Title: So Close That I Might See (6)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: After an accident Arthur goes to limbo, but gets one opportunity to go back and set things right.
Word Count: 600
Prompt: #323: Opportunity, beer, glasses.
Author's Notes: One | Two | Three | Four | Five
As soon as they get back Merlin wastes no time in getting him comfortable on the sofa, Arthur has yet to utter a word, instead, he keeps his eyes on Merlin, watching him move around the spaces of his flat as if he's part of it, as if he belongs there. Arthur frowns, he hasn't been that horrible to Merlin, has he? Seeing how worried he is, how much he cares about Arthur's well being leaves him discomfited.
"He takes his job very seriously, doesn't he?" Elena asks, rearranging the pillows behind Arthur so she can fit herself next to him more comfortably. "I mean, it's Friday night and he's young and good looking, he could be out there having a beer with a special friend."
Arthur narrows his eyes. "Why are you still here?"
Unperturbed, Elena smiles patting him on the cheek. "You're not mad at me. Not really. Perhaps there's something you need to tell Merlin?"
He leans back, throwing his arm over eyes sighing. "I don't know. I don't think there's anything to tell."
Arthur jumps, sitting up. Merlin is back in the living room, holding Arthur's iPad, giving him a curious look. Elena is gone when he turns his head. "You were saying something?" Merlin asks. This could be Arthur's opportunity, the right moment to ask Merlin what he thinks about him, maybe apologize now that his sister and Elena got him thinking. But the words get stuck in his throat, he blinks, stares.
"You wear glasses," he says, his voice sounds rough. "Since when do you wear glasses?"
Merlin chuckles, shakes his head. He sits down next to Arthur, bringing the iPad to life then looking up at him, considering. "Since always. I need them to read."
Arthur nods, wondering why this is the first time he's getting a glimpse of this version of Merlin, kind of softer, homely in a way that makes Arthur think this is something he only does when he's alone, he can clearly picture him reading before bed, the bedside lamp barely lighting up the pages for him. The black-rimmed glasses slipping down his nose as he's falling asleep. "Why don't you wear them more often then? You look—"
"I wear contacts," Merlin says, rolling his eyes. "And don't you dare say I look ridiculous or something equally lousy."
"I wasn't going to. They actually suit you." Arthur scoffs, the one time he was going to compliment the idiot, he goes and blows it. "You should wear them more often."
Merlin smiles, bites his bottom lip. "Thank you then. I'll think about it."
He starts reading Arthur's emails out loud, while Arthur dictates his answers so Merlin can write them. He'd refused to let Arthur near any kind of technology, because Morgana's scary friend had prohibited tablets, computers, phones, etc. They want him to live like a caveman.
"Oh, your parents sent pics from their holiday," Merlin says, enthusiastically. "Your father actually looks happy, wow, I thought the only Pendragon capable of joy was your mum, and occasionally Morgana...if she's with Gwen."
"We're not robots you know." Arthur knocks his feet against Merlin's.
Merlin puts the iPad on the table. "You'll have to prove that."
"How do you suggest we do that?"
"I'll think about it and get back to you."
"You do that."
Arthur knows he's grinning, but he doesn't care. Merlin has always made it easy for him. "Hey, Merlin?"
"Have I — Do you think I'm a horrible boss?" Arthur immediately wants to sink in the couch, the stunned silence coming from Merlin is anything but comforting.
"Why do you ask? Are you afraid I'm going to sue you?" Merlin is teasing him about eighty percent of the time, an always calls Arthur out, yet the tension on his shoulders is visible. "You don't think that, do you?"
Arthur shakes his head. "No. I just thought it's not completely fair I pull you along with me when I spend days working on end. Maybe you need a break, take some time to breath. I don't know."
"Oh god, that blow in the head is worse than we thought," Merlin says, making a show of checking him over, Arthur swats him away laughing.
"I'm being serious, you idiot."
"It's true that you can be an arse and an utter prat—"
"But I like the job. If I have any complaints believe I will let you know. Although you could stop pretending you're Anna Wintour and cut me some slack, and give me paid vacations perhaps," Merlin says, rubbing his chin pensively, his smirk clear as water.
Arthur pushes him away, laughing along with him. "Keep dreaming."