Summary: Merlin is the face Arthur sees every time he goes for his appointment. Merlin loves to see Arthur's face.
Warnings: Mild mention of drug use, and recovery.
Word Count: ~2930
Author's Notes: Thanks to camelittle for the beta, and the mods for all the help! Dear beccadearie, I hope you enjoy this fic!
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
The first day Merlin met him, Arthur was wearing a red button down shirt and jeans. His coat was too tight for his body, but Merlin had a feeling, he liked it that way.
"Hi, may I help you?" Merlin said, as the man with the piercing blue eyes approached the reception desk.
"I have an appointment," he said. "Pendragon. Arthur."
"Right, we have you scheduled, for one o'clock. Oh good, you're half hour early." Merlin smiled.
"Oh, well I reckoned, I'd have paperwork to fill out, insurance and all that—"
"You're right," Merlin answered handing Pendragon, Arthur a clipboard and some forms. "Besides, I go to lunch in a half hour then you'd have to deal with..." he lowered his voice, "Judith."
"And that's a bad thing?" Arthur asked with one eyebrow raised.
"Only if you don't mind her asking for your life story, and the way she talks you can't even say no to her. Before you know it you missed your appointment because you're talking about your life and dreams with her!"
"Sounds dreadful," Arthur answered smiling.
"I'd like to think so," Merlin answered. "The first week I started working here I found myself telling her my life story and to this date I don’t have a clue how she managed to get it out of me.”
"So you take lunch at one o'clock every day, then?" Arthur asked.
"Good to know then I will make sure to set my appointments when you are not on your lunch break," Arthur said.
Merlin grinned at Arthur, surprised at how at ease he felt talking to him. Arthur thanked Merlin, and and took a seat across the hall from him on the sofa, filling out his paperwork. Merlin looked over the appointment details for Arthur, it said "detox," meaning that Arthur was a recovering drug addict. Merlin immediately closed the file and clicked away from the computer screen, he'd reached the limit of breaching patient confidentiality.
"All set," Arthur said and handed the clipboard back to Merlin.
"Excellent," Merlin answered, standing up from his chair. "I'll just need to make copies of your insurance card and ID. You can take a seat, I'll give it back to you and they'll call you in when they're ready." He nodded at Arthur and walked away to the backroom to make copies of the paperwork that needed to be handed back to Arthur.
"Hey, Merlin," Arthur said walking into the clinic and smiling. He was holding two cups of coffee; he put one in front of Merlin.
"Ah, thank you, so much," Merlin said, sipping the coffee.
Arthur had been coming into the clinic twice a week for nearly two months. Merlin's only interactions with him were the hellos and the goodbyes right before and after his appointment. Merlin had no idea what they did behind closed doors, nor did he ever try to find out. For now, he just liked seeing Arthur every Tuesday and Friday at half past twelve.
"How is it going today?" Arthur asked as he took a seat across from Merlin. He still had half an hour before his appointment and Merlin appreciated the conversation and the company.
Merlin groaned. "You wouldn't believe it! Another one just quit!"
"Another one?" Arthur asked, surprised.
"Yes, she's a beast!" Merlin's co-worker Judith was a nosy woman who didn't know how to take no for an answer. She'd pry in other people's lives so much that usually the temps that would work in the office left because they were getting sick of her. Arthur was the only one Merlin could about this with. It was also the only thing they'd talk about.
Merlin wasn't allowed to ask any questions about Arthur's personal life, and Arthur never shared anything voluntarily, anyway.
"What do you think is the reason she's so...pushy?" Arthur asked.
Merlin shrugged. "She's supposed to retire, I reckon she's looking for the perfect replacement. Of course she should know that she's not replaceable. There's no one else like her!" Merlin laughed and Arthur joined in with him. It was a good routine they had going.
"So any big plans for tonight?" Arthur inquired throwing his empty cup of coffee in the trash bin.
