Title: Expectations vs Reality
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin finds out that reality is never quite what you expect, especially when you're on a car ride with Arthur.
Word Count: 503
Prompt: #194 Expectation
Author's Notes: Part 3 of my Lab Coats & Scrubs ‘verse which you can find here.
Arthur has terrible music taste.
Merlin throws a hopeful glance towards the radio when Arthur's fingers poise over it, but instead of changing the channel he fiddles with the volume and Merlin finds himself trapped in a car with horrible Top 40 pop music, and Arthur's warmth within reach. It's torture.
They've been on the road for about twenty minutes and every time Merlin tries to start a conversation he ends up biting his tongue. He's failing at basic human communication. And Arthur doesn't even try to engage him. He's sitting there all handsome and regal, tired blue eyes on the traffic, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel like he's completely alone. He only acknowledged Merlin's presence once to tell him he could leave his bag on the backseat and to make himself comfortable for the ride.
Merlin isn't sure what he was waiting for, the reality doesn't live up to his dreams of the conversations and close encounters he was meant to have with Arthur. This is the first time they're completely alone in a closed space and his lack of success is dragging him down. He was supposed to sweep Arthur off his feet, but apparently he's not very good at that.
He's had Arthur with him with no way out for twenty five minutes now and they're getting closer to Merlin's flat. It sucks. It's awful. He's hopeless.
"Are you tired?"
Merlin startles, and Arthur chuckles watching him jump on his seat. "Uh, no?" he ends up asking, and he berates himself.
"No? I thought you were asleep. You've had your eyes closed for a while now."
Merlin blinks, tries to suppress the smile spreading over his lips but fails miserably. Arthur was actually looking at him, he was paying attention. "You did? I did?"
Arthur nods. "You were very quiet too."
Merlin could shout in victory. Arthur turns on a corner and they're almost there, one more block and he'll be home and his time with Arthur will be cut short.
"I was just resting my eyes," he answers.
"I understand, I've done that more times than I can count. On chairs, on an empty couch or bed, you take whatever you can."
Merlin agrees, Arthur's voice is much more pleasant than the music.
"Uh, we're here," Merlin says, pointing towards a building. Arthur parks right in front of it, the engine and music dying.
"So, you're home."
Both stumble over what to say, Arthur smiles showing his teeth and Merlin feels his stomach drop, there's a possibility he's pathetically in like with Arthur. He gets out of the car as slowly as he can taking with him Arthur's smiles and his smell and the sound of his voice.
"You're welcome," Arthur tells him, nods and looks like he might say something else, but he never does. Merlin nods back and closes the door behind him.
Merlin walks towards his flat feeling like he missed an opportunity.
Reality is never quite what we envisioned.