Arthur put the magazine aside and got up as he heard his name over the speaker system. He didn’t really like this eye clinic. It was huge, there were too many doctors and it felt like being a part of an assembly line. But his old eye doctor had retired and the only appointment he could get within two weeks was here, everywhere else offered appointments in about half a year and Arthur wasn’t willing to wait for so long.
He entered a darkened examination room where someone in white jeans and a white polo shirt sat at a computer. The man got up when he heard him enter, a wide smile on his face.
“Mr. Pendragon? I’m Doctor Emrys. What seems to be the problem today?”
Arthur stared. When he thought ‘Eye specialist’, he thought of an elderly man in glasses – probably because that’s what his old doctor had looked like. The man before him was tall and seemed to be his own age, the longish hair tied back into a little ponytail which would have looked ridiculous in anyone else but the way the hair that escaped the scrunchie and curled in the back of the man’s neck was just the right mixture of cute and hot.
“Mr. Pendragon?” Friendly blue eyes looked at him.
“Oh..err..sorry,” Arthur chuckled nervously. “Nothing wrong, just the regular check to see if I might need a guide dog soon…”
The smile fell out of the doctor’s face and he frowned. “Are you having issues? Blurred vision? Headaches?”
“No! Nono, sorry, but they say my grandfather was blind when he was my age. So I’d rather have regular checks to be on the safe side. No problems so far, though.”
Doctor Emrys relaxed. “I see. Why don’t you sit down?” He pointed to the examination chair.
Arthur sat down. He knew the drill, he’d been having eye exams since he was little. Nobody had ever found out what had taken his grandfather’s sight away but it seemed he hadn’t been the first one in the family, so he was rather on the safe side and get a check every six months.
“Put your chin here and lean your forehead against the…okay, I see you know what to do.” There was a smile on the doctor’s face and Arthur’s insides did funny things and he smiled back.
“Look at my ear.” Doctor Emrys tapped one of his ears. “It’s hard to miss.” He chuckled.
“It’s wonderful.” Arthur bit his lip. Damn, that was something you couldn’t say to your eye doctor! “I mean…err…” Drawing a total blank, Arthur shut up as the doctor shined a special light into his eye.
“And there’s another one of those wonderful ears on the other side, too, if you’d please look at that now.”
Arthur felt his cheeks flush as he looked at the other ear. They were huge and sticking out and on everyone else he would have found that very unfortunate but on this man…he wanted to run the tip of his tongue along the rim.
Doctor Emrys pulled back. “Looks fine to me. Let’s see if there’s anything wrong with your glasses.”
Arthur went through the check, reading numbers and letters from the far wall and before he knew it, the doctor shoved the equipment aside.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Pendragon, there is nothing wrong with your eyes. I’ll see you next year?”
Next year? That was way too long! If it were up to Arthur, he wouldn’t even leave! But this was an appointment, he couldn’t just…before he knew it, he had nodded and shook hands with the gorgeous doctor and was out of the door. Damn! Why did his brain always short-circuit in these moments? Then again, he had never felt like that at a chance meeting.
Confused and hyper, he made his way back to his office.
“Wow, what did you do?” Doctor Emrys looked at Arthur’s left eye that was swollen and red.
“I don’t even know. I’ve been working on my car and something must have fallen and…”
“And you weren’t even wearing safety goggles, were you? Let me take a closer look.”
“No, I…” Arthur hissed. It really hurt. He had tried to find a good reason to go back to the clinic sooner, but this really hadn’t been his plan. Some rust must have fallen down while he tried to fix up the old clonker – classic! It was a classic! – with Gwaine on the weekend and it had felt like someone had poured a sack of grit into his eye since then. That he tried to find the piece himself and poked around on his eye hadn’t helped and come morning, his eye was almost swollen shut.
When Doctor Emrys – Merlin, as his name tag stated – pulled back, Arthur felt tears running down his cheek. He closed the eye. “Will I survive?” He threw the doctor, who wasn’t wearing the scrunchie in his hair today Arthur noticed, a crooked smile.
“Only just.” The man winked. “I think I got the little fucker out of your eye. We’ll put a bit of salve in and make sure you won’t use it too much for a few days and you’ll be as good as new.”
Salve? Salve in the eye? Arthur felt himself panic. He couldn’t even stand the thought of contacts, but something smeary and thick? He’d always been very sensitive when it came to his eyes, so the thought alone made him sweat.
It hurt a bit when Doctor Emrys touched the swollen eye again but before Arthur drew back, he had applied the salve. “Here you go.”
“That’s…that’s all?” Arthur sighed in relief.
“We’ll find you a trendy eye patch, so you can give that eye a bit of rest. The ladies at the front desk will give you a note for your employer that you need to stay home for a few days, if you need that.”
Arthur shook his head. “I’m my own boss.” He tried to smile, sure that he wasn’t a great sight at the moment with his swollen eye where the salve came out left, right and centre.
