Rating: PG-13 I suppose, since I mention sex
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot
Summary: It all changes, strangely enough, in New York
Word Count: 1046 I'm sorry I've done it again!
Author's Notes: This may become A Thing. Watch out, I might actually write the whole fic
Arthur never thought he was one for love. There were always things more important than individual people and they kept Arthur so very busy; at first his education, and then the shareholders and the competitors and taxes and laws, and more recently famines and civil wars and equal rights. There has never been the time for getting to know someone.
Of course Arthur has friends. And of course he has sex. Said friends take Arthur out at the weekends, so he can forget said business for a few hours, dance, drink, maybe meet someone and make out and, if he’s lucky and not busy in the morning, have said sex. Apart from Gwaine from legal, who is clearly an exception to pretty much every rule in Arthur’s world, he’ll never ask for their numbers, and never sleep with them again.
So there has never been any room for love, or falling in it.
It all changes, strangely enough, in New York.
Arthur has an attention to detail that surprises some. So when the expected mints on the bedside table change to a small pile of Hershey’s Kisses sometime in the morning of the second day of Arthur’s enforced winter holiday, Arthur notices.
He eats the chocolates, and thinks no more of it. He reads a little of the book that Morgana bought him for his birthday along with this ridiculous holiday, before changing for dinner at a restaurant a few blocks away from the hotel. Because if there’s one thing sadder than a man alone on holiday, it’s a man alone on holiday who doesn’t leave the hotel.
The next day Arthur leaves in the morning for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He knows little about art, its movements and its masters, but he does know what he likes. He wanders around, sometimes stopping in front of a piece to take it in, sometimes just moving with the crowd. He leaves only when he finds himself hungry, and he takes a seat in a little café a short walk away, and he watches the city through the café windows.
In the afternoon he takes a short walk through the streets, finding himself in Central Park amongst the snow. His feet leave tracks behind him, meandering listlessly without the next task, the next project, to drive him onwards.
When Arthur arrives in his room in the hotel again, it’s to find another pile of Hershey’s Kisses. Arthur sits on the bed and wonders where they’re coming from, what, if anything, they mean. He wonders what other people have on their bedside tables, whether this is unique to him. But he knows no one else in the hotel, and has no one to ask, without seeming strange.
Arthur spends the next morning at the Hayden Planetarium, the afternoon at a matinee performance on Broadway. By the time he returns to the hotel he can barely remember the plot of the musical, just a haze of sparkles and bright melody that somehow swept him along in its grip and let him go at the end. The Planetarium he remembers in a little closer detail; while Arthur has never really been one for the arts he has always had an affinity with maths and science, subjects filled with patterns of infinite, intricate complexity, but solvable all the same.
He calls Morgana while he eats the Kisses left on his bedside table. And, in some sort of brief madness, he tells her about them.
“Well, why don’t you ask the receptionist? It could just be a Christmas promotion, Arthur, there’s no reason to think that they’re being left specifically for you. God, your ego…”
He tunes out, opening the book for lack of anything else to do while Morgana rails about him and how this holiday will do him good, she swears, because she wants her brother back. Though Arthur hasn’t changed, not really. Morgana’s standards have shifted as she’s aged, expecting Arthur to move with her in ways he can’t, not yet.
Arthur goes down to the lobby after the phone call. He still has time to kill until his reservation, and it’s not like there’s anything he wants or needs to do in the intervening time.
“I was wondering if you had a sponsorship deal with Hershey’s,” Arthur asks the gorgeous man on reception, vaguely Hispanic with warm chocolate eyes and a long fall of smooth dark hair, “Only their chocolates keep turning up in my room, and it was mints on the first day.”
The man smiles, seemingly on the verge of laughter. Arthur checks his name badge while he recovers, Lancelot, it reads. Lance-a-lot. Well, he’ll have to shorten that if he’s to give Lance his room number. But then Lance speaks, and all thoughts of room numbers leave Arthur’s mind.
“If you go to dinner in the hotel’s restaurant tonight all will be explained, Mr Pendragon.”
The way he says it is more intriguing even than the chocolates themselves, so Arthur heads straight back into the lift to change into something suitable.
It’s a petite blonde waitress who leads Arthur to his table and hands him the wine list, but when the time comes to order she doesn’t return. Instead it’s a tall, almost willowy man, with the most beautiful cheekbones Arthur has ever seen, and piercing blue eyes that seem to spear Arthur to his chair so he can’t move, let alone speak. The waiter ruffles his hair, just slightly lighter than the black of his uniform trousers and so much richer, and he smiles, bright and secret and almost teasing.
“Good evening, sir,” he says, hands clasped behind his back in a way that manages somehow to be in no way deferential, “My name is Merlin, and I think you’re beautiful.”
Arthur’s so fixated on the curve of Merlin’s lips; almost obscenely kissable, even as he speaks, that it takes a while for the difference between what he expected and what he heard to sink in. And then Arthur points at him, mouth opening in shock and understanding and a twist of a smile.
“So it was you! You sent the Kisses!”
“I bribed Gwen, your chambermaid. Did you like them?”
And Arthur surprises himself completely by telling Merlin