Title: The Start of an Adventure
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin (pre-slash)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine
Summary: Merlin and Arthur are friends who decide to move in together.
Word Count: 638
Author's Notes: Start of a new series (modern AU)
Gwaine was flirting with the bartender. He was leaning on the bar, his chin in his hand, his head cocked at just the right angle to let his long hair fall gracefully to one side, and his body bent into a shameless arc. Arthur rolled his eyes and glanced at Merlin.
Merlin's eyes were fixed firmly on Gwaine's arse. When he noticed Arthur looking at him, he nudged Arthur with an elbow.
"What? I know how much footie you two play together, surely you've noticed how fit he is," Merlin said.
"Not as such, no," Arthur said. "I have a personal rule."
"What sort of rule?" Merlin said, sounding amused.
"I never think of my friends that way," he replied. "It's fine for other people, of course. But I hold myself to a higher standard."
Merlin chuckled. "You are a pompous arse, you know that, right?"
"So I've heard," Arthur replied, unconcerned. "Now, speaking of footie, are you coming to watch us play this weekend?"
"Sorry, mate, I can't. Have to hit the pavement, look for a new place to live," Merlin said. "Since Will moved in with his girlfriend, I can't afford the rent anymore."
Arthur hadn't known Merlin very long, but he enjoyed his company. Arthur and Gwaine had been friends since university. Merlin was Gwaine's neighbour, and when Gwaine invited him along to a pub night a few months ago, everyone in the group had liked him instantly. So Merlin kept coming along, and he often showed up to cheer at their weekly footie matches, as well.
Merlin had a sharp wit, peculiar but fashionable clothes, and a great deal of artistic talent. He was working hard to become established as a painter. As an accountant in his father's company, Arthur's hours were long, and he had come to value Merlin's easy friendship. Arthur liked the thought of spending more time with him.
"You could move in with me," Arthur said. "I have a spare room I've never done anything with."
Merlin raised an eyebrow. "I...that might be a mistake, Arthur," he said.
"Why on Earth?" Arthur asked.
"You're probably a serious neat freak," Merlin said, shrugging. "Your shirts are always tucked into your trousers. It's a little unsettling, to be honest."
Arthur laughed. "I'm actually not a neat freak at all," he said. "I pay a cleaning service to come by twice a week."
"Oh. Does someone dress you, too?" Merlin said.
Arthur glared at him. "I dress myself, thank you. I think it's important to maintain a certain image."
Merlin scrunched his brows together, probably thinking of another retort, but after a moment he simply nodded. "If my messiness isn't a problem, I really do need a place to live."
Arthur smiled. "Great. Come by tomorrow and we'll get a key made for you. You can move in whenever you like."
Merlin shook his head, feigning wonderment. "That's shockingly easy-going behaviour for you," he said.
"Oh, stuff it," Arthur replied. "We should have a toast, if you're done mocking me."
"I'm done for the moment, I suppose," Merlin said, then tentatively raised his pint glass. "What are we toasting?"
Arthur lifted his glass too. "To living together," he said, and clinked his glass with Merlin's.
They shared a smile. Arthur took a tiny sip, but Merlin swallowed down most of his nearly-full pint.
Merlin reappeared from behind the glass with a foam moustache on his upper lip. Arthur reached over and swiped it off with his thumb. Merlin blushed and averted his eyes.
"Are you the sort of flatmate who's going to groom me a lot? If so, you might want to consider getting a pet chimp instead," Merlin said.
"You're very difficult," Arthur said. "This is going to be quite an adventure."
Merlin nodded in mock solemnity, then grinned. "Indeed," he said.