Title: Part of the truth
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine, Morgana
Summary: Merlin tells Arthur something shocking that Arthur has trouble dealing with.
Warnings: ANGST. Content can be considered as Morgana!bashing.
Word Count: 1160
Prompt: Last week's prompt 266: Children, and this week's prompt 267: Competition combined for camelot_drabble
Author's Notes: Part 18 of the "divorce!fic"
Catch up: 1. All too familiar 2. Leaving the past in the past 3. That Familiar Feeling 4. We laugh and we cry (And we break) 5. Busy was always better. 6. The need to stop the hurt 7. Despite our estrangement 8. And you would smile, and that would be enough 9. We Have To Win 10. The Calm Before The Storm 11. A Glimpse 12. The First Time 13. Risking It All 14. Comfort 15. Decisions 16. More Than This 17. The Patience Game
Did you guys really think I was going to give you a happy ending so soon?
"Do you want more tea?"
Arthur sat at the table in Merlin's kitchen looking down at his empty cup. After the night they had spent in the hotel, he and Merlin had gone out for breakfast, before Merlin invited Arthur back to his place.
Merlin's flat was exactly like Merlin. Stuff was all over the place. Some of his art was hung up on the walls, otherwise, it was scattered about, placed on the floor. His bed was in one corner, somewhat made, and his laundry basket was on the far left with clothes spilling out of it. No doubt Merlin did laundry once in two months, if that, when he was really out of everything. That's how it'd been before Arthur had taken it upon himself to do the laundry for them, or had called in the laundry service if he'd been busy with work.
"Arthur, tea?" Merlin asked again when Arthur hadn't answered the first time.
"Right. Sure," he said, looking around the kitchen again. The basics were there, a few plates, a couple of bowls and three tea mugs. "You don't get a lot of guests."
Merlin shrugged, his back to Arthur. "Haven't had much time for socialising. Had to get my career off the ground and—well, I didn't really date much, did I? No point in tidying up when you've got no one to impress."
"What about friends? Gwaine?"
Merlin placed the cup in front of Arthur and sat at the chair across him. "Gwaine doesn't care. He moves things around here and there, we talk when I go in to the laundry centre. He thinks I should drop my clothes off but I like going in the self-service facilities, gives us a chance to catch up and talk. He rarely has time to stop by one of my shows." He smiled for a moment before taking a sip of his tea. "Besides…"
"What?" Arthur asked, when Merlin didn't continue his thought.
Merlin shook his head. "It's not important," he said with a smile. "But, nowadays I am so busy, I might have to look the service up. Or get an assistant to help me with those things. Maybe I should ask Gwen."
"She is very organised, and she likes you so much, she might help you out for free."
Merlin laughed. "Free is always better."
They were quiet for a while as they drank their tea. When they'd been together, this wasn't anything new to Arthur. He and Merlin'd always shared a silence that was never awkward, or out of place, it was their silence. Now, it felt different. It was awkward, and felt forced.
Perhaps Merlin felt it too because he reached out and grabbed Arthur's hand.
"You always took care of me. Ever since we were kids. Do you remember the first time we met?"
Arthur nodded. "Outside of school. You were with your friends, and they all looked up to you. I was so jealous because I didn't have any friends. Not really."
Arthur remembered the first time. He'd been in awe of Merlin, even though he didn't know his name at the time. And then he'd been pulled away by Morgana, who'd seen Arthur watching Merlin, and then the next day had tried to get Merlin's attention for herself. She'd treated everything like a competition.
It'd made her great in business, and a perfectly perfect bitch in real life.
"Morgana and her friends made fun of me and my friends. Called us all sorts of names, and you'd been there to defend us, without even knowing us. And you'd been there taking care of me ever since. You were my best friend, and the first boy I fell in love with."
Arthur chuckled. "But I wasn't the first boy you had sex with." Or the third or fourth.
Merlin shrugged. "I was afraid of falling in love with you so I did everything I could to stay away from you. And then...we'd ended up together anyway, right?"
"Right," Arthur said, "until you left. This time you let Morgana make you believe the mean things she'd said. You didn't wait for me—"
"I didn't. I didn't want to," Merlin said.
"What?" Arthur asked, confused.
"I knew...I knew the things she said weren't your words, but it didn't mean they weren't true. I'd been living off you for years. I was nothing, Arthur."
"You were my everything."
Merlin gave a sad smile at that. "And you were mine. But, I was nothing in my field. I was a kept artist. I was a joke."
"Merlin, we were married."
Arthur's eyes widened and he stood up, pushing the chair behind him so hard it toppled over. "I loved you. I took care of you because I believed in you. In us. I wanted you to work on your art—and you left—why? Because you wanted to be a starving artist?" He scoffed. "Fuck you, Merlin. You could have said those things to me. You could have told me how you felt rather than take the first opportunity to run away."
Arthur had been punched in the gut. Again. And he didn't even have anyone to blame but himself. He knew he shouldn't have pursued Merlin again. He knew he shouldn't have listened to Gwen, or Ethan, or anyone. He should've left his company a long time ago, he should've just run away like Merlin did. Then maybe he would have moved on. God, he'd been such a fool!
Merlin believed whatever Morgana had told him because he wanted to leave. He wanted to leave Arthur and then he'd found the perfect way to do it. Arthur had been so quick to blame Morgana and his father he'd not even realised he'd been played.
He scoffed as he turned around and walked away from Merlin. He made his way to the door when Merlin pulled on his arm.
"Arthur, you need to let me finish—"
"No," Arthur said, his voice firm. Still, he hated how he sounded: so bloody wounded. He'd let Merlin do this to him again.
All those words he'd said to Merlin outside Thai fever now seemed like a regret. He'd wanted to be around Merlin again, and look what it'd got him. Another heartache from the very same man. Two years of working hard to forget Merlin, to working hard on moving on had been flushed down the toilet.
He was such and idiot.
"Please, Arthur. Don't leave like that. Don't leave me."
Arthur didn't wait to hear whatever Merlin had to say. He walked out of the door and into his car in less than five minutes. He drove off, taking left and right, without a destination in mind. He didn't want to go home, but he didn't want to go to the pub, either. He didn't want to go anywhere Merlin would follow him; where Merlin could find him.
He just drove.
READ PART 19 HERE