Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur Pendragon
Summary: Arthur flees the country with Merlin to escape Christmas. Naturally, Christmas catch up with him.
Warnings: tooth-rotting fluff
Word Count: 3933
Author's Notes: First time posting on LJ, I wasn't sure about the rating. It's Teen and Up Audiences on AO3 - for languge and sexual references.
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
“Okay, Merlin, it’s official! We’re getting out of this hellhole and we’re spending Christmas at the beach.”
Merlin chokes on his pancake. “Ghaa?!”
Arthur comes around the table and slams his hand between Merlin’s shoulder blades with more force than necessary. “I was thinking an extended weekend. How’s 23rd to 27th?”
“And by an extended weekend, you mean a whole week?” Merlin points out, eyes narrowing into slits.
“It’s five days.”
“Exactly,” Arthur agrees smugly. “Come on, Merlin. It will be… you know… romantic. And shit.”
“Romantic and shit,” Merlin parrots mockingly. “A true gentleman, are you?”
“Shut up, Merlin. We’re going and that’s it. I swear if I hear Love is all around one more time, I’m going to go mental.”
“That ship has sailed, my dear.”
“How is it that you despise anything that’s associated with Christmas?”
Arthur huffs a humorless laugh. “If you had to spend Christmas with my Father and my sister, even just once, you wouldn’t be ecstatic about it either.”
Merlin purses his lips, pretending to think. “I dunno. I wouldn’t say no to spending Christmas with Morgana.” He gives Arthur a knowing smirk. “I bet it’s never boring.”
“That witch is a force of nature and not to be reckoned with,” Arthur announces solemnly, pointing a finger in Merlin’s direction. “You’re not dooming me to that fate by chickening out.”
“Okay, fine! Jesus.” Merlin shakes his head fondly. “You can be such a child sometimes.” Arthur opens his mouth to object. “What about my mum?”
“Huh?” Arthur hesitates. “Didn’t you say she’s working?”
“On 24th and 25th, yeah. It’s kind of a tradition that the hospital has a staff shortage around Christmas. But I thought we could celebrate on Boxing day instead.”
“Oh,” Arthur says, mood already dampening. “We could change the flight to the 26th then?”
Merlin doesn’t reply right away, watching Arthur with softening gaze. “No. That’s okay. We can celebrate with my mum any time after we get back.”
Arthur lights up like a Christmas tree. “So you’re coming?”
Merlin rolls his eyes affectionately. “Of course, I’m coming, you doofus. You think I would let you enjoy the sun and waves while I’d be freezing my balls off in bloody London?”
“That’s the spirit!” Arthur grins, bending down and stealing a kiss that tastes of maple syrup. “Wait, did you say we?”
Merlin blinks up at him dazedly, licking his lips. He registers the question and rolls his eyes. “Yes, we. As in you, me and my mum.”
“Oh. Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to impose.”
Merlin rolls his eyes again. He does that a lot, Arthur has noticed. “God help me,” he grumbles to himself. “You’re lucky you’re cute.”
“Hey! I’m not-!”
“Can you calculate all the expenses and let me know how much it comes to so we can split it?” Merlin interrupts, successfully steering the conversation away.
“Sure,” Arthur replies, pulling away and sitting himself on a chair next to Merlin. “It’s about zero quid.”
“Arthur,” Merlin says warningly, but Arthur cuts him off.
“It’s my treat since it was my idea. And anyway, it’s not like my account will feel the difference.”
“Just because you’re a posh brat doesn’t mean you have to flaunt it in my face every chance you get,” Merlin grumbles, annoyed but not really.
“Consider it a present from me, then.”
Merlin eyes him suspiciously. “I thought you said no presents. And I quote: ‘if I want to give you something, I’ll give it to you when I want, whenever I want.’”
Arthur ducks his head to hide a blush. “So ungrateful,” he mutters under his breath. “You said you’re coming, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Merlin laughs, waving a hand in dismissal. “Where are we going anyway?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Really, Arthur? Still not telling me?” Merlin complains as he pockets his passport. Arthur is already halfway out the door.
“I’ll tell you when we get to the airport.”
Sighing in resignation, Merlin trails behind him.
“Oh my God, Arthur! Seriously?!”
“What? I thought you’d appreciate the spontaneity of it.”
“Not on Christmas!” Merlin disagrees, arms flailing.
“What’s the difference?”
“You can’t just stomp in here and pick your flight and destination last-minute!”
