Title: Snap Point
Genres: Humor laced with crack (Yes, that means OOCness)
Word Count: 1570 words
Summary: Mordred knows UST when he sees it. No matter how hard his cousin Arthur and his babysitter Merlin try to dance around the issue.
Mordred was only eight, but he knew unresolved sexual tension when he saw it. It was not because he was a particularly lewd boy that deliberately went looking for stuff like this, no, absolutely not. Instead, it was impossible for him not to notice if it was waved in his face practically every night from Monday to Thursday from six to ten. Mordred was not stupid, he knew the definition of a baby-sitter. Cousin Arthur was twenty, he easily qualified, there was no cause for Merlin, the guy from next door, to come over.
But Merlin did, he came over every night as Mordred's babysitter and Arthur never left the house. Was that weird or what? Instead, Arthur hung around upstairs doing whatever twenty-year-olds did, and Merlin kept Mordred company downstairs. Not that Mordred minded any. Merlin was a nice guy, he went out of his way to be nice. Mordred liked chess, and it just so happened that Merlin had a knack for it; he wasn't as good at Arthur, but still decent, and Merlin went out of his way to let Mordred win most times.
It wasn't exactly an one-way street, anyway. Merlin's babysitting gig paid ten dollars an hour. Double what any of his classmates' parents gave their sitters. So yeah, Mordred could understand why Merlin went out of his way to be nice.
But it was things like:
"Merlin, go pick up a pizza."
"Merlin, get me some water."
that really didn't fit in his job description. Merlin was Mordred's babysitter, not Arthur's dog. So he technically didn't have to do any of those things. But Merlin did those things, he ordered pizza (with money from Arthur) and brought Arthur water to his bedroom. He answered to Arthur's every beck and call.
It had confused Mordred at first (because he wasn't a pervert and he didn't try to fight the parental controls on his computer) but eventually, everything clicked into place.
"You like my baby-sitter." He had announced one afternoon, gleeful. He was sitting in the doorway of Arthur's room, flipping through a book. Arthur himself was sprawled on the bed shirtless because it was a hot day. His cousin was flipping a sports magazine. "You like Merlin."
"Mordred." Arthur glared at him, dark and threatening, "Shut up."
"Well, okay." Said Mordred, because he had gotten what he wanted. Arthur hadn't denied the accusation. Instead, he'd almost confirmed it, when his face went as red as the color of the red shirt he always wore.
"I'll murder you if you tell Merlin."
Mordred smiled, "Okay."
Merlin came over that night. He looked haggard and tired, and he had a big file with him. "Mordred, could you just watch television and amuse yourself today? I've got two papers to write in the next twenty-four hours."
"Sure." Mordred said, and curled up on the sofa after selecting a DVD from the extensive collection along the wall. Most of them were rated as inappropriate for his age group, but since Merlin was doing his work in the exact same room, he could argue that Merlin was his guardian. "Merlin?"
"Should I tell Arthur to stop ordering you around too? I mean, you seriously have work to do today."
"Arthur's home?" Merlin looked up.
"Well, duh. He's always home, since you know, he really--"
Arthur, venomous and thundering down the stairs. He didn't look amused, "Merlin, we ran out of soda, d'you think you can go get some? There's a 7-11 down the street."
Merlin seemed indecisive; Mordred took the opportunity to say, "Get your own soda. Merlin actually has work to do today." Besides, Mordred needed him for the movie.
"It's okay, Mordred, getting soda takes about thirty seconds." Merlin got to his feet, "...What kind of soda would you like, Arthur?"
"Vanilla Coke." Said Arthur, who was not used to considering other people's workloads and feelings.
But Merlin, ever thoughtful and considerate, asked, "...What if they don't have that?"
Merlin shrugged, "Fine, I'll be right back." Arthur tossed him the keys, and Mordred took in his cousin's wanton stare--Merlin's back? No, it went lower-- Merlin's...ass. Mordred flinched and wished he hadn't looked, what was on the screen though, wasn't much better. He fast-forwarded until it was to a fight scene.
