Title: Vive Valencia
Pairing/s: Merlin x Arthur
Character/s:Merlin, Arthur, bit of Lancelot
Summary: The wonderfully romantic holiday in Spain for Christmas isn't quite happening as Arthur had expected. Or, sick!fic.
Warnings: attempted fluff, dubious Spanish translations.
Word Count: 1700 words (I'm sorry!! But I had to make Arthur feel better!)
Author's Note: also written for the "orange" square on my Merlin Bingo. Thanks to sksdwrld for the look -through, all errors etc remain mine.
Read on AO3
Sorry for the extra line spaces, I had some formatting issues.
"Oh my god, actual sunshine!" Merlin starts to flounce out into the sun.
Arthur pulls at him. "Don't overdo it, pasty Irish boy! Remember what happened the last time you went from snow to sun?"
Merlin sulkily takes the awful red hat Arthur holds out. "Happy now? It's not like the sun is all that strong," Merlin says.
Arthur rolls his eyes." It doesn't have to feel hot to burn you, you dim-wit. Haven't you heard of getting tanned while skiing?"
Merlin, that ungrateful idiot, ignores him. He sidles up to the tour guide and fixes his attention on him, if the growth and harvest of Valencia oranges is the most fascinating topic ever.
Lancelot, the guide, gives him a friendly smile and keeps talking abut the soil and climate conditions in Valencia.
Arthur rubs his face and pinches his nose. He knows he's getting short-tempered. They're on a holiday, just the two of them, and are meant to be having a romantic wonderful time. Apparently, his sinuses haven't gotten the memo and are giving him hell.
Merlin is used to his boyfriend's "winning personality" (Merlin's words, not Arthur's) and wisely leaves Arthur alone for a bit to wrestle with his cursed nose.
Valencia is as beautiful as the brochures promised. Merlin had oohed and aaahed at the white beaches and blue skies when they'd arrived yesterday, and Arthur totally agreed, although he was less effervescent in showing it. Today was Christmas Eve, and they were meant to celebrate it with a bang at night.
Arthur looks out to the sun-lit grove and promptly has a fit of sneezing. Oh shit.
Merlin pushes a glass towards him. "Freshly squeezed, on site. And in season."
Lancelot overhears and adds, "Si! Valencian naranjas son muy buenas."
To Arthur's surprise, Merlin replies,"Me encantan."
"When did you learn to speak Spanish?" Arthur asks. He gulps the juice down as if it's some magic elixir.
"Some of us have been soaking up the local culture and language instead of checking work emails every spare minute," says Merlin airily. He relents when Arthur sneezes again and gives Arthur a quick hug as a peace offering.
"Lance is a really good guide," Merlin says. "He knows Spain as well as he knows England."
Lance? Merlin was on pet name basis with the guide now? Arthur made a mental note to hang in there. Merlin shouldn't be having all the fun without him.
By lunchtime, after they'd walked through the orange grove, Arthur admits he really is feeling terrible. His head has a sensation of being pummeled with a hammer and his nose is so stuffed there is no whiff of the lovely orange fragrance Lancelot keeps talking about.
Merlin has re-appeared on Arthur's side. Despite his apparent capriciousness, he always has a sixth sense for Arthur's moods. He eyes Arthur dolefully blowing into a fistful of tissues and shakes his head.
"Go back go the hotel and rest, and I'll come look for you later," Merlin helps him chuck his dirty tissues and steers him towards the villa that functions as their lodgings.
"But I wanted to see the town,"Arthur tries not to whine. And he wants Merlin to see the town with him, not with Lancelot the tour guide with the smouldering Spanish good looks.
"Arthur, you're a terrible patient,"Merlin says. "Don't be a hero."
"It's not fair!" Sniff, sniff, blow.
"Do you always regress to your 6-year old self when you're sickly?" Merlin teases."Go! I"ll tell Lance."
Arthur glares at him, but there's not much heat in it as his eyes are watery.
"Fine! Wake me when you get back!" Arthur wanders back to their room – thank goodness the grove was just next door– and collapses into bed. Before he falls asleep, he texts Merlin to ask what he's up to.
When Arthur wakes up, he's momentarily disoriented. The room is dark and his mouth feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool. So does his brain, in fact.
On the plus side, his nose seems to have stopped running.
A flash of light hits him when the toilet door opens and closes, and Arthur squints to see Merlin come in and perch next to him. Arthur slumps back into bed and covers his eyes. Merlin's hand strokes his hair, pushing his fringe back and brushing a path down his temples and behind his ears. Arthur loves this, and Merlin knows it.
"Feeling better, love?" Merlin asks. His breathing is even and his voice is very low.
Arthur nods onto his pillow. He doesn't feel like trying to speak.
Merlin adds his other hand, and Arthur turns his face to allow him better access. Arthur is now lying flat on the bed, facing up, eyes closed.
