Title: Phantasmagoria (Part 3)
Summary: There is something different with Merlin's magic.
Warnings: horror tropes and clichés, expository dialogue.
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #235: Chaos
Author's Notes: So this the end. I guess this whole store requires a whole lot of suspension of disbelief, but bear with me, somehow Merlin made it all weird xD
It's like coming up for air after being trapped in a windowless room with the lights turned off. Suddenly he can inhale air again, painfully filling his lungs, he gasps reaches forward and finds Arthur right there. His face close to his, even in the dark of his room Merlin can make out his features scrunched up in worry. Both of his hands are settled over Merlin's shoulders, his grip is tight as if he's tried to ground him to reality.
His voice sounds far away, an echo in the silence reverberating on the walls. Amplifying the sound. Merlin chooses to focus on this. Hold onto Arthur because he is the only thing that makes sense.
His body feels weak. Arthur presses his clammy palm against his forehead, Merlin squirms against the touch tries to chase it and push it away at the same time.
"You're touching me," he says, voice hoarse.
"Don't be daft, Merlin."
"I don't want to hurt you."
"Have you ever?"
Their whispers mingle together, they're warm breath and awkward limbs. Pushed together in a small mattress. Merlin chews on his bottom lip, his teeth digging in drawing blood.
"It's true," Merlin says, maneuvering his body under Arthur's so they can both lie side by side, faces inches apart, they legs tangling together easily.
"What's true? Mordred? The no-touching policy, because I think you just broke your own rule," Arthur tries to sound petulant, give him a smile, but it's only that, an attempt. He never thought he'd want to see one of those smiles that make him want to simultaneously strangle and kiss Arthur so desperately.
Merlin reaches over, runs his fingertips through Arthur's blond locks tentative, exploring like the first time, just the pads massaging his scalp, "Everything is true. I never went out with him, he called me because he needed help and--you know I needed to help him, right? You know."
He nods, pulls Merlin in by his shirt. "Why don't you tell me what really happened. I'm listening."
Merlin can feel his magic awakening, reacting to Arthur, simmering down his skin. "There are some things you should never mess with, Mordred was naïve and I suppose I was too. Our magic reacts to outside elements it can become tangled in dangerous stuff if you're not careful. Mordred wasn't. He fell prey to fear itself."
"What did he do?"
Merlin shrugs. "Not entirely sure. I'm fuzzy on the details, I remember bits and pieces, what I do know it's that what took over Modred's Magic was ancient and dark. A form of fear utterly infectious and--and now I-- I hear and see things."
"Dead people, you see dead people?" Arthur tone is light a light laugh escaping, he falters when he sees Merlin's downcast eyes unable to meet his. "You-- Are you? Do you? Fuck. I'm sorry. Merlin, look at me. Please."
"He didn't know it would pass onto me. I tried to help him with a spell, it backfired. It was stronger than me, than both of us. Mordred is weak, his magic waned and mine... Mine is polluted. I see shadows, hear their voices, they're echoes of trapped fears," he explains. When he closes his eyes he sees them. Big and dark, gathering around pushing through the thin veil separating them and the rest of the living world, keeping apart the humans who make them up from facing what they have been running from. Their voices growling and disjointed try to convince him to warp reality and make them tangible, to let them walk in the open, hunt in the stark nights.
They want his magic. Merlin knows they're close by, he can sense their presence, they're dormant ready to leap once his guard is down.
Merlin sighs. He's awake and alert in a way he hasn't been in the last couple of days. Arthur's presence helping him to get a grip on his sanity. "They're here, Arthur. With me. Always. This sickness needs a host, someone to attach themselves to. They won't leave me unless they jump to another being, someone who can contain fear."
"Can you? You've been out of your mind, running scared. I don't think this is safe. You could--"
"Shh," Merlin puts his finger over Arthur's lips silencing him, "Listen.'
"I can't hear anything."
"Exactly. They sleep and hide when I'm just, not running away I suppose. I first noticed it when I slept, my dreams felt real and where a mess of colors and sounds, the echoes floating by, but they couldn't touch me, except that I woke up and they turned angry because I was scared. I still am." His voice drifts, his stomach turns sensing something is going to go wrong.
This is how it happens. It takes over you, fear holds you prisoner shows you dreams of death, car crashes, pain, broken bones. And it's your face and then the ones you love in perilous situations. And you can't breath or sleep, and you spend the entire night sitting in the middle of your mattress, hoping the phone doesn't ring and you're told bad news.
"Merlin, you're doing it again," Arthur says, shaking him.
"What?" The echoes are closer, crawling around the bedroom floor. "Sorry. I lost myself for a minute there."
His hands are shaking, he blinks casting away their shadows. Arthur is all he sees now. His silhouette, his shape comforting and familiar. He moves, drags his body close to Arthur. "I don't know what's going to happen but--"
He kisses him, chapped lips against soft ones, on top of each other unmoving. The echoes roar, darkness spreads around, they push and they want. Merlin isn't sure he can contain them forever, maybe one day one of them will escape. Turning minds to shambles. Arthur's eyes are open, and Merlin use to think kissing with open eyes was insincere, but this is Arthur searching for him, afraid he might disappears and fall prey to the shadows. Arthur's hand goes to the back of Merlin's neck, pulls him in. The kiss turns desperate, Arthur's tongue tasting him, Merlin clings to him. Ignores the cries, the sullen pleas. A more benign side of Merlin's magic holds onto Arthur, reaches and weaves around him. Hope and warmth and affection.
He arches into Arthur's touch, his hand under Merlin's shirt. They are still around. They always will be. He's still alive and fear can touch him but not destroy him.
"Does that mean I can touch you now?" Arthur asks agains his lips. His hands reaching for him, refusing to let go.
"I think," Merlin begins. Sees the echoes, tall shadows floating around Arthur like vultures scavenging for another kill. They grin at Merlin, mock him but they can do nothing. They can't reach over. Their universe still apart from this one. They are echoes, sounds, images lacking definition. Merlin entwines their fingers, brings their clasped hands up to his face, observes how they fit, the weightlessness in his body. The warmth spreading up to the tip of his fingers making them tingle.
They can see Arthur, roam around him, can't touch him though. Merlin always knew Arthur was one of those exterior elements with the power to shape his magic. His own feelings playing a part on it.
He should have know without Arthur the pain would've been bigger than with him. He wants to hug him, kiss him again, ask him to no let go even when Merlin pushes him away because he is afraid.
"I think that as long as you're around it can work out."