Title: A Rehabilitation
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine
Summary: Date time!
Warnings: Reference to character death
Word Count: 758
Author's Notes: Yes, I cut this off short. Well, no way I could fit their date into a thousand words! Sorry! Also, they're just too fun to write :P
Merlin looks around him as he walks into the restaurant. It looks nice, at least. A bit generic. A bit exposed. None of the cosy little corners that Merlin prefers.
Arthur is nowhere to be seen. A waiter with beautiful shoulder length hair walks up to him with a smile. If Arthur doesn’t turn up then there’s always this guy. He’s desperately sexy, and Merlin thinks he looks interested. Only thinks, though. It’s been a while.
“Have you got a reservation, sir?”
Merlin freezes for a moment. He hasn’t, but Arthur has, and he doesn’t know Arthur’s last name.
“It’s alright, sir,” the waiter says, “We do have some tables.”
“No, it’s just that my date will have made the reservation and I don’t know what name he’d have put it under.”
The waiter smiles.
“Oh, you’re Arthur’s date. Come this way, he’s running a little late.”
The waiter leads him away, to a table at the back of the restaurants, as secluded as it gets. He pulls a chair out for Merlin to sit.
“He won’t be long, I promise.”
And he isn’t. Merlin barely has time to wince at the prices and decide on his meal before he arrives. And he’s even better in the flesh than the photos. He sits wearing an unapologetic grin and a shirt so blue it brings out his eyes.
“Oh, you are hot,” Arthur says. Merlin refuses to blush.
“I don’t think much of your restaurant choice.”
“It tastes good, I promise.”
“Not exactly romantic, though, is it?”
“I didn’t think you wanted love or romance.”
“I didn’t. But seduction would have been nice.”
“I don’t need a setting for that.”
“Why don’t you prove it?”
Arthur waves at the waiter and gestures him over.
“Evening, Gwaine. We’ll have a bottle of the pinot, if you’re alright with wine, Merlin?”
Merlin nods. Arthur continues.
“The chicken’s good, if you want to share.”
Merlin reconsiders his choice.
“You like olives?”
“I don’t like the price.”
Arthur laughs. Dips his eyes down. Merlin isn’t sure if it’s a practiced move or not, but either way it seems to be working.
“I can afford them. Olives then, too.”
“Have fun,” Gwaine says, and he winks, and he leaves.
“So,” Arthur asks, “How did you get into internet dating?”
Merlin doesn’t see any reason to lie. Arthur can deal with it.
“My boyfriend died. He was in the police.”
Arthur falls quiet.
“Don’t be sorry. Fuck me. I’m over the grief, and I’m not keeping my life on hold because of him, because he’s gone. He’d shoot me now if I dared to.”
“Alright. Ok. So this is like a healing process. A rehabilitation?”
“Something like that. What about you?”
Arthur doesn’t really know how to answer that question. There’s more to the answer than he can admit, even to himself. So he goes for the standard answer.
“I like people,” he tells Merlin, “I like sex. This works for me.”
“Fair enough,” Merlin says. Arthur breathes a sigh of relief that the matter isn’t going to be pushed any further. But then he has to go and push his luck.
“I’m guessing there’s an ex or some deep rooted issues, but I’m not going there. We both know what this is, don’t we?”
“Yeah, we do.”
Arthur hopes his voice sounds a lot more firm to Merlin than it does to him. Because he can feel a hint of sadness and regret creeping in, and that’s not what he feels. It’s not.
“So what is it you do, Merlin?” he asks, as the wine appears. He pours, generous glasses for both of them. This doesn’t correlate with anything in Arthur’s dating history, and it seems he’s going to need the buzz.
“I’m a PA for an absolute dickhead.”
“That sounds shit.”
Arthur’s on firmer territory, now. He knows how to turn this conversation to his advantage.
“It really is.”
“Am I your reward then?” he asks, with a wink. Usually they swoon. But usually, they’re not Merlin.
“Enough with the lines, honestly. You’re hot, but you’re not hot enough to make me put up with that.”
The olives arrive. Arthur spears one with a fork and sucks it off the tine. Merlin’s mouth sucks into an o. At least he’s done something right. He’s so off his game tonight. If only he could pin down the reason why, it’d be fine.
“Tell me about you, Arthur.”
And, to Arthur’s surprise, he does.