Title: Count Me In
Character/s: Merlin, Gwaine, Percival, Elyan, Arthur
Summary: Modern AU. Merlin gets called back into work.
Word Count: 597
Prompt: #346, "no exit"
Author's Notes: None
“I think you should come in.”
Merlin rubbed at his eyes. This was not the call he’d wanted to get on his day off. As a manager, he had to work over sixty hours a week in order to get his employee budget to balance. He needed the reprieve. “And why is that, George?”
“Because Gwaine’s got a pool going again.”
And just like that, he knew arguing was a lost cause.
Fifteen minutes later, he was unlocking the service entrance to The Final Countdown and marching for the control room. He wasn’t surprised to see Gwaine seated at the console for the Crusades maze, with two of his co-workers flanking him. The problem was, Percival and Elyan weren’t even on the schedule today.
“It’s got to be here somewhere,” a frustrated male voice said from one of the screens.
The view was blocked until Merlin stepped closer and peered around Percival’s broad back. A group of young men who all looked like they’d stepped out of a Burberry ad were milling around the crypt room that would lead them to the final step of their escape.
“What are they stuck on?” Merlin asked.
Though both Percival and Elyan stiffened at his sudden presence, Gwaine grinned up at Merlin. “They can’t find the last part of the key for the cipher on the urn.”
Merlin squinted at the screen. “How long have they been at it?”
“What do you mean, this time?”
“It’s their fourth go,” Percival replied.
“Today,” Elyan added.
Merlin did a double-take. “What?” Some parties would try a second if they failed the first, but practically no one would attempt more, especially on the same day. He glared at Gwaine. “Is this what the pool is about?”
“We’re betting to see how many we can get the prat to shell out for,” Gwaine said.
“I’m already out,” Elyan said. “I bet on three.”
“Did you rig the room again?” Merlin demanded. The last time he’d caught Gwaine taking bets on a party, Gwaine had stolen one of the puzzle pieces to keep a pretty but dimwitted blonde around.
Gwaine held up his hands in surrender. “This is all on His Royal Highness in there. I offered him a hint the first time around. He told me to bugger off.”
That explained Gwaine’s involvement, then. Gwaine was too much the contrarian to back away from a challenge like that.
“And the room wasn’t scheduled for anyone else?”
“He paid them to go away. Came out the second time, saw he couldn’t get straight back in, and gave the people who were waiting twice what it cost to have their slot.”
Who had that kind of money to waste? Merlin stared at the screen, trying to make out features, but the view was too high and the detail too grainy to get anything concrete.
“I think I can get him for five,” Gwaine went on. “Not once has anyone looked at the necklace to realize it’s a locket.” Where the piece they hunted was hidden.
“And you think his ego is big enough to keep going?”
“It’s Arthur Pendragon. What do you think?”
The spoiled son of one of England’s most outspoken businessmen. A constant feature with the paps. With an entourage that only seemed to encourage his boorish behavior.
Including trying to defeat a novelty escape room regardless of how many times it took.
Merlin grabbed a chair. “Count me in for six.”
After all, what was the harm in a little light entertainment, maybe a few extra quid, on his day off?