Title: Knight in Shining Swim Trunks
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: In which Merlin is a lifeguard, but it's Arthur who comes to the rescue.
Word Count: 1166
’I love my job,’ Merlin thought dreamily as he stared unabashedly at the gorgeous body cutting through the water, sunlight glinting off the water and his golden hair.
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands as he continued to gaze at the blond man swimming laps in the pool. Merlin gave a small, happy sigh as his gaze traced the muscles in the man’s back, undulating with each precise stroke.
Merlin didn’t usually like being a lifeguard. It wasn’t terribly exciting. But he thanked his lucky stars that Gwen had called in sick today and asked him to cover her shift.
He leaned forward a little more, trying to get a closer view from his admittedly good, but rather far, vantage point.
Not sparing a thought for the rest of the people in the water – someone could’ve been drowning and all Merlin would have done was sigh in their direction – he continued to lean forward, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man’s face.
Before he knew it, Merlin found himself tipping forward off the very high lifeguard chair and flailing wildly as he tumbled through the air toward the pool. The last thing he saw before hitting the water was the very man he had been staring at bursting out of the water a few feet away, sunlight glinting off his wet hair and skin like he was made of gold itself.
Then Merlin plunged into the pool, accidentally gulping in water thanks to his mouth gaping open and continued to flail wildly in an attempt to right himself.
The next thing he knew, an arm was wrapping around his waist and jerking him up and out of the water. Merlin burst through the surface coughing, sputtering, and wiping his eyes. When he could see again, his mouth dropped open as he realized the blond man was standing – well, treading water – right in front of him, peering at him through the wet fringe plastered to his forehead. Not to mention the warm hands spanning his waist, robbing Merlin of his breath.
“ – okay? Are you all right? What happened?” the blond man was asking.
When Merlin found his voice, he stammered, “Nothing! Absolutely nothing. If you could just let go…”
The blond frowned, but didn’t remove his hands. “Well that’s not a very nice way to speak to someone who just rescued you.”
Merlin started sputtering incredulously. “Saved my life? Saved my life? Excuse me, but I am the lifeguard on duty here,” he jabbed at the empty lifeguard chair for emphasis, “and I didn’t need any rescuing, you prat.”
“Didn’t seem like you were getting on too well on your own,” Arthur said. Before Merlin got the chance to retort, Arthur squinted at him a bit and said, “You’re a lifeguard? Are you sure about that? A scrawny little thing like you? You’re so pale I’m surprised you even see the light of day.”
Merlin huffed at the man indignantly and snapped, “I assure you I’m a lifeguard here. I have the certificate to prove it mounted on my wall. In fact, it is also the end of my shift, so if you’ll excuse me.” Merlin shoved at the man roughly, taking advantage of his shock from Merlin’s heated retort to get away.
Merlin swam to the edge of the pool, hauled himself out and sauntered into the locker rooms, leaving the blond gaping after him.
Merlin went banging through the locker room, gathering his things and throwing a towel over his hair, muttering to himself all the while. He left the building quickly, still toweling his hair dry as he made for his car.
“I can’t believe I ever found that prat attractive,” Merlin muttered to himself. “Who does he think he is? Stupid, gorgeous prat.”
Merlin was fumbling for his car keys when the shout came from behind him. “Wait! Merlin!”
Merlin spun around in surprise, but narrowed his eyes when he saw who it was. The blond prat from the pool was running towards him. He stopped in front of Merlin and shot him a sheepish look.
Merlin just raised his eyebrows in response.
“Um, hi,” the man said.
“Hello?” Merlin replied slowly. After a beat, “Wait, how do you know my name?” Merlin asked suspiciously.
The man proceeded to look even more sheepish, shuffling his feet and ducking his head. Merlin swore he saw a light flush in his cheeks.
“Um, my sister is good friends with one of the lifeguards at this pool. Gwen? I’m guessing you know her,” the man tried to explain.
“Yeah,” Merlin said. “Gwen and I are friends.”
“Yeah,” the man said awkwardly. “Well, my sister dragged me to this pool a few weeks ago because she wanted to see Gwen while she was on duty, and I wanted to go to the pool. And, um.” The man paused.
“Okay…?” Merlin replied, furrowing his eyebrows in confusion.
“Well, I saw you while I was here. You were talking to Gwen. So… that’s how I found out your name. And I’ve kinda been coming back in my spare time in hopes of seeing you again,” the man blurted out in a rush.
Merlin was speechless. All he could do was stare at the man in front of him, admiring the way the wind gently ruffled his hair.
The man coughed awkwardly. “So, that was it. Now that I’ve seen you again… I just had to say something. So here we are.”
Merlin still didn’t speak, fascinated with the play of sunlight in the man’s blue eyes.
The blond looked away, muttering, “Sorry, I won’t bother you again. Um, bye.”
Merlin finally snapped out of his reverie when the man turned his back and began to walk away.
“Wait!” he shouted.
The man spun around quickly, hope shining in his gaze. “Yes?”
“What’s your name?”
“Arthur. I’m Arthur,” he said, lips quirking up in a smile.
Then it was Merlin’s turn to blush. “Do you want to know the real reason I fell into the water, Arthur?”
“Sure?” Arthur said, cocking his head quizzically.
Merlin ducked his head as he muttered, “I was so busy staring at you swimming laps that I didn’t realize I was falling until I was in the air.”
When Merlin peeked up through his lashes, he found Arthur grinning smugly at him and stalking toward him. Merlin quickly backed up until he hit the side of his car. Arthur kept advancing until he was bracketing Merlin’s body with his arms.
Merlin just stared, mesmerized by the expanse of golden skin so close to him.
Then Arthur was leaning forward, his lips brushing Merlin’s ear as he whispered, “Why don’t we go back to your place and you can show me that certificate you claim to have, lifeguard?”
Merlin burst out laughing at the blatant suggestion, but he still met Arthur’s hopeful gaze warmly. “Yes,” he murmured.
They were both laughing when their lips met.