Title: The list
Summary: Merlin tries to make a list of things he wants to do in the new year
Word Count: 873
Prompt: New Year
Author's Notes: I can’t believe that issy5209 took time on her birthday to beta this thing. You’re absolutely unbelievable!
Merlin sighed as he looked at the list from the year before. Each year on New Year’s he made a list of things he wanted to achieve in the next 365 days and crossed off the stuff he had achieved the previous year on the old list.
Find new job
Work out harder
He took a sip of his hot chocolate. Finally he had managed to move out of Ealdor and into a shabby little place in London. His ‘job’ was a lowly paid barista thing, not a real job, but being able cross it off the list made Merlin feel a bit better. The working out plans hadn’t quite…worked out. He still tried to do his runs of a morning, but more often than not he found good reasons to not go.
Since this stupid minimum wage job hadn’t left him with much time, his high-flying photography plans had not gone anywhere. He hadn’t done more than taking some touristy photos of Big Ben and the London Eye when he first arrived and do the usual sight-seeing.
All of his failures didn’t weigh so much when he looked at that last point on his list. He had been such a naïve boy when he left his mam’s place all those months ago, thinking that as soon as he arrived in the big city, everything would fall into place. Instead he had been so busy trying to survive that he’d almost forgotten what he came here for.
The white page seemed to laugh at Merlin. What dreams should he put there. The same as last year? Move to a better place? Find a real job? Finally pick up his photography again and go out to take real photos instead of just snapshots? He closed his eyes and knew that all of this was just to cover up that he was lonely. He had made a few new friends at work, but hadn’t found what his heart wished for most. But why put it on a stupid list? It wouldn’t happen anyway.
As Merlin stared at the empty page, someone stepped up to his table.
“Is this seat taken?”
He threw a look around. Most of the other tables were empty, it was the first of January, nobody went out for a coffee, why would anyone want to sit at his table. “Sure, my break is over soon anyway. Wait, I’ll just wipe the table down for you.” He closed his notebook and attempted to get up.
“Actually I hoped that it would take a while longer and I could finally talk to you.” A tall blond slid into the seat across from Merlin.
Blinking, Merlin opened his mouth, but nothing came out. The blond was a regular customer - double Americano to go, no cream, thank you – who never said anything else and was always in a hurry.
“Hi, I’m Arthur.”
Merlin really liked the warm smile. “I know,” he stammered instead of providing his name.
“Maybe I should just say ‘Hi, I’m Arthur and I don’t do mornings.’” Arthur sipped a triple chocolate mocha frappucino with extra cream which Merlin stared at. “I just can’t get up in the morning and then I’m in a rush and they really hate if I’m late at the office. So I usually don’t have the time to chat.”
“I know the feeling.” Merlin smiled nervously. “And today you got up forgetting that it was actually a holiday?”
“No.” Arthur grinned. “At midnight, when I found myself alone in a sea of people, I decided that it’s time to do things differently this year. So I got up, came here and ordered something other than my double Americano.” He lifted his cup.
“Brave. Switching from Americano to triple chocolate mocha frappucino…”
Arthur made a face. “Yeah, I just noticed. How can anyone drink that? No matter how hard you suck, it hardly makes its way through the straw!”
Merlin chuckled. “It’s a bit of a girly drink, too. And I don’t get why we offer frappucinos in winter anyway.”
“It made you laugh, so it was worth it.”
Merlin threw Arthur an uncertain look. “What do you mean?”
“You don’t look very happy lately and I thought I should do something about it.”
Swallowing hard, Merlin just blinked. He hadn’t been very happy, that was true; but that it was so bad that a stranger noticed… “What…what do you want to do about it?”
“I don’t know. Do you like going to the movies? Or see a show? Or just go out for a drink?”
Merlin could have looked into those blue eyes forever as his stomach did little flips backwards. Was that what it felt like when someone asked you out? Arthur asked him out, right? Or did he misunderstand it? “Yeah.”
Arthur laughed. “Okay, I’ll think of something. When can you get out of here?”
“I’ll be back then.” Arthur got up, tossed his frappucino out and left.
When the door had closed behind him, Merlin looked back on his notebook. Maybe, this year, for the very first time, he would forgo the list and just be curious what would happen.