"I don't know," Merlin said, thinking. "My friends want to go to the pub to catch a game, but—"
"But what?" Arthur raised an eyebrow.
Merlin hesitated. He had been invited out to the pub by an ex-boyfriend, and he wasn't sure if it was unprofessional to discuss his personal life with a client at his clinic.
"Ah, I get it," Arthur said. Merlin gave him a questioning look. "It's a date—"
"No!" Merlin protested smiling.
"Right, what's her name?" Arthur chuckled. Merlin felt his face getting red.
"Uh—it's a him, actually." Merlin slightly shrugged again, unsure if Arthur would want to be uncomfortable with his revelation.
"Oh, I didn't reali—"
"Arthur, we're ready for you now," the nurse announced as she opened the door to greet Arthur.
"Right. Well." Arthur cleared his throat. "Good luck, Merlin," he said and dashed towards the door, following the nurse.
Merlin sank back into his seat, feeling anxious. He had a good rapport going with Arthur and now that Arthur had found out that Merlin was gay, was he going to stop being friends with him? It wouldn't be so bad, Merlin thought. He was not exactly a friend, just someone Merlin saw at work. Even though Merlin would dress his best on the days Arthur was due in the clinic.
Besides, it was probably for the best, Merlin told himself over and over again during his lunch hour. He sat at the café across the street from the clinic, mulling over his interaction with Arthur. Why was he overthinking this?
Arthur was an addict who was seeking help. And Merlin was someone that worked there. There was nothing more. And—if anything—now if Arthur didn't wish to be his friend anymore, it just saved him the heartache of befriending a homophobe.
"It's for the best," he said to himself as he took the last bite of his sandwich. Arthur walked past the café and Merlin saw him through the window. It was something that happened nearly every time Arthur came to the clinic. Arthur would arrive a half hour before Merlin's lunch break, then Merlin would sit at the café across the street, and watch Arthur walk by fifteen minutes before his break was to be over. Arthur had no idea that Merlin watched him leave every time, and to Merlin, it was just a coincidence that he sat at the café and just happened to see Arthur. It was no big deal.
It wasn't a big deal, until Merlin realised that he and Arthur could no longer be friends. Because Merlin was gay and maybe that made Arthur uncomfortable. It's for the best. Right?
Merlin looked up at the window towards the street, and Arthur appeared in front of him. He tapped on the window to get Merlin's attention, then waved. Merlin wasn't sure if he was hallucinating. He opened his mouth to say something, then realised that Arthur probably couldn't hear him through the glass and Arthur gestured with his arm if it was alright for him to come inside. Merlin nodded and turned towards the door. A few moments later, Arthur walked in.
"Hey, how was your appointment?" Merlin asked, cursing himself immediately after because he wasn't allowed to discuss cases with patients. "I mean, I'm sorr—"
"It's alright. It was fine. I won't be coming back after today," Arthur said.
"Oh, really?" Merlin said, disappointment evident in his tone.
"Don't sound so pleased!" Arthur joked, taking a seat across from Merlin.
"No, I mean—it's great news! You know, you're healed!" Merlin said, waving his hands in the air. Then he awkwardly brought them back to his lap. "Yay."
"Healed. I don't know about that!" Arthur smiled and looked around the café. Merlin watched him closely. Arthur had this beautiful smile, with these perfect teeth, it look like he would be a great kisser— "You know, I see you sitting here every time I leave—"
"You do?" Merlin asked, astonished.
"Yeah. I just walk by because I know it's your lunch break and I don’t want to disturb you. I mean you get enough of me—"
"You wouldn't have disturbed me," Merlin said, jumping in. "I like our talks."
"Yeah, I'll miss them," Arthur said.
Merlin watch chirped and he looked over at the time. "Oh, I have to get back otherwise Judith will have my head."
"Okay, sure. Merlin, do you—do you want to get together some time?" Arthur asked as he jumped off his seat following Merlin. "You know, I'm not a patient at the clinic anymore, I don't know if there rules about that sort of stuff."
