Pairing: Arthur/Merlin, Morgana/Gwen, Lancelot/Will
Disclaimer: Don't own Merlin
Summary: Merlin is tired of the centuries in between reincarnations in which he's so alone, so he stops looking for Arthur, making a life for himself. And yet Arthur comes back into his life, and even without his memories Prince Arthur is playing for keeps.
Note: Lancelot is a little ooc because I needed a fun, flirty friend for Merlin and somehow I didn't see Will as flirty---unless it was towards Merlin.
Warning: AU. Gay People EVERYWHERE! lol
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It’d been two weeks since he’d seen Arthur.
Not that he was counting.
“Are you still chatting to him?” Merlin asked, putting down the book he just couldn’t finish and strolling over to where Lancelot was typing furiously on the keyboard of his laptop. And when Merlin said furiously he didn’t mean rapidly, he meant angrily, because Lancelot was a piss-poor typist.
“Ya.” Lancelot looked up from where he’d misspelled yet another word, groaning as he backspaced and spelt it again, slowly, carefully…slowly.
“What’s so great about him then?” Merlin wanted to know, leaning his hip against the desk and peering at the conversation taking place on googletalk. “Will-I-Am” He snorted. “Coulda been a little more original.”
“Oh hush,” Lancelot smiled. “Not everyone can be Merlin: Gay Sorcerer Extraordinaire.”
Merlin groaned. “You don’t still have me signed on with that screenname, do you?”
Minimizing the chat window, Lancelot pointed to his contacts list, which read Merlin: Gay Sorcerer Extraordinaire…is offline. Smirking at Merlin’s groan, Lancelot grinned and maximized the conversation once more in time to receive Will-I-Am’s response.
Merlin watched his friend in silence, as Lancelot chuckled to himself and began typing back, which was a show in itself. Lancelot had always scoffed when people would talk about finding love on the internet, and then he’d met Will-I-Am. and he was pathetically infatuated.
It was funny as hell to watch, but lately, especially since Arthur’s appearance in The Dragon’s Lair, Merlin couldn’t help but feel a little envious. He was glad that Lancelot had found someone who made him so happy, but seeing his friend like this only reminded him of how alone he was.
He didn’t like the reminder.
He was going to have to do something about it.
“I think I’m going to call him.”
“Hoodie guy?” Lancelot looked up, grinning, referring to Arthur. “It’s about time.”
“What? No. He didn’t leave his number.” Not that Merlin had wanted him to. “Demarco.”
Lancelot’s grin morphed into a frown, fingers stilling on the keyboard, eyes narrowed. “Dennis Demarco?”
“What’s wrong with Dennis? You’ve never had any complaints about him before. You even encouraged me to flirt more with him.”
“He’s a big tipper.” Lancelot defended his past actions, before taking in a deep breath. “Okay, look, the chap’s good looking and all, and his da is a member of the Parliament who is fighting for gay rights and gay marriage, but—but--.”
“But?” Merlin folded his arms over his chest.
Lancelot frowned. “I don’t know, Mer, I just don’t like the thought of you two together. It doesn’t seem right.” He paused. “You’re destined for better things.”
Merlin flinched, as he usually did whenever Lancelot used that word. “I make my own destiny, Lance, and I want my own Will-I-Am.”
Lancelot’s smile returned somewhat at that as he sent his gaze at the computer and back. “You know, you can’t trust internet relationships much. He says he’s a little younger than me, around your age, but he could very well be some perverted, fat old man with a beer gut and a taste for devilishly handsome young men.”
Merlin grinned, laughing somewhat. “Or he could be a dashingly good looking man with a great heart who is just looking for his soulmate.”
Lance grinned brighter. “I prefer your theory.”
“Me too.” Merlin agreed. “And I want to find me one too.”
Lance sighed and then nodded. “Okay Merlin, if you think Demarco could be that for you, you have my total support.” He then grinned mischievously. “And think about it, if they allow gay marriages here, you could marry him and be his housewife! You wouldn’t have to work another day!”
