Title: At His Beck and Call
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Merlin/OC (off screen)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur can't just ask; no, he has to come up with a ridiculous scheme to ask Merlin out on a date. (Modern AU)
Word Count: 782
Prompt: 163, picnic in the sun
Author's Notes: Also covers prompt 33, 'ingulge your every whim', at dove_drabbles.
Merlin's socks squished uncomfortably with every step. Squish. Squish. Squish.
Arthur was tense, but defensively walking next to him.
Merlin's fists clenched again, reminding him he was still holding the idiot's damn... "What is this anyway?" he yelled, stopping.
Arthur squared his shoulders and lifted his chin. "A very important piece of clothing. A hat. For the rite on the Solstice tomorrow."
Merlin narrowed his eyes. "A very...important...then why was it in the damn lake, Arthur? Something like this should be kept locked up until idiots like you need to wear it!"
Arthur cleared his throat. "I was taking it out so it could be checked over for holes and things."
"Holes?" Merlin bit out.
"Well, don't bugs eat clothes?" Arthur asked, confused.
Merlin sighed. "And how did it arrive at the lake once you had checked it over?"
"Well, I haven't checked it yet for holes!" Arthur groused. "One of my dogs got a hold of it and ran off and lost it in the lake."
"And why were your dogs anywhere near you when you were checking it over?"
"They got loose!"
Merlin licked his lips. "And the reason why I had to be the one to go in to get this damn hat?"
"Well, I couldn't very well be seen like...well, you know."
Merlin tilted his head back, eyes closed. "So let me see if I got this right. You have a house full of people who are paid to do things like check important articles of clothing for rites and make sure that your dogs stay where they're supposed to. But you, who cannot even darn his own socks, something so trivial and unimportant, decided to do a servant's work and check the oh-so-important clothing yourself just when your dogs got loose--dogs who never get loose!--and it just happens that you dogs run off into the damn park to throw it into a lake. And then, of all the servants who are in your employ, you had to come and find me to get this hat out of the lake. Did I get it all right?"
Arthur cleared his throat. "Well...yes, yes I think you did. But, Merlin, I wouldn't have had to check it myself if you hadn't asked for a day off!"
Merlin blinked, but realized that yes, that did sound like the exact reason why he was now sopping wet, holding a damn hat that had been worn by generations of Pendragons and Arthur was completely dry.
"I can ask for days off, you know!" Merlin yelled. "It's completely legal!"
Arthur pouted. "But what if I needed you? And I did!"
"I was on a picnic, Arthur! With a nice girl who, surprisingly, does not seem to mind the fact that I am at the beck and call of a man all day and night."
"I'm the prince! She probably wants to date me through you!"
"That doesn't even make any sense! And do you even realize how rare it is to have a picnic in the sun right now? But no, the great Arthur Pendragon needs me to be able to drop everything to indulge his every whim!"
"Well, not every whim--"
"House full of servants and you interrupted my day off."
Arthur swallowed hard. "Well, then, if you're going to be like that, I'll just ask...George next time."
Merlin thrust the drenched hat into Arthur's chest. "Just...Arthur, just tell me why I couldn't go out on a date. Why couldn't I have had that?"
"She was just using you, I'm sure of it," Arthur said quietly. "And why would you want to spend time with someone like that when..."
Merlin blinked. "When what?" All these years of flirting...was Arthur finally?
Arthur licked his lips. "When you could go out with me?"
Sighing, Merlin rubbed his face and scowled at the muck on his hands which was now in his eyes. He was going to go blind, he just knew it, and all because of Arthur. "You need more socializing, Arthur Pendragon, if you think pulling something stupid like this will get you a date."
Merlin spun around and continued back toward the main road where maybe he could catch a cab. Arthur jogged to keep up. "So that was a no? I go through all that trouble and--"
"Arthur, ask me later when I've had a bath and Gaius has checked me over to make sure I didn't contract something from that damn lake. "
"That was a yes!"
"It was ask later, you dollop head."
"I've got a date with Merlin! Ha!"
Merlin shook his head and raised his hand, hoping for a taxi.