“I didn’t know drug dealers took debit cards these days,” Leon said, looking over the total on the receipt he had found on Merlin and Gwaine’s kitchen counter. The three friends were getting ready to go out for the night (read: Leon and Merlin were ready to leave. Gwaine had been in the shower for over thirty minutes) and Leon had just begun his usual pre-pub raid of the refrigerator –an endeavor that generally brought no reward seeing as Merlin and Gwaine were typical uni students and their fridge was almost always empty- when the small slip of paper caught his eye.
“Merlin, is this your receipt,” he asked, closing the refrigerator door and abandoning the kitchen to seek out Merlin, who was currently banging on the bathroom door.
“Gwaine, you better be out of that shower and in your clothes in twenty minutes or we’re leaving without you,” Merlin shouted. Leon just shook his head. Merlin threatened to leave without Gwaine every Friday night. Leon knew they still had at least an hour or so before they actually left- all three of them.
“I don’t even know why you still bother, Merlin,” Leon said, laughing when Merlin started kicking the door. “You know he always takes forever. What does he even do in there that takes so long?”
Giving one the door one last heartfelt kick, Merlin collapsed against the door. “I have no idea. Why can’t I just have a normal guy for a flatmate? Why did I have to pick one with secret bathroom rituals that take forever when all I wanna do is get pissed and make bad choices?” he groaned out. Chuckling to himself, Leon just steered Merlin out into the living room before he could start banging his head on the door and deposited him on the couch. Realizing that they were at that point in the pre-pub program where Merlin launched into his full Flatmate Woe Lament, Leon picked up his cue and reached for the remote control that lay on the side table. That was when he realized that he was still holding the receipt, now wrinkling from being forgotten in his fist.
“Hey Merlin, I found this in your kitchen. What could you possibly be spending this much money on?”
Peering out from under the arm that he had dramatically thrown across his eyes, Merlin looked at the receipt in Leon’s outstretched hand and promptly choked.
“Don’t ask me! You know I don’t have that kind of money. I would say it’s Arthur’s but he hasn’t been here in…” Merlin’s words trailed off weakly and Leon tried not to wince. Arthur was Merlin’s boyfriend and they had had a falling out the last time the group had gone out to the pub and some guy had tried to pull Merlin. The two of them had been on the outs for almost two weeks.
“Maybe it’s Gwaine’s. He’s probably been hiring strippers whenever you aren’t at home,” Leon offered jokingly, not wanting Merlin’s night to be ruined because he was upset over Arthur. He was relieved to hear Merlin laugh at the idea.
“Nah. You know how he is. He’d probably tell them that they were doing it wrong and end up stripping for them. Unless you forgot why we can’t go to Avalon anymore” Merlin said and the two of them promptly doubled over in hysterics as they remember the time that they had all decided to try a strip club and had ended up having to escort home a very drunk, very naked Gwaine because they had been thrown out.
Every time the laughter seemed to be dying down, one of them would snicker and that would prompt the other to burst out laughing again. In the midst of the commotion, neither of them heard the shower turn off or saw a very wet Gwaine enter the room, a large green towel slung around his hips and another wrapped turban-style around his head.
Finally regaining his composure, Leon looked at the receipt again. Two hundred dollars is a lot of money, he mused silently. “He probably does spend it on strippers. The bill is so high because he stops the session to give them lessons.” He looked at Merlin out of the corner of his eye and saw his friend’s face turn an alarming shade of red as he puffed out his cheeks and tried to hold in his giggles. Unfortunately, he failed and one truly persistent giggle slipped out, along with a very undignified snort, and the two fell about laughing again.
“If you must know, it was hair products.”
Startled, Leon popped up from where he was sprawled on the rug to peer at Gwaine over the back of the couch. “What,” he ask, confused by Gwaine’s sudden appearance and simultaneously amused by the high-pitched wheezing noise emanating from Merlin’s throat as his friend rolled around on the ground and laughed so hard that tears streamed down his face.
“Hair products,” Gwaine repeated, sighing in amused exasperation when Merlin rolled over and banged his shin on the coffee table.
“Wait,” Leon said, finally realizing what Gwaine was saying. “You spent two hundred dollars on what- shampoo?
“Of course not,” Gwaine responded, sounding thoroughly put out. Leon considered responding that Gwaine was standing in the living room with a towel wrapped around his head like a teenage girl from some bad 80s movie but thought better of it.
“What kind of self-respecting man spends two hundred dollars just on shampoo,” Gwaine asked him. And then he grinned. “I bought conditioner too. You think this hair looks this good naturally,” he asked, giving Leon a wink before disappearing into his room.
Merlin, who had managed to stop laughing at some point during the conversation, simply looked at Leon and then collapsed in another fit of giggles, this time catching his elbow on the edge of the coffee table. Leon just shook his head. His friends were something else.