Title: Mistakes We Make
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin, Gwaine/Percival, mention of past Merlin/Mordred
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine, Leon, Percival
Summary: Merlin’s first mistake was going to the beach on the hottest day of the year.
Word Count: 1429 (sorry)
Prompt: 134 - Mistake
Author's Notes: This also fills my hc_bingo square 'heat stroke' - that's 18/25 done. Not betaed, sorry, and has been written in a huge rush this evening so is probably packed full of errors. If you spot any glaring ones, please let me know.
Mistakes We Make
Merlin’s first mistake was going to the beach on the hottest day of the year. He was, after all, still recovering from a less than amicable break-up with Mordred, and quite distracted. Everyone had told him Mordred wasn’t going to stay around for long, everyone said he could do better (which generally Merlin took to mean that he couldn’t but that he should prepare himself for the inevitable split), everyone said Mordred wasn’t worth it. Everyone was right. Gwaine told him they were all going out for the day to cheer him up. Actually, Merlin’s first mistake might have been agreeing to it.
Merlin’s second mistake was letting Gwaine take away his hat. Apparently sunhats, even manly ones, were for girls, and Merlin was single now and should be advertising his assets. And that thick dark hair was, apparently, an asset. Though Gwaine also seemed to think huge muscles were an asset, given that he was having trouble keeping his eyes off his huge body-builder of a boyfriend. Most other people in the vicinity were having the same trouble. Merlin doubted anyone would be looking at him even if he did wear the hat. It wasn’t as if he could compete with Gwaine’s hair either.
Merlin’s third mistake was trying to get a suntan. Gwaine and Percival were both a golden bronze all year round. According to the ever-helpful Gwaine, it looked healthy and attractive. Merlin was very, very pale. Pasty, Gwaine called it. Leon had muttered something about skin cancer, and put up an umbrella, sat under it and immersed himself in his book. Gwaine had looked at Leon sitting there in the shade by himself, then looked at Percival who was busy warming up for beach volleyball and surrounded by admirers, then looked at Merlin quite pointedly. Merlin slathered himself in sun cream and stretched out on a towel, waiting to cook.
Merlin’s fourth mistake was in listening to Gwaine (although his first, second and third mistakes probably fell into that category as well). Gwaine said that he should lie out flat, to maximise tan potential. Gwaine said that he shouldn’t read a book, or wear sunglasses, or wear a watch, so that there would be no tan lines spoiling the effect of his day in the sun. Leon commented that it sounded rather boring and that Merlin should be careful not to lie in the sun too long. Gwaine said he’d check back regularly and tell Merlin when to turn over. Then he went to play volleyball. With a bare-chested Percival. In fairness, most people would be distracted by a bare-chested Percival.
Merlin’s fifth mistake was in noticing the most gorgeous blond lifeguard patrolling the beach. Tall, golden and toned, his hair bleached almost white after presumably spending the entire summer on the beach. It was like watching Apollo come down to earth, Merlin thought dreamily. The lifeguard smiled at him as he passed by, and Merlin thought that yes, there were definitely better things in the world than Mordred. He started to daydream about those things, daydreams that mostly featured the perfect lifeguard. He closed his eyes, because the sun was very dazzling.
Merlin’s sixth mistake was in falling asleep.
Arthur didn’t make mistakes.
Arthur had won Lifeguard of the Week award every single week for the entire summer, except for two weeks ago when Elyan had saved those two small children when they’d been cut off at high tide. He couldn’t really compete with that, but he’d been back on form the following week.
It was getting near to the end of the week, and he’d not found anything heroic to do yet. There was some risk that his awful sister might pip him to the award because she’d been parading up and down in her costume and allegedly rescued a puppy that had been in a few inches of water. The local papers had jumped on the photo opportunities she’d provided. It was very worrying. Arthur liked to win.
