Pairing: Merlin/Arthur, kind of
Word count: 1293, sorry!
Summary: Pre-Christmas-time always gets Merlin in a bad mood. When he wakes up, he has a visitor.
Author’s notes: Not beta’d.
Merlin glanced up at the sky as he pulled the beanie deeper towards his eyes. The weather had changed and he should feel good that it finally stopped raining. With the clear night skies, the frost had set in, though, and he didn't know what made him feel more miserable: the rain or the cold. Both was horrible, so he pulled the zipper of his hoodie up and dug his hands into the pockets of his old leather jacket. He sniffed.
Maybe it was the time of year or he was coming down with something, he didn't feel well. Everyone was getting ready for the Christmas season. The shops had their Christmas decoration up already, the lights above main street were installed already and all his friends were making plans on how to spend Christmas and New Year's.
Merlin sighed. It felt like once again he was the only one who didn't have someone to spend Christmas with. It would be difficult enough to go to the parties all his friends attended. If he knew that Leon and Mordred would be attached at the hip since the moment they met, he would never have introduced them. And Gwaine and Percy, well, they were Gwaine and Percy and they could get disgustingly sappy around Christmas.
He knew these thoughts were mean. He was happy that his friends were happy. It was just...why was everyone happy but himself? What was wrong with him that he had once again been so busy for an entire year that he hadn't managed to find someone? Merlin knew he wasn't even trying. Going on dates with total strangers was exhausting and cost a lot of money and usually left him feeling empty. So he had quit going on dates and spend his money on things that he liked. Or that at least filled the time.
At least the shops that he passed didn't play Christmas music yet, but the fake trees and blinking lights were enough. What should he do for the holidays? Going to Ealdor seemed a bit too drastic, especially since his mam would be away. Should he book a trip for himself? He couldn't afford it, he knew.
In a mood like this, Merlin knew, he wouldn't get anywhere and just sabotage anything good he might come up with. So he better went home, dragged his duvet over to the couch and binge-watched some mindless show while he went through the box of Christmas cookies that his mam sent early. But then he would have to lie to her when she asked if he still had any left for Christmas when she called before she left for her trip. And he would feel sick. It was a huge box this year.
When he opened his door, he toed off his shoes and shrugged his jacket off. Then he started his preparations for the evening, switching on the TV, making some tea but first of all, opening the door to the patio to let in some fresh air. He would use his duvet on the couch, so it didn't matter that it would be a bit cooler. Better than having to breathe stuffy air.
Pulling the beanie off his head, he put in on the coffee table and then dragged his duvet from the bedroom to the living room. Not that that was far in his tiny place.
The box with the cookies was on the coffee table, too, and now that he had everything, he could close the patio door and curl up on the couch.
Switching channels aimlessly, nothing held his interest for too long, so Merlin switched to DVD. Some good old Doctor Who would at least keep him busy.
Of course, he fell asleep, even through one of his favorite episodes.
Merlin slowly blinked awake. The DVD was on the menu again, which meant he had slept a solid two hours at least. And something was off.
It took him a while to realize that there was a warm, fuzzy body pressed to his. The creature had managed to wedge its head underneath his arm and moved as close as possible to his chest and belly where he lay on his side. A cat. He didn't own a cat.
Carefully, he moved a bit, but the cat didn't react other than pressing the top of its head to Merlin's chin. It looked well-fed, in fact probably a bit over-fed and the longish fluffy fur didn't look like it wasn't groomed. This cat had a home, so...what was it doing here?
The cat stretched and yawned and then blinked incredibly blue eyes at him.
"Who are you? And what are you doing here? How did you get in?" Merlin asked softly, his fingers still in the cat's fur. He couldn't stop stroking it.
The cat turned over to the other side and started purring.
"You snuck in when I aired the place, did you? But you belong to someone, we need to find your owner." Merlin tried to move, but the cat threw him a look that clearly said 'DON'T' and 'don't you dare stop stroking my fur!'.
For a while, Merlin caressed the cat and then he felt the first smile in days on his face. This cat had come to keep him company, maybe it felt that he was sad and alone.
The cat wore a collar with a little tag on it. Merlin didn't know much about cats, but he knew that it was dangerous for cats who went outside to wear one. They could get stuck and strangle themselves with it. The tag had a phone number on it, though.
Carefully, as not to disturb the cat, Merlin reached for his mobile on the coffee table and dialled the number.
"Hi, err...my name is Merlin and I think...I found your cat?"
He hadn't expected the long suffering sigh he got as an answer.
"He got out again?"
"Well, I was on my couch and suddenly he curled up with me. He must have gotten in when I was letting some fresh air into my place."
"I'm sorry, I'm on a business trip for the week. A neighbour should have been taking care of him."
"Obviously he escaped?" Merlin chuckled.
"It's not the first time he did that. Hence the collar. Can I...I don't know, if it's not too much of a hazzle, could you get in contact with my neighbour and work something out to get him home? I'll pay you for your troubles."
Merlin stroked the soft fur on the cat's head. "Or he can stay here if he wants to and you pick him up when you're back?"
"Are you...do you have cats?"
"No, but he seems to have adopted me. If you tell me what kind of food he likes and what else I need to know, he can stay here for a while." Merlin wasn't too much of a cat person, but the sensation the soft fur created in his hands and the soothing purring made him want to take care of this cat.
He worked out the details with the woman on the other end of the line, MIthian as he learned, while he watched the cat jump off the couch and wander around, looking at things.
"Hey, before you go...tell me his name?" He could barely just call the cat 'cat' for the three days they would be roomies.
Mithian laughed. "He's usually well-behaved, he just likes to visit other people. Oh, and he's Arthur."
They ended the call shortly after that and smiling, Merlin made a list of what to get for the cat as Arthur jumped up on the window sill and curled up again with a huge yawn.