"Only with the doctors," Merlin said. "And yeah, sure. When are you free?"
"Tonight?" Arthur asked. "Oh, what am I saying. You said you had plans with your ex—"
Merlin groaned. "I'd almost forgotten about that. Tonight works great actually, if you don't mind."
"No, where?" Arthur asked, perking up at Merlin's comment.
"I was going to go to Avalon tonight, not sure if you wanted to—"
"Avalon, that's great," Arthur said.
"It's a gay club," Merlin said, his tone very matter-of-factly.
Arthur laughed and ran his hand through his hair. "Yeah, I know Avalon is a gay club." He winked at Merlin. "See you tonight."
Arthur left the café, and Merlin, who stood stunned. Was Arthur gay? Did he just flirt with Merlin? Merlin's mobile buzzed and he looked at it and groaned again. He immediately answered the phone and spoke into it, "I'm coming. Just two seconds away!"
Merlin walked into Avalon at half past eight and saw Cenred waiting for him at the bar. He looked around for a blond, burly man and couldn't spot Arthur. He didn't even have Arthur's number, nor did Arthur have his. They'd just agreed to meet at the place, but no time was mentioned. How would Arthur know what time to meet Merlin. He was so stupid, he hadn't even thought of that beforehand. He could have got Arthur's number from the computer records.
"Merlin, you look great!" Cenred said, approaching Merlin and pulling him in for a hug.
"Hi," Merlin said, looking around the club.
"Are you meeting someone else here?" Cenred asked, pulling on Merlin's arm
"Yeah, sorry. A friend said he was going to stop by," Merlin answered, making eye contact with Cenred and giving him a small smile. "Let's get a drink."
As they ordered their drinks, Merlin could tell that Cenred was annoyed. His furrowed brows, and his inability to look Merlin in the eye, were a dead giveaway.
"What's the matter?" Merlin asked.
"I thought you were coming here tonight to see me, not wait for some blo—"
Merlin rolled his eyes. It was the same song and dance with Cenred. "He's just a friend. And you and I are just friends. You asked me to meet you, and I came here. What more do you want?"
Cenred turned to Merlin and was about to say something when Arthur appeared.
"Hi," Arthur said and Merlin turned his head to look. When Arthur used to arrive at the clinic, he normally wore a loose pair of jeans and a t-shirt with a sweater on top. At Avalon, Arthur looked so different. His hair was done, it looked the same as always, except, more shiny and he wore a fitted t-shirt under a blazer with dark blue jeans. He was dressed simply, but Merlin couldn't shake the feeling of how he thought that Arthur looked so hot.
"Arthur!" Merlin all but squealed. "Oh, this is Cenred. Cenred, this is Arthur."
"Hi, nice to meet you," Arthur said, shaking Cenred's hand and giving that smile with all the teeth that Merlin had decided was his new favourite thing about Arthur.
"Just a friend?" Cenred said, after he finished shaking Arthur's hand. "Right." He looked at Merlin and glared as he finished off the last of his drink.
"Oh let me buy you another one," Arthur said, pointing at Cenred's empty glass. "What about you, Merlin. Can I get you another drink?"
"Sure," Merlin said but he didn't take his eyes off Cenred. What was Cenred going to do next? He wondered.
"Another round for these two, and a club soda for me," Arthur said to the bartender. Merlin noticed that Arthur didn't order himself an alcoholic drink. Oh, he'd been so stupid! Arthur was a recovering addict, maybe he didn't drink alcohol either and Merlin had invited him to a club!
"Nothing for you?" Cenred said, apparently he'd noticed it too.
"No, not drinking tonight," Arthur answered smiling.
Cenred raised an eyebrow and Merlin knew what that meant. He knew exactly what Cenred was going to ask next. "Where did you two meet?"
