Summary: Perfection isn't something that can be organised and timed to the second, but Arthur is always willing to try
Warnings: None, really
Word Count: 2k (well, just a little bit over - sorry! I got carried away!)
Author's Notes: Well this was fun to write. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did - and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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.
“It’s going to be perfect, Merlin, you’ll see,” Arthur tells him, grin on his face. Merlin’s fingers itch for his phone to text his mother standing orders to make sure there’s enough food for three of them on Christmas day, because Arthur will always fail miserably at anything domestic.
Still, he forces a smile, because Arthur is so excited about this plan of his, spending Christmas just the two of them, shut away from Morgana and Uther in the Pendragons’ mansion because Father won’t even notice it’s Christmas day, let alone that I’m not there.
Except for when it’s Christmas day, and Arthur emerges downstairs to the sight of Uther and a woman Arthur’s never met, both suspiciously in dressing gowns, eating breakfast together.
He takes one look at the sight and stops in his tracks so Morgana, constantly glued to her phone, runs up the back of him and cries out, drawing Uther and the woman’s attention over to where Arthur’s staring at them.
“Arthur, Morgana. This is Katrina. We have been in a relationship for three months.”
“Right,” is all Arthur can say to that.
“Well, isn’t this lovely?” Katrina simpers, “We can have a nice family Christmas.”
And with that Katrina pulls them into lovely family activities like breakfast and opening stocking presents and monopoly that leave Arthur with no time to get to the phone to warn Merlin before he arrives.
Katrina answers the door like the house belongs to her, and it makes Arthur grip his hands in fists as he follows her. Merlin blinks at the sight, a beautiful, ageing woman in a pink fluffy dressing gown, Arthur peeking out from behind her.
Tell her you’ve got the wrong house, he mouths, but Merlin can make no sense of it.
“Erm, I’m here to see Arthur?”
Arthur hangs his head in horror when Katrina practically squeals at that.
“Oh Arthur, you should’ve told us you had a guest coming!”
And she seizes hold of Merlin’s wrist and drags him into the fun.
After lunch Arthur manages to sneak off with Merlin and show him the dinner he had planned, the little Christmas tree he had waiting in a disused room filled with tiny, glittering fairy lights. And Merlin knows that for once, something Arthur planned would have turned out well; would have actually been perfect. If it wasn’t for Katrina.
Arthur is going to be in Hong Kong over Christmas.
To be entirely fair to him, it’s not Arthur’s fault. His idiot secretary (now thankfully fired) somehow managed to confuse November and December. So now he’ll be treated to the third instalment of a five-day takeover meeting when he should be tucking into turkey with Merlin. Fun.
Merlin knows he’s getting the better side of the deal. Though there’s no Arthur to spend it with, at least he’ll be home for Christmas, with Christmas trees and wreaths and baubles and tinsel and family. Arthur will have shares and currency exchange rates and stock prices, all in Mandarin. And Skype as his only comfort. Merlin doesn’t envy him in the slightest.
In fact, he’s quite looking forward to Christmas with just him and his Mum and Gaius. It’ll be nice; just like old times. Except before they didn’t have Arthur’s penthouse flat to hold the celebrations in. It’ll be a surprise for Arthur; they’ll video Skype and then up will pop his favourite mother- and uncle-in-law. And it’ll be great.
It’s a great plan, up until Arthur opening the door and creeping across the flat.
“Good morning,” he tells Merlin, shrugging off his snow-wet coat and scarf in the kitchen doorway. Merlin starts and drops his spatula, turning off the hob so the scrambled eggs don’t burn.
He doesn’t go over, not yet, just in case it’s his half asleep imagination tricking him into giving him what he wants. Arthur just grins, and doesn’t stop with taking off his coat; his suit jacket comes next, and his shirt, and he’s stepping out of his socks when Merlin thinks to cry out
“No, Arthur, not here,”
“Why not?” he asks, sidling over to Merlin and pressing himself up against his back, hands sliding into the front of his pyjama trousers, “It’s our flat.”
And he presses his mouth to Merlin’s neck, hands stroking him to hardness. Merlin lets out a moan, helpless, and tips his head back onto Arthur’s shoulder. And it’s at that moment that Hunith and Gaius walk in.
There’s a shriek, the raising of an eyebrow, two pairs of covered eyes, something that Merlin will always deny is a squeal, and a few slaps to Arthur’s arms.
Ten minutes and a change of clothes later it’s all forgotten, except for the pink stain on both Merlin and Hunith’s cheeks and the sheepish look on Arthur’s face. And he explains that when asked about his romantic life the first lunchtime he’d mentioned Merlin and their spending Christmas apart, the Cheung representatives had agreed to push through the decisions and end the discussions in less than half the expected time, just so he could get home for Christmas. Arthur says he wonders that there are still such good people in the business world. Merlin just looks over at him and smiles.
Merlin wakes early on Christmas day to the feeling of Arthur’s fingers brushing over his stomach, tickling him awake as gently as he can. An admirable effort, coming from Arthur. He hums a little, to let Arthur know he’s awake, and shifts against him because though this is Christmas it’s also an excuse for a lie in, and morning sex. But instead of the desired response, Arthur shoots backwards and scrabbles over his bedside table for something. Merlin sighs, still sleepy, and opens the envelope when it’s pressed to his chest.
A torn envelope and about three read throughs of the contents later, Merlin is fully awake.