Merlin swatted at the back of Lancelot’s head. “Behave, you.”
“I try.” Lancelot laughed as he returned his attention to the computer.
“No you don’t.” Merlin countered, going towards his cellular and browsing through the numbers within.
“You know me too well.” And then Lancelot laughed at something Will-I-Am had written and forgot all about Merlin.
The ageless warlock smiled at the back of his friend’s head, found D. Demarco in his contacts, and pressed send, telling himself that he was not making some huge mistake.
He’d made a mistake.
He’d made a huge ass mistake.
Looking around the large room, Merlin tried to merge into the wall.
The impromptu date had been going quite well until Dennis’ father had phoned saying that he’d forgotten something at home and asked Dennis to use his spare keys and bring it to him at the function he was attending at the palace. Merlin didn’t even know how Dennis had gotten them into Buckingham as easily as he had, and he didn’t know why he’d allowed Dennis to convince him to come along instead of just heading back home.
So here he was, in one of the waiting rooms, pacing, nervous, waiting for Dennis to come back from where he’d gone searching for his father.
This had been a bad bad idea.
Fingering his visitor’s special permission badge, Merlin went to lean against the wall, arms folded over his chest, shaking his foot anxiously. He shouldn’t be here, so close to danger.
So close to Arthur.
Groaning, he ran his hands through his hair and decided he needed a smoke. But he couldn’t very well pull out a fag and light it in a visiting room in fucking Buckingham, could he?
That was when he sensed it.
Head jerking up, Merlin strode towards the door and opened it, sticking his head out and looking both ways before following the feeling, unable to believe it, yet desperate for it to be so.
“You stupid woman!” A man was growling at a woman on her knees, picking up a tray of appetizers and finger foods. “That’s it! You’re fired!” He kicked at the food on the ground and stormed away.
The woman had her back to Merlin, her hair up in dark curls, her shoulders slumped. She looked about to cry as her hands stilled over the upturned food.
Merlin froze, unable to believe it.
He cleared his throat, going towards her, rapidly. His best friend, Gwen, she was here, now. “Are you okay?”
Gwen looked up at him, eyes puffy and red, barely able to keep her tears at bay.
“He was a real jerk, he had no right to treat you like that.” Merlin fumed at the man who’d obviously been her boss, helping her put the ruined delicacies into the tray. “Where I work things like this happen all the time, but Mr. Hurt never treats anyone like this. Doesn’t even dock it from our paycheck.”
Wiping at her tears, Gwen dried her hands on the uniform that proved she had been working for the catering company assigned to this event. Her smile was a little watery but completely genuine. “Thank you. You didn’t have to---.”
“I’m Merlin.” He brushed his hands off and offered one to her.
She hesitated for a moment before shaking it. “Gwen.” She slumped back down looking at the tray of destroyed food. “This was my second job too, you know. I’ve been messing up so badly lately, and I really need the money.”
Merlin was silent, feeling she needed to get this off of her chest.
“My father died a month ago, and I discovered he had a bit of a gambling debt I didn’t know anything about.” She brought the heel of her hand to her forehead. “Dogs, horses…he gambled on it all, and the only thing he had to show for it was the loan sharks at his funeral telling me I’m expected to pay off his debt for him.”
Merlin frowned, angered and protective, remembering the girl who’d once been his one true friend, who’d helped him get into the rhythm of life in Camelot. She had a heart of gold, and the thought of someone threatening her for something she didn’t do, threatening her in general, it angered him.
He had countless lifetimes of savings he ‘inherited’ during each new life, he could pay off the debt for her…
But he knew Gwen, she wouldn’t accept charity, that’d never changed during her lives.
Fumbling in his pocket, Merlin pulled out his wallet and fished around the many slots before finding the card he was looking for and offering it to her.
