Title: Second Steps
Summary: Arthur takes a bit long to realize things and then he seems to take the second steps before the first ones
Word Count: 963
Author's Notes: Thanks issy5209 for the beta!
Arthur stormed off the field. This had been an unnecessary loss in the last minutes. But everyone seemed to be happy with a tie and stopped paying attention, only wanting to get out of the pouring rain and back to the warm locker room. Mollycoddled! All of them!
He barely slowed down when Merlin stepped into his way, huddled under his umbrella, and sidestepped him to avoid the outstretched hand that held a mug of hot tea. No pity! He was way too angry to look into those large blue eyes that tried to look comforting and he so wasn’t in the mood to talk now. Without a word, he continued on his way.
After a hot shower, Arthur still hadn’t really calmed down. He was way too aggravated to say anything now, it would only end in shouting and accusations, he would wait until the next team meeting.
When first Percy and then Leon threw him looks, he frowned. “What?”
“That wasn’t very nice.” Percy stopped rubbing the towel across his neck.
“You’re right. They score in the last second because you pussies already dream of being at home and cuddling up with your boyfriends. That wasn’t ‘very nice’.” He glared. Percy had to push it, didn’t he?
Leon stepped up to them. “You have your fair share in the loss. If your head had been in the game to begin with, that first goal of theirs wouldn’t even have happened, so stop snarling at Percy. But that wasn’t what he meant anyway.”
Arthur knew that Leon was right, it was first and foremost his own fault and he was probably just so angry because he couldn’t blame anyone else. But…”What did he mean, then?”
Gwaine stuffed his wet hair underneath a beanie. “The way you shoved Merlin aside.”
“You didn’t even notice he was there!” Percy crossed his arms in front of his chest.
Rolling his eyes, Gwaine came over. “You don’t even deserve him.”
“He’s so sweet and thoughtful and you almost ran him over.” Leon looked sternly at him and Arthur looked at his friends, the lonely sock in his hand forgotten.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re really dense, princess.” Gwaine shook his head and went back to his locker.
“You mean…? Merlin…? Me…?”
Percy groaned. “Yes, we mean Merlin and you. He doesn’t care at all for footie, but he’s here at every game.”
“Did you think he brings hot tea and home-made cookies for everyone?” Leon raised an eyebrow.
“He…he’s here for me?” Arthur could only stare. Merlin was their friend, that’s why he was there at every game, right?
“Of course, dufus.” Gwaine pulled up the zipper of his jacket. “And if he wasn’t so into you, I’d go for him. He’s way too gorgeous to be ignored and he really needs some after all that pining.”
Arthur felt a flare of jealousy rush through him at the thought of Gwaine and Merlin together. “I…” He really hadn’t been anywhere near nice to Merlin. “I’m such an arse.”
“Now we’re talking.” Percy was about to pull a sweater over his head. “What are you still waiting for?”
“I…I’ll call him.” Yes, that was what he would do. He would call Merlin and in the safety of his own place, he could try to find out if there was anything to it. He had a crush on Merlin for ages, but had never considered the possibility of Merlin liking him, too. Compared to him, Merlin was an intellectual, someone who could tell paintings apart, being able to name the artists and he could talk about books for hours. He watched strange movies and listened to odd music. But he was totally hot, too.
Gwaine tossed his used towel at him. “He’s still out there, hurry up and talk to him.”
“How do you know?”
Leon groaned. “Because he always hangs out until you’ve left.”
Now that Leon mentioned it…it was true, every time Arthur had left the club house, Merlin had still been hovering by the door, wishing him a good way home or a nice weekend or something else.
In a hurry, Arthur pulled his hoodie over his head and toed into his runners. Ignoring that his hair was dripping wet and that he still hadn’t put his second sock on, he rushed out of the locker room. “Merlin?”
There, at the end of the corridor, he stood, his arms wrapped around himself, looking lost. “Merlin!”
Merlin looked up.
“Listen, I didn‘t mean to be so nasty, I was just angry that we lost this.” When Merlin didn’t say anything and didn’t even smile, Arthur started fidgeting. If the others had been right, he had blown it now. “I’m a clotpole, ain’t I?” He scratched the back of his head.
Arthur smiled widely only for the smile to slide off his face again when Merlin added “Under one condition.”
“And that would be?”
“That you finally ask me out on a date. Or else this was the last time I’ve frozen my arse off and got wet feet at the sideline of a muddy football field.”
Arthur couldn’t help but smirk. “You are aware of the fact that boyfriends have to cheer on their boyfriends at every game, aren’t you?”
Now Merlin couldn’t keep the grin off his face either. “Boyfriend? Aren’t you taking the second step before the first?”
“Hmm.” Merlin was right, as usual. “Okay, how about…I kiss you now and then we’ll go for a beer.”
Chuckling, Merlin reached out and pulled him close with a hand in his neck. “We need to talk about taking second steps before the first ones,” he whispered as he leaned in.
Arthur sighed and his eyes slid shut as Merlin’s lips touched his.