Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Arthur works too hard. Merlin takes care of him.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Enjoy.
“Are you coming?”
Arthur looked up to find Merlin had his coat and scarf on, standing in Arthur’s office doorway and looking at him expectantly. Arthur sighed, shaking his head as he ran his hand through his hair distractedly.
“I’ll meet you at home. I want to wrap this up first.”
Merlin crossed the room, kissing his cheek. “Don’t work too late. I’ll be waiting for you.”
There was a hidden promise in his words and Arthur smiled tiredly as he adjusted Merlin’s scarf.
“Get out of here,” he said. He tapped Merlin’s bum as the man walked away, causing Merlin to smirk over his shoulder. Arthur blew out another long breath and turned back to his computer. He really needed to get this done and thoughts of Merlin were only going to be a distraction.
Despite thinking he was nearly finished with the reports, it still took Arthur another two hours before he was finally stumbling into the flat. The warmth hit him, making him groan as it seeped into his cold limbs. He had teased Merlin about dressing against the autumn chill but now he knew his partner had it right.
“Arthur? Is that you?”
“No, it’s a thief who happens to have a key.”
Merlin appeared from the kitchen, a mug clutched in his hands. He was dressed in lose pyjama trousers and one of Arthur’s hoodies. It drowned him yet Arthur thought he looked gorgeous. Then again, he thought that regardless of what Merlin was wearing. Or not wearing.
“Go and have a shower, I’ll make you some dinner.” There was a soft reproach in Merlin’s voice. As his PA, he knew how much work Arthur had to do. But he didn’t try and hide his displeasure when he thought Arthur was working too hard. Too tired to have this argument now, Arthur went without protest. He was cold and hungry and wanted nothing more than to be able to relax with Merlin for a few hours before hastily catching some sleep and heading back to work first thing.
The shower helped and he ate without truly tasting what Merlin put in front of him. He couldn’t think straight, couldn’t function any longer now he was home. It was only when Merlin pulled the dangerously tilting mug out of his hand did Arthur realise he was falling asleep on the sofa.
“Go to bed,” Merlin said. He sounded as drained as Arthur felt. Arthur, however, shook his head, reaching up and interlacing his fingers with Merlin.
“I want time with you.”
“Then you should have left work on time.”
“Merlin…please, not now.”
Merlin sighed, but let Arthur pull him back into the sofa. For a moment, they just sat there with their fingers interlaced but then Merlin sighed. He twisted until he sat at an angle and before Arthur could say anything, he pulled him around until Arthur was nestled in his arms.
Merlin’s fingers running through his hair and the comforting sound of his heart beating under Arthur’s ear would have been enough to send him to sleep.
“I just worry about you,” Merlin said softly. Arthur’s hand lifted until he rested it lightly on the arm looped across his chest. His thumb brushed the fabric softly, but he knew Merlin would be aware of what he was doing.
“I know. And I promise that tomorrow I will leave on time.”
Merlin snorted, digging his fingers in a little harder. “You said that last week.”
“And this week I’m promising,” Arthur said. He would make sure he did. He owed it to Merlin. “Now how about we go to bed?”
There was nothing but suggestion in his voice. Merlin, however, laughed softly and the vibrations Arthur could feel through his chest made him yawn.
“I’m not sure you have the energy for that, love.”
“Shh,” Merlin hushed. His hand drifted around until his finger traced Arthur’s lip softly. “Let’s just sit here for a while.”
Arthur yawned again but couldn’t protest. When they had first got together, he had vehemently denied that he liked being held like this. Morgana had aww-d at the sight of them snuggled up and never let Arthur forget it. But now he had long since given up protesting. This was the only place he felt he could truly let all the pressure of work go and just relax, here in Merlin’s arms. He didn’t care if that made him sound like a girl.
“We should take time off,” Merlin said suddenly. “Go away and have a proper break.”
“Where would we go?”
“Somewhere warm.” Merlin’s voice was distant and thoughtful and Arthur knew he was already dreaming about the possibilities. So saying, a warm, white-sanded beach and just the two of them did appeal to Arthur as well.
“The whole company would collapse if we both took time off.”
“No, it wouldn’t. I’m far too organised for that, I’d just delegate your workload without you noticing. It’s not-,” Merlin stopped abruptly and Arthur twisted in his arms a little.
“It’s not the first time? Is that what you were going to say?”
“Have you been sending my work to other people?” Arthur sat up, staring at Merlin incredulously. Merlin held his gaze, defiant and stubborn. He lifted an eyebrow.
“You work too hard.”
“Merlin-,” Arthur had no idea what he wanted to say. Merlin wasn’t going to back down. So instead, Arthur slid a hand around the back of his neck and pulled him closer so that he could kiss him deeply. When he had Merlin breathless and wide-eyed, he settled back down and snuggled in.
The reason why he felt safe here in Merlin’s arms was that his partner – in all things – was the only one who didn’t fear Arthur’s anger. He would do whatever was needed, whether that be delegate his work or just hold him. More often than not, Arthur couldn’t help but think that Merlin knew what he needed more than he did himself.