Title: Where There's Smoke, There's Charred Fake Chicken
Characters: Arthur, Gwaine, Merlin, Percival
Summary: It's Merlin and Percival's first date and Merlin wants to cook. What could go wrong?
Word Count: 580
Prompt: 377, you're the worst cook ever
Author's Note: This follows The Professional, because why not?
Gwaine and Arthur met at the door and grinned at each other as Arthur pushed it open. They didn’t even bother to shed their jackets on their way to the kitchen. “You called both of us?” Arthur asked Merlin while Gwaine headed toward the shrieking smoke detector to turn it off.
Merlin looked up from a smoking pan of something that was probably supposed to be a nice golden brown, but had ended up a chunk of charcoal. Desperation warred with despair as he saw his two friends. “Help me.”
“Merlin, mate, you’re the worst cook ever. Why didn’t you just invite Perce out to a restaurant?” Gwaine picked up the pan and carried it over to the garbage.
“I didn’t want him to think I was pathetic.”
Arthur snorted from the window he’d just opened. “Why not? The rest of us do.”
“Arthur.” Gwaine glared at the man as he patted Merlin on the shoulder that had drooped in response. “Not helping.”
“Sorry, Merlin.” Arthur stood on his assistant’s other side. “What were you trying to make?”
“Vegetarian baked chicken. But I completely forgot that the cooking time for the meat substitute and chicken are completely different and I went to take my shower and they burned and the potatoes burned and so did the carrots and I think I set the oven at the wrong temperature and Percival is never going to want to see me again. Our first date will also be our last date and he’s perfect and I’m pathetic.” At the end of the rapid-fire response, Merlin flung himself into the chair by the table that was already set with the formal place settings his mother had insisted he buy when he’d moved out on his own, his head dropping into his hands.
“And you say I’m dramatic?” Arthur muttered. “Merlin, Percival is not going to let one bad meal ruin what you two could have.”
Gwaine shrugged, “Listen to the princess, Merlin. He’s actually right for once. Perce likes to cook. He’ll probably want to cook for you. I’m surprised he didn’t insist on it tonight.”
“I tried, but Merlin really wanted to cook for me.” Percival grinned from the doorway of the kitchen. “I knocked, but no one answered. I recognized Gwaine’s car, so I figured I would just barge in. I hope I wasn’t wrong.”
“No! No, not wrong. Is it that late already? I mean-” Merlin looked over at the remains of the food he’d tried to prepare. “I’m so sorry.”
Perce walked over to his date and reached for Merlin’s hand to pull him out of the chair. He didn’t even look over at the other two men before ordering them, “You two, out of here. Merlin and I are going to cook dinner now.”
Gwaine and Arthur grinned at each other and walked out of Merlin’s apartment. Gwaine slung his arm over Arthur’s shoulder. “I feel like getting something completely unhealthy, like a burger. You?”
“What happened to me eating healthy to maintain my weight for the role?”
“Bah! We’ll consider it your cheat day and I’ll just work you harder tomorrow.”
“Sometimes I hate you, Gwaine.” Arthur shrugged the man’s arm off his shoulder and opened his car door. “I’ll meet you at Five Guys.”
Before Arthur pulled out of the parking lot, he looked through the window that showed Merlin’s kitchen and smiled at the megawatt grin on Merlin’s face as Perce laughed at something he said.