Title: Donuts and Disarray
Character/s: Morgana, Merlin
Summary: Merlin shows Morgana that laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.
Word Count: 643
Prompt: #85, relief
Author's Notes: Inspired by the Charlie Chaplin quote, "Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain." This takes place in my AU where Merlin and Morgana are professors and Mordred their student, and can be found at AO3.
The pressure wasn't great, but the shower got blessedly hot, allowing Morgana to bow beneath the spray and let it scald away the chill from the rain. Perhaps it was an excuse--all right, no perhaps about it. It had been an excuse, claiming the bathroom for her own to wash up before changing into dry clothes.
Clothes she had practically told Merlin would not be staying on.
Her heart thumped painfully against her breastbone. Stupid to be so scared. She wanted this, after all, just like she'd wanted Merlin all these years. He'd given her the chance to say no, and she'd ignored it, so really, hiding in the shower while he went out and fetched their bags was ridiculously childish.
Fury and frustration with her own weakness drove her to twist the water off, leaving her standing in the steam, water dripping into her eyes, for several seconds before she yanked back the shower curtain and groped blindly for a towel. Without the water pounding in her ears, she could hear music filtering from the other room.
Merlin was back.
Wrapping the towel tightly around her, Morgana took a deep breath and opened the door.
Though the room had a double bed, it didn't afford much more space. During her shower, Merlin had done more than go out to the car. The music she heard came from his phone on the nightstand, while carrier bags lay discarded on the floor around the bin, their contents spread out on the narrow table he'd moved from beneath the window. It now sat alongside the bed, with a box of donuts in the middle, a line of Red Bull flanking them, and two bags of Walker's at each place setting.
Merlin perched on the edge of the bed, using it as a chair in the absence of a second. He'd changed while she'd been in the bathroom and now wore a threadbare blue T-shirt that had to be at least twenty years old and a pair of loose sweats. Rather than comb his hair, he must have only run his fingers through it, because it stood in proud disarray, begging her to smile.
Like he was.
When she didn't move right away, he cocked his head, his smile softening almost quizzically. The steam behind her kept her warm, but it was nothing compared to the flush creeping up her body at how little she was wearing in front of him. She felt like a schoolgirl all over again, which was the last thing she needed or wanted right now. That schoolgirl had made awful choices. She didn't want this to be another.
Without a word, Merlin reached for a plastic knife he must've brought from the shops and used it to spear one of the donuts. He then speared another with a matching fork. Holding them delicately in front of him, he tilted a donut up and outward, repeating it with the other in time to the music. Only his hands moved at first, manipulating the donuts in a simple dance, but when he began bobbing along with them, Morgana burst out into laughter.
"You and those bloody Chaplin movies," she said.
He didn't stop, though his smile widened. "They always cheered you up."
She ventured a step into the room. That wasn't wrong, though it was only partially the truth. "Any particular reason you feel the need to re-enact them now?"
His movements slowed. "Because when you came out, you looked like you wanted to be anywhere but here."
Again, not wrong, but again, only part of the whole story.
Taking a deep breath, she marched forward and took the chair next to him, tucking her legs beneath her. She made sure she was looking him in the eye when she said, "I wouldn't miss a front row seat for this for the world."