Title: The First Date
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: After Merlin had dared him, Arthur wasn't going to back down. He was determined to go on no-sex dates with Merlin—even if he wasn't a relationship kind of a bloke.
Warnings: Modern!Au. Strong language.
Word Count: 1100
Prompt: Sunset for camelot_drabble
Author's Notes: Part III of "The Casual Fling" - Read PART ONE / PART TWO. Thank you, archaeologist_d for the beta!
For their first date, Merlin asked Arthur to meet him at Albion Park for a picnic. He'd told Arthur he only needed to bring wine or beer as he'd take care of the rest. Arthur thought it was rather too romantic for him. What were they going to do? Watch the sunset together?
Still he decided to go because he was a Pendragon and didn't back away from a challenge.
When Arthur arrived, Merlin was already set up under a tree with a big sheet next to it. He was sitting on the sheet; the picnic basket was placed next to him while he rested against the tree, reading a book. Arthur took his time walking up to Merlin. He reckoned he liked the sight a bit too much. Merlin looked so relaxed and he looked so good. Arthur wanted to sit next to him and pull him in for a kiss.
Merlin looked up when Arthur was relatively close to him and he grinned at Arthur, almost taking Arthur's breath away. How was Arthur supposed to not want to have sex with Merlin? He was bloody gorgeous, and was Arthur really expected to sit next to him and not make a move?
"Hi," Merlin said, almost in a whisper when Arthur was practically standing over him. "Want to sit down?" he asked and Arthur was sure that Merlin had quickly glanced over at Arthur's crotch.
Arthur wasn't surprised, though. The zipper of his jeans was practically in Merlin's face.
Arthur took a seat on the other side of the picnic basket and handed Merlin the bag he'd brought with him. "I didn't know if you like red or white so I brought both," he said.
Merlin's cheeks slightly blushed and he took the bag from Arthur. He cleared his throat before speaking, "Right."
Arthur couldn't believe that he'd been so dense. This whole time when he'd been thinking about Merlin and his former crush on the man, he hadn't realised that it was clear Merlin liked him, too. Merlin was the one who had discussed Arthur's discretions or lack thereof and was ready to go on dates with him without any hesitation.
Merlin liked him, too.
This wasn't just some dare when Merlin had announced to Arthur that he didn't do casual fucks; he wanted to date Arthur.
Arthur gently grazed Merlin's arm with the back of his hand. It was a good thing Merlin was just wearing a t-shirt. "You look good," Arthur said and winked at Merlin when he'd looked at him.
"Oh. Um...thanks," Merlin said hesitantly, cheeks flushing again.
"So what did you bring for the picnic?" Arthur asked, taking his hand away; and he watched as Merlin's gaze followed Arthur's hand until he rested it on his lap. Maybe Merlin liked Arthur touching him. No, Merlin definitely liked Arthur touching him.
"Right," Merlin said again. "I thought we'd start with an avocado and cucumber salad, then see how we feel about the roast beef sandwiches, and then for dessert, we can do apple pie or tiramisu." He carefully took out a small insulated box out of the basket. "Tiramisu works best because if we don't eat it, it might get ruined."
"Oh, we certainly don't want that," Arthur said, amused. "You really went all out on this date, didn't you? Where did you get all this food?"
Merlin shrugged. "I made it. I've been looking for a job since I got back so I've got nothing but time on my hand."
"You made it?" Arthur asked, surprised and impressed.
Arthur sat with his back against the tree as Merlin served him the salad on a small plate and placed half of the sandwich next to it.
"There's some fizzy drinks, too, in case you want to start with that instead of the wine."
Arthur nodded and took a bite of the sandwich. It was delicious.
"What kind of a job are you looking for?" he asked when they had been quiet for too long.
"Chef," Merlin said, pouring the red wine in two small cups.
Of course. No wonder the food was so tasty. Arthur couldn't cook to save his life. "But I thought you got your Masters in Business Administration."
"I did. Then I moved to New Zealand with my parents as my dad got a job there and they didn't want me to be too far away from them. There, I tried working with him in his company and I was bored beyond belief. I'd joined a few social networking groups and hosted a few parties at my flat— before I knew it, I realised I liked cooking for other people way more than working in some stuffy office so I went to Culinary Arts School. My dad was not happy." Merlin laughed and he wasn't looking at Arthur as he balanced his plate on his knee and took a sip of the wine.
Arthur thought he could watch him laugh like that forever.
"Why wasn't he happy?"
"Because my mum made him pay for it," Merlin said, grinning. "He was also my test subject for any new culinary creations—he didn't mind that part so much."
"What made you come back?"
"Mum was getting homesick. We were there for almost four years and she'd finally convinced my dad to return home."
"You're very close to your family." It wasn't really a question but more of an observation. Arthur couldn't really relate. He was sure that Morgana hated him, even if she was his sister and probably only tolerated him in public because they had a few common friends.
"Yeah. I'd do anything for my mum. I mean, I have to be honest. I was missing Camelot, too. I missed my friends from uni and I was planning on moving back on my own, and was just happy my mum convinced Dad in order to keep the family together."
Arthur nodded and finished the last of his salad. He looked up at Merlin who looked somewhat sheepish.
"What's the matter?"
Merlin shook his head. "I'm not used to talking this much and I— I don't know what came over me. Sorry."
Arthur laughed. He rested his head against the tree and looked up at the sky, still laughing. "Why are you sorry?" he asked. "Isn't this what no-sex dates are all about? Getting to know the other person."
"Yeah, to think you would have lost out on my fabulous life story if we'd just fucked—" Merlin stopped himself from saying anything else. "Sorry," he said again.
Arthur smiled. "It's alright. I'm rather enjoying this date."
Merlin grinned at him. "Me too."
READ CHAPTER 4