Arthur placed an arm on Merlin's shoulder and locked eyes with him. It was definitely a look of 'I got this, Merlin,' and Merlin thought it was the hottest thing he'd ever seen.
"I'm a recovering addict, and we met at the clinic. And, yes, we are just friends."
"I'm sorry, Arthur. I should have realised that you wouldn't be drinking—"
"Hey, I still like to dance," Arthur said, smiling. "Besides, I wouldn't mind a taste when—Erm—never mind."
"A taste when—?" Merlin said, curiously.
Cenred laughed, as though he was almost in disbelief. "If you wanted to make me jealous, Merlin. The least you could have done was pick up someone who was actually worth being jealous of. Not some washed up—"
"Cenred!" Merlin roared. "I don't even know why I thought meeting up with you would be different this time, you'll never change." He picked up his drink and grabbed Arthur's arm, pulling him to leave. "And I don't want to make you jealous. You're not worth my time."
Merlin walked away from the bar pulling Arthur behind him. He stopped walking once they'd reached the other side of the room and he finally let go of Arthur's arm. "Sorry," he said, brushing his hand over Arthur's sleeve. "I didn't mean to drag you into my mess."
"Are you kidding? That was brilliant. You're so bloody hot when you get worked up like that!" Arthur said, grinning again.
"Hot?" Merlin asked, tilting his head. Arthur thought Merlin was hot?
Arthur brushed Merlin's hair with his hands a bit, and tucked it behind his left ear. "Yeah, hot." He leaned in and kissed Merlin on the cheek. "Not sure if I'm allowed to kiss you, rules and all."
"I told you, that's only for the doctors and the clinician staff—"
"So does that mean you want to kiss me?" Arthur whispered in Merlin's ear, his hot breath sending shivers down Merlin's spine.
"Yeah, ever since you started smiling like that," Merlin said, placing his index finger on the tip of Arthur's dimples. "I have wondered what it's like to kiss you. Even Cenred could tell I wanted to kiss you."
Leaning in and gently sucking on Merlin's lower lip, Arthur grabbed the back of Merlin’s neck and pulled him in closer. He moaned into Merlin's mouth, parting his lips and Merlin softly slid his tongue in Arthur's mouth.
When they parted, Merlin looked at Arthur, who still had his eyes closed, but had a small smile on his lips. He opened his eyes and looked at Merlin. "That's what I meant when I said that I wouldn't mind a taste of the drink—when I kissed you."
"Oh, sorry!" Merlin apologised again. He was so used to going out and getting drunk and kissing other blokes who were as equally pissed that he'd never even thought of that.
"Merlin," Arthur said, grabbing Merlin by his shoulders. "I drink. I mean, as part of my recovery, it's not a habit or anything. But occasionally I enjoy a beer or a cocktail. I didn't want to drink tonight—because I wanted to see you—be sober. I didn't want to end up doing something stupid before I got the chance to tell you that—"
"Tell me what?" Merlin's heart was ready to leap out of his chest.
"That I like you. That I finally got kicked off my recovery program, when I should have been done weeks ago. Because—I keep coming in to see you and the nurse just told me today that it was easier to ask you on a date than to—"
"Wait, you just came in to see me?" Merlin asked, shocked at Arthur's confession.
"Yeah." Arthur nodded, looking sheepish.
"We're a private clinic, each appointment costs—"
"I know how much it costs," Arthur said. "Trust me, my father isn't all too happy about this."
"And you could have just asked me out for coffee."
"Until today, I didn't even know you were gay."
Merlin nodded thoughtfully. "That's true." Arthur smiled at him again and Merlin was immediately self-conscious. "What?"
"You're adorable. Do you know that?" Arthur asked, leaning in and kissing Merlin quickly on the lips again.
Merlin shrugged. "So I've been told," he teased as he scrounged his face attempting to be more adorable. "So, do you want to get out of here, get a coffee?"
"Definitely," Arthur answered.