Title:Pumpkin, and Beyond
Summary:Merlin wants to keep a stray cat. Arthur does not.
Prompt:336: Black cat
Author's Notes:Not beta'd
“We’re not keeping it.”
“Love, come on!” Merlin pleaded, the tiny black kitten wrapped up in his arms as he followed Arthur into the kitchenette.
“Absolutely not,” Arthur declared, grabbing an apple out of the fridge.
“Why not?” Merlin whined as Arthur washed the apple off.
After taking a bite, Arthur explained, “It’s a stray, Merlin. We have no idea what kinds of diseases it may have.”
“We’ll get him shots!”
“We’d have to take care of it, and—”
“I’ll take care of him,” Merlin asserted, setting the squirming kitten on the ground. “You won’t have to do anything!”
“You say that now,” replied Arthur. “But by this time next month, when you’re losing your mind over meeting a deadline, I’m the one who’ll have to clean the litter box.”
“All right, fine,” conceded Merlin, “maybe you’ll have to do some work. But that’s what a relationship is all about!”
“I don’t want the cat in the first place!”
“Well, it looks like he wants you.”
Arthur looked down at the cat, who was rubbing his cheek against Arthur’s calf and, oh God forbid, purring. His heart squeezed at the sight. No, he was not going to give in—
“Why do you hate cats so much?” Merlin asked, peering at Arthur curiously.
Arthur sighed, taking another bite of his apple. “I don’t.”
“But you always act like you do!”
“Because it’s easier that way,” Arthur said, not meeting Merlin’s gaze. “Look, when I was younger, I had a cat. Her name was Pumpkin, because she was orange. And when she died—I just never got past it. I know it’s stupid to still be mourning a childhood pet, but—”
“Hey,” Merlin said, rushing to Arthur’s side and placing a hand on his arm. “No, it’s not. You’re allowed to feel whatever you want to feel. I’m sorry for pushing.”
Blinking back tears, Arthur smiled gratefully at Merlin. “Thank you.”
Merlin smiled back. “Of course.”
The cat meowed softly from where he had been forgotten on the floor, and Merlin cooed and knelt down to pick him up. “Oh, you are adorable,” he told the cat, who purred loudly again. “But I’m afraid we’ll have to take you to a shelter—”
“Let’s keep him,” Arthur cut Merlin off, barely realizing what he was saying.
Merlin turned to raise his eyebrows at Arthur. “What? I thought you just said—”
“I shouldn’t let what’s happened in the past keep me—or you—from being happy now,” reasoned Arthur.
“Love, you don’t have to do this for me—”
“I’m not,” Arthur proclaimed, tossing his apple core in the wastebasket. “I’m doing it for us.”
Merlin’s face lit up, and he marched over to Arthur and pulled him in for a long kiss. They pulled away once the cat started squirming between them. Merlin whispered, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Arthur whispered back.
The kitten continued to squirm, and Merlin rolled his eyes and set him down. Then, the cat started pawing at Arthur’s leg. Arthur laughed, kneeling down to pick up the kitten, saying, “All right, come here, you.”
“What should we name him?” Merlin asked, scratching the little guy behind his ears.
Arthur considered the cat for a moment and shrugged. “I don’t know.” He grinned at Merlin. “But we’ll think of something.”
Merlin grinned back.