It was a rainy afternoon when Merlin first suggested the idea. Arthur was sipping tea and reading the morning paper, while Merlin was gazing out the window, counting raindrops. Arthur was quick to object, clear on his decision. They would not be getting a dog, not anytime in the near future anyways. Merlin had gone on about how he always had a dog growing up and it was really helpful to him during the bad times. He explained that a dog would bring them closer and give them something to care for. Arthur payed no attention, he wasn't getting an animal and that was final.
Merlin had been bringing up the idea of getting a dog on a daily basis now for weeks and it was really beginning to get on Arthur's nerves. It's not that he didn't like dogs, hell he had plenty as a kid; it's just that their flat wasn't really big enough. Having a dog was a big responsibility and he wasn't sure if he was ready for that next step in their relationship. He didn't dare tell Merlin this though, he just kept it simple with explaining that he didn't want to have to clean up after it. Merlin's face was unbearable to look at, he brooded and sighed when he didn't get his way. Arthur didn't mean to hurt his feelings, he just didn't want to take on the responsibility right now, he had tried to explain that but Merlin was too stubborn. He kept on about the dog until it led to a few restless nights of Arthur sleeping on the couch...alone.
It wasn't until Arthur was standing in a kennel hall a few days later that he knew he had no choice. Merlin had persuaded him with loving glares and midnight kisses. Arthur was a hopeless romantic, no matter how much of a tough guy act he put on. He had finally cracked when Merlin began to talk about his favorite dog with tears in his eyes, about how the pet had become his best friend and the only one he could truly talk to. Arthur just wanted to make Merlin happy, and if that meant having to bend a little, damn it he would just have to suck it up.
The drive to the kennel was fast, filled with Merlin's endless banter on breeds, names, and dog toys. Arthur was driving the speed limit and couldn't keep from glancing at Merlin, who was speaking with his hands and bantering on. Arthur felt a flutter in his lower belly, it made him so happy to see his boyfriend this excited. He didn't really feel that objected to the idea, as long as it made Merlin happy Arthur would suffice.
The kennel was an older building surrounded by trees and overgrown grass. The walk in ringed a chime above the door which made Arthur jump a little. How annoying, he thought. He looked around and saw a few red chairs scattered across the room, presumably for people to wait in. The paint was yellow, withered and chipped, there was a wall of lost animal posters just behind the reception desk. Arthur stared at them and jumped when Merlin began continuously ringing the tiny bell sitting on the wooden desk. Arthur gave him a glare. "What?" Merlin stated quietly and shrugged.
A plump woman with red hair and a cat in each arm entered the room.
"Hia boys" she said with a southern accent, placing the cats on her desk. "You here to pick up, look for or adopt?"
"Adopt." Merlin answered too quickly "A dog if you have any ready" he finished, placing his hands behind his back.
Arthur rolled his eyes, he was doing this for him, he kept reminding himself.
"Sure do" the woman pulled out some papers from the messy stack on her desk and handed them to Merlin
"You boys lookin for an older dog to lap sit or you want a puppy you can bring up on yer own?"
Merlin chuckled, "We aren't looking for any dog in particular, just whichever grabs our hearts I guess"
Merlin looked at Arthur and gave him a goofy grin.
"Yeah, um...a trained one is best." Arthur added.
"Okay, then follow me boys and I'll take you to the one's who'v had their shots and are ready to be loving, loyal pet's mkay."
She picked up a clip board and a bunch of documents making the cats on her desk scatter, then proceeded through the only door in the room, motioning for them to follow. Merlin grabbed Arthur's hand quickly, "Thank you, this means so much to me." he said and placed a gentle kiss on Arthur's cheek which made the edge of his mouth turn up.
The kennel hallway was loud and smelled of dog feces and processed pet food. Arthur's stomach flipped, he didn't like all the noise and chaos, Merlin on the other hand was beaming color and grinning from ear to ear. He released his grip on Arthur's hand and ran to the first cage in eye sight, bending down to pet one of the dogs. There were so many breeds, some Arthur had no idea what the hell they were, most were mutts, dirty, smelly, mutts. He glanced back at Merlin who had a dog in his arms, a chihuahua by the looks of it.
