Title: Lost and Found
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Warnings: Abandoned animals
Word Count: 635
Prompt: Puppy love
Author's Notes: Sorry, this isn't the next chapter of The Email Order Bridegroom. I couldn't figure out how to work in the prompt so, here, have some tooth aching fluff instead.
Merlin stops running and pulls his earbuds out, wondering what he’d heard that stopped him on the damp foot path. Then he hears the noise again, faint barks and whining coming from just off to the left. He crouches down and peers into the bushes.
The puppies are bedraggled and filthy, huddled in the dirt. It’s cold and drizzling out and the poor things are shaking and looking so miserable Merlin does what anybody would and zips them both under his hoodie, jogging all the way home, cradling them close.
He strips off his wet hoodie and now muddy t-shirt, grabs a towel and Arthur’s shampoo (it’s organic and fragrance free, certainly better suited for puppies than Merlin’s discount tutti-frutti smelling brand) and runs the puppies a bath in the deep kitchen sink. They both bark and attempt to escape, but Merlin prevails and in no time he’s wrist deep in grey suds and scrubbing away at soapy, slippery fur. Black button eyes glare daggers at him but soon they’re rinsed white. Toweled off, their fur stands away from their bodies, making them look like twin puff balls. Merlin's joggers are soaked, though, so he locks them in the bathroom and goes to change.
He cooks up a chicken breast slated for supper and they gobble it down, spending a few moments pushing the empty bowl around the kitchen floor, looking for more. They look up at Merlin, tails wagging hopefully, but there really isn’t anything else suitable to offer them so he scoops them both up and gives them cuddles instead. “I’ll get you some proper food in the morning,” he promises.
Merlin’s busily sorting what to do about pre-bedtime walkies, trying to figure out how to get a necktie secured around a puppy’s neck when Arthur lets himself in. He’s hanging up his overcoat when the barking starts.
“Merlin? Please tell me you’re watching “101 Dalmatians” again,” Arthur says, but then a skittering ball of fluff careens out of the living room right into his legs and those hopes are dashed. Arthur catches the puppy and holds it away from his body as though it's about to explode and goes to find his boyfriend.
His boyfriend who is trying to fashion a lead out of one of Arthur’s silk work ties. It’s not going well and Arthur has to smile at the cute picture the two make.
Merlin has the animal pinned to the rug with one hand while he’s trying to tighten the tie with the other and his teeth. The puppy is squirming and barking like mad and from the sheen of sweat on Merlin’s face, it looks like this struggle has been going on quite a while. The puppy in his hands starts to bark in sympathy and Arthur laughs so Merlin finally notices he’s home.
“Look what I found, Merlin,” he says rocking his puppy to and fro. “Did they follow you home from the park?”
Merlin abandons the tie and looks sheepish, “No, I had to carry them home. I think somebody dumped them." Now that he's no longer trying to truss his up, it's gone quiet and is licking at Merlin's hand. "They were in the bushes and it was raining.” He gives Arthur a wide eyed look, “I couldn’t just leave them there.”
Arthur stares down at the warm, clean puppy in his hands. “Of course you couldn’t,” he agrees.
They’d been talking about getting a cat for the last couple months but Arthur had been wary of taking Merlin to a shelter, sure his soft hearted boyfriend would want to adopt all the animals. He puts the puppy on the rug beside its sibling and the two immediately snuggle together in the tiniest puppy pile ever and fall asleep.
“I never thought we’d be purse dog people,” Arthur sighs.
“I’ll put up posters in the neighborhood tomorrow,” Merlin says. “Maybe we won’t be purse dog people for very long.”
Arthur looks at Merlin’s sweet smile as he’s watching the puppies curled together on the rug and finds himself hoping these two are here to stay.