Title: Drawing Lines
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Locked out of his room, Merlin didn't see how the evening would get better.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Locked out
Author's Notes: Hope you like it.
Merlin stared at the door in front of him. Then he ran his card through the sensor again and resisted the urge to bang his head on said door when the light remained stubbornly red. He tried it again, just for luck. But even the fateful “third time lucky” wasn’t playing with him today and the door remained shut.
Knowing it would take his weight – he had tried slamming his whole body into it in the hope the lock would snap – Merlin pressed his back against it and sank down to the floor. He put his bag beside him and hugged his knees to his chest.
This was just not his day.
Not knowing what else to do, he pulled a sketch pad out of his bag and began flicking through it. His hand rose to his ear, automatically pulling out a pencil from behind it as his eyebrows furrowed in concentration. The steady beat of the rain on the roof was soothing to his agitated mind and without thinking about what he was doing, Merlin began moving the pencil across a blank page.
It didn’t take him long to get lost in his work. He didn’t notice when a shadow fell over him but instinctively shifted to get the better light. It was only when the shadow followed him did Merlin look up, irritated. His rude words to tell the person to move died when he saw who was standing over him with a quizzical look on his face.
Arthur Pendragon was a third year graphic design student. As a first year, Merlin only knew that from watching him across the room when Arthur had come to use the space while the younger students were being taught. He had been intrigued by the man. No, he had been attracted by him and told himself it was only professional interest. But he had gone to look at what Arthur was working on one day after class and had decided he had fallen in love with Arthur’s work, if not the man himself.
“It’s Merlin, right?”
Merlin nodded, flipping his book shut quickly before Arthur could take a peek at what he was working on. It wasn’t that he was ashamed – he knew he was good – but having two further years of study had improved Arthur’s work beyond anything. Merlin knew he wasn’t in the same league.
“Arthur.” Arthur held out a hand as he spoke. Merlin made to shake it, only to be hauled to his feet as Arthur’s hand closed around his. “And I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be sitting down there on a Saturday night. Come on.”
Merlin didn’t have the chance to ask. He wasn’t even sure his brain was thinking rationally enough to get the words out even if he did. But Arthur pulled out his own student card, slid it through the reader and the light turned green, admitting them with a buzz. Merlin scrambled through before Arthur could change his mind.
“How did you do that? Do you have to be a third year to gain access whenever you want?”
“Yep,” Arthur said. “And I have a special agreement with the staff.”
Merlin wanted to ask, but he didn’t. There was something guarded about the way Arthur spoke. There was something guarded about his expression and his eyes as well now that Merlin was getting a closer look. Arthur was a man with a story, that much Merlin knew.
“So,” Arthur continued. He moved across the room and powered up two computers. “Want to tell me why you are trying to break into the department?”
“I’m locked out,” Merlin said. Arthur raised an eyebrow and Merlin could almost see his thought processes about going to security. “Or rather, my room-mate has kicked me out while he screws his girlfriend. Again.”
He was pleased for Will, but would rather he didn’t manage to be so successful when it came to love. Or rather, lust. Will most likely didn’t know what love was. But Merlin had work to do and hadn’t appreciated the blocked door.
“And you came here?”
“There’s something I want to work on before next class and my software isn’t up to date enough.” Merlin explained as he crossed the room, slipping onto the chair next to Arthur’s and staring at the computer as it loaded.
“I know that feeling,” Arthur muttered. He turned to his own screen and Merlin was unable to resist a peek as Arthur loaded up his own project
“Who is she?”
“My mother.” This time, Merlin could definitely detect a hint of sadness in Arthur’s voice as his hand touched the mouse lovingly as he began to work on his drawing. “I never knew her. This was done from a photograph. I had to find a way to bring her alive.”
Merlin didn’t know what to say. He loaded up his own work and pretended to concentrate. But when Arthur let a whistle of approval slide through his teeth, Merlin glanced over. He blushed at the look on Arthur’s face.
“It’s still a work in progress…”
“It’s amazing,” Arthur said. He leant over to examine the dragons drawn across Merlin’s screen in closer detail. Before Merlin could stop him, Arthur began to point out tips and hints that would help him.
Merlin hated people commenting on his work. He knew when he started the course he was going to have to let that go a little. But Arthur never made it sound like a criticism, but genuinely helpful advice from one student to the next.
Merlin hadn’t been happy about the project for a while. But when the janitor arrived at dawn and kicked them out – pointedly telling Arthur he needed to sleep at least one some days – Merlin felt decidedly better. The fact that Arthur had promised him a coffee and the man’s number was now programmed into his phone might have had something to do with it.
Maybe Will could be lucky more often?