Title: A Minor Detour, Part 9
Pairing/s: Eventual Merlin/Arthur
Character/s: Arthur, Gwaine
Summary: “You really didn’t think this through, did you?” Gwaine asked helpfully as Arthur stared at the door to Gwaine’s cell, the very first obstacle in their path.
Word Count: 1,000
Prompt: #238: Unexpected
Author's Notes: Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 || All Parts on AO3
Merlin’s cell (or, rather, the cell Merlin was in; he had his own dedicated confinement room, but that was in the quarantine section, not the brig) was a few hallways away from Gwaine’s. There was a security officer outside the door to Gwaine’s cell, there would be one or two outside Merlin’s—probably under orders not to let Arthur in—and there could be up to three more patrolling the brig area if they had nothing better to do.
“You really didn’t think this through, did you?” Gwaine asked helpfully as Arthur stared at the door to Gwaine’s cell, the very first obstacle in their path. “I mean, the shuttle and the system outages are all well and good, but don’t you think actually getting there ought to have been part of the plan? Not that I’m surprised, mind, it does seem like you just outsource most of your thinking to—”
“Shut up,” Arthur ordered. It wasn’t nearly as satisfying as when he said it to Merlin, and his dissatisfaction with it had very little to do with Gwaine’s refusal to obey; Merlin rarely actually shut up, either. But Merlin was Merlin, and Gwaine was definitely not.
“—to Merlin, at least from what I’ve seen. Which hasn’t been much, so the fact that I’ve already got that impression really ought to tell you something. Did they make you do anything, anything at all, to earn that captain’s spot, or was Daddy’s name all it took?”
Arthur couldn’t hear any potential movement in the hallway over Gwaine’s snark and he was getting pretty smegging tired of it. He rounded on Gwaine and shoved him back into the wall. Not roughly enough to make much noise, but it knocked the wind out of him and stopped the obnoxious flow of words.
“I have a plan,” Arthur said before Gwaine could regain his breath and use it to complain. “And though it currently includes your freedom and continued existence, it really doesn’t have to. If you don’t shut up and let me get on with it, it won’t.”
Surprisingly, Gwaine actually stayed silent when Arthur let his arms drop. He could finally focus on tracking the sound of booted feet moving around outside, and not a moment too soon: three pairs of steps approached the door and stopped there. He heard the murmur of voices, though not clearly enough to make out the words or even identify if they were guards he knew.
At least it meant the woman he’d sent away couldn’t have heard his conversation with Gwaine. He’d been fairly confident of that, but it was good to have the confirmation. There were intercoms, of course, but he’d used his override to disable the one in this room before coming down. A risk—if it had been discovered, they could trace it to him easily—but worth the added security.
The voices stopped and two of the people continued down the corridor. Probably two people left on the other side of the door, then, unless someone had come or gone while Arthur was dealing with Gwaine. At the very least, there was still one person out there and it was almost assuredly a guard.
Pulling back, Arthur turned his attention back to Gwaine.
“All right.” He kept his voice down despite the muting powers of the door in the probably futile hope that it would inspire Gwaine’s continued quietness. “Go stand back on the other side of the forcefield. I’m not going to turn it back on, but I need you to stay there when I go back out. I’ll handle the guard or guards, just wait until I call you out.”
“That’s your plan.”
Despite his snark, Gwaine followed the instruction and walked back into the cell portion of the room, leaning against the far wall and glaring.
“That’s all you need to know about my plan,” Arthur corrected. The fact that it was in fact the majority of his plan wasn’t relevant, especially to Gwaine. He would make it work because he had no choice, not if he wanted to save Merlin.
Arthur took a deep breath and set his shoulders, recalling the fury he’d stormed in with. Then he keyed open the door, taking care to stand out of sight to one side, and called out, “You’re probably going to want to send for a medic.”
Lancelot was not anywhere on the list of people Arthur had expected to answer him. He should have been, if not still debriefing the rescue mission, on leave for a few days of recovery. There was no call for him to be serving guard duty on a prisoner, running into the room with Elyan behind him in response to Arthur’s summons and demanding, “What the smeg did you—”
Arthur had been ready to subdue whomever came in, but he couldn’t hurt his own men. Not even for Merlin. Fortunately, they stopped just as short as he did when they saw the forcefield down and Gwaine’s sulking lounge.
“Are you,” Lance asked carefully, dark eyes shifting from Arthur to Gwaine and back. “Sir, are you aware that it appears you’re in the middle of releasing this prisoner without orders?”
Arthur bit his lip and set his jaw. He would answer for the consequences. He loved his Knights and they loved him, but he would never ask them to commit mutiny on his say-so. In any case, his consequences weren’t likely to be too severe. His father would be wrathful, but probably not bitterly angry enough to send his own son to the Gauntlet with Gwaine and Merlin. Almost a pity; he’d probably still have enough influence to see that they were sent to the same planet, and the two of them would stand a better chance with him there.
At his silence, Lance exchanged an unreadable look with Elyan, and continued just as hesitantly, “If that is what you’re doing, which I’m sure is probably just a misunderstanding... We’re here to help.”