Title: Phantasmagoria (Part II)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Morgana, Gwen
Summary: Merlin can tell something has gone terribly awry with his magic.
Warnings: horror clichés and nonsense
Word Count: 1, 100
Prompt: #234 Suspense Month - No, stop!
Author's Notes: the clichés just keep piling up.
Merlin's eyes are almost closing on their own accord, he has never felt as exhausted every fiber of his being clamoring for the rest he denies it. If he goes to sleep who knows what might happen. He'd be powerless, susceptible to anything or anyone who came close to him as he's dozing off into dreamland. Unconscious and unaware of his surroundings. His body free for the taking, ready to be possessed and disposed of like an old marionette.
The glow of the television casts shadows over the living room, tall and flickering. He avoids following their trail fearful of discovering they have claws and have learned to speak his name. He's such a coward.
He tries to hide a yawn behind his hand, but Morgana's inquisitive eyes are relentless and she notices him, every single one of his poor attempts at passing off his discomfort as a mere side effect of a sickness he's faking it's a simple cold. Though he's well aware of what lies underneath his symptoms. The struggle to stay awake and alert, his bloodshot eyes, the racing of his heart, the echo of blood rushing to his head. For the past hour he's tried to convince his friends he's perfectly fine. It's a fever. Nothing of consequence. They all look like they don't believe him.
For the first time sharing a couch with them results confining, whatever comfort it used to bring him is gone. There is no coziness in sharing the same space, their bodies cramped and pushed together. His arm is almost too warm from where it touches the fabric of Arthur's jumper.
Morgana and Gwen have a silent conversation right there in front of him, probably thinking Merlin can't tell. He's known them for years, he's learned to read what those looks means. He hates to think he's been pitied, and even more so he resents the fact he ran to their house instead of staying in his room to resolve this. He not only got Morgana's worried eyes but Arthur's unsure hands pulling him up, and on top of that Gwen was there to bear witness to his breakdown.
He must have looked deranged asking for help from invisible monsters no one but him could see.
"I'm all right, you know," he says to no one in particular, hoping his companions stop throwing him cautionary looks. Hoping by the next day this can be erased and he won't be asked ever again.
"I never said you weren't," Morgana answers.
"You're waiting for me to say something before you try one of your tactics to get me to open up," he says. Morgana doesn't deny it.
"We worry about you," Gwen intervenes. They're so earnest Merlin can't meet their eyes.
"Maybe we should go to sleep, it's been a long day. You're staying, right?" Arthur says turning the TV off and getting up before anyone has a chance to react. Gratitude invades Merlin as he follows Arthur and removes himself from an awkward situation.
"We'll see you in the morning."
Merlin doesn't look back, his feet move and his eyes are downcast as they go up the steps to Arthur's room. Once the door closes behind them he lets out a long sigh. He shoves his hands in his pockets, looks around pretending this is the a new environment for him, that he doesn't know what the bedding
"You can sit down. I stop caring about your germs a long time ago."
He almost smiles at the memory of a small Arthur complaining about Merlin's soot covered fingers. Right now it's a nice memory.
Arthur moves around his room turning objects upside down searching for something, the only light on is the one on the bedside table and Merlin goes to sit by it. There are no shadows and figures threatening to rise from the faint glow of the little light. He looks out the window, the sky is a gloomy black with tiny winks of starlight. When he turns his head in Arthur's direction he finds him changing out of his clothes, his jeans pulled down his feet. Arthur is pale smooth skin and lean muscles, now more than ever he can't reach over.
"Here. Your clothes are dirty and I am not letting you sleep like that in my bed," Arthur says, offering a pair of pants and a shirt Merlin has seen him wearing before.
They get ready for bed in silence, Merlin afraid of being in a room with a closed door without a way out, four walls and a roof unable to stop them from coming in and try to steal his sanity away. It isn't until they're under the blankets Arthur finally speaks. His sheets smells clean, unlike the ones in his Merlin's bed riddled with the scent of sweat.
"Are you going to tell me what's wrong? You're tense I can tell. Come on, Merlin. It's me."
He can't make out Arthur's features in the dark, he doesn't need to. He would be able to recognize him even in the starkest of nights. "I'm just feeling restless."
Arthur sighs, slides closer to him, his heat bleeding into Merlin's cold body. He moves closer to the edge of the mattress. Arthur's grip closing over his arm stops him from leaving. "What's wrong? You never run away, Not from me. Is it something to do with Mordred?" The accusation is there in voice, underneath lays something broken too. Merlin closes his eyes wants to reassure Arthur of something he is not even sure about.
He makes another halfhearted attempt to leave that ends up being futile. With Arthur is the calmest he's felt in days. "I'll tell you if you release me. "
Arthur does causing him to relax. "Nothing happened with Mordred. At least no physically. Our magic--His magic was corrupt and somehow I caught the sickness. He was hurt and I helped him--His blood. Our bloods mixed. There is something very wrong with me. I can't hide, Arthur. I can't."
He hates the tremor in his voice. Arthur tries to hold him, Merlin pushes him knowing he's hurting him as much as he's hurting himself. "No, don't touch me. My magic is altered. I don't want to make you sick too.
"But I don't have magic and earlier when I caught you we touched."
"Even so, this could affect you differently and earlier I wasn't really here."
Arthur nods, puts his pillow between their bodies.
"I'm scared of fear itself. Do you know what it's like to be scared and nit be able to do anything else because you think everything will go to hell?"
Arthur shakes his head. "I'm terrible at sharing words of comfort."
The smile he attempts is painful. "I know. I don't want words. We don't need to talk anymore."
"Okay, I'll hold my end of the bargain if you promise to be here in the morning."
"It's a deal."
Arthur doesn't try to touch him again, a pillow between them is enough of a barrier The sound of nails like broken glass scratching the floor wake him up. He's paralyzed, can't move, if he does something bad will happen. His heart beats faster and faster once he notices the scratching comes from underneath the bed. His world is ending. The shadows are reaching for him from beyond the veil, they think of him as one. Emrys! Emrys! They're crawling over him, crushing his ribs.
"No, please stop. I don't want you here. You're not welcome. Stop!"
His scream is smothered in the dense silence.