Title: Be My Hideaway (Pt. 2)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: It was hard for him to talk to Arthur.
Warnings: Mentions of alcohol abuse
Word Count: 1k
Prompt:#285: angst month-sorrow
Author's Notes: Continuation of this (part 1). I apologize for the terrible writing, the unbearable heat has turned my brain to mush. I might edit this later when I can actually think.
During freshers' week Merlin had experienced a series of nasty hangovers, it had been his moment to let loose and indulge in excess. One morning he woke up with a nasty bruise on his bum, scrapes on his hands and no recollection of how he'd got them. Freya helpfully --and in between giggles-- filled the gaps in his memory, recounting in graphic detail the tumble he'd taken and his fruitless attempt to impede it.
According to her he'd tried to do a cartwheel. His inebriated senses and impaired spatial awareness had him falling on his arse.
Since then he began to exercise restraint around alcohol. Which is why he was only on his second bottle of beer while a fired up game of king's cup was happening. Next to him Freya was cheering, her lopsided smile an indication she was relaxed.
"Having fun?" Merlin asked snaking an arm around her shoulders.
Freya nodded, finished her drink with one last gulp and left the bottle on the nearest flat surface she found. "Oh, yes."
"I have to admit it hasn't been completely terrible," he commented looking around.
Around twenty people were packed inside the flat --some he knew others were new faces--, there was more alcohol than what was advisable to consume and the music was a constant hum that made Merlin sway his hips from time to time. "I wonder what Gwaine did to convince Gwen and Elyan to use their flat."
Freya snickered and was about to answer but a sudden commotion had them turning their heads in the general direction of the racket.
"Out, out," Gwen was saying, her finger pointed toward the front door. An exasperated look on her face, hands on her hips. "Go on. Keep moving."
A couple went flying out the door, running away from Gwen's wrath.
"Everything okay?" Merlin asked her.
Gwen rolled her eyes. "Gate crashers. I knew this was a bad idea. They were in my room, in my bed," she cried outraged. "The only one who gets to shag in there is me." Shocked by what she'd said Gwen brought a hand to her mouth, stiffling her laughter when Freya and Merlin cackled.
Merlin ran a hand down her arm consolingly. "I'm sure they didn't get too far."
"I'll have to use the strongest disinfectant."
"And here we were saying it was a good party. Spoke too soon," Freya said.
"It's not all bad, honestly. At least it's not a themed party," Gwen said. The three of them winced remembering last year's Kings and Queens party debacle. "I guess this is the price to pay for having a perfectly nice flat near campus."
Merlin chuckled, took a swig of his beer giving the room a quick scan. Freya always observant, pipped up, "Say, Gwen, have you seen Arthur? Merlin's been looking for him."
Gwen was gracious enough not to comment on Freya's insinuations but there was twinkle in her eyes. "He must be around here. I sent him to Lance. The poor thing looked like he needed a pick me up. Sometimes talking with Lance about sports seems to do the trick."
"Oh," Merlin said. "Is he all right?"
"Yeah, I think so," she answered, though Merlin could see her hesitancy. "All that training is leaving them drained, you know?"
"I imagine. Their hours are crazy," he said, ignoring Gwen's inquisitive gaze. There was no need for her to know how he sometimes walked to the river just to catch a glimpse. He scuffed his feet against the floor.
"Look, there's Lance," she said suddenly, her tone cheerful. "I'll ask him where Arthur is. Wait here."
Merlin's eyes went wide. Her brown curls bounced with every perky step she took toward her boyfriend. His stomach dropped and his instinct to flee flared up. Freya pinched his arm.
"Ouch. What was that for?" Merlin rubbed at the offended spot.
She stabbed a finger on his chest. "I know what you're thinking, Emrys. And don't. Stop trying to sabotage yourself. You're perfectly nice, the best. Arthur would be lucky to have you."
Merlin was taken aback by her words but also very grateful. She was always supportive, and dropped truths when he needed to hear them. Merlin loved her.
Still, he couldn't fight against his instincts.
"I'm-- uh, I need air. Hold my beer."
He ran out of the flat before Freya could drag him back. On his haste to get out he almost tripped over someone's outstretched legs. A lone figure was sitting on the middle of the hall outside Gwen's flat.
"Sorry," Merlin said at the same time the figure voiced his apologies. Merlin stilled, looked. Really looked. The man pushed back the hood of his dark-grey pullover, revealing blond hair.
"Oh, it's you," Arthur said, voice nearly emotionless. He pulled at the drawstrings and avoided Merlin's eyes.
Merlin lifter an inquisitive eyebrow, crossing his arms. "Sorry? What's that suppose to mean?"
With a long-suffering sigh Arthur answered, "I think it means you intruded on my me-time. Seems you have no control over your feet. You should really look at where you're going."
Usually Merlin would've responded no holds barred, but something about Arthur's posture, hunched shoulders and faraway look stopped him from lashing out. He gave the impression of someone lost and lonely.
He ran a hand through his hair, leaving it messier that it already was, grasping for something to say, he asked, "Are you drunk?"
"Do I look like I am?"
"Don't know, mate. It's not like I was supervising your alcohol intake."
Arthur snorted, a half smile, crooked and sort of perfect appeared on his lips. "You're ridiculous."
Merlin didn't know if he should be affronted, he didn’t have time to analyze the situation though because he was soon putting his foot in his mouth. Again. "And you're a tactless clotpole."
Arthur's amused expression was instantaneous, there was a brief lull where Merlin was sure Arthur had officially blacklisted him. The sound of his laughter was surprising. Arthur pushed himself of the floor, briefly coming face to face with Merlin. He dusted himself and without another word began to make his way for the stairs.
Merlin gaped after him. He was left wondering what had just happened. All thoughts jumbled in his head.
The footsteps stopped. Arthur had turned, his blue-eyed gaze fell on him. "Are you coming?"