Title: Together or Separate
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwen
Summary: “Will this be together or separate?” asked the short, pretty waitress as she surveyed the table of three.
Warnings: Don't think so
Word Count: 955
Author's Notes: Long drabble! Almost didn't make it in the "drabble" category. Also, I'm absolutely terrible at titles.
“Will this be together or separate?” asked the short, pretty waitress as she surveyed the table of three.
“Together,” answered Arthur at the same time as Gwen said, “Separate.”
Arthur chuckled and grinned at Gwen and Merlin before turning back to the waitress. “Put ours together, please.”
“Right, so that’s the two of you together and the other separate?” the waitress asked, smiling indulgently at Arthur, her gaze flicking over to Gwen for confirmation.
“That’d be lovely,” Gwen replied with a smile of her own.
“It’s your birthday tomorrow,” Merlin said once the waitress had left to sort out the bill. “I thought you’d at least let us take you out for lunch today.”
Gwen shook her head. “That’s sweet but if I let you take me out now, Arthur won’t let me guilt him in to going to the funfair this weekend.”
Arthur groaned. “You’re still on about that?”
“We’ll be there,” Merlin said with amusement, nudging Arthur with his foot under the table.
“I know you’ll be there, Merlin,” Gwen replied, equally amused. “It’s Arthur who will duck out. He’ll claim chicken tikka masala for lunch is enough of a show of friendly affection and go off to play footie or rugby or whatever he does on the weekends.”
“Fair enough!” Merlin laughed, offering a cheeky grin at Arthur snorted.
“We got you a gift,” Arthur muttered, picking up one of the little bill books the waitress had dropped off.
“I don’t want another expensive bottle of wine,” Gwen said fondly, reaching for the other bill. “I’d like to spend time with my friends.”
“That’s why you should have let us…” Arthur frowned and looked over at the bill Gwen was holding.
“What’s wrong?” Merlin asked, frowning at Arthur. “Did they over charge us?”
Arthur sighed and drew out his credit card. “No.”
Gwen looked at Arthur with concern and handed the bill she was holding to Merlin. “She just made a small mistake on separating everything.” She looked around. “I’ll ask her to change it, shall I?”
Merlin looked down at the bill Gwen handed him and saw what the problem was. The waitress had thought it was Arthur and Gwen who were together and had separated Merlin’s bill.
“Don’t worry about it.” He shrugged and pulled out his wallet. “I’ve got it.”
“I’ll give you money,” Gwen said quickly, popping the clasp on her purse and pulling out a few notes. “How much?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Merlin repeated, looking at Arthur rather than Gwen. “We’ll buy your lunch and go to the funfair on Saturday.”
Arthur shrugged and muttered something grumpily that neither of them caught. He didn’t bother thanking the waitress when she took up their bills and promptly returned with the separate copies for them to sign.
“Ready?” Merlin asked, motioning towards the door. “We ought to get back to work.”
Gwen and Arthur nodded before throwing on their coats and following him out.
“Does it bother you?” Arthur asked later that evening when they were relaxing on the sofa watching the news.
“It’s pretty disturbing,” Merlin replied seriously, eyes not leaving the television as he sipped the wine Arthur had poured for him earlier.
“It’s not that bad,” Arthur said quickly. “I mean, I don’t really like it but I don’t see how making a fuss would solve anything.”
“What do you mean?” Merlin asked, frowning at Arthur. “It’s Ebola! It kills nearly ninety per cent of the people infected.” He shuddered. “It’s horrifically disturbing and it’s killing people in the Congo.”
Arthur stared at his partner a moment before throwing his head back and laughing. “I need to remember not to talk to you when we’re watching the news. You get too invested.”
Merlin narrowed his eyes but a smile was tugging at his lips. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes you do,” Arthur teased. He sighed and bumped his knee against Merlin’s thigh. “Does it bother you?”
“Yes,” Merlin answered. “Ebola scares me. I hope I’ll never…” He caught the look on Arthur’s face and frowned before reaching for the remote and lowering the volume. “What’s this about?”
“Lunch,” Arthur answered, knowing Merlin would understand.
Arthur nodded. “She just assumed…”
“That I was the third wheel?” Merlin raised an eyebrow, squeezing Arthur’s thigh.
“No…well, yes, I suppose so.” Arthur sighed, looking down at Merlin’s hand and then up at his face. “It’s frustrating.”
“It doesn't matter,” Merlin insisted. “I mean, yes, it’s slightly annoying that we have to try and figure out bills and such when people make the assumption that you’re with Gwen or I’m with Freya, but we know it’s not the case. That’s what matters.”
“You’re right,” Arthur replied though he still looked troubled.
“If it bothers you that much, you could always make a scene,” Merlin suggested, grinning slyly.
“You mean standing up and announcing that I’m buying lunch for my boyfriend and don’t want any nonsense or silly assumptions made?” Arthur asked, snickering at the thought. “I could do that.”
Merlin laughed outright, eyes crinkling up at the corners. “I think it’s enough if we just make it a bit clearer next time. I don’t particularly fancy being thrown out of my favourite lunch spot because you went all self-righteous on a waitress.”
“We’ll see,” Arthur said, laughing as well.
“Good thing you’re too posh to do something like that,” Merlin said, taking another sip of his wine. “I don’t think I’d ever live it down.”
“Never say never, Merlin,” Arthur teased, smiling evilly.
“Oh dear lord,” Merlin muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’d better warn Gwen to start bringing her lunch from home.”
Arthur laughed and pulled Merlin in for a kiss.