It's been awhile since he's felt Merlin's butterfly touches, they've both been so busy with work. Arthur makes an appreciative sound, and Merlin moves from his hairline onto his face.
Merlin starts from Arthur's brows, follows their line down to his cheekbones, then massages around his eye sockets. When he's repeated that a few times, he gently rubs the side of Arthur's nose, then pulls his fingers wider to sweep across his sinus cavities, down his cheeks, to end on his chin.
Right now, Arthur feels so loved and taken care of. Uther was never very physical, and his nannies didn't have much time for indulging him with cuddles. One of the most endearing things about Merlin was his openness and his generosity with his touches and hugs.
After Merlin had lavished his touches on Arthur's face for a while, Arthur catches his hands and kisses them. "That was... Really nice." Arthur says, his voice hoarse from sleep.
Then he remembers where they are. "Merlin, you didn't wake me? What time is it?"
"It's six. The sun's just setting." Merlin leans over so his face is directly over Arthur's. "I didn't want to disturb you, you looked like you needed more rest."
Arthur props himself up on his elbows. "But it's Christmas Eve, Merlin. Didn't you want to go for the Navidad Parade? With candy raining all over the streets?"
"Nah, it's alright. Unless you want to?"
Arthur shakes his head. He feels better but he's not up to going to a rowdy street parade with flashing lights and screaming people.
"We can just stay in. There's room service if you want food," Merlin says, pulling away to touch the back of his neck gingerly.
"Maybe later." Arthur purses his lips."It isn't a very romantic Christmas Eve, is it? Me with my head cold, in Spain, of all places."
Merlin laughs. "Umm, I might have a shade of sunburn- don't say you told me so! I wore that hat! I just forgot to put sunblock."
Now it's Arthur's turn to laugh. "You dingus," he says fondly. "Always with your head in the clouds."
"You workaholic over-achiever," Merlin says in turn, just as fondly.
Arthur's eyes have adjusted to the dark, and he reaches out to pull Merlin to lie down next to him. "Yes, MER-lin, and my current goal is to have the best Christmas Eve we can."
Merlin squirms out of his reach."Look, I got you a Christmas stocking!" He switches on the night light and points triumphantly.
Arthur smacks Merlin lightly on the shoulder. "That is NOT a Christmas stocking! It's your sock! Your old and very unsexy black sock! With a HOLE!"
"Hey, it's the thought that counts right? I even got a stocking stuffer." Merlin proffers the said sock at Arthur, who looks suspiciously at the big bulge weighing down the heel. Arthur thinks it best not to say that the sock is stretched out of shape by now.
"The sock IS clean, isn't it?" Arthur teases. He grabs it and scrabbles inside for the mysterious article. It must be pretty heavy.
"Dollop-head. Of course it's clean."
Arthur's fingers hit something round and cool. He pulls it out and looks at his boyfriend's sparkling blue eyes, dancing with mischief.
"It's the original stocking stuffer, Arthur. It's a tradition!"
It's an orange. From this morning's visit to the grove.
Arthur's mouth turns up by itself.
Merlin is madcap, unpretentious, spontaneous, and also sweet and humorous, all at the same time. Merlin also tries to take care of him, best as he can. What could Arthur say?
Arthur pushes himself up and embraces Merlin fiercely.
"Ouch!! Mind the NECK!"
"Oh, sorry." Arthur moves his hands a little lower and loosens his hold.
Arthur makes a decision there and then. Yes, he'll do it.
"I have something for you too," he says, and fishes out a metal object from his travelling case. "Er, it's not wrapped. No, I'm not putting it in a sock."
Merlin's brow furrows. "Umm, it's a key. It's.. Your house key? I already have a copy? You gave it to me, remember?"
Arthur might not be the most communicative boyfriend. He'd have to try harder. He swallows and says, "It's symbolic. Do you... If you would like to, you can... Stay with me?"
Merlin's mouth parts slightly, Arthur's not sure in shock or confusion.
Arthur says, "I mean, like stay, as in move in with me?"
Merlin's lips round into a big O. Arthur wants to kiss those lips rather badly. He holds back from doing so as he wants Merlin's answer even more.
His patience is rewarded when Merlin pinches his lips together and nods.
"Umm, I don't really have to take your key now, do I?" Merlin says.
"You can't, it's my only set. It's a token!"
Arthur thought asking Merlin to move in would be very dramatic but it feels very natural. No doubt the drama would come when they actually had to live together.
"Ready for that room service?" Merlin asks. " I don't think that orange will be enough for our dinner. "
So Christmas Eve circa 2013, Valencia, was spent with room service, one orange, one key, and a view of an orange grove decorated with lights. There was also Lemsip and aloe Vera involved. On the whole, Arthur doesn't mind at all. It's a lovely holiday.