Title: Ordinary at Best
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: "Come home with me?"
Word Count: 528
Author's Notes: Bear with me guys, I'm ALMOST at the sex. May have cheated a little with the prompt and gone for despair-ate or desperate, but I didn't want to ruin their date!
They get through the chicken like that, stupid little questions like favourite Quality Street and Star Trek or Star Wars. It takes Arthur by surprise, a little. He’s never really done this before, not since he was much younger, anyway. It’s strange how fun he finds it. He’s never really thought of conversation as any more than a means to an end. A bonding exercise for a team, a business transaction, a meeting arrangement. But now Arthur finds himself unexpectedly happy, content even.
But the subject doesn’t really give Arthur much to think about other than Merlin, so he concentrates on the topic at hand. On Merlin’s cheekbones, the darkness of his hair against the brightness of his eyes, the pout of his lips. And Arthur wants. He’s beautiful, and there’s something about him, something about the challenge he poses, the way he doesn’t immediately bow to Arthur’s will, that makes him sure he’ll be incredible in bed.
He wants to take Merlin home. Wants to just play, to take them both apart and bask in the aftermath. He’s desperate for it. Right now, to be honest, he’d beg. And he’s not sure Merlin hasn’t noticed.
He’s blushing. Quite violently, if he’s going to start admitting these things. Because Arthur keeps looking at him, and he can’t really tell why. It’s not as if there’s anything special about him, anything particularly attractive. Nothing of Arthur’s standard, anyway. Arthur is delectable, beautiful. Merlin’s ordinary at best, if anything a little odd-looking. To Arthur he’s probably just someone willing and enthusiastic, something he’ll make do with rather than want.
Except there’s that look in Arthur’s eyes, almost hungry, and the slight smile on his face. When Gwaine comes to take the plates and Arthur pays the bill, neither of them look up. Merlin catches his breath. At this point, there is only one ending for this evening. Merlin is beyond the point of saying no, not now, not when he’s so entranced by the glare of Arthur’s so blue eyes, the twist of his smile, the way he holds himself so confidently and yet Merlin can see hints of hairline cracks, just around the edges of the whole façade.
Arthur takes his hand and squeezes it, tight.
“Come home with me?”
Merlin just nods. There’s something in Arthur’s voice, some little vulnerability just on the edge of comprehension, that makes Merlin fear to risk his own. Arthur gets up and gives him a little tug. Merlin falls into his side, and he feels comfortable there. Warm. Arthur wraps an arm around him almost awkwardly, but it feels nice. For a moment Merlin can slip and think it’s Will, could almost pretend. Arthur’s a little taller, and his aftershave is different, but he holds Merlin with the same care-
But he doesn’t let himself. Will is dead and gone, and would hate him to even try. Tonight isn’t about trying to reach the past, it’s about moving on. It’s about letting go of Will’s ghost and living his own, new life.
He breathes in deeply and teaches himself the solid reality of Arthur, as they walk towards the taxi rank.