Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 13
Rating: PG-13 for now
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin
Warnings: Arthur is a dork.
Word Count: 1292
Prompt: 182, Funeral
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom which starts here
Monday Arthur has arranged Uther’s car and driver for Hunith and Merlin. ”It’s no trouble at all. His meetings are all in house tomorrow so he has no need of Freya. She’s your age so maybe she can make some suggestions of places worth going other than tourist spots for after your mum’s visit is over.”
Freya is a soft spoken, dark haired young woman with a sweet disposition. She has plenty of ideas about how to spend their time and they all hit it off immediately. “We need to get you to a beach,” she says with a smile. “Pack some bottled water and sunblock and let’s get this party started.”
Hunith sits in the front seat on the way to The Getty Villa. They all admire the view of the Pacific Ocean and villa's grounds before seeing the collection of antiquities. Next stop is the Santa Monica Pier where Merlin gets them tickets to ride the solar powered ferris wheel and then buys Hunith a cotton candy to munch on while he and Freya take a few spins on the roller coaster.
They walk barefoot along the beach, Hunith and Merlin venturing ankle deep into the sun warmed surf as dolphins swim just off shore.
Freya proposes Venice Beach for lunch so they people watch over sandwiches and house made crisps before a walking tour of the canals. Freya talks about the eclectic architecture: craftsman beach bungalows on the same block as a huge corrugated metal clad home around the corner from a business shaped like a pair of binoculars. “It’s eccentric but it all works together,” she says and Hunith nods as she’s photographing the different buildings.
Freya and Merlin talk about dance clubs and trendy bars and restaurants she thinks he and Arthur might like. She plays bass in a band called Lady of the Lake and they’re playing at Excalibur ”It’s a total dive but the sound system is good” in a week. Merlin promises to try and make sure he and Arthur are there.
By the time Freya drops them back home Hunith is ready for a shower and a nap so Merlin checks in with Arthur.
“Hi, honey,” Arthur answers cheerily, “how did it go with Freya?” Merlin laughs at the endearment but launches right into everything they saw and did.
“I got a little too much sun on my nose and there’s sand in my shoes but it was a fantastic day,” he finishes.
“It sounds perfect. Rub some aloe gel on your nose and maybe it won’t peel. It’s in the medicine cabinet,” Arthur says.
“Mum’s taking a nap and I was thinking of making some pasta for dinner. Are you going to make it home at a reasonable hour?”
Arthur sighs, “Unfortunately my inbox is crammed so it looks like I won’t be back until eight thirty at the earliest. Save me some to re-heat?”
“Sure,” Merlin agrees. “It would have been nice if you could have been with us today. Freya was fun but she didn’t mention any movie or television related trivia about our surroundings at all. You probably would have taken us to Forest Lawn Memorial and pointed out all the dead actors and actresses’ headstones or how a funeral in a Buffy episode was filmed there.”
“Some of the Buffy cemetery exteriors were filmed at the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in Koreatown. It’s pretty funny because Angel’s evil alter ego is Angelus,” Arthur butts in.
“You are such a fan boy,” Merlin says with a laugh. “I just wanted to tell you I missed you today, dork. Thank your father for the loan of the car. It would have been an even longer day if we’d had to rely on the bus.”
“I wish I could have been there, too,” Arthur says. “See you in a couple hours.”
Merlin is in pajamas watching Ina Garten pull a roast chicken out of her cooker when Arthur finally makes it home after ten. He immediately divests himself of his jacket and collapses next to Merlin on the couch.
“Relentless,” Arthur says with a yawn and lays his head on Merlin’s shoulder. Merlin puts an arm around him and they watch Ina expertly carve the chicken and set it out by a platter of mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Arthur’s stomach rumbles loudly.
“Let me get you some supper,” Merlin says heading to the kitchen.
He’s just taken the plate out of the microwave when Arthur shuffles in, already dressed in his sleep pants and pink t-shirt. “You look dead on your feet.”
Arthur nods tiredly before tucking in. He looks up after his first bite, “This is delicious. I like the fresh basil.”
He makes quick work of the meal then puts the dish and fork in the dishwasher and looks at the clock with a groan, “I’ve got a 7:30 meeting on site tomorrow and it’s all the way in Topanga Canyon.”
“Mum and I are planning to go to The Folk Art Museum and then maybe La Brea Tar Pits,” Merlin says with a wide smile. “Any suggestions where we should go for lunch?”
Arthur glares, “Slacker.”
“Total slacker,” Merlin agrees still grinning as they walk to their bedroom.
“Kept boy,” Arthur says as he grabs his toothbrush.
“Sugar Daddy,” Merlin laughs. Arthur throws the toothbrush at him. It hits Merlin on the forehead and he throws it back. Of course Arthur catches it.
“I meant to do that,” Merlin says as he settles back in the pillows.
“Sure you did,” Arthur replies squeezing on the toothpaste.
Hunith’s flight leaves two more attraction (yes, she had insisted they take a ridiculous bus tour of the stars’ homes) filled days later. Wednesday at four thirty in the morning there are hugs and tears by the curb at the British Airways check-in point. Not all the tears are hers.
“It’s been so good to have you, Hunith. I’ll work on getting time off over Christmas for a visit,” Arthur says hugging her tight.
“It’s been lovely to meet you, Arthur. I know you’ll take good care of our boy,” she answers, wiping her wet cheeks with the backs of her hands.
Merlin goes in for another bone crushing hug, breathing her in one last time before Hunith is pulling her bag through the automatic doors. A part of him wants to run after her, to hold her close a little longer but he stands staring at the closed doors and does nothing.
Hand at the small of Merlin’s back, Arthur ushers him into the car, even going so far as to buckle him in like he was a child. Merlin can’t be bothered to feel indignant at the coddling. He hadn’t seen his mum in months before the move and hadn’t realized how much he’d missed her warmth and support during his time in London. Phone calls were no substitute for the real thing. He stares blankly out the window as they pull into the busy pre-dawn airport traffic, already missing her dreadfully.
At a red light, Arthur reaches over and pulls Merlin into a one armed hug. “I meant it about trying to see your mum over the holidays. I’ll run it by father this morning and if I can’t get the time off, we’ll see if she’d like to spend them with us.”
Merlin blinks up at Arthur before giving him a watery smile, “That would be brilliant. I hadn’t let it sink in how far away I am until I saw her. We’re the only family we have other than Uncle Gaius and now I’m miles away from either of them.”
Arthur gives his bicep a reassuring squeeze, “Now you have me, too.”