Title: The Hardships of Asking
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Leon, Gwaine
Summary: All he had to do was ask.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: I'm rubbish at titles!
“Will you just ask him already?” Arthur stumbled as Gwaine shoved him to accompany his hiss. He took one shaky step in the direction his so called friend wanted him to go and then dug his heels in, stopping again.
“He looks busy, I should probably just…”
“You are the biggest coward I know right now, Pendragon. If you don’t ask him, someone else will.”
“Well, he is rather gorgeous…” Arthur knew that Gwaine was only teasing. He wouldn’t dare go near Merlin, not after a year of hearing Arthur basically pining over him. He knew what the man meant to Arthur even if Merlin himself didn’t. But it did mean that he was off limits, and for Gwaine was a bit deal.
Still, it wasn’t just Gwaine. What if someone else had noticed how attractive the secretary was? How his eyes lit up in a smile just before his mouth quirked, how he hated something going wrong and would do everything in his power to fix it, even if he couldn’t. How he always scratched his nose when he was reading something…
“Gwaine’s right, Arthur. And heaven forbid I would ever say that,” Leon’s calming voice did nothing to stop the nerves flitting in Arthur’s stomach. “If he doesn’t know how you feel, if you don’t know how he feels, then he’s not going to wait for you.”
Simultaneously, all three of them peered through Arthur’s office window to glance at the man in question. Merlin seemed to sense their gaze for he looked up and gave an almost nervous smile, having no idea why he was being stared at. Arthur jumped, blushing and pulling away, yanking Gwaine back by his collar.
“Okay, okay,” he muttered, more to himself than his friends. “I’ll do it. I’ll do it now… No I won’t, we should finish our meeting first.”
“You do realise we haven’t touched on anything on the meeting agenda since Merlin sneezed and you’ve been completely distracted ever since?”
“I have not.”
“You have, mate,” there was a sympathetic note in Gwaine’s voice, one that was not often heard. “You’ve got it bad, and unless you do something about it, you’re going to have your heart crushed when he comes in Monday morning and tells you all about his weekend with some bloke. I don’t want that for you, Arthur.”
“None of us do.” Leon chipped in, but Gwaine’s moment had passed and he smirked.
“You’re a right moody princess when your heart is broken, so get out of this office and just ask him out would you?”
“Fine,” Arthur made it to the door this time before he stopped. “Maybe I should wait until after lunch, he won’t want to think about it if he has other things on his mind.”
“Go,” both Gwaine and Leon spoke together and Gwaine even grabbed him by the shoulder, pushing him forward just at the same time Leon opened the door. Arthur was out of his office with the door closing behind him before his feet had finished tripping over themselves.
Merlin glanced up and smiled. Arthur’s heart skipped a beat.
“Everything okay?” He asked casually, stretching from where he had been working on something and casting a suspicious look at the office.
“Yes. I just wondered, I mean… could, would you…”
“Arthur?” There was concern on Merlin’s face now and he leant forward, frowning. “What’s wrong?”
“I need those reports by this afternoon instead of Monday.”
Arthur had no idea where the words came from. It was as if his brain had malfunctioned and refused to let anything else slip out.
“Of course, Sir,” Merlin muttered, but the concern had turned into hurt and he instantly turned back to his computer. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve now got a hell of a lot of work to do.”
Arthur turned, wincing. He was destroying any chance that he had. As he looked at the office, he saw both Gwaine and Leon watching him with pained expressions, having clearly heard the whole thing. But as Arthur shook his head at them, his stomach lurched.
If they had heard that, did that mean the reverse was true? That Merlin had also heard…
He turned back at the voice. Merlin was watching him again, a small smile on his face.
“The new Italian place down the road at 8?”
“I’ll see you there.”
Merlin turned back to his work, but this time there was a smile playing across his face. Arthur could only stare at him for a long moment, knowing that he was flushing but unable to stop the smile spreading across his own face. After all of that, he hadn’t completely blown it. Of course, he knew Gwaine would never let him forget it, but he would be returning to his office with a date, just as he had planned. He took a step back towards the room, wondering if they could finish the meeting now.
“Oh, and Merlin?” He glanced over his shoulder as he spoke, grinning openly now.
“I don’t really need those reports for later.”
“Prat,” Merlin muttered, screwing up a piece of paper on his desk and chucking it Arthur’s head. He caught it neatly and watched as Merlin rolled his eyes, returning to his computer. Realising the man actually intended to get some work done, Arthur entered his office and instantly chucked the paper at Gwaine. It hit the man in the face, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Could you have screwed that up any more?” He demanded and Arthur smirked.
“He can hear everything, you know.”
“So he knows you think he is gorgeous,” Arthur announced, making sure his voice carried. He glanced out in time to witness Merlin going pink and steadily refusing to look up. Gwaine froze for a moment before throwing back his head and laughing.
“Then he knows you’re a smitten puppy,” he announced loudly and Arthur decided to end the meeting there and then.