Arthur likes working at Waterstones. Sure, the pay isn’t great, and he has to deal with idiots who don’t know how to Google, and for some reason weirdos always seem to flock to bookstores, but his father would hate the idea of him working here, so. Small victories. Also, he has to pay for rent and food somehow after his father had cut him off for choosing to study Medieval History rather than Business. It isn’t a sob story, Arthur insists when people ask. He has plenty of his own money saved up that his father couldn’t take away, and technically he could survive without working, but having an income is fiscally responsible and Arthur is still a Pendragon at the end of the day.
It's a fairly regular Sunday afternoon, Arthur is less hungover than he normally is on a Sunday, but more exhausted having just come off a week full of midterms and essays. He is restocking a shelf in the Self-Help section of the store when the phone closest to him rings. He rushes over to pick it up.
“Thank you for calling Waterstones Oxford, this is Arthur speaking. How can I help you?” Arthur rattles off with a practiced ease.
The voice on the other end when it answers is low and a bit unsure.
“Yeah, hi, um. Can you check and see if you have a book in stock for me?”
“Of course, what’s it called?”
“It’s um. Well, it’s...I think it’s called...”
Arthur waits as the man stumbles over his words for a few more awkward seconds before interrupting.
“If you don’t know the name of the book, you can give me the author name, or try explaining the book to me. I might be able to find it that way.”
“It’s written by,” the man clears his throat. “Dr. Richard Jacob?”
Arthur types it into the store computer. There’s only one book by that author, a bold red cover with yellow writing staring back at Arthur from the computer screen. It takes him a second to register what the title says and when he does, it takes all his will power to choke out a quick, “just give me a few minutes to see if we have this in stock,” before putting the guy on hold so he can double over from laughter.
How to Live With a Huge Penis: Advice, Meditations, and Wisdom for Men Who Have Too Much by Dr. Richard Jacob and Rev. Owen Thomas.
Several customers walk by as Arthur chokes on his laughter, wheezing with the strain of trying to get a deep breath, but he can’t stop. He thinks he’s made the guy wait for nearly five minutes before he finally pulls himself together enough to return to the phone call.
“I’m so sorry, we do not have that particular book in stock right now. Would you like me to order it for you?”
“Could you?” the man replies. It almost sets Arthur off again, but he takes a deep breath and really hopes the guy can’t tell that he’s been crying from laughter.
“Of course, sir. Did you want it mailed to the store or to your address?”
“Um, to the store.”
Arthur almost feels bad for the guy, this is clearly uncomfortable for him and maybe he has some reason for not wanting the book sent to his house.
“Alright, I just need a name and a number so we can contact you when the book comes in. You’ll need to bring in a piece of photo identification when you come to pick up and pay for the book.”
The man stutters out his phone number before nearly whispering “Merlin.”
“And last name?”
“Wyllt.” He says just as quietly. “W-Y-L-L-T.”
“Ok, Mr. Wyllt, I’ve sent in your order. Your book will arrive in about ten days, and someone will give you a call. Anything else I can do for you?”
“No, I think that’s it.”
“Great, we’ll see you later, Mr. Wyllt. Have a nice day.”
Arthur hangs up just before his next bout of laughter overtakes him. He tries to tell the story to his coworkers, but everyone gets fed up that he can’t spit out the story without laughing so hard he can’t even breathe. Leon rolls his eyes and walks away before Arthur has a chance to finish. Gwaine sticks around to the end and accuses him of lying.
“You must be really bored, mate.” But Gwaine is hiding in the back room looking at a magazine instead of actually doing his job, so Arthur doesn’t really listen to him. Elyan and Percieval are too nice to outright accuse him of lying, but they don’t seem too convinced either. Percival claps him heartily on the back with a chuckle before walking away, and Elyan, the supervisor, asks if he can rearrange a display in the kids section. Not exactly the reaction he is hoping for.
Several days pass and once Arthur has told everyone he knows about the Guy with Too Much. It mostly leaves his head, life goes on as usual and he doesn't think about it at all.
