Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 44
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur Pendragon has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin.
Word Count: 581
Prompt: Welcome Home
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom which starts here.
He’s just finished composing the salad when Merlin hears Arthur’s keys in the front door. There’s the dull thud of his briefcase hitting the floor and the pat-pat-slide of Arthur toeing off his loafers and moving them out of the way.
“I’m in the kitchen,” Merlin calls, opening the refrigerator to get the butter out to soften up. Arthur pushes in beside him to grab a beer, giving Merlin an affectionate squeeze and a kiss on the cheek.
“Morgana is very trying,” Arthur announces, about to uncap the bottle against the kitchen counter. Merlin pointedly pushes the bottle opener toward him.
“Welcome home,” Merlin laughs, “and I bet she’d say the same about you.”
Arthur drinks nearly half the beer in one go. “Dad yelled at her for going over budget on the Malibu beach house and she, in turn, stormed into my office to yell at me for letting her go over budget. Letting her! She was treating the place like her magically come to life Barbie Dream House and somehow it’s my fault. When I wouldn’t agree, she pinched me!”
Arthur has taken off his jacket and rolls up his sleeve to display a large red mark on his forearm. Merlin makes sympathetic noises as Arthur barrels on. “She looked like she wanted to strangle me so I guess I got off lucky.”
“Are you going to lose money because of her design choices?” Merlin asks, slicing the baguette.
Arthur shakes his head. “No way. Her high end finishes are spot on for the neighborhood and the detail work is impeccable. We’ll probably get multiple offers,” Arthur says. “Dad should have read the comparables and seen that.”
Merlin gives him a small smile, “You could have led with that and saved yourself that pinch.”
Arthur rolls his eyes. “As my husband, you are supposed to be supportive as I stomp around and fume about my evil half sister and her evil ways. It’s the law, Merlin.” He points the now empty beer bottle at Merlin’s chest. “I demand you take my side.”
Merlin laughs, “Okay. I support your right to not save yourself future injury when Morgana is upset at your father and taking it out on you. Still, you didn’t deserve her wrath and you certainly didn’t earn this.” He leans over and gives the blossoming bruise a light kiss. “Better?”
“Much. Rant over,” Arthur says with a grin. He rounds the counter, snagging a slice of bread and taking a big bite. “Now let’s open that champagne and you can tell me all about your much, much better day,” he says, crumbs flying.
Morgause sends Merlin the rehearsal schedule the next morning: Ten to six, Monday through Saturday for the first four weeks and then the dreaded as needed the week before their first performance. Merlin is in most of the scenes, so he’s sure to be on hand for nearly every one of these days. It’s exhilarating.
Arthur looks at the schedule and blanches. “Wow.”
Merlin grins, “Exciting, right?”
“When do rehearsals start?”
Merlin glances back down at the schedule. “Ten in the morning, this coming Monday.”
“Do we have anything on this weekend? I can ask for Friday and we could finally drive to Palm Springs, unwind for a few days.”
Merlin’s brilliant smile is the answer he was hoping for but he can’t help kissing it off his husband’s sweet face.
It takes a few hours before Arthur gets around to calling his dad.