Title: A Minor Detour, Part 20
Character/s: Merlin, Gwaine, Gwen
Summary: He’d left his crew in Albion’s cells without a second thought, the men who’d lived on his (junkheap of a) ship for who even knew how long and trusted him as their captain, at least to whatever extent scavengers trusted anyone.
Word Count: 1,000
Prompt: #265: Honor
Author's Notes: Part 1|10|15|16|17|18|19||All Parts on AO3
Merlin should never have let Gwaine get his hopes up. He was a criminal—and never mind that Merlin was, now, too. Merlin had the Knights, who would do anything for him, and he for them. They’d proved that when they risked the wrath of mighty Camelot, and of famed and feared Admiral Uther Pendragon particularly, to break him out. Even when they had no one else, they had each other.
Once he’d had the slight bit of time and space to reflect, he knew they others hadn’t given up on Arthur as easily as he’d accused them of. There was no way they’d leave him like that, but they needed a plan and Merlin throwing himself after the security team would only hurt their chances. He blamed his recklessness on the shock of losing Arthur and refused to think about the other shock of that moment, because he couldn’t afford to be heartbroken yet; Arthur needed him.
When everything was said and done, he owed the Knights an apology or five. They were good, honorable men. They were family. He trusted them more than he’d shown, when he was in his right mind.
Gwaine didn’t seem to have that with anyone. He’d left his crew in Albion’s cells without a second thought, the men who’d lived on his (junkheap of a) ship for who even knew how long and trusted him as their captain, at least to whatever extent scavengers trusted anyone. The woman he’d led them to, who was supposed to be the first step on the path to getting Arthur back from his father’s clutches, looked like she’d rather test her wares on Gwaine than do anything for him.
Still not convinced that Gwaine had been sincere, Merlin ran through scenarios with half his concentration as he listened to them bargaining back and forth. If Gwaine couldn’t call in his favor, or if he really was double crossing them, they were losing precious time. If Uther got Arthur of the Wander, their chances of a safe recovery diminished.
They didn’t vanish, though. Uther and his men must have come in a smaller ship than the Albion, and their lack of uniform meant they were trying to go undetected. There was every chance they were in a shuttle the size the Knights had taken, or maybe a class larger. Two shuttles manned by the squad Arthur trained personally might be able to disable it. And no matter who Uther had at the helm, Merlin could track them.
He could track Gwaine, too, even if they had to leave him on the outpost while they dealt with the consequences of a betrayal.
“You owe me,” Gwaine argued, not got the first time.
“Even if I did, and I’m not saying I do, I’d be returning the favor by not killing you or even demanding payment for that overcoiled blaster you stole.”
“Your old man wanted me to test it for him!”
“Yeah, for a couple days. Three months ago.”
Gwaine scrubbed a hand through his hair, turning his back on Gwen. For a moment, Merlin feared that was the end of his efforts. But he spun back and put his hands on the counter again, leaning in.
“One four nine alpha two three eight,” he recited. Gwen’s posture straightened. “That account has everything I own. Okay, half of—a third of what I own, probably,” he admitted in the face of her skepticism. “Pull it up right now and I’ll authorize the transfer. You can have it all if you get me in to see Alator.”
That brought Merlin’s worst-case scenarios crashing to a halt. True, Gwaine could still have planned something self-serving for when they got to the man in charge, but he was offering a big ante for the privilege. And Percival trusted him. Maybe Gwaine would pull through, after all.
Taking out a data pad, Gwen keyed in the account ID and let out a low whistle. She set it down, but hesitated pushing it across to Gwaine. “I can get you in,” she said, finger tapping one corner of the pad, “but it won’t be to see Alator. He’s dead.”
“Smeg. What happened?”
“Died peacefully in his sleep.” Gwen favored him with a sharp smile that could’ve meant a hundred things; without context, Merlin had no way to interpret it.
“So who’s commissioner now?”
Gwen’s smile didn’t falter. “Guess.”
“No.” Gwaine pushed off the counter and spun again, pacing like a lost child. “Smeg. Gwen, this is bad. Do you have any idea how bad this is?”
“With that lot behind you, looking like you promised them their very own planet?” Gwen gestured at the gathered Knights, her hand faltering when she had to decide whether to include Merlin or not. “I’ve got some, yeah. How dead are you if you don’t follow through?”
“Not dead,” Merlin said before Gwaine could answer. They both looked at him in surprise, so he grinned at them. He was sure he looked like a total maniac. “Just suffering. Very badly. For a very long time. But only if it’s his fault he can’t deliver,” he added cheerfully. It didn’t appear to reassure Gwaine at all.
“Alator promised me a favor,” he said to Gwen beseechingly. “After the thing with the—you know, the thing. He owed me big for that, said he’d do anything in his power. Morgana has to honor that, doesn’t she?”
Dragging her eyes away from reassessing Merlin, Gwen turned to Gwaine and shrugged. “She might. She might not. Only way to find out is to ask her.”
“Smeg,” Gwaine repeated. He looked at her, then at Merlin, and his face smoothed out of its pinched worry. “Your call, boss. I’m likely to die regardless, so it doesn’t make a difference to me. Morgana might help us or she might slaughter us. Either way, she’ll also ruin Uther’s day. But unless you’re very convincing, she’ll do it in a way that kills your man, too.”