Title: Relaxing Results
Pairing/s: pre Merlin/Arthur
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Morgana
Summary: Merlin will make this man relax, if it is the last thing he does.
Warnings: Some strong language
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Anything you want
Author's Notes: Enjoy!
“Merlin! Merlin, wait!”
Merlin turned from where he had been locking the door. Morgana was hurrying down the street towards him and, as always, he marvelled at her speed in heels. She was pulling a man along and when Merlin looked again, he realised she was pulling him by his wrist rather than the hand. To say he looked reluctant was an understatement.
“I’m closing, Morgana,” Merlin whined. “I’ve got things to get home for.”
“No, you don’t,” Morgana said bluntly. Merlin rolled his eyes. He should have known she would see through his lies. “I’ll owe you big time.”
Merlin chewed his lip, jostling the keys. Morgana owing him a favour always worked to his advantage. Morgana sensed his hesitation.
“Please. The prat hasn’t slept for a week.”
“Fine.” Merlin opened up the shop and gestured for the blond man to enter. His eyes were unfocused and Merlin was convinced he caught a whiff of alcohol. After letting him in, he caught Morgana’s arm.
“My brother, Arthur. Father is killing him, Merlin. Please, you have to help him relax.”
“Am I safe?” Merlin didn’t mean to be blunt. But he was going to have to lock the door after them and if the man was drunk, then Merlin wanted reassurance. Morgana nodded.
“Of course. He’s as soft as a kitten. He’s only had one, I swear.”
“You owe me big time for this.” Merlin said and Morgana nodded even as she turned to walk away.
“I’ll be back in an hour.”
Merlin watched her go before he entered the shop, turned on the lights and locked the door. He motioned the man through to the back.
“Strip to the waist,” he instructed. Arthur stared after him in a daze but when Merlin set about dimming the lights, putting on soft music and warming his oil, Arthur complied. Merlin spread new tissue and towels out over his plinth before turning back to Arthur. He had removed his shoes as well and Merlin nodded to the bed.
“Lie on your stomach.”
Arthur didn’t utter a word but did as he was told. Morgana was right; he was like a kitten. Merlin knew that wasn’t the case at work though – although Merlin had never met Arthur, Morgana and Gwaine both complained what a slave driver he could be.
Merlin waited until Arthur was comfortable.
“I’m just going to do your back and shoulders,” Merlin told him. “We don’t have much time and I haven’t got anything else organised.”
Arthur mutely nodded. Merlin turned to get the oil, but paused. Arthur had just been lowering himself down further and Merlin was convinced he caught sight of a tear on the man’s cheek. No wonder he wasn’t talking if he was trying to suppress his emotions.
Merlin carefully coated his hands and Arthur’s back in the oil.
“You know,” he said conversationally, “the best way to relax if you stop holding back. Anything in here remains in here.”
It wasn’t his usual line on his clients. Then again, his usual people didn’t tend to be men on the edge of breaking point because of their own fathers. Merlin started rubbing Arthur’s shoulders.
Swearing in front of his clients wasn’t usual, either. But for someone of Arthur’s age and fitness, Merlin had never felt anyone so tense. He murmured an apology and set to work. No wonder Arthur couldn’t sleep if there was this much stress and tension in his body.
It had been a long time since a massage had taxed Merlin physically. But he was still wrestling the knots in Arthur’s shoulders when Morgana tapped on the window. Merlin glanced at his watch and motioned her away. She smiled and left. Merlin no longer cared that his hour was up. He was going to make this man relax if it was the last thing he did.
Half an hour later though, he stopped, his own arms trembling.
“Roll over, slowly,” he instructed, holding the towel out to give Arthur some privacy. When Arthur was on his back, Merlin lifted the bed and helped him sit up before fetching him some water.
Arthur’s face was lax and although he still seemed unfocused, it now appeared to be because he was relaxed.
“That should help you sleep tonight,” Merlin said, sitting in front of him. “Drink plenty of water, it helps flush the toxins out of your muscles. And I want you to come back and see me next Thursday.”
“Why?” It was the first word that Arthur had spoken. Although his voice was soft with exhaustion, Merlin could hear that he expected to be answered.
“Because,” Merlin said carefully, “you’re going to do some damage if you remain that stressed.”
“How dare you-,”
“I dare because your sister just dragged you to my door. I don’t care about you; I don’t give a damn what you do! But I care for her and I won’t let you hurt her. Drink plenty of water. Cut the coffee and the beer. Eat fresh food rather than ready meals and come back to see me in a week.”
Merlin turned to tidy up, letting Arthur collect himself. For once, he wasn’t worried about going too far. If there was one thing he did know about Arthur Pendragon, it was that the man cared for his sister like no one else. He would do this for her sake.
Merlin also had a feeling that Arthur was used to getting his own way and not have people – other than his father – dictate to him. Merlin risked a glance over his shoulder and sure enough, Arthur had finished the water and was getting dressed with a soft smile on his face.
“How much do I owe you?”
“We’ll settle that on Thursday.”
“I should pay you for your time tonight.”
“Buy me a drink and we’ll call it even,” Merlin said without thinking.
“Done,” Arthur said. “Non-alcoholic, of course.”
And before Merlin knew it, he had agreed.