Title: Close Your Eyes to See
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: "I don't know, Arthur, but this feels like--"
"It was meant to be?"
Warnings: depression, anxiety
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #283: Insomnia (Angst Month)
Author's Notes: Um, like always this got away from me :0
Morgana walked into his office taking a seat across from Arthur without saying a word. She gazed at him, searching, calculating. A phony smile on her lips that did nothing to settle Arthur, he could see right through her. "What do you want this time?"
Morgana dropped the act, sobbered up. "I'm worried. Father is worried. What’s going on, Arthur?"
Arthur felt irritation creep up on him. "Nothing's wrong. I'm just having trouble sleeping."
"Still?" Her face softened, the concern obvious. "Arthur, you can't go on like this. You haven't been yourself lately. You're vexed with everyone around you." Arthur opened his mouth to defend himself, but Morgana didn’t gave him a chance, and continued. "The same secretaries who are known to swoon after you now run the other way. It speaks for itself. Father even thinks you have a problem with...drugs."
Arthur laughed disbelieving. "He told you that?" Morgana nodded.
"Your erratic behaviour opens up a lot of questions, brother dear," she said.
"And, we think maybe you need some time off to sort yourself out."
Arthur considered Morgana's proposal, thought about his week blurring, the days melting one into the other without meaning. The heaviness he was carrying around. He nodded, said, "Okay."
His search for sleep was fruitless. Every time he began to doze off unbidden visions would swarm his mind, and by trying to keep them at bay he'd end up on his back, staring at the ceiling, transforming shadows into figures. His thoughts too loud to be ignored.
He couldn't sleep. Wouldn't.
Arthur's limbs felt heavy, his movements were lethargic. His flat was at the same time immense and cramped, its walls stifling him, its empty spots daunting. He was a mere spec.
He went from the bed to the sofa, and back, arranging his limbs and blankets to form a cocoon.
Arthur slumbered his way into a nightmare.
He remained awake for the rest of the night.
"Are you talking about a twelve-step for sleep deprived individuals?" Arthur asked one afternoon. Gwen was on the other end of the line, voice sweet and tentative. She was trying.
"Don't think about like that. They’re just meetups, support groups."
Arthur bit his nails. "I'll think about it."
"What am I doing here?" He murmured to himself.
The room was an empty classroom conditioned for other purposes, like run meetings. In the middle of it was a circle of chairs, people stood, looked around and assessed the others with curiousity, Arthur wrapped his coat tighter around him. Went for the table with biscuits and lukewarm tea, he only drank to have something to do.
When they were called to sit Arthur felt even more out of place. The banner above their heads read Alternative Healing: Sleep Improvement Support Group, making him acutely aware of what he was doing. Each person began to narrate their experiences, talked about the damages their sleepless nights had on their everyday life. Freya, the counselor nodded, shared words of encouragement, empathized with each one of them telling her own story in return.
"Arthur, would you like to share?" Freya asked.
"Um, I can't sleep?" he tried.
The man next to him snorted. "Obviously," he said.
They moved on from Arthur, someone else taking the spotligt. Arrhur stared at the man the rest of the hour trying to figure him out.
Arthur still didn't sleep. He felt claustrophobic, there wasn't enough air.
They were supposed to pair up and do some silly exercise, Arthur remained in a corner, watching the rest of the group pass positive energy from one another.
"It would seem we're the only ones without a partner." The man who interrupted him before had approached him, Arthur stared skeptical. "I'm Merlin," he said, offering his hand.
Arthur shook it, his fingers were cold and his blue eyes red-rimmed. "Arthur."
Merlin smiled, leaned in close. "I can't sleep either," he whispered conspirationally. Arthur laughed despite himself.
Merlin was odd. He dressed like he didn't have a mirror, knew obscure facts about world history, liked to get a rise out of Arthur, and talked about having dreams that felt more like memories. Arthur could relate.
But most of all, he made Arthur feel less lonely. He understood the heaviness, the emptiness, the nothingness.
They started talking in the middle of the night, voices grave and tired. Merlin was an excellent storyteller and Arthur a good listener.
"Are you following me?" Arthur asked when they left the meeting.
Merlin adjusted his scarf, walked into the night air with sure steps. "No, we're going the same way."
Merlin looked paler than usual, the street lamps bathing him in their dim glow. His presence like a balm.
"I'm not sure you’re real," Arthur said, looking at Merlin out of the corner of his eye.
Merlin snorted. "And you dare to call me an idiot."
"I'm serious. I'm afraid these days my brain isn't reliable."
Merlin walked faster ahead of him, and asked the first person he bumped into, "Excuse me. Can you see me?"
The woman gave Merlin a frightened look, but nodded. "Yes," she said apprehensive.
Merlin spun around, both his arms up in surrender. "There. I'm all real."
Merlin’s fingers were cold, always cold, he shivered as Merlin brushed his jaw, nipped at the skin. "Merlin," he breathed out.
Merlin pressed their lips together, soft, then hard, finding what Arthur liked, what made him groan. His lips and tongue were warm, and Arthur closed his eyes, not seeking sleep but wanting to feel the kiss in every atom.
"I dream of my death," Arthur confided. He'd never said out loud before. "It's too real, the pain, the fear, the acceptance. It's as if it really happened."
Merlin held him tighter, buried his nose in Arthur's hair and didn't spoke for a while, when he finally did he was cautious, uncertain. "This might sound strange, but, the other night I managed to sleep and I--I dreamt that I lost you and it hurt, Arthur. Too much, it was like having someone splitting my chest open and crushing my heart."
It was peculiar, puzzling, but. "I believe you," he said.
And right there, in the backseat of Merlin’s beat-up car their secrets had spilled and found new meanings. They meant I trust you and I need you and don't leave.
"How are the meetups going?" Morgana asked him.
"They're all right."
He couldn't understand it but he wanted to give into the need of getting lost in Merlin. Their mouths had been fussed and their mouths wandering and somehow they ended up in the loo, the sounds of their group muffled, drowned by their heavy breathing.
"Please," he said as Merlin pressed him against the door. "I want--"
"Me too," said Merlin drapping himself on Arthur back, his clothed chest tickling Arthur's naked back. He felt warmth, pure and hot. Merlin kissed and bit Arthur's shoulder, his neck, mouthed at the naked skin within his reach. Arthur turned his kissed, seeking Merlin's lips, already reddened and wet.
They moved together, Arthur meeting Merlin's thrusts, heady in the feel of Merlin inside him, on him, in his mouth, his head, his heart, his bloody senses. Arthur craved Merlin like air. The tightness in his chest slowly unfurled.
When he came he forgot about hus surroundings, only Merlin and the sensation of having come up from underwater existed. Merlin followed behind, slumping against him. Arthur turned took Merlin in his arms, and kissed him until they were breathing the same air.
"Come home with me," Arthur said, tracing Merlin's bottom lip, Merlin kissed every fingertip, reverent.
Arthur's room was made up of shadows and darkness and half-sleep. And he wanted Merlin to fill every void and fit himself in the empty spaces of Merlin's being,,to click and lock their bodies like puzzle pieces that never should`ve been apart.
They were in the middle of the bed, facing each other.
Merlin pushed hair from Arthur's eyes, said, "I don't know, Arthur, but this feels like--"
"It was meant to be?"
Merlin laughed, caressing Arthur's flank. "Yes. Exactly that."
"Go to sleep, Arthur. I'm here, I'm not going anywere," Merlin murmured.
Arthur believed him.