“Why not? People do it all the time.”
“Arthur,” he tries again, more calmly. “I think you’re confusing movies with reality. Most of the flights will be packed to the brim. And even if not, it will be impossible to find a decent accommodation so shortly in advance.”
“You’ll never know if you don’t try,” Arthur shrugs and makes a beeline to one of the counters where a severe looking, middle-aged lady is watching them approach with unconcealed displeasure.
“Hi, how are you?” Arthur says, shooting her a disarming smile. Sadly, she doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. Arthur clears his throat. “Can you tell us what time is the next available flight?”
“Destination?” she asks curtly.
“Whatever comes up,” Arthur smiles again and earns a disapproving glare.
“You don’t have a set destination?”
“Thought we’d just make it up as we went,” he replies proudly, the lady’s glare intensifying. Regardless, she starts typing while muttering under her breath. Merlin swears he can hear something that sounds vaguely like millennials and retirement.
“The next available flight is in 2 hours, at 12:05 pm to Miami, Florida.”
Merlin lets out a loud groan. “Arthur, that will take ages. I don’t want to spend half a day on a plane.”
Arthur seems like he wants to argue, but the lady- Catrina, according to her name tag - beats him to it.
“Do you have a visa?”
“You need a visa to enter the United States. Tourist visa, in your case.”
“Oh,” Arthur deflates. “Can’t we just… get it when we arrive?”
“Oh. Okay.” Arthur sighs in disappointment. “What’s the next flight after that?”
If possible, Catrina’s frown deepens as she furiously punches keyboard buttons. “Helsinki, Finland. At 12:20”
“No bloody way. I didn’t pack for this!” Merlin resolutely rejects the idea, crossing his arms on his chest.
“Okay, fine.” Arthur throws his hands up. “What’s next?”
“Ugh, no. Next?”
“I know where Edinburgh is!” Arthur interjects impatiently, cowering when he registers Catrina’s furious face that would make the Devil run for the hills. “I’m sorry.” Then tiredly, “Can you just find a flight to a destination within the EU where the temperature is above 20°C?”
Catrina starts typing again, complaining about not being paid enough for this shit, and eventually says, “Tenerife, Spain, at 1:15 pm.”
“Yes!” Arthur all but screams, turning to Merlin to check with him, getting a subtle nod. “That’s it. Two tickets, please.”
It only takes a couple minutes before Catrina is handing them their boarding passes, not bothering to wish them a nice trip.
“Wait,” Arthur says as he scrutinizes the boarding passes. “We’re not sitting together?”
“There were only four seats available and they were scattered around,” Catrina explains with annoyance.
“But…” Arthur pouts, “It’s like…a four hour flight.”
“Then I suggest you find a way to entertain yourselves,” she says flippantly and pointedly refuses to acknowledge their presence anymore.
“This is a disaster,” Arthur whines on their way to an exchange office.
“Yeah, well. I suppose we won’t be jerking each other off under the blanket,” Merlin replies smugly, earning a blush and a laugh from his boyfriend.
“Why, Merlin, I didn’t know you had a fantasy like that.”
“Neither did I but it makes sense, does it not? It would help pass the time after all.”
“We can still have some fun in the toilets.”
“Eww! No way!”
“Now you’re squeamish?”
“Fine, you spoilsport.”
“We need insurance, by the way.”
“Why? It’s not like I couldn’t pay for it if something happened.”
“Don’t be silly, Arthur. You can do it online too, it takes but a few minutes.”
“Fine.” Arthur huffs and reaches for his phone. “I better book us a place to stay.”
“Or we can just camp on the beach. Make love during the sunset.”
Arthur shoots him a skeptical look. “Ever got sand in your ass-crack, Merlin?”
“No. Why, is it good?”
“You’re an idiot.”
“We’re eight rows apart!”
“What does it matter how many rows we’re apart?”
“The principal, Merlin!”
“Yeah, yeah. Just go get your seat.”
Begrudgingly, Arthur does just that, his irritation spiking when it turns out he got the middle seat. “Fucking brilliant.” He jams his suitcase into the space above and squeezes himself into the tiny seat.
The plane starts filling up and when everyone is seated, the pilot’s voice comes through the speakers, giving the passengers general safety instructions while a flight attendant follows with a demonstration.
“And because it’s almost Christmas - and who doesn’t love Christmas? - we decided to bring the holiday spirit on board with us. Enjoy some lovely songs the crew has picked for you as we prepare for take off.”
