Title: Hooked on You
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin, Merlin/Percival
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwen
Summary: To his surprise Merlin receives a Valentine’s Day card from someone he met long ago.
Word Count: 998
Prompt: #198 Valentine’s Day Card
Author's Notes: Part 6 of Lab Coats & Scrubs you can find right here or here on AO3.
Merlin is perplexed, eyebrows knitting together as he turns around the apple colored envelope in his hand. He doesn't recognize the address written on it, but the name accompanying it is so familiar he can almost feel a pair of strong arms wrapped around him, shielding him from a frosty winter. Talk about a blast from the past.
"You aren't getting any answers if you just keep staring at it. You should open the letter already," Gwen prompts. She's sitting next to him on the couch, a look of curiosity etched on her face.
His palms feel sweaty, and he can't ignore the encouragement Gwen is giving him once he finally rips open the envelope as carefully as he can.
"It's not a bomb you know."
"It might as well be."
He pulls out a card of a pirate with a hook for a hand, the words Arrgh you gonna be my Valentine? spelled out above him. He chuckles. It's a nice card, although if it had been from a certain blond doctor currently pulling at his heart strings his smile would be bigger. He'd feel infinitely lighter and he'd be able to breathe a bit easier.
But it's not and he has to come to terms with it.
He can feel Gwen's staring and he tries to avoid meeting her gaze, but he fails. Her eyes skimming over the front of the card. Both her hands wrap around his right arm.
"What does it say?"
Merlin reads it with ever growing astonishment. He didn't expect any of it. Not a single word. Well, perhaps the hello and the usual pleasantries people share when they haven't seen each other in a while and only know they're still around because of Facebook statuses, and the vacations in Greece they chose to share with the rest of the world through Instagram.
"Umm, he's asking if we can meet." Merlin responds slowly, still taken aback by Percy's card.
If someone had told him he would find a letter addressed to him from Percival among junk mail, he would've laughed. Except it happened and now he's in his living room reading Percy's scrawl over and over again.
Percy. He hasn't seen him since they decided they were better off as friends. He's missed him, he's going to admit as much. He was a great friend. Loyal, caring.
"Wait, you're seeing your ex?"
Gwen's voice is so loud it makes him lose his train of thought and Percy's face vanishes from his head in the blink of an eye. Seeing him again doesn't sound like a bad idea. They could catch up. Remember old times.
"I haven't decided Gwen, he's just asking. He's back in town apparently."
"And are you going to? From what you've told me he's nice."
"He is. But."
He frowns looking down at the floor. Things are never easy, not for him. He can't help but think back to the morning when a worn out Arthur climbed in the lift next to him, surprising Merlin with a sleepy smile aimed at him and his body had found the support it needed to keep upright in Merlin's. Having Arthur pressed to his side had seemed like a hallucination, something his equally tired mind had made up. But no, the thanks Arthur gave him were sincere and soft as the doors opened to his floor.
Damn him and his smile and his bright blue eyes.
Gwen must have understood his silence because her hand sneaks in his, grip firm, unwavering.
It's not even February 14th yet and he's already feeling the stress of the romantic holiday.
"The best thing about Valentine's is the chocolate," Merlin says between ripping the tinfoil and throwing Kisses inside his mouth. His face contorts in pleasure, relishing in the flavor. His day started on a positive note as he found a small red bag in the nurses station with chocolate kisses inside addressed to him.
"I thought the best part about it was all the shagging one is expected to do," Gwaine leers. The only one who matches his grin is Leon, while Gwen and Merlin remain unaffected already used to him.
"Only a few will be spending the day in bed, the rest of us is destined to loneliness and bad romantic comedies on the telly."
"But you have a date," Gwen intervenes. Her statement isn't mean or petty but he wishes she hadn't said anything. Not with the way they're staring at him. Expecting.
"It's not a date," he states. It's not. He dialed the number Percy scribbled on the card and then it was like they never stopped talking. It was easy to keep the conversation going and by the end he had already agreed to go to dinner with him. It didn't sound as complicated as his friends are making it out to be.
Merlin is a hundred percent sure his face matches the cardboard hearts glued to the station. He can't formulate an answer.
"He's got a hot date tonight," Leon intervenes.
Merlin narrows his eyes wishing he could make him disappear.
"You do?" Arthur's voice catches back his attention. Arthur crosses his arms and his eyebrows raise up.
"No, I'm only meeting an old friend." Merlin is aware he doesn't need to explain anything to Arthur. Yet here he is, laying it all out. He's afraid he always will for Arthur.
"A friend. Just a friend?"
"Huh, have fun I guess."
For Merlin it's all wrong. Arthur's tone, his stance, the way his smile seems clipped and more guarded than any he's given Merlin before.
"Thank you, I suppose."
"Well, happy Valentine's anyway." Arthur produces a handful of chocolates from his white coat, placing them on Gwen's palm before leaving a tight silence after him.
Merlin looks at the pink chocolate kisses Arthur left, then peeks inside his bag. Blinks. They're the same.
He's beyond confused.