Summary: Percival wonders what his neighbour is doing until he hears sounds where he just has to interfere
Word Count: 2179
Author's Notes: Thanks to everyone involved in this. Camelot Drabble mods, the community has been a home for me for years now and I still enjoy writing every week. Thanks for putting the fic exchange together again this year. Thanks to my trusty beta issy, who manages to beat my language into something more readable every time. Everything still in there is entirely my own fault.
aeris444, I hope you like what I did with your prompts, I had so much fun playing with them.
Happy holidays to everyone and a happy new year!
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Percy grinned. Of course he had noticed that the walls were paper thin right after he had moved in. There were a lot of times that were quite funny when his neighbour made weird sounds that he could never quite place.
Not that he would ever listen to find out what his neighbour was doing. No, not at all. It was just difficult to miss when he was talking on the phone, pacing around his flat. Though it was difficult to follow the conversation as he got louder when he was in the kitchen and then his voice sounded fainter when he went over into the living room.
Sometimes, Percy had a hard time trying not to laugh when he heard him getting instructions on how to cook even the most simple meals from his mother over the phone. More than once, he had pondered going over and just showing him, but he didn't want to intrude.
Other times, he needed to put his noise-cancelling headphones on when they both were in their bedrooms and his neighbour was clearly having some fun by himself. Percy still blushed when he just thought of it.
It was safe to say, that after a while, Percy knew a lot more about his neighbour than he had known about any of his neighbours before without ever having seen him. He caught himself wondering what his neighbour looked like. The nametag on the mailbox said 'M. Emrys'. What could the M stand for? Martin? Marvin? Michael?
He didn't sound too old, maybe even a bit younger than himself, but not much. His voice was deep and rich and had a little accent to it which was more noticeable when he was on the phone with his mother.
What else? Percy had never managed to catch him in the staircase and he didn't seem to get any parcels that he could have accepted for him and then taken over. Maybe he should just go over and say hi? But what then? He could hardly say "Hey, I hear you wanking most nights, could you turn that down a bit, please?" And if he were honest, he didn't mind that so much as it made his mind produce images and a lot of nights, he wanked to those images himself. Which he would never admit either, it was just too awkward.
What the hell was he doing now? There was grunting and very colourful cursing, some things were falling and now it sounded as if his neighbour had thrown something across the room. Percy blinked and then jumped up alarmed when there was a howl and the cursing turned a lot more angry. Something was wrong. He had to act!
In a few strides, Percy was at his neighbour's door and knocked. "Hey, this is Percy, I live next door. Is everything alright?"
After a moment, he heard the chain being removed and the door was opened.
Percy took a deep breath. No matter what he had imagined his neighbour would look like, he was even more gorgeous with his big blue eyes and dark hair and probably unfortunate but very endearing sticking out ears.
One of which had some ribbon hanging off it and there was sello tape in the guy's hair. He had a dish towel wrapped around his hand and held his right hand with the other.
"Is everything alright?" Percy repeated, a bit confused. What was the emergency here?
"Oh," the guy grinned sheepishly. "Don't worry. I'm just trying to wrap Christmas presents and I'm not very good at it."
All those cursewords for a few Christmas presents? "What about your hand?"
The man made a face and shrugged slightly. "Let's just say the scissors had different ideas."
"You cut yourself? Let me take a look at it. You might need stitches!" Percy was in full working mode. As a nurse in the A&E of the local hospital, he had seen quite a few things and he knew how to handle patients who tried to wave off serious injuries. He reached for the man's hand and carefully removed the dish towel. "You know, it's not very good to use dish towels or paper towels to stop cuts from bleeding."
While he talked, he led the man back into his kitchen and held the injured hand over the sink. The dish towel was bled through, so he didn't know what to expect when he removed it. "Little particles of the towels might get into the wound and that's not really good."
He looked at the cut. It wasn't as bad as he had feared and wouldn't need stitches, but it was safer to bandage it properly. Percy looked into the man's face. He had turned a bit greenish around the nose. "You wait here," he pushed him into the only kitchen chair, "while I go get my kit and we'll have you patched up in no time."
Percy was back immediately, cleaned the wound properly and put a neat bandage around the hand. "Here you go."
"Thanks, errr... Percy you said?" The man looked a bit less pale now that the blood was out of sight.
"Yes, Percy. Percy Smitherton, I'm your next-door neighbour. I moved in a few weeks ago."
The man smiled. "I know. I've always wanted to come say hi but I've noticed you work weird hours and I never knew if you were sleeping or not. Except for the times you listen to that opera stuff."
Percy laughed. Of course, his neighbour would have heard that, just as he heard weird emo music coming from his place. "I'm a nurse, hence the odd hours." He didn't explain his love for the opera, though. "And you are...?"
"Oh...oh! I'm...I'm sorry," the man jumped up. "I'm Merlin. Merlin Emrys. How impolite of me! Can I...can I offer you something? A tea? A coffee? Something...?"
"A tea would be nice. You shouldn't move your hand too much, though. If you tell me where to find everything, I can make it?"
Merlin wouldn't have any of that, but in the end, he let Percy help when he noticed that he couldn't do much with the bandaged hand anyways. He sighed.
"How am I supposed to get those presents wrapped on time with this?" Merlin held up his hand.
Percy chuckled. "It didn't really sound as if you were getting very far without it either."
Merlin looked at him for a moment. "I keep forgetting that the walls are so thin here."
