Title: Of Fate and Footie
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin, Gwen/Lance
Character/s: Arthur, Gwaine, Lancelot, Leon, Merlin, Percival
Summary: Arthur's Saturday night out at the pub with his mates suddenly gets interesting when he discovers that the gorgeous mystery man he's been enamored with is there alone...again. Modern AU.
Word Count: 1,077 (aw, close enough!)
Prompt: #45 ~ Love
Author's Notes: I sat down this morning to write a nice little drabble...and then this happened: Boom! Another Modern AU came out of nowhere! *nervous*
Going around the table, Arthur introduced them, “This is Percy…” Percy did the side swipe wave with one hand. “Lance…” Lance smiled warmly in greeting. “Leon…” Leon nodded once and said, “Hey.” Gesturing toward Gwaine last, Arthur harrumphed, “And this pillock is Gwaine.” Gwaine stood up and put out his hand, which Merlin shook. Gwaine tightened his grip on Merlin’s hand, pulled him closer across the table and said in a stage whisper, “He’s just jealous of all my Irish charm…” before letting go.
Merlin chuckled and gave everyone a friendly nod. “Nice to meet you all.” He looked at the crowded table and then back to Arthur, as if unsure what should happen next.
Arthur looked unsure, too…so Lance took it upon himself to rectify the situation. “All right, you berks, budge up and make room…” he ordered, scooting his chair closer to Leon’s. Moments later, there was room for one more at their table between Lance and Arthur.
Merlin smiled gratefully and pulled up a chair. “Thanks,” he said, placing his glass on the table and squeezing himself into place next to Arthur, their legs touching from hip to knee in the crowded space.
Heat flooded Arthur’s cheeks and he suddenly couldn’t contain his smile.
Moments later, he was literally shook from his reverie by Merlin’s hysterical laughter.
Everyone turned to look at the newcomer with various levels of shock. “What’s so funny?” Gwaine asked him.
“You thought my name was so comical…but look at all of you!”
“What?” Arthur asked, still confused, but enchanted by the sound of Merlin’s voice just the same.
He pointed around the table in succession. “Sir Lancelot the Brave, Sir Leon the Loyal, Sir Gwaine the Strong, Sir Percival the Righteous, and King Arthur Pendragon the Courageous.” He indicated the shape of the surface they were all sitting around. “The Knights of the Round Table!” he crowed in delight.
Stunned amazement followed that statement until Leon breathed, “Holy crap…he’s right.”
“And Merlin the Mage, of course,” Gwaine countered impishly. Merlin quirked one bemused eyebrow at him.
“Now all we need is a Guinevere and everything would be…” Merlin trailed off, stunned, as Lance sheepishly half-raised his hand.
“Really?” Merlin squeaked in disbelief.
“Uh huh,” Lance admitted. “Going on nine months now.”
“Wow…” Merlin breathed, looking between Arthur and Lance thoughtfully. “That’s good, right?” he finally asked, his eyes meeting Arthur’s, questioning.
Arthur smiled gently, slid his hand on top of Merlin’s under the table, and squeezed reassuringly. “Yeah, it’s a very good thing.”
Merlin’s hand squeezed back.
“So, Merlin…” Leon asked, “What do you think of Man Uni?”
“I try not to,” Merlin replied. “I like West Bromwich.”
Groans echoed around the table. “Not another one!” Gwaine moaned aloud, rolling his eyes.
“What did I say?” Merlin asked, looking at Arthur for reassurance.
Arthur grinned, stroking his fingers along the side of Merlin’s thigh. “They’re just disappointed because Albion is my team, too, and now it’ll be the two of us against each of their teams…”
Merlin’s cheeks pinked and Arthur was just smug enough to think it had nothing to do with the conversation. “Ah…”
Two hours later when the guys decided to break off for the night, it was almost as if Merlin had always been a part of their group. They teased him as much as any other person at the table, and he gave it back as good as he got.
They milled around just outside the pub as they made their goodbyes. Lance was the first to take his leave. “I gotta be getting home before Gwen gets worried. Merlin, it was nice to meet you,” he said, shaking Merlin’s hand. “Hopefully we’ll see you again soon?”
Merlin glanced at Arthur and then nodded with a smile. “Hopefully.”
Gwaine coughed, “Whipped…” into his hand before giving Lance a back-slapping hug. Lance gave his head a good-natured shove in revenge.
“Well at least he’s getting some,” Leon teased, pushing a stumbling Gwaine out of the way. He nodded once at each of them. “Lance, Merlin, Arthur, Perce, Loser…” In response, Gwaine sprang like a cat and put Leon in a headlock, rubbing his knuckles against a laughing Leon’s forehead.
Meanwhile, Percy quietly made his goodbyes to everyone, promising to see them next Saturday.
Gwaine was the last to leave. “I always knew you had it in you, Princess,” he teased cheekily, sliding his eyes not very nonchalantly toward Merlin and then snickered when Arthur blushed.
“Shut up, you eejit,” Arthur protested with a smile.
“Merlin, it’s been a pleasure.” Gwaine said, shaking his hand. “Thanks for putting up with us nutters on your date night…” He whispered the last two words while waggling his eyebrows and nudging knowingly at Merlin with his elbow.
Merlin just shook his head and chuckled with helpless laughter at the other man’s antics.
“I hope you’ll come next week, if only to save me from being the only honest Irishman in the midst of all these English tossers…”
Merlin smiled as his eyes connected with Arthur’s. “We’ll see what I can do,” he replied softly.
And then they were alone.
“Princess?” Merlin questioned with raised eyebrows.
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” Arthur explained with a grin. “Gwaine was calling me that long before he ever knew about my orientation…It’s his way of making fun of the fact I’m named after King Arthur.”
“Ah, I see,” Merlin replied, one side of his mouth quirked up in amusement.
Arthur shifted his weight from one leg to the other nervously. “So…was that really terrible? I mean, with the guys?”
“You mean your friends? They were fine; brilliant actually. I liked them, Arthur.”
“Good, good…” Arthur wiped his palms on his trouser legs again and pursed his lips. He fervently hoped that that meant Merlin liked him, too. “My…my place isn’t far from here. Do you…Would you…like to come over?” Arthur tripped and stumbled over the words, nervous and excited and terrified all at once. In the space of one evening, Arthur knew that Merlin was well on his way to having completely stolen his heart; he didn’t know what he’d do if Merlin said no.
But he needn’t have worried.
Merlin threaded his fingers with Arthur’s so that their clasped hands hung between them and then placed a soft kiss on Arthur’s lips. Then he leaned in so that their foreheads were resting against each other and sighed breathlessly, “I’d love to.”