Arthur scrambled out of the room, yelling, “Sorry, sorry!” He knocked over something on the dresser by the door but he couldn’t worry too much about it. Not when he just saw his new roommate’s (and quickly becoming his best mate’s) arse as he thrust into what appeared to be a very attractive woman, if the high-pitched moans were anything to go by.
But Merlin was gay. What.
Arthur sat in the living room area of their flat, telly turned on far too loud, distracting himself from the sex Merlin was undoubtedly still having (with a woman), because Arthur was more mature than this, and he wouldn’t do something as childish as grabbing his jacket and bolting to the cafe downstairs or anything.
That is where Merlin finds him, though (because he wanted coffee and their blend is just something special, okay), less than half hour later.
“Arthur,” Merlin begins, hand awkwardly running through his hair, but Arthur stops him, gestures for Merlin to sit.
Merlin does, looking sheepish, and this unnerves Arthur a bit because in their months of living together, he’s seen a plethora of Merlin-looks, but sheepish was never one of them.
“What the hell was that?” Arthur asks, blaming his voice cracking on the too-hot coffee he’d been drinking.
“That.” Arthur gestures in the vague direction of their flat, hoping he doesn’t have to elaborate further.
He doesn’t. And there goes the sheepish look, only to be replaced by incredulous, confused, oh, and the usual – smug.
“That was sex, Arthur,” Merlin says and leans back in his chair more comfortably, unwinding the endless length of scarf from his neck before placing it on the table. “I didn’t think you’d be home yet and Morgana was complaining that she never got to see my new place.” He makes a half-shrug Arthur knows means ‘you know how it is.’
And Arthur does.
Only he doesn’t.
“But you’re gay!” he finds himself blurting out (far too loudly, judging by the glare they get from the distinguished lady at the next table over). He raises his hand in apology and looks back to Merlin. Who looks confused. Then laughs.
“I think you’ll find that that’s not the case.” It’s Merlin’s turn to gesture in the vague direction of their flat and Arthur feels less immature for doing it earlier.
Now it’s Arthur’s turn to look confused. “But you’re vegan,” Arthur starts, because really, that was the final straw, and is the biggest offence to Arthur’s own meatatarian sensibilities.
Merlin narrows his eyes in his (patent-pending) I-am-about-to-go-off-on-you-you-stupid-prat look.
“No. Look, you wear v-necks, and skinny jeans, and animal print and neon colours, and all those scarves.” Arthur gestures to the one on the table before continuing, “You listen to Katy Perry and One Direction!, Merlin. One Direction.” Arthur realizes mid-way through his speech that he should probably stop, because Merlin’s eyes get bigger and bigger, but now he’s started, he can’t. Because he thought Merlin was gay, and he worried about it at first, but figured they could make it work and wouldn’t have any issues, but now Merlin isn’t and Arthur’s so confused.
Merlin rubs a hand over his face and sighs before looking at Arthur. “You’re a moron, Arthur,” he says simply. “Do you even realize how bigoted you sound right now?”
Arthur does, but he can’t help but reiterate because he’s in shock or something, “I was just so sure.”
Something in the way his voice cracks for a second time that day must get to Merlin because he starts to laugh. “Oh, Arthur,” he says and pats Arthur’s hand across the table (another look from the distinguished lady). “Because I know you mean well, and to clear up some obvious misunderstandings, I’m gonna actually address your points. Ok?”
“I’m vegan because I grew up that way, mum had been vegan since a trip to a cattle farm when she was young and she’d tried letting me choose, buying meat, but I found I didn’t really need it. And gay because I’m vegan, really Arthur?”
Arthur shrugs, point taken. “But what about the other stuff? I mean, I know now I was off-base but it just made so much sense.”
“Katy Perry and One Direction add up? This coming from the guy I’ve caught playing Meatloaf and ABBA so many times I’ve lost count?”
“Meatloaf and ABBA are awesome!” Arthur counters, offended. Because they are.
Merlin rolls his eyes.
“But what about the clothes? On the average day I get more cleavage from you than anyone else, mate.”
Here, where Arthur expects even more eye-rolling and protests, Merlin goes quiet and starts picking at his scarf.
“Morgana,” he says quietly and blushes. He blushes!
Merlin begins to wind the scarf around his arm, fidgeting. “My girlfriend, Morgana, she likes it. She’s uh, an aspiring stylist, and when she’s always pointing out the latest trends, or giving me a scarf here, a v-neck there.” Here, he pointedly looks at Arthur.
Arthur bursts out laughing.
“So what you’re saying is that I thought you were gay because you let your girlfriend dress you?”
“You thought I was gay because you rely on society’s stereotypes to dictate how someone should be,” Merlin counters.
“Merlin, mate, c’mon,” Arthur grins at Merlin and yanks at the scarf wrapped tightly around Merlin’s wrist.
“Yeah, okay.” And the easy grin is back. “But you haven’t seen her, Arthur, it’s like, by some freak accident, I ended up with a girlfriend who on her bad day could pass for a runway model, and she wants me. Don’t want to lose her, I guess.”
“If she dropped you because of shit fashion sense, she wasn’t worth your time anyway,” Arthur tells Merlin, never having seen him so candid before, but something clicks. “Wait, is this why you never brought her over? Because you thought she’d be into me?”
When Merlin doesn’t reply and won’t meet his eyes, Arthur laughs again.
He doesn’t stop until a painful jab in the shoulder startles him.
“What?” It’s Merlin’s turn to look confused.
“It’s just kind of funny, how neither of us seems to have a functioning gaydar to save our lives.”