Intrigued, Gwen took it and looked at it, reading the large golden words out loud. “The Dragon’s Lair?”
“It’s where I work.” Merlin offered, giving her a smile. “It’s a bar uptown, and if you don’t mind having women hitting on you---we’re looking for a new waitress, Kayla left for L.A. to try her luck at acting and left us shorthanded. The pay mightn’t be what you’re getting here, but it’s decent and the tips are generous.”
Gwen blinked before returning her gaze back to the card, looking more intrigued. “Thank you. I---I’ll maybe stop by to look at the place? I---you work at a lesbian bar?” She suddenly grinned. “Wouldn’t the women want only women there?”
“Well, it’s a gay bar, the men who go there look for other men and the women go to check out the ladies, so we have a mixed staff for each tastes.” Merlin grinned cheekily. “I’ll have you know I’m somewhat of a favorite there amongst both sexes.”
She giggled, the tears that’d been in her eyes now long forgotten. “I can see why.” She took his hand when he offered it to her and helped her to her feet. “Thank you, Merlin.”
“You’re welcome.” He gave a little wave as she slowly walked away, looking behind her at him a couple of times contemplatively before disappearing around the corner.
“That was genuinely nice of you.” A voice said behind him.
Jerking, Merlin’s eyes widened when he saw the female emerging from the shadows, decked in all her glory. “Princess Morgana.”
“Merlin, right? That’s what you said your name was?” Morgana was just as beautiful as always, her eyes just as sharp and wise as always. “I got tired of the pomp and noise of the party and decided to take refuge out here. I saw what happened to that poor girl---it was that man who bumped into her that caused her to drop her things. I was going to point that out to him and tell him how the royal house doesn’t approve of one treating one’s employees in such a way, but you were there to comfort the girl.”
“I only did what anyone would have done.” Merlin was itching to get away. While Morgana had always been the only one who truly understood him when it came to the magic within him, and he’d always valued her friendship and insight, Morgana was always a part of Arthur, and he couldn’t have anything to do with Arthur.
He couldn’t go through this again.
He just couldn’t.
“I don’t think you were on the invite list.” And yet Morgana was smiling at him, as if she knew a secret he didn’t and she relished it.
“I---I came with my date.” Merlin didn’t understand why her face fell immediately. “His father asked him to bring him something he’d forgotten and Dennis asked me to come with him so our date wouldn’t be ruined.”
“Dennis.” Morgana’s eyes darkened. “Dennis Demarco?”
Merlin nodded, wondering if Morgana liked Demarco. He couldn’t think of any other reason for why she would seem so bothered by this news.
“Dennis Demarco isn’t the most sensible of men, Merlin, there are many superior men out there, you could do better.” Morgana dashed his theory to smithereens with that comment. She gazed at Merlin through her eyelashes. “You’re the son of Merlin Emrys, are you not? My brother met you when he finally butched up and snuck out a couple of weeks ago.”
He nodded, not trusting his voice.
Morgana’s lips curled in a smile as she looped her arm around his. “My brother has your father’s every movie, he especially adored In The Mists of Time.”
Merlin smiled. “That was my favorite as well.” He’d enjoyed doing that role. His agent had been against him playing a homosexual character, afraid of how it’d affect his image, but Merlin had enjoyed the story of Spanish conquistador who’d stumbled into a land forgotten by time and who fell in love with the son of the chief of the tribe that inhabited the land.
It hadn’t hurt that Thomas Bailey, the man playing the chief’s son, had looked very much like Arthur.
Even after the filming had wrapped, Thomas and Merlin had been close, a friendship that’d transformed into a discreet relationship. Merlin hadn’t loved Thomas, not really, not like Arthur, never like Arthur, but he’d cared for him and while they’d been together Merlin had been able to push away his longing for Arthur to the back of his head.