“Oh? What do you do?” The doctor applied what looked like a gauze pad to Arthur on his eye and fastened it with special plaster.
“Office stuff.” Arthur said automatically. He’d had too many unwanted reactions when he said ‘I’m CEO of Pendragon Industries’, so he gave the easy answer.
Doctor Emrys pulled back. “Promise that you won’t go back to the office. It’s essential that you give your eyes some rest. And since you can’t move one eye without moving the other as well, go home, lie down, listen to music, an audio book or something, don’t use the computer and please, do yourself a favour and do not watch TV!”
Arthur sighed. They would be able to manage without him at the office for a few days and the doctor hadn’t forbidden to be on the phone, but the rest sounded boring.
A girl came in. “The patch you’ve asked for, Merlin.” She didn’t even acknowledge Arthur’s presence and then left again.
“Okay, here you go.” Carefully, Merlin put the patch on Arthur, his fingers brushing his check accidentally, sending jolts through Arthur.
The doctor grinned widely. “You might consider being a pirate for Halloween. The look suits you.”
Arthur smiled goofily when he saw the doctor’s eyes crinkled up into half-moons. His heart was beating faster. “I’ll think about it.” He wouldn’t, he knew. But that the doctor found the right words to keep him from panicking, reassuring him that he would be fine, was fantastic. The doctor was fantastic. Arthur was sure that he would think about him even more often than before.
“I’d like to check that eye tomorrow, we might need to exchange the bandage.”
Arthur nodded and got up. “Thank you.”
“I’d like to say ‘anytime’, but I’d rather this not happen again. It’s nicer to see both of your blue eyes.” Doctor Emrys winked again, shook hands with Arthur and then left him in the care of the ladies at the front desk who called him a taxi so he would make it home safely.
Arthur went back to the clinic each day for a week. The first two days because Doctor Emrys insisted on having to check on the eye, the rest because his eye needed it. His healthy eye. It needed to see the doctor. It felt a lot better when it saw the doctor. At least that was what Arthur tried to tell himself, even though the thought alone made him chuckle. He wouldn’t admit it to anyone, he had the biggest crush on the doctor and the easy way the man flirted with him – and Arthur was sure that this was what it was – made him feel good.
“Mr. Pendragon,” Merlin looked at him after checking his eyes. “Your eye is fine. There is no need to come back every day. Use the eye drops I’ve prescribed for another week and that’s it.”
Shaking his head, Merlin sighed. “As much as I like you, as a patient! – your eyes are fine and you have seen how packed the waiting room is, I really need the time to treat people’s issues.”
Arthur felt like he’d been hit. He paid for these appointments, so he had to be treated properly. He knew that the doctor was right, though. Sighing, he got up. “Guess I’ll see you next time something happens, right?”
Merlin smiled encouragingly. “Let’s hope it won’t happen too fast. For the sake of your eyes, of course.”
Arthur went home, feeling like a beaten dog. He liked Merlin. Maybe he should just send him a note? Or wait in front of the clinic, Merlin had to take a break once in a while, right? But that was childish. He was also the best eye specialist in town – Arthur sure had done his homework and read everything he could find about him – and he didn’t want to lose him.
Arthur was back at the clinic a lot sooner than he’d have wished for. It had started as a normal evening at the pub with his friends but somehow one of them got into a fight and before Arthur could do anything, he had been in the middle of it. He’d dealt a few blows but had earned himself a shiner, too.
“You don’t have to let yourself be beaten up to see me, Arthur.” Merlin grinned.
Merlin had checked his eye and yet again prescribed some drops, but other than that had given him a heads-up, everything was fine with his eye.
“So you’re admitting to doing this on purpose?” There it was again, the grin and the twinkle in Merlin’s eyes that Arthur had become so dependent upon.
“What? NO! I mean…” Arthur took a deep breath. “I know that you probably can’t and I don’t know if you’re even…but…” Taking another deep breath, Arthur prepared for a hasty retreat. “Would you go out with me? Even doctors need a break sometimes, so how about lunch? Or just a coffee? Or something?”
Merlin ran a hand through his hair and Arthur didn’t want anything more than doing the same to finally feel the pelt between his fingers.
“That would be highly unprofessional.”
Arthur’s shoulders fell. “I understand. I’m sorry.” He reached for the door handle.
Turning around again, Arthur looked at Merlin expectantly.
“How about I’d kind of hand you off to Gwen, Doctor Smith? She’s fantastic and will take good care of your incredibly blue eyes.” Merlin threw Arthur a shaky smile. “That would mean you’re no longer my patient and I could…”
“When’s your lunch break, Doctor Emrys?” Arthur grinned widely.
Smiling just as widely, Merlin pretended to check the clock on the wall. “Actually…I think I feel a bit peckish now. Give me a few minutes to get my jacket. There’s a little pub at the corner, meet you there in ten?”
His black eye forgotten, Arthur grinned all the way to the pub.