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The roll

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Merlin took a deep breath. There was so much going on in his life and now his boss has put even more work on his desk, just as he was getting ready to leave for the day. He couldn’t do this now, he had a few decisions to make and they took his breath away as it was. Feeling like someone sat on his chest, he slowly made his way home, his stomach in a knot. Even though he hadn’t eaten all day, Merlin didn’t feel like stopping at the grocery store or at his favourite take-out place. The smell of food made him feel even queasier, so he quickened his steps.

Why did everything have to happen at the same time? And why was he so afraid of making a decision that would change his life? Lots of people did it, nobody ever blinked an eye. With his record of poor decisions, though, he feared that he would once again take a wrong turn that would lead him back to square one.

With a bit of luck, his roommate Arthur would have to go to a business dinner or something and wouldn’t even be home, so Merlin could spend the evening on the couch, feeling sorry for himself all on his own. Arthur would only laugh at him that this was so difficult for him. Arthur made bigger decisions like this one on a daily basis, he would just call Merlin a girl and tease him about his reservations.

Merlin sighed when he opened the door to their place and noticed that Arthur was there already, which was unusually early for him.

“Hi.”

“Hey, Merlin.”

Blinking, Merlin took off his jacket and toed off his runners. It sounded as if Arthur was in the kitchen. Arthur was never in the kitchen. He didn’t cook. For Arthur, the kitchen was the place where the fridge and the coffee machine lived, nothing else. And yet, the lights were on, there was music playing from the little radio Merlin had put there a while ago and there was the sound of the table being set.

“What are you waiting for, I made dinner.” Arthur’s head appeared from around the corner, only to vanish again.

Dinner. Merlin stopped and blinked some more. Arthur had made dinner? Okay, who was this man in the kitchen and what happened to the real Arthur? Even though he didn’t feel hungry, Merlin padded into the kitchen. He had to see what Arthur had made.

Hadn’t he felt so lousy, Merlin might have laughed. Arthur’s idea of ‘making dinner’ was buying fresh bread rolls and delicatessen on the way home. He had arranged them on plates on the table and was about to make fresh tea. That was sweet. Merlin drew a shaky breath, he would miss Arthur.

“Hey, sit down, tea will be ready in a minute.” Arthur was staring at the tea cups as if he could speed the brewing process up this way.

Merlin slid into a chair. He wouldn’t eat anything, he was sure he couldn’t get anything down, but Arthur had done so much more than he had done in the three years they shared this place that he didn’t want to be impolite. Arthur had bought them dinner before. Sometimes he paid for the pizza they ordered and sometimes he brought meals from the upper class restaurants he knew, so what was on the table was actually the cheap version, but never before had he gone through the hassle to set the table and even light a candle.

Arthur brought the tea over. “Dig in.”

Smiling, Merlin shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”

“You need to eat, Merlin. You haven’t eaten right in a few days and I got all your favourites.”

Merlin swallowed hard. It obviously showed that he skipped breakfast and only had small things like a banana here or a toast there for dinner. “I don’t think I can eat.”

Arthur took one of the artesan bread rolls and held the sharp little kitchen knife to it. “One of these?”

Before Merlin could argue, Arthur had cut the roll in half.

“Here you go.”

The gesture was so unexpected and sweet that Merlin couldn’t help the tears welling up. Nobody had cut a roll for him since he’d been little. He reached for the roll and the knife. “That’s very kind, thanks.”

Arthur pulled the knife back and grinned. “If you think I’m going to hand you my best knife, think again.”

Sniffing, Merlin wiped his eyes and couldn’t help grinning, too. Leave it to Arthur to do an incredibly caring thing and then joke about it. “Thanks.”

“Hey.” Arthur got serious and looked at him. “Whatever it is, we will find a solution.”

A bit of the weight was lifted off Merlin’s shoulders. He knew his problems weren’t any of Arthur’s business, but it was good to feel that he wasn’t alone and for the first time in days, he saw a tiny light at the end of the tunnel.