Title: Bad For Business
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin's just met Arthur, but he can't deny his attraction. What happens when Merlin finds out that the man he's having dinner with is bad for business?
Warnings: Homophobic attitudes mentioned.
Word Count: 1180
Prompt: devilish for camelot_drabble
Author's Notes: This is PART II to "New In Town"
Merlin took a sip of his wine and looked up at the man that sat across from him. On the outside, Arthur was the perfect specimen: broad shoulders, strong hands, devilishly gorgeous blue eyes that Merlin could get lost in for hours. But, why was this man single?
Why was he eating alone at a restaurant on New Year’s Eve? Didn’t he have friends or a party to go to?
Merlin was only there to get some takeaway and his plan was to veg out on the sofa and watch Telly, get drunk or just read a book or something. He was new in town and didn’t have any friends yet. He just could not understand why Arthur would be there alone.
“I know what you’re doing,” Arthur said as he placed his glass of wine on the table and peered down at Merlin.
“Oh? What am I doing?” Merlin asked, nearly challenging him.
“You’re trying to figure me out, or, scrutinise me or something. I know that look.”
Merlin scowled. “What look?”
“That look that says I have you all figured out, Arthur Pendragon.”
Merlin laughed. “That wasn’t the look, especially since I didn’t even know your full name until now.” Pendragon. Brilliant. Merlin worked as a programmer for Le Faye Designs: the sole competition of Pendragon Works in Camelot. He was having dinner with the enemy. On New Year’s Eve.
“Now you do. It only seems fair that I should know yours.”
“I—” need to get the fuck out of here. Merlin closed his mouth as no words came out. He tried to speak again but the waitress had arrived with their order. She smiled and Arthur and completely ignored Merlin. Merlin couldn’t help it and snorted.
“What is it?” Arthur asked, looking confused.
“What is what? My full name?” Merlin asked, an eyebrow raised. He picked up his wine glass again and took a very large sip.
“No. Yes. I mean that, too. But that reaction you just had—what was that?”
“The ladies…” Merlin waived his hands in the air motioning towards the servers and the hostess, “…they know that you’re gay, don’t they?”
“Well, I didn’t publicise it in The Camelot Gazette, but yeah, it’s common knowledge. Especially after my big break up about three years ago—which did make it into the Gazette.” He looked at Merlin who was still shaking his head. “So what of it?”
“Do they not believe it, or are they treated it like it’s some urban legend?”
“You mean the way they act—” Arthur sighed and picked up his fork and knife and started to cut into this sandwich. “My father likes to tell people that it’s just a phase so I think that maybe some women think that it is, even though…well it’s not a phase.”
Merlin nodded. He concentrated on his food for the next few minutes: taking big bites and gulping it down with the wine. He needed to get the hell out of there. This was all wrong. All very very wrong.
“What’s the matter?” Arthur asked, looking at Merlin in utter disbelief. “I thought we were having a good time? Have I offended you? Do you want me to call the waitress if you need something…”
“No. It’s fine,” Merlin said, shaking his head, his mouth half full of turkey. “I just remembered I have to go so I’m just trying to—” act like a complete arse.
Arthur nodded. He looked disappointed but didn’t say anything. He looked down at his sandwich and took a big bit of it, as well.
“Emrys,” Merlin said finally.
“What?” Arthur looked up at him, his blue eyes vibrant.
“That’s my name. Merlin Emrys.”
“Interesting,” Arthur said.
“When you asked about me…around town, I mean…” Merlin paused for a brief second. “Did you find out what I was doing here?”
Arthur shook his head. “No, I tried to keep it very subtle. I was afraid that if I asked too much, eventually, someone was going to tell my father and we can’t have that.”
Merlin nodded. He picked up his glass of wine and realised that it was empty. Arthur quickly grabbed the bottle and started to refill it for him. It probably wasn’t a good idea to drink that fast, but the waitress hadn’t returned to their table and Merlin didn’t get a chance to ask for more water.
“Listen…” Arthur said, almost whispering. Merlin looked up at him, almost afraid of what he was going to say. Afraid that Arthur already knew. “My friends are having a party tonight. Do you think you’d want to…maybe…go?”
“I—” Merlin hesitated.
“If you have other plans, or a date, or something…” Arthur frowned for a moment then his face was impassive again. “You could bring…him.”
“I don’t have a date. Or any other plans, actually. But—”
“But?” Arthur said.
“Le Faye Designs…” Merlin said and waited for that to sink in for a minute.
“Morgana’s company?” Arthur asked.
Morgana Le Faye was CEO of Le Faye Designs. She was Merlin’s boss.
“I am the new lead programmer for Le Faye Designs,” Merlin said. Surely now that Arthur knew that Merlin worked for the competition, he’d have no interest in taking Merlin to that party.
Must to Merlin’s surprise, Arthur laughed. He genuinely laughed like what Merlin had said didn’t matter at all. As if he’d just told him a joke. He glowered at Arthur, feeling offended. Le Faye Designs was a well-established company and last year Morgana was named as top ten female CEOs in the UK. How dare Arthur insult him like that.
“What is so funny?” Merlin asked.
“I told you my name is Arthur Pendragon so you immediately associated me with Pendragon Works?” Arthur asked and Merlin nodded. “And Le Faye Designs is our competition.”
“Yes.” Merlin continued to glower.
“You think that since you work for the competition, that I won’t want to take you to the party?” Arthur smirked.
Merlin was wrong. The man wasn’t charming and he really had wasted his time trying to imagine him naked. Arthur was a prat. A rich, spoiled prat who was just annoying and frustrating and…still quite hot. Sadly.
Arthur eventually calmed down from his roaring laughter and schooled his expression again. “Morgana is my sister. Well half-sister,” he said and now he waited so Merlin could let that sink in. His shock must have been obvious because Arthur smiled. That devilish smile that he’d displayed over the course of their meal.
“I think she’ll only find it entertaining that the heir of Pendragon Works is dating someone that works for her company. My father won’t approve of it, of course, so she’ll eat it up. Support the relationship all the way.”
“We’re not dating,” Merlin said quickly.
“Well, I’d like to date you,” Arthur answered.
“You don’t even know me,” Merlin replied, still trying to scowl, but failing miserably. He could feel his ears getting hot.
“Okay, so come to the party with me. Let me get to know you.”
READ THE NEXT PART: LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?