So, he wasn’t going to let himself be distracted by the pale, dark-haired young man who smiled at him so appealingly. Said young man was nowhere near the water and stood no chance of needing a heroic rescue, but perhaps if Arthur could carry out the rescue of someone else, he could go back and see if the young man was suitably impressed. Two birds, one stone.
The trouble was, nobody seemed to be in need of rescue. It was all very hot and very quiet. He patrolled the entire length of the beach and back, twice. Nothing more than a little girl who’d dropped her ice cream cone in the sea and needed to be returned, crying, to her mother. He thought, perhaps, he’d go back and see if the dark-haired man was still there. Probably not, as nobody that pale would be silly enough to sit out in the sun for that long.
Arthur was mistaken. The man was still there. He was, in fact, asleep. And rapidly turning the colour of a part-boiled lobster. Arthur winced, looking at him. This was going to hurt.
“Hey! Wake up!”
The man blinked sleepily, focused on Arthur and gave him an adorably pleased smile, just for a moment before the discomfort obviously set in.
“Oh my god…” he sat up, holding his head. “I feel sick.”
Arthur crouched down beside him. “You fell asleep. In this heat. It’s a wonder you don’t have third degree burns.”
“Hurts. Let me go back to sleep. Where’s Gwaine?”
Arthur looked around but there was nobody close by who appeared to be with him. There was a bearded man fast asleep under a sunshade a few feet away. If that was Gwaine, he could just worry.
“Come on, up to the station, you need treatment. What’s your name?”
“Merlin. I’m getting a tan.”
“Not any more you’re not.” Arthur helped Merlin to his feet. He was swaying, obviously confused. “You need water and shade. And a lot of calamine lotion. You’re coming up to the station with me.” He put his arm around Merlin, and started to help him walk up the beach.
“I feel sick,” Merlin whispered, stopping and leaning heavily on Arthur. “Oh god, I’m going to be sick…”
He wasn’t, thankfully. Arthur half-supported, half-carried him back up to the lifeguard station, took him inside and sat him down. Heatstroke wasn’t unusual. He turned on the air-con, poured Merlin a glass of water, and once Merlin had taken a few sips of that, Arthur held out a bottle of calamine lotion.
“You’ll need this. You’ve got a nasty sunburn.”
Merlin looked up at him miserably.
“Gwaine said he’d check on me… I can feel the heat already.”
This Gwaine was going to get a serious lecture when he woke up. Arthur considered going out there and removing the sunshade to teach him a lesson.
“You need to take care in the sun, especially when you’re fair-skinned.”
“Gwaine says it’s pasty. Says I have to get a tan, look good, get myself a new bloke.”
Single then. Arthur’s day was improving rapidly. And perhaps he could half-drown this Gwaine, then save him, so he got the award too. “You look fine. There’s nothing wrong with staying out of the sun. You’re going to drink that water, and use that lotion, and then I’m going to give you my safe-sun lecture.”
Merlin gazed at him, half-leering, not quite focused. “Is that like a safe-sex lecture?” He handed the lotion back. “You do it.”
Arthur looked down at the bottle, then at Merlin’s rapidly reddening chest, then up at Merlin’s adorably hopeful expression. It was, of course, all part of his job. He wasn’t going to enjoy this at all. Definitely not. Merlin would probably need help with the lotion for days and days.
He hoped Merlin lived nearby.
Leon’s mistake was in falling asleep. It meant that by the time he woke up, still safely under his sunshade (because fortunately Merlin had identified Gwaine by then), he’d missed a lifeguard first tearing Gwaine off a strip for not looking after Merlin, and then dunking Gwaine in the sea. It didn’t do wonders for Gwaine’s hair. He also missed seeing Merlin get heatstroke and being rescued by the same lifeguard, who now appeared to arranging to see Merlin later and apply more calamine lotion. It might be a euphemism. In fact, judging by the looks they were giving each other, it probably was.
Next time, Leon thought, he’d stay awake. He missed all the fun.