"I haven't even said anything yet." Mordred called after him, "But for what it's worth, you give subtlety a really bad name. It hates you, you know."
"Do I really have to rearrange your face to define 'shut up' for you?"
The next week, Arthur didn't come downstairs at all. He was still upstairs, doing whatever twenty-year-olds did when the object of their affections was downastiars--wait. Stop. Mordred wasn't even going to go down that road. Merlin asked for permission that night to use the kitchen, and Mordred gave it, since he didn't really want to bug Arthur.
"What are you making?"
"Fried rice, I saw it on the cooking channel, I thought you might like it." Merlin said, "...D'you think Arthur would want some?"
Honestly? If Mordred were ten years older, he'd want to date Merlin. But he understood perfectly why Arthur would. The guy was thoughtful, and he didn't complain much. He was unhealthy but that was maybe because he forgot to take care of himself sometimes. "...Arthur doesn't like Chinese."
Mordred didn't expect Merlin's face to resemble something akin to a boy having his birthday balloons popped on accident by the birthday clown.
Mordred perched on a stool as he watched Merlin chop up cabbage. He must have the most dedicated babysitter in the world-- Merlin even lugged all of the ingredients across the street especially for him...but after seeing that look on Merlin's face, he couldn't be sure.
"...I'm sure..." And then Mordred faltered, he needed to say this just right, not for any reason except that Merlin was wielding a very big knife, "I'm sure Arthur will eat it if you made it." Which sounded cliche, and very lame, even to his eight-year-old mind.
But you should have seen Merlin smile.
Seven o' clock rolled around and Arthur sauntered down the stairs. Mordred was placidly eating his bowl of fried rice, courtesy of Merlin, for it was indeed very good. Merlin was picking at his own bowl and Mordred almost gagged at the look that Arthur gave Merlin and vice versa (of course they didn't think he was looking.) Honestly, did they think he was that stupid?
Eight did not equal stupid. Well, maybe in Arthur's mind it did, and Merlin was probably too airheaded to notice.
Because Merlin was too dumbstruck to say anything? Mordred did him a well-deserved favor, "Merlin made fried rice." he announced as nonchalantly as he knew how, "You want some?"
But Merlin, ever the airhead, stumbled quickly to undo Mordred's handiwork, "...It's all right if Chinese isn't your thing, Arthur, I'll go pick up a pizza for you."
Mordred couldn't decide whether to thwack Merlin very hard over the head, or to give Arthur a very encouraging (read: hard) shove across the table.
Idiot. Idiot. Idiot!
What does Mordred have to do? Hold up a neon sign? Seriously?
"Could the two of you just cut it out and make out already?" Mordred demanded, dropping his spoon with a melodramatic clang. "All this foreplay is making my head hurt."
They both looked at him; Merlin had the gall to blink, "What?"
Mordred bit his lip, "I said--"
"Yeah, we heard what you said." Said Arthur, slipping an arm around Merlin's waist. "Where'd you learn the word foreplay?" Merlin's face was red as a firetruck, but at least he was grinning like an idiot.
"From television and you guys." Mordred gave them both a severe look. "And Arthur's subscriptions."
"What?" Merlin again. Scratch that. Mordred didn't want to date him after all; he'd prove to be a handful, Arthur clearly had more patience. (On that subject, Mordred wrote himself a mental note to ask Merlin what he saw in Arthur. Hopefully it wasn't because he was blond and played sports.)
And yes, Mordred was not stupid. Arthur's subscriptions were top secret, to everyone but himself and Mordred--courtesy of the 'little cousins must be endlessly annoying and nosy' connection. But for now, because he was about to witness things that eight-year-olds weren't usually allowed to witness, he was going to go into the living room with his fried rice and put on a nice PG-rated movie.