The ribbon that had been dangling off Merlin's ear had vanished somewhere but the sello tape was still stuck in his hair. Carefully, Percy reached over. "Let me..."
Flinching a little bit, Merlin noticed that Percy was about to pluck something off his hair and then stared at the little piece of tape. "How did that get there?"
"You tell me," Percy laughed. "Hey, listen. I don't want to force myself on you, but I'm not only rather good with patching people up, I've been told I'm not bad at wrapping presents either."
"Is that an...would you? Really?" Merlin's face lit up only for the wide smile to vanish again. "Everyone will notice I didn't do it. I'm a disaster when it comes to wrapping presents. My mam always says she can spot any present I've wrapped from a mile away."
"Then, let's surprise her this year!"
Merlin nodded and Percy stepped up to the disaster that was the present-wrapping area, which actually was the kitchen counter. Quickly, he removed the paper that had caught some drops of blood.
"Alright, what goes where and who is it for?" Percy shoved the sleeves of his sweater up.
Merlin stepped close to him and pointed. "This one's for mam, this is for Gwaine, that one for Lance and Gwen and that's for the little one."
When no further explanations followed, Percy just nodded. "Let's get started with the one for your mother?"
An hour later, Percy was done. All the gifts were wrapped individually, the cards that Merlin had signed before he had his little accident, attached and the left-over paper and ribbons packed away.
"Here you go." Percy smiled. He was a little bit sad, too. After an initial little awkwardness because he was in a stranger's kitchen, doing something as personal as wrapping his presents, Merlin had started telling him about his friends and why he picked the specific present and admired his skills.
"You know, if this nursing thing doesn't work out at some point, you can still apply for Santa's workshop."
"As what?" Percy grinned.
"Oh," Merlin grinned back, "you could start small but then work your way up to the head of the gift-wrapping department."
"You think there is something like a gift-wrapping department in Santa's workshop?" Percy liked that Merlin was having these odd thoughts they both were too old for.
"Of course! Do you think that the gifts wrap themselves?" Merlin laughed and Percy really liked the sound.
"Well, now that everything is done, I should probably..." He pointed over his shoulder to the wall their kitchens joined but he didn't move.
"Who says that everything is done?" Merlin smiled shyly at him. "I mean...me and my clumsiness have taken too much of your time already...but..."
"I wanted to make Christmas cookies, too, and now..." Merlin held up his hand. "Now I can't."
When he saw the look on Merlin's face, which was a mix of disappointment and challenge, Percy laughed. "You're lucky. I'm the poster boy of gay cliché. I can't only bandage cuts and wrap presents, I'm also a decent cook and I love to bake."
Somehow Merlin seemed to relax a bit. "I really can't make you...it was a joke...but..."
"Hey, if you want me to, I'll help you bake cookies. What was on your list?"
They moved the presents out of the way and Merlin produced some hand-written receipes.
The place smelled wonderfully of freshly baked Christmas cookies and the hot chocolate Merlin had managed to make.
"I think we're done." Percy wiped his hands on a dish towel.
"Yeah...well...not really." Merlin worried his lower lip with his teeth.
Percy threw him a look. He started to like his neighbour, a lot, but even though he didn't mind wrapping presents and actually liked baking cookies, he didn't like where this seemed to be going.
"No, I mean...I just wondered," Merlin stammered, "Do you have any plans for the rest of the day?"
He had meant to do his grocery shopping and clean his place, but it was already getting dark anyway and the day was almost over, so Percy shrugged. "Don't think so."
"If you don't mind...I mean...maybe...if I haven't got on your nerves too much already...you might like to stay a while? I mean...you have to finish your hot chocolate anyway and the cookies are still too hot to try and we could order pizza and watch a Christmas movie...or sports if you're into that kind of thing. Or..."
"Merlin?" Percy smiled.
"I'd love to."
Merlin had found a kitschy Christmas movie on TV, but neither of them were paying attention.
It was so easy to talk to his neighbour and Percy didn't even notice how time flew. Even though Merlin tried to portray an image of the clumsy one with stories of things that had happened to him, Percy found out that he was clever and funny and they laughed a lot.
Maybe it was the fact that things were so holiday-ish and that he didn't have the time to find someone with his crazy work schedule, but Percy found he liked Merlin a lot. It wasn't only the wonderful voice that ran down his spine like velvet when Merlin was saying his name, nor the sharp cheekbones, the blue eyes or the sticking out ears. It was Merlin as a whole. He just drew him in.
They had pizza when it was delivered and after a while, Merlin went to refill their mugs, put some finishing touches to the cookies and came back with a little plate with some pieces of everything they had baked.
He shoved one into his mouth and moaned in delight. "Mmmmmm...delicious."
Percy didn't have eyes for the cookies, he just watched Merlin enjoy and that made his stomach do funny things. "True."
"Hm?" Merlin stopped in mid-motion and turned his head to look at Percy. "You haven't even tried them yet."
Percy shook his head and scooted a bit closer. "Not talking about the cookies." Carefully, he reached over and wiped some powdered sugar off that had somehow found its way onto Merlin's cheek.
Merlin looked at him with wide eyes and Percy heard his breath speeding up a bit.
"Would it..." Percy took a deep breath. "Would it ruin this wonderful day if I kissed you now?"
Shaking his head, a light blush spreading high on his cheeks, Merlin smiled shyly. "It would make it perfect."
Slowly he leaned in and neither of them noticed that it had started snowing.