“Arthur! New York!”
He doesn’t quite meet Merlin’s eyes as he mutters
“Knew you wanted to go and you’re off work for the rest of the week so I thought-”
Merlin just silences him with a kiss.
“You’re packed already,” Arthur tells him, when Merlin finally lets him go, “And we’ll get breakfast at the airport, we just need to shower.”
“But what about presents?”
“I packed everything with our names on that were under the tree,” Arthur tells him with a grin, before shooing him off into the shower, “Go on, the plane won’t wait.”
Except, as they find when they get to the airport, the plane will wait. Because the clouds gather as they sit eating pancakes and giggling out half serious jokes about eloping, and pretty soon the announcer tells them that Flight five-oh-seven to John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, is delayed due to weather conditions. Normal service should resume shortly.
Arthur looks out of the window at the few snowflakes littering the tarmac and groans.
“But it never snows at Christmas!”
“Hush, Arthur,” Merlin lays his hand over Arthur’s, “It’ll be fine. Just an hour or so, then we’ll be off across the pond!”
Arthur grits a smile and orders more pancakes.
But an hour later Merlin’s wrong, the disembodied voice again telling them that Regretfully, all flights out of the airport have been delayed due to adverse weather conditions. We are working to clear the runway, and will resume service as soon as possible.
Arthur’s hands curl up into fists and he wanders off, Merlin trailing behind, to inspect the duty free perfumes on sale, in case there’s one suitable for Morgana’s birthday. There isn’t.
Merlin sighs as the third announcement makes Arthur furrow his forehead so much he seems in pain, and takes hold of his shirt. Pulling Arthur with him, he walks to the nearest customer toilet, waves his hand over the lock of the cleaning cupboard to unlock it, and takes out the Cleaning In Progress sign.
“I love you,” he says, pushing Arthur into a stall and up against the door, kissing him hard. “I love you and your ridiculous plans, even when they go wrong.” He kisses Arthur again, hands smoothing over his shoulders, feeling them start to relax. “We’ll get to New York, and we’ll get to whatever hotel you’ve booked us into and we’ll go ice skating and visit Time Square and you don’t have to worry. You just have to wait.”
Arthur sighs, and reaches for his lips again. Merlin lets him kiss him, just once, and then he remembers that they have the room to themselves and slips to his knees, undoing the zip of Arthur’s trousers and pulling them down. Before Arthur really has a chance to open his eyes, Merlin has his tongue on his cock. Arthur groans, fingers tangling up in Merlin’s hair, loose, and Merlin dives in properly. He’s only ever one for teasing Arthur when he’s been particularly annoying (which is, to be fair, most of the time) but he takes pity on Arthur and gets on with things, hollowing his cheeks and sucking hard, bobbing his head up and down. When Arthur’s fingers tighten in his hair and his breath quickens just right, he flicks his tongue over the head, takes Arthur deep again, and hums. When Arthur comes he swallows, then pulls up to check on him. As suspected he’s calm, clinging to the door to keep him upright. Merlin tucks him away again and kisses him, sweeter this time, watching Arthur’s eyes clear.
And when they do, Arthur pushes Merlin into the wall, and he pulls his trousers and his pants down, and he closes his hand around his cock until Merlin shakes with it and Arthur has to catch his come before it gets everywhere.
They spend most of the rest of Christmas Day in the airport waiting, though they do get to open their presents, and they have each other at least. And, sometime in the afternoon, they manage to board the plane and head off for New York.
And New York makes up for everything.
Merlin refuses to let Arthur anywhere near the Christmas planning this year. It’s not that he doesn’t trust Arthur with it, more that he deserves a rest from the stress and panic of all the work he puts into it because he’s a prat who doesn’t know what’s good for him.
So Merlin gets his mother to note down the way she makes Christmas dinner, and he pins it to the fridge with little annotations and diagrams ready for when he’ll have to make a start on it. And he sorts out the Christmas decorations on the tree so it actually feels like it’s theirs instead of the gorgeous carbon copy of a Harrods or Selfridges window display Arthur always manages to come up with. And he packs their presents under it, and into stockings that hang over the ornate gas fire, and he bans all mention of guests or visiting others. This Christmas will be just for them.
They wake up early, because Arthur gets ridiculously excited about Christmas day. Merlin has all sorts of theories that involve lack of love in childhood, but they hurt too much to think about so he ignores them and just lets Arthur kiss him awake, grabbing the lube when and opening Merlin up, fucking into him lazily, slowly, all sleepy affection giving way to building tension and half muttered groans until Arthur curls his hand around Merlin and he comes, arching. Arthur follows him over, burying his head in Merlin’s shoulder.
They stay like that for a while, until Merlin realises that the light streaming through the thin curtains means it’s time to start the dinner off, and he runs off for a shower (which Arthur invades because he’s cruel) and gets the meat into the oven only a little late. After everything’s started off he can leave it for a while, so they open their presents, kneeling on the floor like kids.
The dinner turns out well. Not as well as Hunith’s, but Merlin hasn’t had the practice. And if the parsnips are a little burnt, well, Arthur’s not going to comment on that. Or the dodgy stuffing. Or anything else, really.
It snows while they eat, barely a dusting, but they try to go outside to play in it anyway, only to end up back in the kitchen with hot chocolate and cold-pink fingers, then bed with very little clothing and each other.
And really, it’s probably what they should’ve been doing for Christmas all along.