On cue, the tunes of the first song begin to carry from the speakers.
I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes…
“You have got to be kidding me!”
“That was the longest 4 hours and 25 minutes of my life,” Arthur announces as they make their way out of the airport, soaking up the noticeable increase in temperature.
“Aren’t you being a little dramatic?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“Could’ve watched a movie then.”
“There was nothing good.”
“There’s no pleasing you sometimes, is there?”
“Oh, I don’t know. You always manage to please me.” Arthur wiggles his brows suggestively. “Shame you didn’t like the toilet sex idea.”
“Because it’s disgusting!”
“Such a prude.”
“Shouldn’t we start looking for a bus to take us to our accommodation if we want to settle in before night-time?”
“A bus,” Arthur snorts. “We’ll just get a taxi.”
“Of course, we will,” Merlin agrees sarcastically. “Spoiled, rich brat.”
“Shut up, Merlin.”
“This must be wrong.”
“But it’s not,” the taxi driver replies in an accent. “The Camelot Hotel. The address is right.”
“I’m not living there!”
“Arthur,” Merlin says tiredly, prompting him to get out of the car. “It’s perfectly fine. You can survive a few nights here.”
“Thank you. Have a nice evening,” Merlin says to the driver, handing over a wad of cash and pushes Arthur out none too gently.
“You too, gentlemen!” the man calls through the window and drives off, leaving Merlin to deal with a disgruntled Arthur himself.
“What’s the problem?”
“It’s just three stars!”
“And? Three stars is perfectly acceptable. Didn’t you notice when you booked it?”
“I wasn’t paying attention. I was looking for anything that was available and close to the beach.”
“Well,” Merlin says, taking his suitcase by the handle and ushering Arthur towards the hotel. “I guess you only have yourself to blame.”
“You really know how to cheer a guy up.”
“If you’re good, I might find different means to cheer you up later.”
“I changed my mind. Three stars is perfectly acceptable.”
“Thought you might say that.”
“What is that?” Arthur spits out once they get to their assigned room, glaring daggers at the huge window in front of them.
“That?” Merlin checks, pointing where he thinks Arthur might be looking. “You mean the tinsel?”
“Why the fuck is there tinsel framing the window?!”
“Because it’s Christmas?”
“But the window!”
“Chill, Arthur, we can take it down if you want. Come here and help me.”
“I’m not touching that thing.”
“What? Why not?”
“Because I’m allergic!”
Merlin tries to suppress a laugh but eventually bursts into giggles. “There’s no such thing, Arthur.”
“There is too! I’m telling you I’m allergic!”
“And how would that happen?”
At first, Arthur hesitates, his face changing color as he recalls the memory. “It’s Morgana’s fault.”
“Of course, it is.” Merlin chuckles. “Tell me.”
“I was just a kid, around eight or so. It was Christmas and decorations were scattered everywhere. Morgana was running after me because I stole something from her, a hair brush or some shit, I don’t know. She grabbed some of the tinsel and when she caught me, she held me down and basically tied me up with it. It took me ages to break out of it and at some point, I started choking. I couldn’t breathe.”
It’s the first time Merlin’s heard the story. He can only shake his head, as he always does when he hears any story starring Morgana, usually as the villain. He’s torn between laughing some more and comforting Arthur, just because he looks so vulnerable as he thinks on that particular memory.
“Arthur?” he tries, hoping his amusement is not too obvious. “Do you think it’s possible you might have just inhaled some it? The little hairs that got loose when you were trying to tear it apart?”
Arthur blinks at him, confused and lost, like the idea had never occurred to him.
He blinks again, and suddenly the confusion is gone, replaced by determination. “I want that thing gone.”
Merlin sighs, a fond smile playing at his lips. “Yes, sire.”
“Are you gonna get in the water at some point today?”
“That entirely depends on whether it’s going to warm up by at least ten degrees.”
“Arthur, come on, it’s not that bad.”
“My dick will fall off, it’s that cold.”
“I have faith in your dick. Based on the past experience, I think it can withstand a lot.”
“You love me. Come on, just for a little bit.”
“I will make it worth your while.”
“... Just for a little bit.”
“Yes! Come on!”
Arthur reluctantly lets Merlin drag him to the ocean and all but jumps three feet in the air as his toes first touch the water. “It’s freezing!”
“Then we should warm ourselves up.”
