Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 40
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin.
Word Count: 848
Prompt: 221 Decision
Author's Notes: Sorry I've been AWOL. Real life will not be denied.
Twenty minutes in, the interview already feels like it has gone on forever. Ms. Caerleon is distant and obviously bored by them. She’s reading questions off a sheet of paper and the sound of her pen scratching unreadable notes across a legal pad beside their file is maddening. Not connecting with their audience is making Merlin anxious.
“I'm on the left side but Merlin’s usually right there with me,” Arthur answers to Ms. Caerleon’s half hearted question about their sleeping arrangements. He looks over at Merlin with a smile, “You know, we could trade our California king in for a double and free up a lot of floor space in the bedroom.”
“Nah, we make good use of that big bed when we’re awake,” Merlin says without thinking. Arthur chokes on a sharp laugh and Merlin stiffens when he realizes what he’s implied. Blushing, he turns to their interviewer, “Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Surprisingly, the woman laughs and gives him a wicked smile. “Not to worry. You have no idea what comes out of some people’s mouths during these interviews. One woman actually started listing sexual positions when I asked how she and her husband slept. She’d thought I wanted to know how they ‘slept together’” she air quotes. “She was mortified when I clarified the question.” Despite her conciliatory words, she looks downright thrilled by Merlin’s discomfort.
“I know exactly how she felt,” Merlin mumbles, face hot.
Somehow this gaffe seems to break the ice with Ms. Caerleon. The rest of the interview proceeds without a hitch though she keeps giving Merlin pointed looks and, Wait, did she just wink at me? Merlin wonders.
Fifteen minutes later Ms. Caerleon has gone silent and is staring fixedly at a framed photograph of Obama Merlin noticed on the wall behind their chairs when they’d entered the office. Seconds pass before she comes to a decision.
She slides open a file drawer on the right side of her desk, extracting a sheaf of official looking forms. Merlin cranes his neck, trying to read the top sheet upside down. His heart sinks when his eyes land and stick on the word Remove but when she pushes the papers across the desk he can clearly read Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Merlin breaks into a relieved smile. Arthur is smiling, too, as he takes the form. Ms. Caerleon stands, extending her hand.
“Everything looks good,” she says shaking Arthur’s hand. “As you haven’t been married two years I’ll be submitting a recommendation that you receive conditional residence. Your paperwork just needs final approval by my supervisor. You can expect your green card in the mail in six to eight weeks.”
Looking between them, she continues, “You still need to mark your calendars because within the 90 days before those two years you’re both expected to jointly submit this form to change that status from conditional to permanent.” She smiles warmly, “Congratulations, Mr. Pendragon.”
Arthur nods and thanks her before Merlin takes her outstretched hand and thanks her, too. She gives his hand a light caress and this time the wink is unmistakable.
Sudden realization crashes through him. Oh my God, Merlin thinks, is that a leer? Has she been leering at me? He forces a smile as he’s pulling his hand back, barely resisting the urge to wipe it on his trousers.
They move quickly through the warren of offices before taking the elevator back down to the lobby and exiting the building in silence.
Merlin waits until they’re several blocks away before pulling Arthur to a stop. “Thank fuck that’s over.”
Arthur shakes the new form he’s clutching and laughs nodding his agreement. “What was I thinking not taking the rest of the day off? I just want to run home and make good use of that big bed.
Merlin blushes again and groans, “Don’t remind me.”
Arthur laughs again. “It was brilliant. I was getting worried about her disinterest and then, BAM, you derailed her brain with images of us rolling around naked. She looked like she wanted to eat you for dinner.” He pulls Merlin in for a quick kiss. “Pure, unadulterated, accidental genius,” he laughs even louder.
“Shut up. That was all kinds of embarrassing and inappropriate and it is never to be spoken of again,” Merlin says with a grimace.
Arthur shakes the papers again, smiling. “You had no idea what you were doing and it totally worked. I love you and your hilariously ill advised, perfectly timed sense of humor.”
“I love you, too, though now I really wish you’d taken the afternoon off, too. I’d like to work on forgetting that ever happened.”
“I’ll be delighted to wipe her from your mind in a few hours,” Arthur promises. “I hope this will hold you until then.” He grabs Merlin by the hips and leans in for a long, filthy kiss that only ends when some stranger tells them to get a room.
“We’re planning on it,” Merlin answers as hand in hand they head off toward the car.