Title: Campfire Games
Pairing/s: Gwaine/one-night-stand, Arthur/Merlin or pre-Arthur/Merlin
Character/s: Gwaine, Merlin, Arthur, Leon, Elyan, Percival
Summary: It's Gwaine's turn to tell a story.
Warnings: Sexual content
Word Count: 1,050
Prompt: 473 Do you ever wonder about the stars?
Author's Notes: Explicit and implicit. … Gwaine's woman friend is an astrobiologist before her time, Merlin is fully aware of his choices (and possibly a tease, if you read it as pre-slash), and the rest of them are themselves.
"Come on, Gwaine, tell us the story already!" Percival goads.
Next to him, Leon stage-whispers to Merlin, "Since when has Gwaine ever needed encouragement to speak?"
Gwaine balls up and throws one of his smelly socks at Leon's head, but Leon dodges it with ease.
"Never that I've seen," Merlin replies.
Merlin catches Gwaine's other sock with his face.
"Will you get on with it, Gwaine? Some of us want to take our turn some time tonight."
Gwaine turns to his left to look at Arthur. "What's that, Princess? You have an embarrassing story for us?"
"Those are the rules of this game, are they not?" Arthur smirks.
Gwaine's eyes light up with mischief.
"Gwaine!" Elyan chides from Gwaine's right. He punches Gwaine in the shoulder.
Gwaine takes a deep breath for dramatic effect.
"Now, bear in mind this is a while back, when we were all younger and more carefree."
Leon and Percival scoff, but Elyan nods knowingly.
"So I've got this farm girl — blonde, strong from all the work, short but leggy — laid out on a stack of hay just inside the barn door. Her skirts are shoved up to her thighs, one of her legs is over my shoulder, and my head is half-buried under all the fabric. They're of a thick woolen kind, so heavy that I can't breathe properly. I'm going at it, right, when she says something. Doesn't sound like a noise of pleasure, more like a sentence, so I pull my head out from under those skirts to ask her what she said. — Keep the leg on my shoulder, though, in case it's nothing and I'll be able to get back to it quickly."
"She's looking out through the barn door, and for a heart-stopping moment I think maybe her father or brothers have found us and I'll have to fight my way out of there. But she says, 'Do you ever wonder about the stars?' I tell you, I was stumped. There I am, doing my best for her, and she's having no reaction whatsoever. She's staring at the sky like I haven't touched her at all. Nothing else in my life — not including that one time my mum caught my oblivious, young self being indiscreet in the middle of our house in the middle of the day — has ever made me lose interest—" he nods down at his lap— "faster than that."
The others laugh and groan out their sympathy.
"But!" Gwaine continues. "I'm a gentleman—"
Merlin presses his lips together, but, with everyone else focused on Gwaine's supplementary gesticulation, only Arthur notices.
"—so I have to be with her in the moment wherever she wants to take it. So I say, 'What do you wonder about them?'"
"Awfully thoughtful of you, Gwaine," Merlin teases.
"You would see it that way, Merlin," Gwaine ribs him right back. "You'd probably do the same thing."
Merlin smirks, leans back on his hands, and tilts his head backwards to look up at the night sky through a break in the forest canopy above them.
They all stare at him.
Gwaine bursts out laughing.
Arthur clears his throat. "What was her reply?" he asks, and his voice isn't as smooth as usual.
Leon throws his water skin at Arthur, who catches it without looking away from Gwaine.
"Her reply was to talk about how the stars must be doors to other worlds where the plants are all different colors and cows or squirrels or birds run things the way people do here. She went on and on about it! I tried to ask her if she'd prefer me to finish her off or not at all, but I couldn't get a word in. Eventually, I gave up on that endeavor and plopped down sideways next to her in the hay to listen. Fell asleep right there with one hand still tucked hopefully into her skirts. She woke me before dawn to kick me out. I was two fields away when I realized I'd dropped into a stray bit of dung in my sleep. Had it all down my leg below the knee."
Percival is doubled over laughing and leaning on Elyan for support.
Elyan is wiping tears of mirth from his eyes.
Leon has his face down in his hands while he shakes with silent laughter.
Arthur is shaking his head and smiling.
Merlin has a mirthful smile on his face, but he's still stretched back and looking up at the stars in the sky.
"It's going to be hard to top that one," Arthur says.
"I want to hear your story next, Princess. Tell us what awful, embarrassing moment you had up in that castle, or as a scrawny squire."
"I was never scrawny!" Arthur objects.
"I can't see it at all," Merlin teases.
Arthur punches him.
"Ow!" Merlin says.
"Don't be such a weakling, Merlin."
"You brought that one on yourself, Arthur. You're too easy to rile, sometimes," Merlin says.
"It's debatable." Leon looks Arthur over, but they can tell he's making a comparison to his memories. "Arthur was never scrawny, but he absolutely was tiny at one point."
"Go on!" Percival urges.
"I never expected such betrayal from you, Leon," Arthur declaims.
"There, there, Sire," Elyan chimes in. "It's not a judgment of your worth. More a judgment of your height."
"You had occasion to see him at his shortest?" Leon asks Elyan.
Elyan says, "I remember one time he rode through town on parade with Uther and streets full of knights...."
Arthur turns aside to Merlin. "How did this devolve into Make Fun of Arthur hour?" he mutters.
"You were about to tell your own embarrassing story, Arthur. Do you think we would have let you off easy?" Merlin replies quietly.
"So what's your embarrassing story going to be about, then, Merlin? It can't be something we know already, so you'll have to think really hard. Your life is one embarrassing moment after another, after all."
Merlin smiles warmly at Arthur, but makes no reply. Instead, he leans back on his hands again and looks to the sky. "Do you ever wonder about the stars?" he whispers so that only Arthur can hear him.
The night sky winks down at them.