They end up pushing each other around and under, laughing and giggling, complaining when the water shoots up their noses and makes it burn.
Merlin pulls him closer by the waist, kissing the salt off Arthur’s lips.
It hasn’t really got any warmer, but Arthur finds he doesn’t care.
Arthur yelps when something touches the back of his thigh and a stinging sensation follows.
“What the fuck?! Ouch!”
“What? What happened?”
“I don’t-- aaaaah.” This time, it touches his lower back and he grabs Merlin by his neck and jumps so that he can wrap his legs around him. “It got me!”
“Something touched me, my leg and my back. It hurts like a bitch!”
“Oh, shit. It’s a jellyfish.”
“What? How do you know?”
“I can see it.”
“Well, then, you idiot, stop looking like a startled stoat and get us out of here!”
“It would be helpful if I didn’t have a giant octopus wrapped around me!”
“Shut up, Merlin, and start moving!”
“God, you’re infuriating.”
Merlin does manage to get them safely to the beach and it’s only then that Arthur releases him.
“Shit. That hurts.”
“Let me see.” Merlin turns him around, looking over the red welts. “It’s not too bad.”
“Not too bad? It hurts like hell!”
“I know. Sorry. But it’s not life-threatening.”
“That makes me feel so much better,” Arthur grumbles. “How do you make it stop stinging?”
“I only have one idea.”
“You watch Friends, right? There was this episode when Monica got stung by a jellyfish and-”
“You’re not fucking peeing on my leg!” Arthur squeals indignantly, a horrified expression on his face.
“But it would help.”
“You’re not peeing on me!”
“You make it sound like that would be the craziest thing we got up to.”
“Shut up! God, I can’t believe you. You are disgusted by the idea of having sex on the plane, but perfectly willing to pee on me.”
“To relieve the pain.”
“Suit yourself then.” Merlin shrugs. “I’ll go get the lifeguard. They’ll tell us what to do.”
“Does it still hurt?” Merlin asks on their way to dinner. They spent the better part of the evening looking for anywhere that was open on Christmas Eve and eventually found a cute little venue called the Rising Sun.
“No. It’s just itchy.”
“I’m sorry you got stung. It’s me who convinced you to get in the water.”
“Yeah, well, you can make it up to me later.” Arthur winks at him, conveying he’s not mad.
“I suppose I don’t have a choice.”
They find the place easily and the menu looks fabulous. They decide to order a bunch of stuff from each section to share.
“God, this is amazing. Have you tried this one?” Arthur shoves the fork in Merlin’s face and Merlin obliges.
“Hmm. Yeah, good. Try this one.”
They happily trade samples of food between them until it suddenly becomes harder for Arthur to take a proper breath. He grabs his glass of water and chugs it all down, frowning when it doesn’t help.
“Arthur? What’s wrong? You’re a bit… red.”
“I can’t… breathe… properly,” he chokes, desperate to get some oxygen into his lungs. Merlin’s panicked face isn’t helping.
“Shit,” Merlin curses and signals for the waiter that has been serving them to come over. “I’m sorry but we’re having a situation. I think my boyfriend might be having an allergy attack. Are there any peanuts in what we ordered?”
“Um, no. No peanuts.”
“Arthur, is there anything else?”
Arthur shakes his head, then pauses. “Oysters.”
“We use oyster sauce in a number of our dishes.”
“Shit.” Merlin stands up and comes over to Arthur, crouching down next to him. “Okay, can you call an ambulance for us?”
“Of course! Just a sec!”
Arthur whines low in his throat. “Fuck my life.”
“Well, that was… an adventure,” Merlin comments when they return to the hotel from the hospital just before midnight. “At least we got that insurance.”
“I admire your positivity but don’t share it. Sorry.”
“Right,” Merlin chuckles sheepishly. “Wanna shower?”
“I think my afternoon swim with the jellyfish was enough. I’ll shower tomorrow.”
They brush their teeth side by side, then strip down and put on their PJ’s, and crank the AC up a notch before getting into bed and sliding under the covers.
“I’m sorry you had a shitty day,” Merlin says, the words muffled by the way he’s pressing his mouth to Arthur’s hair.
“What are you talking about? This is the best Christmas I ever had.”
“Right,” Merlin replies with a snort.
“No, really.” Arthur lifts his head from where it’s buried in Merlin’s chest. “It is.”
“It’s the best because it’s the first Christmas I get to spend with you.”
