Title: Destiny Laughs
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Freya
Summary: It all starts with a laugh heard across the room.
Word Count: 939
Prompt: #32 Laugh
Author's Notes: Modern AU
Arthur's laugh is gold and silver, a lantern glowing in the dark;
Marshmallows floating on hot chocolate, Pop Rocks in your mouth;
It’s sunny yellow eggs sizzling in a pan, crocuses unfurling in the snow, bundling up in your favourite flannel shirt on a chilly day.
It curls in your chest like a cat settling in for a nap, burrowing deep until you can’t dislodge it because life would be too cold and harsh without it.
That’s the way with Arthur. He gets under your skin before you’ve even realised and by then it’s too late.
Merlin’s mellow after three generous red plastic cups of beer from the keg. Freya gives him the rundown on her latest dissertation woes, and really, who knew there was so much to know about the nighttime habits of cats? But Freya’s more than patient with Merlin’s own obsessions, so he offers the occasional ‘really?’ and ‘that sounds difficult’ to mollify her. The noise of the crowded room settles into a pleasant, muted buzz in Merlin’s ears, and he slumps heavily against the wall, feeling warm and fuzzy-headed. Freya’s voice has faded into the general din when suddenly a man's lusty, rollicking laugh startles Merlin out of his lethargy. It spins and capers over the heads of everyone else in the room, rolling right towards Merlin like a bowling ball towards a pin. And it knocks him right over; a strike. That laugh lights up Merlin like a firefly in the July dusk, warmth pooling in his chest at the sound, burrowing deep with a laser-like intensity.
Being tall, Merlin immediately zeroes in on the source. He’s gorgeous, all broad shoulders and golden hair, aquiline nose and plush lips. Merlin gulps. He finds himself staring transfixed from across the room. Suddenly he ditches his plans to escape once he’s fulfilled his duties to Freya.
"Merlin, are you listening?" Freya says.
Merlin ignores her - he'll make it up to her later and besides, she has plenty of other victims to choose from - and shoulders his way through the crowd. A group is gathered around the blond fellow, from all appearances a rugby team, all imposing male muscle save for one tiny, dark-haired girl, who from the looks of her, could break any of the blokes with a simple arch of her brow.
He hovers on the edge, not intending to engage, just watching and waiting to hear that silvery laugh again. He’s trying not to stare, but the blond guy is truly stunning. Up close his eyes are almost almond shaped, set like blue gems above prominent cheekbones and a finely-wrought jaw. He’s not thinking about much of anything except maybe what the bloke’s skin tastes like when suddenly the fellow’s eyes snag his, a lure of sparkling colour that catches fast and sinks in. Merlin’s mouth hangs open and he must look truly stupid, standing there by himself, a refugee from polite conversation, but the blond fellow’s mouth turns up at one end in a little smile that quietly says hello, and ‘there’s a secret between us but neither of us knows what it is yet.’ Merlin returns the lopsided grin, forcing himself not to burst into a face-breaking smile, and the guy nods back. Merlin’s stomach flip-flops.
His bladder’s starting to complain so, despite his reluctance to give up the sublime view, Merlin lopes to the bathroom. He doesn’t look nearly as stupid in the mirror as he thought, pushing his hair this way and that, finally giving up and hoping it comes off as sexy bedhead.
Suddenly the door handle turns and a familiar blond head pokes in.
Merlin’s heart races. “Sorry, I’ll just...,” the fellow mumbles, retreating.
Merlin catches the door with his foot. “I’m almost finished!” he says way too loudly, and he grabs for the door, hoping he doesn’t look too desperate. Even though he is.
Time slows to a glacial pace as Merlin meets the other man’s eyes, small explosions going off under his skin. The air ignites between them and suddenly there isn’t any distance there at all. Merlin’s hand is curled into the blue cotton of the guy’s shirt and he’s pulling him in. Somehow he knew it would be okay. There was that small lopsided grin again to confirm it.
“Hello,” Blond Guy drawls with a smirk, hands drifting to Merlin’s hips as their breath mingles hot and close. ”Are you finished?”
“I think we’re just starting. I’m Merlin.”
“Seriously? I’m Arthur.”
Merlin blinks, his hand still bunched in Arthur’s shirt. “Well. Must be destiny.” He smoothes down the shirt, fingers lingering on the obvious musculature beneath, and lunges in to claim Arthur’s mouth in an ardent kiss. “This is okay, right?” Merlin says, suddenly wondering what the hell he’s doing, but apparently unable to resist the magnetic attraction that bristles between them.
“Oh yeah,” Arthur says breathlessly, hands clutching at Merlin’s back. “I saw you standing there. As if you were waiting for me. When you weren’t there anymore, I...I don’t know, somehow I knew where you’d gone and I had to follow you.”
Merlin grins, suddenly feeling far more giddy than he should given the amount he drank, and cups Arthur’s jaw. “I was waiting, you’re right. But you were with your friends, and, well, I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen.” He shrugs. “It was your laugh.”
“My laugh?” Arthur smiles, then throws his head back, letting lose that glorious laugh, making Merlin’s chest tighten.
He pulls Arthur into a deeper embrace. “Yes, you prat, your laugh,” he says before kissing him once again.