"They bark." Arthur said softly.
"What?" Merlin spoke above the barks, turning to face Arthur, softly petting the tiny dog.
"The little ones" Arthur spoke louder now,"They bark too much, can we pick something a little more friendly, and quieter for the neighbors?"
Merlin set the small dog down and patted it on the head, walking quickly to the next cage. "How about him?" He asked enthusiastically. He picked up the dog and touched his nose with the cold one of the pet's.
"Too...goofy." Arthur stated, staring at the basset hound's long face.
"What? Goofy how?" Merlin spat, holding the dog out, examining him.
"His ears are as big as yours Merlin!" Arthur stated jokingly, with hidden truthful undertones.
Merlin scoffed and tapped his shoe against the cage, placing the goofy dog back in it's cage. He moved to the next one and he pleaded, eyes wide and lip pouting. "Pleease Arthur, look at his little face!" Arthur stared at the English Bulldog. Merlin was poking through the cage scratching the dogs triple shin.
"He won't even be able to jump up on the bed" Arthur stated coldly. "Plus he's all wrinkly."
Merlin was beginning to lose the high of the experience, every shot down by Arthur was killing his joy.
"Fine!" Merlin threw his hands up in the air. "You pick Mr.Clotpole, which dog is best...cause everyone I pick you seem to hate." He folded his arms across his chest, staring at the ground. Arthur raced over and took his hands in his own.
"Merlin...Merlin I didn't mean to be insensitive, here just pick one and I'll like it, I promise." He thumbed Merlin's chin up, making him stare eye to eye with him. Those deep blue eyes soon began to crinkle with a small smile forming.
"I know just the one." Merlin chuckled slightly, moving away from Arthur and to the back of the hallway. Arthur followed in toe, watching as Merlin bent over and picked up the dog from the gated cage. He turned and Arthur almost spat, he had to hold back his tongue because he was staring at the strangest dog he had ever seen.
The pup had one black eye and one gold. He wasn't much bigger than the chihuahua, though he was only a puppy. His coat was short but soft to the touch, he was covered in black and brown spots, speckled right at the end of each paw and the tip of his tail. His legs looked too big for his body and his head toppled over with the weight of his ears. His ears! They almost touched the ground with how long they were, the dog was also skinny, not unhealthy skinny just naturally skinny, kind of gangly. Arthur thought he looked funny, though cute in an odd way.
He kind of reminded him of Merlin, Arthur laughed to himself, "What breed is he?" he asked.
The woman spoke from a few feet away, "Mixed, we can run some tests if you'd like but as far as we know he's a bit of everything. We don't know how big he'll get or if he'll be any trouble, maybe you boys would like an older, more trained dog?"
"No." Arthur interrupted, staring deeply onto Merlin's features. He was wearing a smile Arthur had only wished he could capture and keep for himself to have for always.
"This one's good, we'll do any paperwork necessary to adopt him." The woman nodded and walked over to the cage to retrieve the dogs paperwork. She motioned again for the boys to follow her through the hallway and back into the waiting room. Merlin was still holding the dog, placing tiny kisses on it's droopy ears.
"Oh!" She gasped, stopping behind her desk, "It seems I was incorrect, the puppy is actually a girl." She flipped through the papers once more, sitting in her chair. "Is that going to be a problem?" She asked, smiling at them.
"No" Arthur laughed, "It's perfect, we'll take her." He looked at Merlin and smiled reassuringly. Merlin leaned over and kissed Arthur's mouth gently, more loving than normal. "Thank you." he repeated for the second time that afternoon. "No problem, dollop-head." Arthur replied.
The woman was very helpful in educating them about the do's and don'ts. She told them where to buy the best food, how to potty train and where to take their puppy to the most honest vet. The paperwork was nearly finished when she tapped her pen on the table, took a deep breath and looked at the two boys gingerly.
"Now, what are we going to name her?" she asked.
Merlin gasped and looked at Arthur, open mouthed...oh god Arthur thought.