Title: Served Cold
Characters: Gwen, Morgana
Summary: Modern AU. Gwen and Morgana find out their business trip won't be as uneventful as they thought.
Word Count: 964
Prompt: #182, "funeral"
Author's Note: I played a little loosey-goosey with the theme. Forgive me. But I saw funeral and couldn't let it go.
The hotel bar was packed. Men of all ages and sizes filled the high tables, some watching the TVs scattered around the dim space, others chatting with their neighbors. Only a few women were in the crowd, but each and every one was trapped within an admiring throng.
Finding Morgana wasn’t nearly as simple Gwen had assumed it would be when she’d received the text to meet. The hotel had been relatively quiet this morning when they’d come down for breakfast, so where had all these people come from?
She stood at the edge of the bar, scanning the space, when two balding men appeared out of nowhere in front of her.
“Linda!” the older of the pair exclaimed. “We didn’t think you’d make it!”
Gwen did her best not to cringe at how loud they were, though considering the volume in the bar, they likely didn’t realize it. “I’m sorry,” she said, leaning closer so she could be heard. “You have me mistaken for someone else.”
He shook his head. “After all those Mexican mudslides last year? No way can I forget you.”
His friend elbowed him in the side. “Idiot, it’s not her.”
“Yes, it is!”
“Really? That sounds like a Detroit accent to you? You’ve been sniffing the embalming fluid again.” The friend smiled at her as he pulled on his friend’s arm. “Sorry to bother you. He’s just a little hung up on finding Linda again.”
Gwen smiled back. “It’s no problem, honestly.”
He hesitated. “I don’t suppose a pretty thing like you is here for the convention.”
Convention? That would explain the crowd. “I’m afraid not. Just regular, boring work.”
“Too bad.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card to press into her hand. “If you need a little distraction, though, give me a call.”
Gwen held off on glancing down at the card until after they’d melted back into the crowd.
That explained the embalming comment, at least.
She found Morgana five minutes later, sandwiched amidst four men at a corner table. The ginger to her left was angled toward her, blocking the view of the man next to him sufficiently enough to force the second to practically lay across the table to get a look.
“…that’s why I have one of the kids do the clipping on the old folks now,” the ginger was saying. “That nurse would never go out with me again after the toenail accident, which was ridiculous. Funeral directors are professionals, too, damn it. ”
While the other men nodded in sympathetic agreement, Morgana’s desperate gaze lifted to latch on Gwen. “There you are!” she said, so loudly people three tables over turned their heads to see who she was talking about. “Sorry, fellas, my date has arrived.”
Gwen kept her features neutral as Morgana wriggled behind the unmoving chairs to get out from the table. “I’m sorry I’m late,” Gwen said. To help sell the game, she scooped her arm around Morgana’s waist as soon as she was close enough and pecked her on the cheek. “Ready to go?”
“Absolutely.” Morgana leaned into Gwen. “Thank you for the drink, gentlemen. Enjoy your conference!”
They stayed entwined until they were on the lift to take them back to their room. Gwen burst out laughing as soon as the doors whispered shut.
“Not enjoying the company?” she teased.
Morgana grimaced. “It wasn’t that bad until he started talking about how dead people purge themselves if you’re not careful while you handle them.” She shuddered. “Remind me that I want to be cremated when the time comes.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t realize there was a convention booked at the same time.”
“It’s hardly your fault. Arthur was the one—” Her lips clamped together into a tight line, dangerous glints flashing in her eyes. “Arthur,” she hissed.
“What about him?”
“He did this on purpose. He specifically asked me to take this meeting with Cenred.”
“No, he didn’t. Merlin was the one who asked me to have you—” It was Gwen’s turn to stop. Her cheeks flooded with heat. “Oops.”
“Oops? What’s oops?”
“This is my fault.”
“I can hardly see how being forced to spend the weekend with five hundred funeral directors is your fault.”
“Well…” She sighed. “Remember that meeting with Annis you missed because Uther decided it required a man’s touch?”
“And Arthur got to spend a week in New Orleans instead? Don’t remind me.”
“I booked that, not Merlin. And I specifically chose that week in New Orleans when I made it.”
Morgana frowned. “Why would you do that?”
“Because there was a convention of romance writers there at the same time. While Arthur went to meetings with Annis, Merlin was cornered by two thousand romance readers who kept asking him to read things just so they could hear his accent.”
Morgana burst out laughing. “That was two years ago! Why did he wait this long for revenge?”
She shook her head. “No idea. I guess we’ll just have to make the best of it. At least the room service didn’t look bad.”
The lift doors opened on their floor, but Morgana immediately closed them again and pushed the button for the bar level. “Oh, no. Now that I know Merlin expects us to be miserable, we’re going to milk this for all its worth.”
“What are you planning?”
“If we can’t pull the two best-looking blokes and get them drunk enough so they don’t talk about their work every second, we have bigger problems than how good room service might be.” She winked. “They deal with dead people every day. We’ll be a breath of fresh air.”
Gwen smiled, but her stomach sank. That was exactly what she was afraid of.