Merlin gives him a tight smile, eyes glistening even in the dim light of the room. “You’re such a sap.”
“Shut up, Merlin,” Arthur grunts and conveniently shoves his face into the crook of Merlin’s neck, presumably to hide his blush. “Go to sleep.”
“Good night, Arthur.”
When Arthur comes to, it’s with Merlin’s chest pressed to his back and Merlin’s plush mouth peppering kisses over his neck.
“Good morning to you too,” he says groggily, voice rough with sleep.
“Good morning,” Merlin whispers back, and Arthur feels him smile against his skin. “Merry Christmas.”
“Oh,” Arthur realizes. “Yeah. Merry Christmas.” He turns to face Merlin, smiling at his disheveled appearance and leans in for a close-mouthed kiss. Merlin hums contentedly and wraps Arthur in his arms, returning the kiss and extending it into a chaste make out session.
“Merry Christmas indeed,” Arthur muses after they pull apart.
“It is,” Merlin agrees. “Hungry? It’s after eight. The breakfast will be ready by now.”
“Yeah,” he nods, then holds up a hand. “Wait. There’s… something I want to do first.”
He gets out of the bed and rummages through his suitcase until he pulls out a plain manila envelope. He walks back to the bed, climbing on top and giving the envelope to Merlin without looking at him.
“It’s for you.”
Merlin takes the envelope wordlessly, raking his eyes over Arthur while a smile starts forming on his lips. “I thought you said no presents.”
Arthur scowls and blushes some more. “I also said that if I wanted to give you something, I would, regardless of the time of the year.”
“Sure, whatever you say,” Merlin teases, opening the envelope gingerly.
“Sorry it’s not in some fancy wrapping.”
“Who cares,” Merlin grins and pulls out a thick, glossy piece of paper.
“Oh my God, Arthur! You didn’t!”
“You like it?”
“Do I like it? I’ve been wanting to do that cooking course for ages!”
“I know,” Arthur says, biting his lip to suppress a goofy grin. “I have ulterior motives, of course. Can’t wait for the day when I can stop eating take-out and have you cook for me instead.”
Merlin slaps him with the envelope. “I already do that for you. And you could always learn to cook yourself, you know?”
“Of course not.” Merlin places the gift-card back in the envelope and puts it on the nightstand. “Wait here.”
Arthur watches him dig in his suitcase, pulling something out and walking back to Arthur.
“No fancy wrapping from me either,” he says nervously and with shaky fingers, he gives Arthur a small, silky pouch.
“Merlin, what did I say?”
“So what? You can give me a present, but I can’t give you one?” Arthur prepares a retort. “Just shut up and open it.”
“That’s my line,” Arthur complains but does as he’s told. He unties the knot and flips the pouch upside down until two metal bands land in his open palm.
His breath catches in his throat. “Merlin…”
“It’s not what you think,” Merlin rushes to explain, scratching the back of his neck as he sits down on the edge of the bed. “I mean, not completely. It’s a… those are promise rings. I know it’s only been a few months and we moved in together only recently but… I wanted you to know that it’s been the best time of my life. And... I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of it with you. So I thought… if you feel the same way, we could wear these rings and one day, I would ask you. For real.” He dares a look at Arthur and finds him gaping. “I mean, it’s not official, so no big deal. Really. I just thought-”
He kisses Merlin just to make sure he does.
“There is a… there’s something on the inside,” Merlin points out when they pull apart. Arthur brings the rings to his eye-level, studying them intently.
“King,” he reads on one, then looks at the other. “Lionheart.”
“You love that song. I thought it fitting, you know.”
Arthur stares some more, then looks at Merlin as though he’s seeing him for the first time. “So… I’m your king, huh?”
“Yeah, sure,” he says teasingly, takes Merlin’s hand and slides one ring on it. “You know, metaphorically speaking, as your king I can ask anything of you and you have to comply.”
Merlin sighs in mock resignation. “I knew I would come to regret this.”
“Too late now.”
“Yeah. I suppose it is.”
“You’re stuck with me.”
“Oh my. What do I do now?”
“You kiss me.”
He shoves at Arthur’s chest and sends him sprawling on his back, then crawls over him and crashes their lips together.
Arthur hums into the kiss. “I think this Christmas thing is growing on me.”
“Who would have thought,” Merlin jokes. “Merry Christmas, Arthur.”
“Merry Christmas, my Lionheart.”