Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 41
Rating: PG, this part
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin
Warnings: Ridiculous fluff.
Word Count: 684
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom which starts here.
It’s just after nine when Arthur finally drags in the front door, looking rumpled and wrung out. Merlin’s up off the couch, taking his briefcase and helping him out of his jacket in an instant.
“That turned into a longer day than expected,” he says hanging Arthur’s jacket up. “Have you eaten?”
“We had sandwiches sent in but they were from that weird vegan place only Morgana likes. Grilled vegetables and some lettuce are not a meal no matter what she thinks,” he says, scowling. “Tell me we have some real food. It smells delicious in here.”
“Grilled vegetables and lettuce are real food, you git, but, yes, I made you something to celebrate your imminent status as a Green Card wielding citizen.” Arthur follows him into the kitchen, his stomach growling as he sniffs the air. Merlin leans down, pulling out an enticing smelling pan from the oven. “I hope this hasn’t dried out.”
Arthur’s eyes widen in delight. “Is that a meatloaf? Did you touch dead cow for me, Merlin?”
“And dead, smoked pig, too,” Merlin laughs. He cuts a thick slice and puts it on a plate along with a large square of golden brown, baked macaroni and cheese. “I wanted to make something quintessentially American. There’s salad in the fridge.”
“I’ve had enough greenery already,” Arthur answers, taking an overlarge bite of meatloaf and chewing enthusiastically. He moans in bliss. “Beef and bacon, two of the best flavors in the world. Mmmmm.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Merlin laughs. Arthur takes a bite of the macaroni and cheese and moans again.
“This is exactly what I didn’t know I wanted in my mouth,” he says with a cheese and breadcrumb filled smile. “Thank you.”
“I made apple pie for dessert,” Merlin adds. “There’s vanilla ice cream, too. Nothing more American than that.”
“I love you,” Arthur says, eyes wide.
“I know,” Merlin answers with a grin.
“Pie and ice cream are not a proper breakfast,” Merlin scolds the next morning when he sees what Arthur is eating.
Arthur holds up his steaming cup of coffee, “And yet they go perfect with this breakfast beverage. It’s like they were meant to be together.”
Merlin pours himself a cup and watches Arthur savor another bite. It really does look good but he needs something that will keep him steady through the table read so he dishes out some yogurt and fruit as he’s waiting for his toast to pop up.
“You ready for this morning?” Arthur asks, finger chasing stray crumbs and melted ice cream around his plate.
Merlin shrugs. “It’s hard to tell. It depends on if I’m interpreting the role the way the director wants. I just hope I click with the rest of the cast.”
“You’ll be fantastic,” Arthur says, licking the sticky mess off his index finger.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Merlin says and looks at the clock. “If you’re not out of here in ten minutes you’ll be late for your first meeting.”
Arthur swears and jumps up.
The bus drops Merlin off three blocks from the theater but he has given himself plenty of time so he can get there without rushing. He’s excited to meet the director and other performers but he’s nervous, too.
Questions and self doubt filter in and out of his mind. Is my American accent believable? Do I have the right motivation for all Chad’s words and actions? Do I know this flawed young man as well as I think I do? Am I as weird looking as I think I am? Will I remember my lines?
He takes a deep breath and slows down. There’s no way to be fully prepared for whatever is going to happen at a read, and that just feeds the nerves.
As he’s about to knock on the backstage door, Merlin’s phone alerts him to a message.
8:18 AM Arthur: Stop worrying. You’ll be brilliant! Break a leg! kissy face
Merlin laughs and just like that his performance anxiety dissipates. He gives the door a loud knock and waits to be let in.