Title: The House Guest, part 2
Pairing/s: Arthur/Gwen, past mention of Arthur/Merlin and of Merlin/Will
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine
Summary: Merlin has an unexpected house guest
Word Count: 910
Prompt: 354: All I Ask
Author's Notes: This got a bit longer than I planned. Part One
Merlin got up early on Saturday morning and watched Arthur do exercises in just a pair of shorts while he ate breakfast and felt a bit put out by it. He wasn’t doing anything annoying or intrusive, it was just that he was there, in his space, breathing the same air. And it wasn’t like he didn’t see him on a regular basis but there were always other people and after a bit he would go home. In a fit of anger Will had once yelled at him He’s never coming back for the likes of you. Will had hated Arthur and his perceived hold over Merlin’s heart but it had been Will that kept Merlin’s fantasy alive with his accusations. He hadn’t been able to see past his own jealousy to help Merlin move on. And now here he was with no Will and an Arthur he couldn’t touch.
After a shower that lasted way longer than any shower ever needed to last, Merlin prepared himself for a weekend of working on his project on advanced analysis techniques. He quietly collected all the materials he had left in his office/guest room and spread them out on the dining room table.
Arthur in the meantime decided to leave Merlin to his work and retreated to the guest room. He hadn’t meant to snoop. He had just been looking for a pencil when he found it tucked up against the front of the desk drawer. He was both surprised and shocked to see that it was a picture of him and Merlin. In it he had his chin on Merlin’s shoulder and his arms wrapped around him in a way that was intimate. Merlin had a large, goofy smile on his face and looked happier than Arthur could remember. An unease set about him and he felt like he should know something but he couldn’t remember when this picture was taken. He made his way toward Merlin as dozens of questions buzzed through his mind but all that came out was, “Merlin, when was this taken?”
Merlin turned to look at the picture Arthur was holding. His breath caught in his throat for a moment as he stared. He made his nerves sound like he was thinking of the answer.“Five years ago at a party Gwaine and Percy had thrown. Lance had gone about with a camera for a photography class.”
“Why do you keep it?” The question sounded accusatory.
Merlin took the photo from Arthur and slipped it into a pocket in his briefcase. “It’s just a reminder.”
Arthur looked at him sharply. “A reminder of what exactly?”
Merlin turned back to his work, “It doesn’t matter.” He really wanted Arthur to take the hint and just go away.
Arthur gave Merlin a very observant look, “I think it does.”
Merlin gave Arthur an equally shrewd look. All he could see was concern and questions on his face and he was certain it wasn’t for him. “Fine.” Merlin used the act of straightening some of his work on the table to calm himself. He looked up again at Arthur when he felt more in control. “Not even ten minutes after Lance took that photo he introduced you to Gwen.” He got up from his chair and headed toward the kitchen hoping to put some distance between them. “You came to that party with me but you left with her.”
Arthur felt a cold feeling pass over him as he watched Merlin. “What’s your point?”
Merlin pulled a bottle of water from the fridge. He directed his comment at the bottle as he set about opening it. “The photo is a reminder that you don’t have to do anything wrong to lose.”
Arthur made a surprised sound that made Merlin look over at him. “Oh.” He furrowed his brow clearly trying to think of something to say.
Merlin cut him off with a quiet, “Don’t.”
“I just..” Arthur tried again.
Merlin held up his hand. He kept his voice even, soft hoping his feelings didn’t show on his face. “I know what you thought, but it doesn’t matter anymore.”
Arthur wondered what he meant by that as he looked at him carefully taking note of his stiff posture and the light blush of his cheeks. “Are you sure because it seems like it does.”
Merlin pursed his lips for a moment. He didn’t want to do this, didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to fight about it. but he doubted Arthur would let it go. “What do you want me to say?” He picked up a towel off the counter that he squeezed tightly in his hand. “That I was hurt? Fine, I was hurt. It’s obviously clear that I liked you more than you liked me. Now all I ask is that you drop it.”
There was a lot Arthur wanted to say but he could tell that Merlin really didn’t want to hear it and that perhaps he didn’t have the right to say it. “Yeah ok.” He turned and headed back to the guest room as a conversation he had had with Gwaine rang through his head.
“I heard you’re seeing Gwen now?” He had asked.
“Yeah,” Arthur smiled.
Gwaine didn’t return his smile. “What about Merlin?”
“Merlin and I were just foolin around,” Arthur said .
Gwaine had stared at him for what felt like a long time before he said,“If you say so.”