Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 39
Rating: G, This part
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin.
Warnings: Ridiculous boys being in love and bucking the system.
Word Count: 637
Author's Notes: Sorry for leaving you hanging last week and leaving you hanging again.
“…and then all the swans heaved themselves out of the pond and swarmed our picnic blanket,” Arthur says.
“It was terrifying,” Merlin blurts, eyes wide. “Swans are enormous, we never see the scary awkward stuff under the water. They were all wet and hissing, trying to get at the rest of the baguette in the carrier bag. I just grabbed it, pitched it behind them and we ran away while they were fighting.” He looks back at Arthur, “Terrifying.”
Arthur squeezes his hand. “I was surprised you said yes to another date.”
“The scary water foul weren’t your fault and you bought me a gelato to make up for enticing them with your crusts,” Merlin says with a smile. “Fair warning, I’m still feeling iffy about picnics. And swans.”
This scene had actually played out at Lake Balboa two months before and they left out the part of Arthur laughing at Merlin attracting animals like a Disney princess and Merlin pushing him into the murky, lukewarm man made lake. It wasn't gelato but fresh fruit paletas from a teenager manning a cart at the park's entrance but it was very close to the truth of their first date that Merlin didn't realize was a date.
Arthur takes his hand. “I promise there will be no bodies of water at the next outdoor meal but nobody can control pigeons or squirrels. They have a tendency to go rogue.” Merlin smiles at their joined hands.
Ms. Caerleon sniffs and shifts in her seat, calling their attention away from one another. She refers to a legal pad covered in chicken scratches Merlin has been unable to decipher from the opposite side of the desk. A finger lands half way down the seemingly coded page. She looks up, icy blue eyes locking with Merlin’s. “How exactly did you two meet?”
Arthur starts in with the practiced story of the play and Merlin listens for a bit before breaking in, “I think it was fate, really.”
Arthur stops and looks at him. “What?”
“Fate. One week either way with your meetings and you wouldn’t have been able to see the play. You wouldn’t have introduced yourself and made me fall in love with you.” This isn’t what happened but it mirrors the truth closely enough that it gives Merlin pause. “If Gwaine had said nothing and you’d just gone about your business that night we’d never have met. That scares me a bit.” Merlin squeezes his hand. “Actually, that scares me a lot.”
Arthur lifts his hand and gives it a light kiss, “But it did happen. Thanks to pushy Gwaine.” Arthur is smiling fondly, “But don’t tell him. He’ll insist we buy him drinks forever and that will bankrupt us,” he says with a laugh. “We’ll reward him by being ridiculously happy.”
“And buying him drinks,” Merlin chimes in, grinning madly.
“This is all very entertaining but I’d like to hear the end of the story of your first meeting,” Ms. Caerleon breaks in sharply so Merlin continues the tale of their fictitious first meeting.
Much of the interview is more nuts and bolts: Who sleeps where, how many bedrooms, who gave who what for Christmas and so on until Ms. Caerleon throws a fox in the hen house. “So, Mr. Pendragon, what would happen if this Green Card is denied and you are sent back to the United Kingdom?”
Arthur and Merlin have had their eyes on her but again they look at one another and then back at their interviewer. Merlin answers, “Well, of course, we’d both go back to England. Arthur could find work there easily.”
“And you? You seem to be making inroads on your career as an actor here,” she prods.
“I wasn’t working in my field as much as I’d like in England but I came here to be with Arthur and I’d follow him if he’s asked to leave,” Merlin answers firmly.
“No. You have an excellent opportunity with this play,” Arthur breaks in.
Merlin gives Arthur a stern look. “There will be other opportunities,” he says firmly. “We’re a team.”