One quiet Wednesday evening, Arthur is on front till, mainly staring into space and thinking about the homework he has piling up, when Gwaine’s voice comes crackling over the headset.
“Smoke show at 3’o’clock, I repeat, smoke show at 3’o’clock.”
Arthur rolls his eyes and gets onto the headset.
“Gwaine, your 3’o’clock is different from my 3’o’clock. Also, everyone can hear you, you know that right?” Including our supervisor, Arthur does not say, but he figures it’s heavily implied.
“He just entered the building, and he’s heading right for you.”
Given that Gwaine is attracted to pretty much anyone and anything, Arthur tries not to let it get to him. He fails a bit as he peers over the displays and finds a tall, dark haired man striding towards him, head lowered. Maybe Gwaine is actually onto something because the guy is cute . His lowered head and gaze does nothing to hide his thick, unruly hair, his angular cheekbones, and his slim build. To say he is Arthur’s type is a fucking understatement. Arthur’s eyes widen as the man raises his head a tiny bit and Arthur catches a glimpse of plush, pink lips, before the man lowers his head again.
Sweet fucking Jesus, he’s probably straight, Arthur thinks, regretfully. There’s no way Arthur could be this lucky. The man raises his eyes again and he meets Arthur’s eye contact and holds it for a few seconds before lowering his gaze once more. He flushes red.
Arthur is absolutely fucked.
The man continues to walk towards Arthur and Arthur continues to stare until the man approaches his till and raises his head. Arthur opens his mouth to speak.
“Hi, welcome to Arthur, my name is Waterstones...I, um. I mean uh welcome to Waterstones, how can I help you?”
The man flushes even redder.
“I’m here to pick up a book that was ordered for me.”
“Oh right, I just need your name.”
“Wyllt!” Arthur blurts out before thinking. Before thinking about how creepy that is, and before thinking how do I know that name again?
“Oh! Um, yes? How did you know?”
Then it dawns on him.
BIG DICK BIG DICK BIG DICK BIG DICK BIG D-
“I took your phone call.”
“Oh, right. Well, er, here I am. And here’s my I.D.” he flashes a card from his wallet.
“I’ll just grab your package - BOOK! I’ll grab your book. Uh, just a moment.”
Arthur rushes over to where they keep the online orders and tries to suppress his overwhelming need to sink into the floor and disappear. No, he is Arthur Pendragon, he is going to hold his head high, go back out there, and ask this handsome man with a huge dick out for a date. Or at the very least sex. But preferably a date.
He returns to the counter with the book.
“Great,” Merlin says, “I’ll just put that on-”
“Can I get your phone number?” Arthur blurts before he can lose his nerve, and far too aware that he just rudely interrupted Merlin.
“Do you need it for this book order? I think I already gave my number, that’s how you contacted me?”
“Shit, I’m not supposed to do this,” Arthur murmurs, glancing from side to side to make sure there’s no managers nearby. He addresses Merlin. “No, not for the order, for me. I’m not supposed to be doing this, but I’m really not supposed to take phone numbers off of order sheets for personal use, so instead I’m asking you for it. Because you’re cute and I want to call you.”
“Wait, really?” Merlin is in a perpetual state of red cheeks, but he perks up a bit upon hearing that, even if the redness doesn’t abate. “Even though I’m, um.” He fiddles his fingers, drumming them on the book he’s ordered where it’s sitting on the counter between them.
“That’s a bit of an incentive, if I’m being honest.”
Merlin’s eyes widen. “Oh,” he says softly, knowingly. “Yeah, I can give you my number.”
Arthur rips out a bit of till paper and hands it over to Merlin along with a pen. They finish the transaction, Merlin pays by Interac, their hands brush as Arthur hands over the receipt and he feels electricity in his fingers.
Merlin leaves with a shy smile and wave, says “Can’t wait to hear from you.”
Arthur’s stomach does somersaults.
He thinks about trying to play it cool, but on his break an hour later he enters Merlin’s number into his phone, puts an eggplant emoji and a heart next to his name and immediately texts him.
Merlin, this is Arthur. So, how big is it, exactly?