Title: Without You
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Uther
Summary: “As long as he’s free, I don’t care what happens to me.”
Warnings: forced imprisonment, human testing, magic discrimination, modern magic AU, forced drugging, implied torture
Word Count: 1311 (sorry!)
Prompt: Loving the monsters...
Author's Notes: This is a companion prequel piece to my one shots in Anything Goes called Nothing Without You [part 1] [part 2]
And seems like me and bunnysworld were in the same mindset when interpreting this prompt. Just different time periods. *virtual high five*
The hallway was silent, painfully white walls and bright fluorescent lights illuminating the sterile environment of the lab. Arthur trudged ahead, his footfalls echoing heavily down the corridor at a steady fast pace. Any second now he expected someone to come around the corner, to spot him, to stop him. But the hallway remained unnervingly empty.
Not that he was going to complain.
He grunted, shifting Merlin’s dead weight further into his arms. He hadn’t thought it through really. All he’d seen was Merlin’s prone form, the cold hard room he was locked in and the various bandages and needle marks on his arms and exposed torso. The sight had scared him so much he hadn’t even considered how he should carry Merlin out before he had scooped him up and left the room. He was too quiet, too light, and now much too heavy to be carried in just his arms. He needed to adjust.
“Sorry, Merls, I need to put you down for one second, then I promise you, I’ll get you out of here,” Arthur whispered as he lowered Merlin to the cold tile floor. He hated letting him go, hating pausing for even a moment when he should be running out of the damn place and getting them both as far away from the facility as he possibly could. The emptiness of the corridor felt like the calm before the storm and Arthur knew sooner rather than later, someone would notice something was amiss. And then escaping would be a whole hell of a lot trickier.
Granted, Arthur had infiltrated the facility alone and he had been originally admitted onto the grounds legally. Due to a lie, but still, legally. He stated he wanted to interview a doctor they had on staff, one Doctor Aridien, for his completely fabricated news piece on the advances of genetic engineering. Only he would never return from his bathroom break to start the interview. How much time he had left depended solely upon the patience of a genetics doctor. And Arthur wasn’t willing to risk his life and Merlin’s life on it lasting much longer.
For all he knew, the doctor had already sounded the alarm.
“Arthur,” a voice called from down the hallway, deep and threatening as though summoned by Arthur’s own thoughts and fears.
Arthur whipped around, but he already knew who the speaker was before his eyes landed on the grey haired man at the bend of the hallway.
Uther took a step toward Arthur and raised his hand leveling a handgun at Arthur’s chest. “Stop this nonsense.”
Arthur stepped quickly between his father and Merlin’s unconscious vulnerable form on the ground. Though he knew his father wasn’t aiming for Merlin, seeing as Merlin was no threat out cold as he was, Arthur couldn’t help the instinctual move. He needed to protect Merlin, that was all he cared about.
“I should have known you were behind all this,” Arthur growled, glaring daggers at his father.
“It won’t end well for you,” Uther said, ignoring the accusation. He took another step toward Arthur in the hallway. “Give it up before it’s too late.”
Artur shook his head. “It’s already too late.”
“No.” Uther’s eyes shone in the fluorescent light and Arthur couldn’t help but notice how crazed he seemed. How the bags under his eyes seemed more pronounced, darker and heavier. It was a side of his father he hadn’t seen in a long time. Not since his mother’s passing. “If you turn him back over—”
“That’s not what I meant,” Arthur said, voice low. It had been too late since the day he had met Merlin all those years ago. Too late since their first date, too late since their first declarations of love, too late since he had bought the ring and stashed it in his briefcase, just waiting for the right moment to ask him.
Uther hesitated, his face stoic as he glared back.
After a beat he sighed, like a parent would to a stubborn child. “Arthur.”
“No, father.” Arthur swiped at the air as thought he could physically cut his father’s words off. “I have made my choice. Now you need to make yours.”
Arthur took his eyes off Uther, for a brief second, and knelt down next to Merlin. He maneuvered Merlin until he was bent across his shoulder then with a grunt, hefted him and stood in one clumsy movement. With one hand on the wall and one hand on Merlin’s back, he steadied himself. Then faced his father once more.
Uther was still in the same position he had been before, gun still leveled at Arthur, though the muzzle had dipped slightly. “You’d force me to chose between duty and family?”
“If that’s how you see it.” Arthur shifted his feet to better distribute Merlin’s added weight on his shoulders. Better, much better. He could probably even run like this if he needed to. No wonder it had been dubbed the fireman’s carry.
“He’s a monster.”
“Because he has magic?” Arthur seethed, hatred for the man who had raised him bursting out of him like venom. He was nearly shouting now. It was a miracle no one had come running. “He’s still human. And I love him. I’m standing by him, whether you accept that or not.”
Arthur took a step forward. He wasn’t entirely confident his father wouldn’t shoot him, but he couldn’t stand to stay idle much longer. Every second that passed was a step not taken putting distance between them and this god awful place.
Uther raised the gun back up, his aim true once more. “He’ll be the death of you.”
“Then so be it!” Arthur shouted. “As long as he’s free, I don’t care what happens to me.” All he cared about was Merlin. Merlin who was still unconscious, with god knows what wreaking havoc on his body from whatever inhumane tests had been forced on him. Arthur needed to get him out. Now. “Are you going to step aside or do I have to force you?”
They both knew that Uther had the upper hand in the standoff. Arthur had no weapon, nothing at all intimidating about him, not with the dead weight of Merlin on his shoulders. Uther could lay him out with just a simple pull of the trigger and it would all be over.
But Arthur was relying solely on a father’s reluctance to be the reason behind his son’s death.
They stared at each other for a handful of seconds, neither daring to move. Then finally, without a word or a show of emotion upon his stoic face, Uther lowered the gun.“I’ve already alerted security.” His voice was even, as though merely stating a simple uninteresting fact. Arthur paid him no mind and stalked toward his father and the path to freedom beyond. “They’ll be here any minute. You won’t make it out of the building.”
Arthur paused just a foot from where his father still stood in the middle of the hallway, blocking their escape. “You really hate him that much?”
Uther tilted his head up, looking down his nose at Arthur. His eyes flicked over to Merlin. “His kind are unnatural, an abomination. They need to be locked up, studied, cured.”
“Move,” Arthur growled through gritted teeth. He had heard enough. This man was no longer the father he knew. For all intents and purposes, Arthur had become an orphan the minute his father had orchestrated Merlin’s imprisonment and torture.
He no longer had a father.
Arthur pushed passed Uther at a jog, spurred into action by the distant echo of voices down the far hallway.
The last words he heard as he turned the corner and left Uther behind were low and threatening, like a prophecy spoken from a goddess’ mouth.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”