Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 5
Rating: Really soft R for nudity, nothing graphic.
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Surprise Guest
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin.
Word Count: 1234 (I'm really sorry. Again)
Prompt: 169, I'm here
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom and merlocked18 , I already had this chapter half written before you suggested mud wrestling. It was an inspiration!
Much to Arthur’s surprise, his father took the announcement of his wedding and the need for a few personal days much better than expected, so a few mornings later found them at a local garden center.
Plant shopping proved simple because, of course, Arthur had a landscape plan already. “I’ve been wanting to put in drought resistant plants because once established, they won’t require much attention or water. After some research I found this place had most everything I needed and came in for a consultation. I liked the staff and that the store’s locally owned.”
Merlin just nodded in response, more interested in taking in the other worldly greenery on offer. His mum was an avid gardener but in a traditional roses and hedge rows way. Some of these plants were dangerous looking: thorny and spiky things with strangely delicate blooms probably meant to attract birds and insects to kill and eat.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said, waving his hand at a plant that could have stepped out of a Dr. Seuss illustration. “Most of these look like something from another planet.”
“A lot are desert plants that grew here before this area was developed. They’ll all survive after civilization disappears.”
“Lethal plants and cockroaches for the win,” Merlin replied with a laugh. “So, leather gardening gloves are the first things on our list?”
“Don’t worry, we’re not going to buy anything we’ll regret stumbling into after a few drinks,” Arthur reassured.
The backyard was relatively small and Arthur really had done his homework so their cart filled up quickly with much less intimidating fare. Arthur bought two palettes of pea gravel and two eight foot strawberry trees to be delivered. Before you ask, no they don’t really grow plump, delicious strawberries, Merlin.”
“I knew that,” Merlin mumbled though his blush belied that statement.
Once home, they unloaded the car and immediately went to work moving the birdbath and pulling up the surprisingly stubborn pavers. It was hot, dusty work but went fairly quickly working in tandem.
With that finished, Arthur proceeded to mark out where they’d make a path and patio area with the pea gravel and dig holes for the groundcover, plants and trees. Merlin took the hose and knocked the dust out of the orange trees. He’d been delighted Arthur was working them into the design. ”They’re not native, but they’re really California, you know? Also, I have to respect any plant that will survive my neglect,” he’d said with a grin.
An hour later Arthur straightened up, stretching out aching muscles with a soft groan. “This soil is packed so let’s put the sprinkler on for a bit to soften the top layer. I could murder a pizza and some beer.” Merlin nodded his agreement and drained a now warm bottle of water.
Merlin pulled the neck of his shirt away from his neck and gave a sniff. “I smell disgusting but taking a shower would be stupid since we’ll get right back to work after we eat,” he said with a grimace.
He looked up and caught Arthur grinning devilishly just a millisecond before being blasted in the chest with the spray nozzle.
Shocked and suddenly dripping wet, it took Merlin a few beats before he launched himself at Arthur, surprise tackling the blond down to the dirt while attempting to wrestle the hose away. Merlin got sprayed a few more times for his efforts before finally prying the weapon out of Arthur’s grip, catching his attacker in the face then scarpering off to the other side of the yard laughing hysterically.
Arthur was a lot quicker on his feet and streaked after Merlin. The water fight lasted a good fifteen laugh filled minutes before Arthur called uncle. Merlin refused to give in until the water was turned off Not that I don’t trust you, but, yeah, I really don’t trust you,” he said, spray nozzle pointed right at Arthur’s grinning face.
With the water off, the two men looked at one another and burst out laughing again. “We look like we’ve been to Woodstock” Arthur chortled.
“Red Hot Chili Peppers totally rocked,” Merlin agreed. Their clothes were filthy and Arthur’s face was mud spattered. With his hair standing up in little spikes Merlin thought he looked a bit like a delighted hedgehog and was about to say as much when Arthur’s face fell.
“Oh, damn, now we’re going to have to get to a bathroom to get all this crap off,” he said with dismay. “This shit is going to wreak havoc on the plumbing.”
Without really thinking things through Merlin blurted “We can just strip off and turn the hose on one another.” He looked down at himself, “Water’ll also be a lot easier to mop up.” His eyes darted around the yard then turned back to Arthur with a sheepish grin. “At least the fence is high enough the neighbors won’t get a show.”
Arthur looked Merlin up and down and then gave himself another once over before sighing and shaking his head, “This is like every bad porno ever, isn’t it?” And just like that they were both laughing and stripping off their clothes like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Merlin had first go with spraying Arthur down, “Because you started it, old man.”
“I’m only five years older than you, Merlin, hardly a cradle robber,” Arthur answered, still smiling as he turned front to back at Merlin’s hand wave-y directions.
“I’m a very young and innocent twenty-two,” Merlin responded loftily as he handed over the hose.
Standing naked in the hot afternoon sun felt more delicious than Merlin expected and, eyes closed, he reveled in the coolish spray, methodically sluicing the mud off and turning wherever the water moved. For a while he forgot Arthur was even there, just moving back and forth: left hip, back, shoulders, torso, legs. Merlin almost moaned with pleasure when the water’s path made a slow, deliberate trail up an inner thigh before catching himself and opening his eyes with a start only to find Arthur staring at him with obvious admiration.
Arthur shrugged, “Wet and naked is a really good look on you.”
Merlin looked down at his skinny, white, wet chest and could feel himself smiling before meeting Arthur’s eyes and answering softly, “You, too.”
The faint ringing of the doorbell broke the charged moment too soon and Merlin thought just leave it at the same time Arthur said, “That’s probably the delivery truck,” dropped the hose and headed into the house. Merlin sighed and trailed after him, veering off to his room to get dressed as Arthur slipped into a bathrobe and went to answer the front door.
Getting fully dressed was a very good thing because when he stepped back into the living room he was confronted with damp, bathrobed Arthur chatting with his mum like they’d been friends for life.
Hunith had perfected parenting radar years before so she instantly swung around and rushed to Merlin, pulling him into a crushing hug. “Oh, love, thank you for the airline ticket. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
He met Arthur’s eyes over the top of his mum’s messy bun and Arthur just shrugged, looking just as confused as Merlin felt.
He hugged his mum harder and felt like the worst son in the world.