumped together, and in spite of himself Arthur felt the ball of ice in his chest beginning to thaw. Being ghosted had been unpleasant, the more so because it had been so unexpected: he’d only known Merlin for about a month, but he’d fallen for him pretty hard, and he had been so certain that Merlin had felt the same—at least until he’d seen him out with another guy. The fact that Merlin had started ignoring him shortly afterwards had been the icing on an extremely crappy cake.
“You really are an idiot, aren’t you?” he said, not sure whether he was talking to Merlin or himself. “You couldn’t just have stalked me on Facebook, like a normal person?”
Merlin’s cheeks flushed a dark red. “You never told me your last name,” he mumbled, shuffling his feet. “Do you know how many Arthurs there are in London? The tenth time I got yelled at for propositioning the wrong guy, I figured I’d be better off hanging out at the pub and trying to find you that way. At least there I could drown my sorrows in alcohol.”
Arthur rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. Only Merlin.
“Well, I’m here now,” he said, making a little ‘ta-da’ gesture with his hands. “So proposition away. I already know you have a boyfriend, so I won’t take it the wrong way, I promise.”
He tried to phrase it as nonchalantly as he could, so that the other man wouldn’t suspect Arthur had been eating his heart out for the past six weeks, but Merlin just looked confused.
“Boyfriend? I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“Sure you do,” Arthur said, nonplussed. “Dark hair, loud, about yea high…?” Fond of swinging you around in circles and giving you sloppy kisses, he didn’t say. The crusher of my hopes and dreams. “The two of you seemed pretty close when I saw you in the pub a few weeks back.”
Merlin’s frown deepened for a moment, thinking, then his eyes widened. “Oh, Will! You mean Will.” He sounded almost amused, as if this kind of thing happened to him way too often. “We’ve been friends since I was wee, but we’re not dating. Will’s as straight as they come.”
Arthur arched an eyebrow. “Right,” he said. “That’s why he kissed you.”
“I think you’ll find that I kissed him,” Merlin corrected coolly. “Since that was the night he told me he’s getting married in the spring. To his girlfriend,” he added, with pointed emphasis. “Who is a lovely woman and not someone I would ever want to hurt like that, even if I hadn’t known Will since we were in kindergarten.”
“Oh.” This time, it was Arthur’s turn to blush. “I’m sorry, it’s just—I saw the two of you together and I thought…”
“Well, you thought wrong,” Merlin said firmly. He took a step towards Arthur, blinking at him from beneath his dripping fringe, and Arthur’s heart gave a sudden kick against his ribs as his gaze dropped inexorably down to Merlin’s lips. “For goodness sake, Arthur, I practically tore the city apart looking for you. Why would I do that if I had a boyfriend?”
“Because I’m a really awesome guy?” Arthur asked, although he was starting to feel more than a little stupid. “Because you were desperate for my company? It’s okay, you can admit it. I’m a popular man.”
Merlin snorted. “And so modest,” he said drily. “You prat. I was looking for you because I wanted to do this.”
He had his mouth pressed up against Arthur’s before Arthur could really think about it, his fingers curled into Arthur’s collar, and after an initial moment of surprise Arthur held onto him tightly.
“It’s Pendragon,” he murmured when they broke apart. “Arthur Pendragon. And I think this is the part where you invite me on a date.”
“What do you think I’ve been trying to do?” Merlin asked, exasperated, before kissing him again.