Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 10
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Hunith
Summary: Arthur's got a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin
Warnings: Law breaking dorks
Word Count: 1259 (sorry, again)
Prompt: 177, Remember
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom which starts here. Sorry for the absence. I was out of town without computer access.
The sound of chair legs scraping across the tile floor makes Merlin glance up from the newspaper he’s not reading and he looks at Arthur for the first time in several stilted minutes.
“I have to be in at nine but I’ll try to be home before seven,” Arthur says before walking off to the bedroom to dress for work.
They hadn’t spoken since Merlin’s revelation and the silence had been uncomfortable. Merlin immediately regretted saying anything at all. It wasn’t like he and Arthur were in an intimate relationship. This was an arrangement. Nothing more.
He sighs and drops the newspaper, knowing if they don’t talk now he’ll drive himself crazy all day, wondering what’s going on in Arthur’s head.
Arthur’s in the shower so Merlin busies himself putting their formal wear in the dry cleaning bag. He straightens a crooked mirror, noting that the giant pink t-shirt makes him look about twelve years old.
Arthur steps out of the bathroom just in time to catch Merlin making a sour face at his reflection.
“What’s that look for?” He’s naked and towel drying his hair. Merlin can’t help watching.
Arthur drops the towel and their eyes meet in the mirror. “Why were you grimacing at yourself?” he asks again.
Merlin turns and waves a hand over his chest. “I just noticed that this outfit makes me look like a pre-teen girl at a slumber party.”
Arthur gives him a once over and nods. “You’re right about the pre-teen but not the girl part. No girl would be caught dead in those sleep pants.”
Merlin looks down, “My mum bought me these,” he says defensively. “Doctor Who is cool.”
Arthur grins. “I know Doctor Who is cool but no pre-teen girl would be crazy enough to wear nerdy pajamas to a slumber party. She’d be eaten alive.” He gives Merlin a very serious look. “Girls are mean. Remember, I grew up with Morgana.” He turns into the closet and pulls out a suit and dress shirt, laying them on the bed before getting socks and boxers out of the dresser and starting to dress.
Merlin leans against the wall. “Look, Arthur, I’m sorry for not saying anything earlier but I really didn’t think it mattered.”
Arthur snorts. “Really, Merlin? You didn’t think it mattered that I’m going to be sharing a bed with a virgin? I think that it matters a bit,” he says pulling on his boxers.
Merlin admires his muscular thighs for a second before glancing back up and running a hand through already sleep wrecked hair. He gives Arthur a sheepish look. “I actually didn’t think it would be a problem. I just thought we’d be sleeping together not sleeping together. Tonight I’ll try to stay on my side of the bed.”
Arthur stops buttoning his shirt and crosses the floor, laying a hand on Merlin’s shoulder, giving him a soft smile. “I said I didn’t mind. It’s just I’m a bit worried this could get awkward.” He leans in and whispers in Merlin’s ear, “I’ve been told my massive morning erections are the stuff of legends.”
Merlin can’t help a surprised laugh and he gives Arthur a push, dislodging his hand. “You’re a total dork.”
Arthur grins. “Says the dork in Doctor Who pajama bottoms,” he answers with a laugh as he finishes buttoning his shirt and grabs a red tie off the tie rack.
Merlin trails after him to the front door, Arthur collecting wallet, keys and briefcase along the way. He pauses on the front step and turns back to Merlin, pulling him into an unexpected hug. It’s warm and comforting so Merlin hugs back.
“We’ll be fine. It was just a surprise and I have the feeling there will be quite a few of those as we get to know one another,” Arthur murmurs. “I’ll give you a call from work when I know for sure what time I’ll be home. I put my work number into your phone if you need anything.” Merlin feels a brief kiss to the side of his head and then Arthur is off leaving him feeling a lot better than he expected.
Morgana drops Hunith off after lunch and she and Merlin decide to spend a few hours sightseeing. Figuring out the public transportation system is confusing so after a fruitless half hour wrestling with it on his phone, Merlin gives up and they have a taxi drop them off at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It turns out to be less than three miles from the house making Merlin feel a bit stupid. They could have walked and actually explored the neighborhood he lives in. Instead of relying on the internet, he should have pulled out the Lonely Planet Guide Will gave him.
Grauman’s is actually a lot more entertaining and exciting than Merlin expected. Putting his hands over the tiny handprints of Judy Garland and, surprisingly, Humphrey Bogart who always seemed larger than life even on their television screen, is pretty thrilling.
Hunith takes photographs of everything. “Here, Merlin, stand by Bruce Willis’s square. Look how small Bette Davis’s feet were! Now over to Julie Andrews. Remember watching ‘The Sound of Music’ and singing along?” Merlin shakes his head even though he remembers it quite well. He’d been half in love with Liesl’s Nazi boyfriend until he remembered what that uniform meant.
Hunith is standing next to Marilyn Monroe’s square when Merlin’s phone starts playing “A legend is sung of when England was young and knights were brave and bold” on repeat. It’s from “The Sword in the Stone” so of course it’s Arthur.
“Merlin and Arthur, get it?” Arthur starts before Merlin can even get out a hello.
“Yes, I get it, King Arthur. Very clever.”
“I thought so,” Arthur replies and Merlin can practically see his smug smile.
“So did you call just so I could see that my assessment of your dorkability was spot on or did you have something you wanted to tell me?” Merlin eyes Hunith surreptitiously snapping shots of a man dressed as Elvis by the curb and deems her safe on her own.
“I just called to tell you I’m getting out of here early and wanted to see if you and Hunith might like to go for a drive and get a lay of the land and some early supper?”
“That sounds great. I hadn’t thought about supper yet. We’re at Grauman’s Chinese Theater right now. It’s a hoot.”
“A hoot? What are you eighty? Really, Merlin, you’re catching the old from those Thirties’ actresses. Step away before you start going gray.”
“Ha ha, very funny. What time will you be done?”
“I’m wrapping things up right now, actually. I can pick you up if you don’t mind waiting there for another fifteen minutes.”
“I think mum has a few more footprints to stand in so that’s perfect. Thanks, Arthur. I was getting worried she would make me go on a celebrity homes bus tour next.”
“Oh, Merlin, I’m sure you would have found that a hoot, too. See you in a bit. Bye.”
“Bye” Merlin says as Arthur rang off.
“What are you smiling at?” Hunith had snuck up on him as he was staring at his phone display so Merlin held it up. At some point, Arthur had uploaded a close up shot of the two of them kissing to seal their vows as his screensaver. With eyes closed and flushed cheeks, the photograph makes them look every inch the real thing.
“Oh, how sweet,” Hunith coos.
Merlin can’t stop smiling.