Title: Second Hand Emotion: Public
Pairing/s: past Merlin/Arthur
Character/s: Will, Merlin
Summary: When Arthur, or more accurately Arthur’s publicist, announced less than a week later that he was taking a break between projects for “personal reasons,” the tabloids exploded with speculation.
Word Count: 525
Prompt: #271: Potential
Author's Notes: It's late and I'm not entirely thrilled with it, but better than nothing! Part one, part two. One more to come?
When Arthur, or more accurately Arthur’s publicist, announced less than a week later that he was taking a break between projects for “personal reasons,” the tabloids exploded with speculation: Rehab! Pregnant girlfriend! Pregnant hooker! Secret Hollywood deal!
For all Will knew, every single rumor was true. He didn’t give a shit, except that he’d only just managed to bully Merlin through a shower and putting on actual clothes. He even got him out of the flat with the promise of his favorite pancakes. They got halfway down the block, then Merlin saw Arthur’s face splashed over half a dozen different rags and fled back inside.
Will brought him back pancakes anyway, though he didn’t hold out much hope for Merlin eating them.
The one thing all the disparate stories agreed on was that the young actor was wasting his potential. A promising career on the verge of ruin. Missed casting opportunities, spurned directors, an inescapable reputation as a diva—which Will was fairly certain he’d had anyway. To add to the ire of journalists and fans alike, no more updates came from Arthur’s team.
After the first week, with nothing new to feed the frenzy, most of the press moved on. The Sun would always be the Sun, and tried keep up flagging interest with a new “Arthur’s Secret Life Exposed!” every other day, but none of them involved kinky gay sex. It figured they’d miss it the one time it was actually true. Part of Will, a small but bitterly vengeful part, still considered selling him out. Not for the money, though it would've been nice to have since Merlin wasn’t helping with the rent. He just wanted Arthur to suffer at least a fraction of what he’d put Merlin through.
But he couldn’t risk getting Merlin caught up and dragged into it, especially when he was finally starting to pull himself out of the depressed hole he’d been in since his last night with Arthur. He had a new phone, which Will checked every night and had only had to remove Arthur’s number from once. Merlin had it memorized, he could always just add it back, but as one month of no contact from Arthur became two—and Will made sure he knew the number, too, for very different reasons—Will started to relax about it.
Merlin had been justifiably sacked from his serving gig after not showing up for way too many shifts on a row, but getting back on wasn’t hard. The owner was a soft touch who also happened to be Merlin’s maternal uncle, so a bit of grovelling got him back in Gaius’s good graces. Or at least his marginally less skeptical graces.
“Want to go out?”
Will had to stop and process that a second time, just to be sure he’d heard right. It sounded the same on his internal playback. He turned, and sure enough, Merlin stood in the door to his room in not just clothes, but good clothes. Nice, but not too nice. Clubbing clothes.
Getting laid clothes.
Will’s mate was back, and Will was gonna be the best wingman he’d ever been. Things were looking up.