“I think it was extremely brave of your father to star in such a film during those days.” Morgana told him seriously. “The taboo that was homosexuality, he was a real pioneer in helping people accept gays as being normal, the fact that he played a gay character really made a lot of people stop and think.”
“I take it you’re in support of the bill to legalize gay marriages?” Merlin steered the conversation away from himself, feeling a little more relaxed now. He’d always loved debating with Morgana, and truth be told, he’d missed her sharp wit and intriguing conclusions terribly.
Morgana nodded. “Mind you, my father isn’t of the same mind.” She made up her nose. “He believes that homosexuality is going against god, isunnatural. If he had his own way he’d probably ban homosexuality from the land.”
Merlin snorted, thinking that no matter how many lifetimes Uther lived, he’d always be a prejudiced bastard---and his prejudices would always be an obstacle for Merlin and Arthur.
Not---not that there was any Merlin and Arthur now!
“So, are you and Dennis partners?” Morgana’s gaze sidled towards him, letting him know this was important somehow.
“No, this was actually our first date.” He admitted, not sure why she looked relieved and pleased with his answer. “To be truthful, my friend Lance has this boyfriend online that he’s utterly in love with, and I was somewhat envious of that.”
“So you thought maybe Dennis could be your soulmate.” Morgana nodded sagely, giving Merlin’s arm a little squeeze. “Let me give you some advice, Merlin. Don’t settle.” She then paused. “You know what Arthur and I found so amusing?” She grinned like a conspirator at Merlin. “We’re all named after the Arthurian legends. You, Arthur, this Lancelot friend of yours, and me too.” She sent him a coy look. “Destiny maybe?”
Merlin flinched and looked away, smile disappearing from his lips at that blasted word.
It was like it was stalking him or something.
“Did I say something wrong?” She sounded worried.
“Morgana!” They could hear a voice calling in annoyance for her. “Father sent me---!”
Merlin froze, tensing up immediately, forced to turn when Morgana did and stare upon Arthur’s face as the prince rounded the corner, having heard Morgana’s voice and followed it to where they were.
Arthur froze the moment he noticed the man in black standing with his arm looped around his sister’s. A millions emotions raced through that unguarded face, and then he grinned brightly, coming towards him. “Merlin!” He clapped his hand down on the warlock’s shoulder in a friendly greeting. “What are you doing here?”
“Keeping me company.” Morgana pouted at Arthur, but seemed more amused than put out. “I found him wandering the halls. Apparently his date was interrupted when Dennis got a call from his father asking him to bring him something.”
Arthur’s face fell, the hand on Merlin’s shoulder tensing, tightening its grip. “Dennis Demarco?”
Merlin frowned, looking between the siblings.
Why did it seem as if they were having a whole private conversation in front of him?
“Talking about Dennis,” Merlin eased out of their holds, clearing his throat nervously, he clasped his hands together in front of him and began to back away slowly. “I should probably get back to the waiting room he left me in. He should be back any second now.”
“Where did you buy your clothes?” Morgana blindsided him with the rapid change of topic as she came towards him and looped her arm around his once more. “I love the skinny jeans, and I have to admit, I have most of Cobra Starship’s music.”
Merlin’s gaze went automatically at his tight black shirt, with the band’s name on it, and then back up at Morgana with a surprised smirk. “Really?”
“My favorite is probably The Church of Hot Addiction.” Morgana admitted, beginning to lead Merlin back towards the waiting room.
Merlin sent a discreet glance over his shoulder at Arthur, blushed scarlet when the prince caught him looking, and then quickly returned his attention to Morgana. “My favorite’s The City Is At War.”
“Good one.” Morgana smiled as they reached the door of the waiting room. “Now, about that store.”
He gave her the name of the clothes stores he usually frequented, doubting she’d ever really go there. She was a princess after all, and he doubted she’d ever really be able to go out and buy the sorts of clothes those stores sold.
Merlin really felt sorry for Morgana and Arthur. In every lifetime they were born and raised under Uther’s dictatorship. They’d never really known what it was like to live their own lives freely, to do what they wanted.
