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The date

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"Hey, Merlin! Care for a date?"

Merlin's face lit up when he heard Arthur. He swirled around only to find his friend holding out a dried date at him. He could feel the smile sliding off of his face. "Err..."

"They're really yummy." Arthur grinned, shrugged and shoved the date into his mouth.

Merlin liked dates. The one you could eat. But he really would have preferred the other kind of date. The one where you did stuff together. For weeks he was waiting for Arthur to ask him out. And now this. He couldn't help but being disappointed and turned back to finishing the decorations on the wreath. He had really hoped that now, while they were decorating for Christmas, Arthur would get cozy and finally get all the hints he so carefully dropped in the past weeks. But no, Arthur was a lot more interested in stuffing his stupid face with sweets.

Percy, who was in the middle of decorating the tree in the corner, rolled his eyes so hard that it was practically audible.

Merlin looked over and shrugged. If Arthur didn't feel the same way, there was nothing he could do, was there?

Gwaine passed Arthur and Gibbs-slapped him.

"Hey! What was that for?" Arthur complained around another mouth full of dates.

"For being dense."

"What makes you say that?" Arthur frowned.

Gwaine crossed his arms in front of his chest. "You ask Merlin if he would like a date and then you offer him dried fruit?"

"But...these are dates." Confusedly, Arthur looked at the little cardboard box.

"Just not the kind of dates Merlin cares about." Gwaine looked sternly at him.

Merlin, who had blushed quite a bit, tried to appear busy with his decoration efforts, but watched the exchange from underneath his eyelashes.

Arthur looked at Gwaine for long moments. "Oh."

"Yes, oh. But you're too dense to notice."

"It's okay, Gwaine. It's..." Merlin tried to end this. It was awkward enough as it was!

"No, it is not okay." Gwaine turned back to Arthur. "Either you take him on a date already or you tell him that you are not interested. This back and forth thing you two are doing will end now."

Merlin held his breath as Arthur looked at him while he wiped his probably very sticky fingers on his jeans. He saw the colour rising on Arthur's face, but he couldn't look away. After months and months Arthur would tell him now to get lost and it would hurt so bad, but maybe he could start anew, some time in the future if he knew and wasn't hung up on the blond anymore.

"Are you..." Arthur started. "Do you really...I mean, do you actually want to go on a date with me?"

It sounded so disbelievingly that Merlin was taken aback.

"I mean...with me?" Arthur sounded like he couldn't believe it.

Taking a deep breath, Merlin nodded. "Yes, but if I'm not good enough for you, just say so. I'll live."

Gwaine groaned and even Percy sighed deeply. Merlin knew he wouldn't live. He would cry and mope and then cry some more and not even attempt to pick up the million pieces his heart would shatter into. But he needed to know.

"You? Not good enough for me?" Arthur absentmindedly sucked a sticky finger into his mouth as he stared at Merlin.

"Oh, for heaven's sake, go on a date and figure out who's not good enough for whom, but spare us this." Percy gestured from one to the other.

Gwaine had gotten their coats and shoved them onto them. "The Christmas market is still open. They have a decent mulled wine and if you get cold...oh, do you really need instructions of what to do then?"

But Merlin and Arthur were already out the door.