Title: Second Hand Emotion: Arthur
Character/s: Will, Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur stared at him. Those pretty blue eyes made men and women swoon all over the world, but Will just saw bleariness, a bit of redness at the edges.
Warnings: Depression, poor communication, angst
Word Count: 780
Prompt: #252: Wait For It
Author's Notes: Part 2 (Part 1 here) of what will now be 3 parts instead of 2, I guess!
Internet-stalking Arthur was the second least enjoyable activity Will could think of. The first, which he also did because friendship demanded sacrifice, involved googling a lot of terms that he had to try very hard to disassociate from Merlin.
Both those unpleasant tasks undertaken, he tracked down the rented mansion Arthur was supposedly staying at and jammed on the gate buzzer until a groggily irate voice demanded he “knock it the fuck off, Jesus bloody Christ what’s the matter with you?”
“Morning, wanker. We haven’t met, but you’re fucking around with someone very dear to me.”
“I don’t know who you think you’re talking to, but I’m not—”
“Arthur fucking Pendragon. I’m here about Merlin.”
A long silence followed.
“Look, we can talk or I can stand out here and make a scene until the paps come.”
The speaker turned off without another word. Will gave it a minute, but he was about to start following through on his promise and yelling up a storm when an extremely rumpled movie star stumbled out of the door. He regretted not having a decent camera on his phone; that photograph could have earned him thousands.
“Is something wrong with Merlin?” Arthur asked as soon as he reached the gate. To his credit, he sounded sincerely concerned—but that could’ve just been the threat of bad press.
“You. You are what’s wrong with Merlin, and you’re going to either fix it or fuck off.”
Arthur stared at him. Those pretty blue eyes made men and women swoon all over the world, but Will just saw bleariness, a bit of redness at the edges. Probably he’d been up all night doing God knew what with God knew who while Merlin wallowed.
“What are you talking about? What’s happened? He was fine when he left.”
Though the street was empty when Will glanced around, he still lowered his voice and leaned in closer to the bars. He didn’t give a toss about Arthur’s privacy, but he wouldn’t want to spread Merlin’s business around.
“He wasn’t fine after by the time he got home. He never is. You do your... kinky sex whatever bullshit, then you kick him to the curb without any sort of care and consideration, how do you figure that’s an all right thing to do to a person?”
Seeing the denial building on Arthur’s pretty face, he preempted it. “Don’t. I know, I’m the one who has to put him back together. Every. Time.”
“What Merlin and I do as consenting adults is none—”
Will’s palm slammed into the gate and set metal clanging against metal and stone. The noise echoed, resounding in the silence left behind when Arthur stopped mid-sentence.
“I don’t give a bloody fuck what the two of you do in bed. I’d be thrilled if I never had to think about it again. I’m talking about the fact that he’s goddamn in love with you and your inability to care about him after is killing him.”
Arthur’s award-winningly expressive face froze in an open-mouthed gape that wasn’t the least bit attractive. Admittedly, Will didn’t find him attractive to begin with, but even the most relentless Pendragonettes ought to’ve been put off by that stupid stare. Then he turned without a word and disappeared into the mansion.
Will left, too.
When he got back to the flat, Merlin waited with red-eyed fury.
“What did you do,” he demanded hoarsely. It was too flat to be a question. His phone blinked sporadically from the floor, its screen cracked. “Will, what the hell did you do.”
“What I had to as someone who loves you, Merls.”
“You have no right,” Merlin tried, and that was just too much.
“The fuck I don’t! You’re family. You’re all I’ve got, and I’m gonna look out for you whether you like it or not. He’s not good for you. He takes and he takes and he takes, and it’s leaving you with nothing.”
That silenced him, so Will asked, more gently, “What’d he say?”
Still sounding hollow, Merlin said, “That we shouldn’t see each other for a while,” which was expected. Then, “That he doesn’t want to hurt me anymore,” which wasn’t.
Leaving his cracked phone where it had fallen, Merlin shuffled towards his room. He hesitated in the doorway, supporting himself with a hand against the wall, and Will gave him the moment. It seemed like he was hovering on the edge of something important, so Will was willing to wait for it.
The words, when they came, were soft and shattered. Will barely heard them before Merlin shut the door, but he did and they stunned him.
“That he loves me.”