Title: The Miracle
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwen, Mithian
Summary: Arthur’s workday gets off to a bad start and goes downhill from there. Except for one thing.
Warnings: Pre-slash implied
Word Count: 1057
Prompt: #60 Surprise
Author's Notes:Thank you to inspired_being for the beta. This is a follow-on chapter to 'The Bus Stop' which can be read here on LJ or on AO3 here.
Arthur checked his watch--in twelve hours he'd be picking up Merlin (who has a name like that anyway?) at the bus stop. His nerves were on edge already. How was he going to make it through his workday? He tried to calm himself down with the thought that just because the bloke looked fascinating didn't mean he would be. That black hair falling in his eyes and the pouting lips might just be a gorgeous front on a dull personality.
Arthur hadn't been in a serious relationship since he'd finally admitted to himself that he was gay. It had taken a disastrous breakup with Vivian for him to realize the truth of his sexuality. He didn't like the club scene and he wanted something more than a one-night stand.
He hoped his gaydar was working and his bus stop bloke was indeed gay, or he'd end up very embarrassed.
The jangle of the phone ringing brought him back to the present.
"Hello, Arthur Pendragon here."
"Arthur, it's Mithian from Personnel. I have some bad news for you. You've driven out another P.A. Sophia has quit; effective immediately."
"I don't drive them out. They just fail to meet my basic expectations. Sophia never could keep my calendar organized. I don't know how many times she had me double booked," Arthur explained petulantly.
"She quit after your tirade yesterday."
"So what am I supposed to do today? I have a critical presentation with a client this afternoon."
"I'll see who I can come up with to fill-in. I'll send someone up as soon as I can. And, Arthur, go easy on the next one, OK?"
"I'll try," Arthur conceded.
Great. Well, he'd better get started preparing for the meeting.
Merlin cautiously stepped out of the elevator on the top floor. He hadn't been up to the executive suites before; the courier service delivered their mail. Merlin had been working the afternoon shift in the mailroom at Camelot Consulting for about a month, filling in for Elena who was on maternity leave. It was the best job the temp agency had for him at present. While the work failed to make use of his Literature degree, he enjoyed chatting with all the people on his rounds delivering the mail.
Today would be different, however. He'd been told to report to the executive suite to fill-in for a P.A. who had quit. He stopped at the reception desk where a pretty brunette with honey-colored skin was deftly handling calls on a complicated phone system. She held up a finger to indicate he should wait, while she completed routing the call.
"Hello, how can I help you?" she asked once she'd finished.
"Hi, I was told to report here to fill-in for a P.A. I'm Merlin."
"Thank goodness. It's been crazy around here this morning with Arthur panicking. Oh, I'm Gwen, by the way. I'll take you to meet him. I can't wait to see his face when he realizes he has a male P.A. He's never had anything but women. And he's gone through a lot of them... Oh, I probably shouldn't have said that."
Merlin smiled. "No, I appreciate your honesty. I like knowing what I'm getting into."
Not another bloody paper jam! Arthur yanked open the door on the copier and got down on his knees. He pulled a few mangled sheets of paper out from the rollers and his fingers were covered in toner dust. Standing up again, he tried to assess what pages were missing and absent-mindedly wiped his face, leaving black marks on his cheeks and chin.
"Arthur," Gwen peered into the copier room and said, "Your savior is here." She pulled Merlin into the room, "This is Merlin, your fill-in P.A."
Arthur looked up and blinked. "You? From the bus stop? You work here?" He could hardly believe his eyes.
"Yeah. Surprise for both of us, I guess.” Merlin noticed the scrunched up paper is Arthur’s hand. “Looks like you could use some help?"
"Definitely. I think the office machines are conspiring against me. Don't ask what happened to the proposal I tried to fax."
"So how many copies? Collated? Bound?" Merlin grinned. Arthur looked slightly confused. "Summer job at a copy place," Merlin explained.
"A dozen will do,” Arthur managed to say, and then added, “You’re a miracle." Somehow the fates were being unnaturally kind to him all of a sudden, Arthur thought. Merlin was just as stunning today as last night. The hair was still a mess, falling into his eyes, or was that a hip style now? His eyes were a brilliant shade of blue, pulling Arthur's attention away from the pale ivory skin.
"You might want to hold your judgement on that. I've no idea how to be a personal assistant, so I'm sure to screw something up."
"Just get me through today. Gwen will help you as much as she can, I'm sure. After you finish the copies, can you start with straightening out my calendar?"
"I'll try… Uh, you might want to clean your face, too." Merlin pointed to his own sharp cheekbones in reference to the black streaks on Arthur’s.
Within half an hour, Merlin entered Arthur's office, carrying a stack of presentation booklets with a cup of coffee balancing on top. "Here you go, and Gwen said you take your coffee with cream."
Merlin slid the copies onto Arthur's desk, but his shirt sleeve caught on the edge of it, which jerked the cup of coffee forward, spilling its hot contents across Arthur's keyboard and onto Arthur himself.
Arthur exploded. "You idiot! Look what you’ve done to my keyboard! And my clothes are ruined! Do you have a brain or are you just hopelessly clumsy? Not even the worst of my previous P.A.’s ever did this!"
"It was just an accident. Like yours, yesterday, splashing me. Now I see why there is a revolving door for P.A.'s in this office. Gwen said you are difficult to work for, but she didn't tell me you are a royal prat!" Merlin was yelling right back at Arthur.
Arthur was stunned into silence. Whenever he went on a tirade, his previous assistants usually started crying or began begging for another chance. They didn't talk back, much less yell. This was going to be something altogether different.