Title: Unkept Promises
Summary: Arthur is facing up to the fact that he wants Merlin. Badly.
Warnings: Angst. Swearing.
Word Count: 900
Prompt: Haunted for camelot_drabble
Author's Notes: Unbetaed. Continuation of the "Reluctant" Series.
Part one: Watching Him Dance Part two: Buying Him A Drink Part three: Luck Let A Gentleman See Part four: Watching Him Teach Part five: Resisting The Charm Part six: One Quick Drink Part seven: Just Being Friends Part eight: Non-Dates Part nine: Expressions
Arthur did not want to think about that. He didn’t want to think about the things that haunted him for so long. He was over it. Okay, he wasn’t really over it, but he was more or less over dwelling on it. He’d made his mind to live a certain way and that’s just what was going to happen.
“I’d rather not—”
The waitress arrived with two trays full of chicken shwarma, tabbouleh salad, tahini sauce and a couple sparkling lemonades. Arthur watched her as she first looked at him, then at Merlin. Merlin winked at her and her cheeks reddened before she walked away.
“Looks amazing,” Merlin said pointing at the food and dug right in. Arthur followed suit, hoping that whatever conversation that he was trying to avoid, really had been ceased.
He took a sip of the sparkling lemonade and realised that Merlin was watching him.
“What?” he asked nervously.
Merlin simply shook his head and concentrated on the food again. Throughout the meal, Arthur caught himself stealing glances at Merlin. He watched Merlin’s mouth chew the food—longer than it was necessary—and his breath almost caught in his throat when Merlin darted out his tongue to lick the bit of sauce that had smeared on his lower lip.
This wasn’t a date, and whatever Merlin was doing, Arthur was sure wasn’t on purpose, but he couldn’t help himself. He found himself drawing more and more interested in Merlin.
He determined himself to look away, concentrate on his own food and didn’t look up until he’d finished his shwarma and this drink. If he could manage to stay cool just for a few more minutes, he’d pay for their meal, and then just walk home. The restaurant wasn’t that far from his flat, anyway.
And Arthur did just that. He stood up abruptly from the table, walked up to the counter to settle the bill. Then he left the tip on the table for the waitress.
“Didn’t realise you were in such a hurry,” Merlin said, looking confused.
“Sorry. Just—I think maybe I should just go home.”
“Alright,” Merlin said, nodding. His expression was impassive so Arthur wasn’t sure if Merlin was disappointed. Did he want Merlin to be disappointed? “I’ll give you a lift—”
“No. That’s quite alright,” Arthur said quickly before he lost his nerve. I think I’ll walk.
“It’s bloody freezing outside, Arthur.” Merlin scowled. “Don’t be such a sanctimonious prat. I’ll drop you off.”
Arthur sighed deeply but decided not to protest. He didn’t want to hear it from Merlin now, and definitely did not want to hear it from Gwaine later. He was sure that Merlin would call Gwaine, and tell him all about their non-date.
“Fine,” Arthur said, rolling his eyes and headed towards the door.
They drove in silence again. This time, Arthur didn’t try to put his hands on the heat vents and just snugged them under his legs. Next time, he was definitely going to take his car. Will there be a next time? He couldn’t help but wonder. Did he want to see Merlin again? He knew he did. He wanted to see Merlin, even if it was a non-date. Even if he never held Merlin’s hand or kissed him as they would if they were on a date, but he knew he wanted to see Merlin again.
He was so fucking screwed.
Merlin pulled up into a parking spot in front of Arthur flat. He put the car in park but didn’t shut off the engine. Arthur contemplated his next move. Do they hug? A handshake? No, definitely no touching because touching can lead to something else. However, Merlin had said that he wasn’t going to try to kiss Arthur again, so maybe it would be okay.
“Well, you either invite me in or you get out of the car,” Merlin said. His tone wasn’t harsh; Arthur reckoned he was trying to joke. Maybe he was nervous, too.
“Thanks for lift,” Arthur said and gave Merlin a curt nod. He opened the door quickly and all but ran away from the car. He needed to get inside his flat, where he was safe away from good-looking men that looked sexy licking tahini sauce off their lower lips.
Merlin obviously wanted to be invited in, and Arthur had clearly ignored that hint. He didn’t tell Merlin that he’d see him later. If Merlin wanted to hang out again, Arthur was sure that he’d eventually message him. He closed the door behind him and rested his forehead against it. He really, desperately, achingly, needed to get it together.
There was a knock on the door and Arthur’s heart jumped. Was that really a knock or was it his heartbeat? He waited. Another knock.
Arthur opened the door quickly. Maybe Merlin forgot something? Wait, that didn’t make any sense.
Merlin looked at him sheepishly, his face indicating that he was in pain. Maybe he just needs to use the toilet, Arthur thought. Wouldn’t that be convenient?
“I—” Merlin sighed. “I can’t keep my promise.”
Before Arthur could realise what Merlin had meant, before his mind had caught up to their previous conversations, Merlin launched himself at Arthur and kissed him. Arthur pulled Merlin up to him as Merlin wrapped his legs around Arthur’s waist. Then, Arthur kissed him back, and shut the door behind them.
Read the next part: That Wicked Grin