Title: Second Hand Emotion: Private
Character/s: Will, Merlin, Arthur
Summary: The club was pretty much a success. Merlin got plenty of attention without any help from Will.
Word Count: 750
Prompt: #282: wlm-750
Author's Notes: Previous parts on AO3 (sorry, can't track down the Drabble entries right now)
The club was pretty much a success.
Merlin got plenty of attention without any help from Will, who himself had to explain more than once that he wasn’t actually queer, but thanks. Merlin was, objectively speaking, a hot young thing, so he had no shortage of offers for drinks and dances and trips to the men’s. He turned down the booze and the fucks, which Will thought was kind of a shame because he seemed like he needed a bit of both, but he did join man after man in the floor.
Will never let Merlin out of his sight, because taking care of his vulnerable friend meant not looking away even when he was grinding and rubbing himself all over another bloke. And maybe that was all Merlin needed after all. Each time he came back to Will’s side for a glass of water and a check in, he was flushed and grinning, glowing under all the attention.
It was a Merlin Will hadn’t seen in ages, so he considered it a victory even if the only one Merlin went home with was him.
Of course, he found himself wishing a lot harder that Merlin had found someone when they got back to their place. Because naturally, Arthur fucking Pendragon was waiting at the door, looking lost in more ways than one.
The fancy fucking asshole who acted like he belonged anywhere he wanted to looked out of place in the dim hallway of their low-rent building, even though he’d tried to dress down for inconspicuousness. Will recognized him instantly despite the dark glasses and drawn up hood. Judging by his sudden stillness, Merlin did too.
And even under the glasses, Will could see how Arthur’s expression turned hurt and aching when he caught sight of Merlin. He saw it, but he didn’t give a shit.
“What the fuck do you want?” he demanded, stepping in front of Merlin. “No, scratch that, I don’t care. Get the fuck out.”
“Will,” Merlin said. His voice was tentative but rough; Will heard longing in it, and pain too. It was a good sign that Merlin was talking to him instead of Arthur, at least, but Will didn’t want to give him a chance to change that.
“You’ve got fifteen seconds before I decide if I’m calling the police or the press. Fuck off.”
“Please,” said Arthur, “Merlin. I just need to say something to you, and then you’ll never hear from me again if you don’t want to. I know you don’t owe me anything, but please, just. Just five minutes.”
“Damn right he doesn’t owe you anything,” Will started, stepping forward. He was going to throw Pendragon down the stairs himself, since that seemed to be the only thing that would work.
Merlin stopped him, hand clenching on Will’s shoulder. When Will glanced back, Merlin shook his head. The glow of happiness from the club was gone, faded into the same wan dullness he’d fallen into since the break-up. Arthur had gotten to him, like he always did, and Will cursed himself for not getting rid of him faster.
“Five minutes,” Merlin said, stronger than Will expected. “And Will stays.”
It was better than Will had hoped, so he didn’t argue. Merlin was stubborn and lovesick enough that he’d be more likely to ban Will than Arthur, if pushed. But he let Merlin through the door first, then turned and blocked Arthur’s path before he could enter. Merlin saw what was happening and let it, giving Will time by heading straight for the bathroom.
“Say the wrong thing and I’ll kill you, damn the consequences.”
Arthur leant his shoulder on the doorjamb, hands in his pockets, looking just as arrogant and untouchable as ever. Will wanted very badly to hurt him; it wasn’t a new desire, but it was as strong as it had ever been. Just bash his knuckles into one of those perfect cheekbones and let his makeup team spend a few weeks scrambling to hide it.
To his astonishment, Arthur said, “Good.”
Will raised an eyebrow.
“I know what I’ve already done is unforgivable. I’m not asking for that, just a chance to explain. I don’t want to hurt him again. I’m trying to get myself to a place where I won’t, but I know you won’t let me even if I fail at that. I trust you to look after him more than I trust myself right now. More than I trust him with himself.”