Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 3
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur devises a plan to become a US citizen. Merlin's his plan
Word Count: 1032 (Sorry!)
Prompt: 167, Search
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom.
Merlin came back to find the bedroom empty and he wandered into the house to see what Arthur was up to. The living room and dining room were deserted so he ventured into unknown territory, ending up in a bright, cluttered kitchen. The wood cabinets were painted a rich red that contrasted nicely with the giant vintage white enamel and chrome stove Arthur was hovering over. Merlin’s stomach rumbled at the mouthwatering aromas in the air.
“That looks just like my gran’s cooker.”
Arthur grinned over his shoulder. “Maybe it’s the same brand. This one is from the 1950’s but it’s been refurbished so we don’t have to worry about being asphyxiated in our sleep.” He turned back to whatever he was cooking. “Are you hungry? I’m making a grilled cheese we could split.” He looked back at Merlin with a wrinkled brow. “Oh, shit, I never asked about food allergies or if you’re gluten free or anything. It seems half the people I meet here are on a gluten free diet or can’t have dairy.”
Merlin shook his head. “I’m allergic to tomatoes but they just make my mouth itch a bit. I am a vegetarian, though, and half a grilled cheese sounds brilliant. You have any beer?”
Arthur pointed an elbow to his right. “In the fridge. Grab me one, too, please.” He plated the two halves of the sandwich alongside some celery and carrot sticks while Merlin pulled a couple pale ales out of the refrigerator. He looked closely at the label. “Sierra Nevada? I haven’t ever had one of these.”
Arthur fished an opener out of a drawer to his right and tossed it to Merlin. Holding a beer in either hand, Merlin let the opener clatter to the floor. “Nice one, genius,” he laughed before scooping the opener up and popping the caps. He put the sweaty bottles on the kitchen table and looked around for the rubbish bin.
“Bin’s under the sink. The beer’s a mainstay from a California brewery. It’s a lot hoppier than what we get at home. There are several great breweries around here if you’re into beer.”
“Thanks for cooking. I get air sick so haven’t eaten since last night and this smells wonderful.” Arthur put the plates on the table and he and Merlin took seats across from one another.
Merlin took a large bite out of the sandwich and made a happy humming sound as he chewed and swallowed, chasing the sandwich with a long pull from the bottle. “You like beautiful things and I like delicious ones and that really is delicious . Also, sampling new beer is fun. I did that with some mates in the Czech Republic last summer.” He tilted his bottle toward Arthur. “Beer. The universal language among men.” He picked up the grilled cheese in one hand, “This sandwich is speaking to me, too. My compliments to the chef.”
“Don’t get used to it. You’re going to have to fend for yourself most of the time. My alarm goes off at five and most days I’m not home before eight. You’ll probably already have eaten.”
“Let’s play it by ear. I don’t have a schedule yet, but hopefully that will change. I’m a deft hand in the kitchen but I’m no gourmet chef. As long as you’re not expecting Lobster Thermidor I can put together dinner for when you get home.”
Arthur gestured toward his plate. “Does this look like I expect gourmet meals?”
“Dunno, this cheese tastes awfully posh and looking at the wonky shape, I have an feeling the bread is home made.”
Arthur snorted. “Busted, though I have a bread maker that does most of the work. The wonky shape is all down to me.”
Merlin popped the last bite of sandwich in his mouth and talked while he chewed, “It was ugly but yummy. Let’s grab another beer and you can show me the rest of this place. I haven’t seen the back yard and seeing as how the rest of the house is awesome I’m expecting great things.”
The backyard was most decidedly not awesome. There were two dusty orange trees surprisingly loaded with fruit by the back fence and an equally dusty and dry bird bath sitting forlornly in the middle of a weedy patch of dirt. Several cement pavers made up an uneven patio devoid of any furniture. Merlin looked at Arthur who was rubbing the back of his neck and looking a bit sheepish. “Let me guess, this is another of those things you can’t find the time for.”
“Got it in one. I have plans for improvements but my father doesn’t really believe in weekends. Hell, he doesn’t really believe in time off for sleep.” He looked around, “It is rather sad, isn’t it?”
Merlin grinned, “I think sad is an understatement. It looks like the back of a dodgy restaurant. A chain smoking busboy and a smelly dumpster would finish the scene perfectly.”
Arthur laughed, “Yes, that’s just the look I was going for. The dumpster should be delivered any day.”
“You must have somebody tending the front ‘cause that’s quite lush. Why don’t you let them have a go at the back, too?”
“Actually, I landscaped the front when I first bought the place. It’s drought resistant and doesn’t need much maintenance. It’s what I plan to do back here, too.” He rolled his eyes, “With all that non-existent time off I just mentioned.”
Merlin gave Arthur a grin and a light shoulder punch. “Home renovator, chef, landscaper. You’re a veritable Renaissance man! Is there anything you can’t do?”
Arthur laughed, “Well, I can’t act my way out of a paper bag so we’re going to have to come up with a very convincing story for how I’ve found myself getting married to such a dashing young man later this week. Maybe we should get on that.”
“No worries, mate, I can act well enough for the both of us and I was plotting the epic story of our whirlwind romance while I was trying not to heave on my seat mates on the flight.”