“So,” Arthur cleared his throat, drawing the attention back to him. “Merlin,” he drew a strand of hair out of his face. “How has work been treating you?”
It looked as if he’d been about to say something else and yet had changed his mind at the last second, and Merlin was intrigued, wondering what the prince would have asked if he hadn’t chickened out.
“Great.” Merlin admitted, reminding himself that this was small talk, things people did so that conversations didn’t fall into uncomfortable silences.
The door opened. “Merlin!” Dennis smiled. “I wondered where you’d gone off to!” His eyes widened when he saw Morgana and Arthur. “Your Highnesses.” He cleared his throat, nervous and yet happy to see them. “It’s a pleasure to see you two again.”
Morgana raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “I’m sure.”
Arthur didn’t respond, face gone dark.
Merlin was shocked at the sudden change in the two royals.
“Don’t you have something you need to be doing, Dennis?” Arthur asked, sneer on his face. “Like actually working instead of sponging off of your father?”
Dennis went beet red.
Merlin’s eyes narrowed.
Arthur didn’t notice, sneering smugly at the other man. “Run along now, we’re in the middle of something. Didn’t your mother ever teach you it’s rude to interrupt?”
Dennis lowered his gaze, embarrassment obvious.
Morgana raised an eyebrow at Arthur.
“You utter prat!” Merlin exclaimed, not understanding why he was so surprised during every reincarnation to find Arthur such a condescending, arrogant prat.
Arthur’s sneer washed off of his face, replaced by surprise. “Excuse me?”
“I can’t believe you!” Merlin glared. “Is this how you treat your subjects? If so, you’ll be a shitty king. You’re an utter arse!”
“Hey!” Arthur sputtered, indignant, a soft shade of pink coloring his cheeks. “You can’t speak to me like that! Don’t you know who I am?”
Morgana groaned and shook her head.
“Yes, you’re a prat,” Merlin wondered how many lifetimes they were going to have this conversation. “And a royal one at that, sire.”
Arthur’s mouth opened and closed repeatedly.
Shaking his head at the prince, Merlin turned and grabbed Dennis’ hand. “Come on, we can still make the movie if we hurry.”
Dennis let himself be dragged away out of Buckingham and to his car. They went to the movie and then out to eat after that, but when Merlin was dropped home he gave the other man a polite thanks for the night and retired to find Lancelot still on the computer.
“How did it go?” Lancelot asked, not looking up from where he was typing.
“Great.” Merlin grumbled as he collapsed on the sofa, still in somewhat of a mood. He’d been fuming over Arthur throughout the whole date, and he felt somewhat guilty because that’d been the only thing he’d spoken about to poor Dennis.
He doubted they would be going out on another date after the disastrous one they’d had tonight.
Lancelot twirled around in his seat and eyed Merlin in concern. “You want to talk about it?”
“Not really.” He grabbed a cushion and laid down on the sofa, reaching for the remote. “I think I’m just going to watch some telly. Get my mind off of it.”
“Okay.” Lancelot responded. “But if you wanna talk, I’m here, mate.”
“Thanks.” Merlin smiled before turning on the television.
Lancelot soon logged off of his chat and joined him, watching a Mr. Bean marathon with him, and Merlin smiled, knowing that his friend had stopped chatting with Will-I-Am to keep Merlin company.
“You’re a good friend, Lance.” He told the handsome brunet.
“Yeah, and I’m good looking, too.” Lance smiled teasingly.
“Course, there’s always that.” Merlin smiled back, returning his attention to the television.
Tonight had been disastrous, but it’d also worked in his favor. After this Arthur wouldn’t even think about going to The Dragon’s Lair again. Merlin was free of him.
He’d never see him again---unless it was on the telly.
Merlin closed his eyes tightly.
It was what he’d wanted…
…so why did his heart hurt so much?Read Next Chapter