Title: A bit too much
Summary: The picnic Merlin went on didn’t go as planned
Word Count: 1324 (oops)
Prompt: Picnic in the sun
Author's Notes: Thanks, issy5209 for the beta!
Merlin grumbled. He had been so happy when Arthur had suggested a picnic, assuming it would just be the two of them. Of course Arthur had no intention of spending time alone with him and had invited the rest of the gang, too – which Merlin found out when Arthur texted him with all the things he was supposed to pack. So he had done most of the shopping and packed tons of food and dragged most of it down to the cars by himself, too.
Now he sat on the blanket, left alone with all the empty wrappers and half-eaten sandwiches and everyone else had gone to play some footie. Yes, someone had the nerve to bring a ball instead of helping to carry the food and drinks! Merlin bit his lower lip to keep it from pouting and started collecting all the empty paper plates. This could have been such a great afternoon, Arthur finally noticing that they could be more than just friends, but now he was stuck playing everyone’s manservant.
When he was done rescuing the left-overs from the very interested ants, Merlin laid back on the blanket and stared up into the sun.
“We need to get him back home! Call a doctor!” Merlin heard Percy’s concerned voice from afar.
“Move him into the shadow!” That was Arthur, but Merlin couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes. Maybe this was just a nice dream and he wanted to know how it ended.
He finally woke up when a wet cloth was slapped onto his forehead. “Wha…” When he blinked, he saw Arthur – or rather Arthur’s chest. Arthur’s very naked chest. Yes, this was a nice dream, he didn’t need to wake up at all. Ever.
“He’s waking up.” What was Gwaine doing in his dream? Go away, Gwaine.
“Thanks, Captain Obvious.” Arthur’s face showed again. “Hey.” Merlin had never heard Arthur’s voice so soft. “How are you?”
Damn, this wasn’t a dream. Something must have happened. Had he gotten the ball against his head? “My head hurts.” Merlin tried to scramble up but Arthur’s hand against his shoulder held him back and he wouldn’t have gotten far anyway as his world started turning around him.
Merlin obeyed and felt a bit better even though the water was lukewarm. “What happened?”
“You fell asleep in the sun. Looks like you’ve got sunstroke.” Arthur searched his face. “You didn’t even put sunscreen on, did you?”
In the hectic of packing all the food for everyone, Merlin had forgotten to not only bring a hat but to apply the lotion that would have kept his pale skin from burning. “No.”
“Idiot.” Arthur looked sternly at him, but the corners of his mouth were twitching.
“I’ve packed up everything, let’s go.” Percy still had some blades of grass on his knee from where he must have fallen while playing footie, Merlin noticed.
Arthur put the baseball hat Mordred held out on Merlin’s head and they both helped him to scramble up. Merlin closed his eyes, unsure if he could do this. It was embarrassing enough to be in this situation, he didn’t need the others laughing at him for collapsing or throwing up, too. The wet cloth was back, around his neck this time and as they slowly made their way to the cars, Merlin just thought about it dripping on his new t-shirt. The new shirt he had bought for this occasion – or rather the occasion of having something remotely like a date with Arthur. Now it was wet and soggy and Arthur hated him.
The door to his room opened and Merlin sighed. Couldn’t they just leave him alone? His head was still pounding but at least the dizziness was gone after they had dragged him to the A&E and an overworked young doctor gave him a good scolding before she instructed him – or more the others – what to do next. Which had been bringing him home, giving him medicine and checking on him regularly. Merlin was rather sick of the checking part.
Blinking into the general direction of the door, Merlin noticed it was Arthur standing there. “Hey.”
“Do you feel a bit better?”
Merlin blinked again as Arthur closed the door and sat on the only chair in his room that had been moved close to his bed. “Still some headache. And my face and arms are burning.”
“Should we apply some more lotion?”
Okay, that was it, the sun had fizzled away the last of his brain. There was no other explanation for the concern in Arthur’s voice and the distinctive lack of mockery.
“We?” Merlin scrambled up into a sitting position with some effort.
“Yes, we’ve been taking turns. The doctor said to put aloe stuff on your arms and face once in a while.”
“So the skin won’t peel?”
Arthur chuckled. “You’ll peel like an onion for a while, I suspect. But with the lotion it might not hurt so much? And here, you have to take another one of these.” He reached for some pills on the nightstand.
Only then it sunk in. He had noticed that the door opened once in a while but he had been sleeping all the time, hadn’t he? “You…you’ve been taking turns? And you put this stuff on me before?” Merlin was sure that even through his severe sunburn, his blush would have been visible if Arthur had switched on the lights, but there was just the little lamp on his desk lighting the room.
Nodding, Arthur held the aloe lotion bottle out to him. “Gwaine and Percy looked after you when I had to go to the loo or so. Mordred’s researching ‘sun stroke’ on the internet for hours so we would know to spot if you got worse and we had to bring you back to the A&E.”
Merlin swallowed. “You’re going through all this trouble just because…” Just because of me?
“Just because you are an idiot, yes.” What usually would have been a sharp insult sounded fond somehow. “Why didn’t you go into the shade for your nap? I’ve had plans for later.”
Fuck, now he had ruined Arthur’s plans. “I’m sorry. Why didn’t you just go?” That was weird. If Arthur had plans, why didn’t he leave it to the others to take care of the idiot? Arthur was the leader of their little pack, he could as well have told someone to do it and they wouldn’t have objected.
“They wouldn’t have worked without you.” Arthur looked down at his hands as he said that.
“Me?” Merlin opened the bottle and sniffed at the lotion.
“I hoped we could have a picnic.”
Poking at the red skin on his forearm, Merlin watched how it turned white before it went back to its red state. It hurt, too. “We’ve had a picnic.”
Groaning, Arthur rubbed the back of his neck and peeked at Merlin. “Yes, but…you know…just you and me?”
Merlin stopped poking at his skin and looked up. The sun must have gotten him harder than he thought. “You mean like…?” A date? This couldn’t be.
Arthur nodded. “Yes, like a date. As it was originally planned. But then Gwaine heard of it and invited himself and Percy has to be where Gwaine is and it all got a bit out of hand and there was no good reason why Mordred shouldn’t come, too, and…damn, Merlin, would you go on a picnic with me? Just me? Nobody else? I mean…when you are well again?”
Staring at Arthur, Merlin was fairly certain that this didn’t happen and it was just a dream or some strange vision he had because of the sunstroke. “I’d love to,” he whispered. He could still claim that he was not well if he misunderstood all this.
Arthur gave him one of his crooked smiles. “I’ll make sure that there is no sun involved next time, okay?”