Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 29
Rating: NC-17, not this part
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin.
Warnings: Major character deaths, reference to drunk driving (not major characters)
Word Count: 690
Prompt: 199, Picture prompt: For an hour
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom which starts here.
“Uther’s coming back in tomorrow but he’s to work half days until the end of next week. Doctor’s orders,” Arthur announces as soon as he gets in the front door. “He feels fine but Geoffrey warned him "It takes longer to bounce back than it did in your twenties and you don’t want to do yourself a further injury by being pig headed.”
“I’m sure Uther was delighted to hear that,” Merlin says with a grimace.
“I’m surprised Geoffrey’s still his doctor,” Arthur agrees. “Anyway, this means no weekends away for the foreseeable future.”
“We’ve got things to do this weekend anyway. Pinocchio Sunday, remember? And I’ve got that photo shoot ridiculously early Monday morning as well as a call back for extra work on Wednesday and Mordred’s texted auditions for his play start Friday.” Merlin’s got a bright, excited smile on his face, obviously delighted with the full schedule.
“You know, they make this acting thing look a lot more difficult to break into in the movies,” Arthur says with a smile, collapsing next to him on the couch.
Merlin leans into him still grinning, “None of this pays very well but luckily I have a hot sugar daddy taking care of me.”
“You sure do,” Arthur says with a grin of his own.
Later that evening they’re flipping through Arthur’s photo albums, Arthur turning the pages, filling in childhood stories of vacations stuck in hotel rooms while Uther worked, scraped knees and broken bones, triumphs and disasters on several fields of play.
Merlin points to a photograph of teenaged Arthur and Morgana dressed in formal wear, serene smiles on their lovely faces, “You two didn’t ever have an awkward stage, did you?”
“I got a bit round before puberty hit but I’ve burned all the evidence,” Arthur confesses. “I don’t think Morgana’s ever even had a blemish. How about you?”
Merlin snorts, “You’re kidding, right? I’m still a poster boy for awkward stage.”
“Shut up, Merlin,” Arthur says pulling him in for a kiss.
“We've talked about my family and your mum told me your father died but I've never asked about him,” Arthur says when they’re settling into bed together. "Is it a touchy subject?"
Merlin rolls over to look at Arthur, his eyes tired and sad. “Not as such, no. There’s just not much to tell. Mum and a girlfriend went to The Reading Festival in ’93 and he was a roadie for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. Mum was and is mad for Rage Against the Machine and they were the lead in band. He was packing up their gear, she was at the front of the stage, their eyes met, sparks flew, she missed her favorite band and I was conceived.” This is a story Merlin has heard and told several times over but it never fails to hurt.
“Balinor was on tour with the band but he and mum talked on the telephone and wrote letters. She says he was excited about the pregnancy. He was planning a visit but was killed when a drunk ran into the equipment van behind a club in Pilton. He’d just turned twenty three.” Merlin’s eyes are bright in the moonlight.
“I’m so sorry,” Arthur murmurs, pulling him in for a tight hug.
Merlin sighs, settling into Arthur’s strong, comforting arms. “It’s not like I knew him.”
“I never knew my mother but I miss her all the same,” Arthur says quietly. “What I’d give to have known my father and her together. I look at photos and see a happy man and a mother I never met.”
“Yeah, me, too. Mum doesn’t like to talk about it but I think he was the love of her life. If I had it in my power I’d give her more time with him,” Merlin says, rubbing his damp eyes against Arthur’s sleep shirt.
“I bet she feels like she has it every time she looks at you,” Arthur answers, hugging Merlin closer.
Merlin pulls back just enough to look into Arthur’s sweet face, “I think Uther probably feels exactly the same.”
They cuddle in close, falling asleep to dream conversations with parents they’ll never know.