Title: Inherited [Part 2]
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Turns out the house isn't the only thing Arthur inherited from his mother
Warnings: implied minor character death, implied major character death, ghost!Merlin, medium!Arthur, ghosts, haunted house, death
Word Count: 1500
Prompt: 328: Random Dialogue 3: "Whatever you're going to ask, the answer is no"
Author's Notes: Sorry it's so long...again.
It took four days and increasingly persistent and threatening harassment to get the ghost to show himself again. Arthur’s apologies and pleas had yielded nothing later morphing in threats and grumblings that had been equally ignored. By the end of the fourth day, he had unpacked nearly everything—there was no way he could leave now, not that he had any desire to return to the city—folding the last box labeled “kitchen” flat and throwing it with the others on the dining room table. The entire time he had unpacked, he talked to….well apparently to no one.
He really should have gotten the ghost’s name.
“That should do it,” Arthur said aloud, taking in the kitchen with its painted white cabinetry and old vintage blue stove. It was quite charming, if a bit more on the dated side, but Arthur enjoyed it immensely. It was a far cry from the ultra sleek stainless steel hard interiors of his father’s house in the city. “I’m all moved in now, ghosty, and not going anywhere. So you can either show yourself and talk to me or I’m going to search every corner of this house for your haunt. Either way, you can’t ignore me forever.”
“Whatever you're going to ask, the answer is no.” Arthur whirled around to find the ghost perched on the kitchen counter, one leg pulled up, the other dangling down. He was glaring at Arthur. If Arthur had been anyone else, he would have hightailed it out of there. But he had learned that most ghosts weren’t violent. They were just, there, stuck in limbo with nothing to do and no way to move on. Boredom does strange things to people, dead or alive.
And judging by their first meeting and how the ghost had seemed just as surprised to be seen as Arthur was to see him, he was harmless. He had known Ygraine, after all. Which was exactly why Arthur had decided to stay.
This boy, this ghost was the closest connection he had to his mother. There would never be another, not anymore now that his father was gone. He needed to know everything the ghost could tell him.
But Arthur couldn’t show his hand straight away.
Arthur folded his arms across his chest, leaning back against the counter opposite. “What makes you think I want to ask you anything?”
The ghost raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been filling my house with your pompous, nagging pleas and colorful threats for the past four days. Of course you want something.”
Arthur didn’t miss the way he said my house. He chose to not comment.
“So you did hear me.” Arthur smirked at the boy.
“It’s a bit hard not to,” the ghost said with a huff, resting his elbow on his knee. “Your ego is very loud.”
Four days was a long time to ignore someone. Especially Arthur. He knew how incessant and irritating he could be. Morgana liked to remind him frequently and with more colorful wording.
Arthur ignored the dig. “What do you do all day anyway?”
“Make pottery,” the ghost deadpanned.
The ghost leaned forward a bit, as though sharing some joke Arthur should be aware of. “Make pottery. With Demi Moore.”
Arthur stared at him blankly.
The ghost groaned, letting his leg hang down with the other as he leaned forward, elbows on knees. “You’ve never seen Ghost?!” he said, eyes scrutinizing Arthur as though he had a third eye.
Arthur shook his head, unsure what the ghost was referring to. A movie, he assumed. Or a show? Perhaps it was an oldie. Arthur didn’t watch many movies, a habit that Gwaine and Leon were actively trying to break him of. “No.”
The ghost threw up his hands. “How have I seen it before you? I’m dead!” He gestured toward Arthur, eyes narrowed. “What kind of medium are you?”
“A reluctant one,” Arthur said, unperturbed.
The ghost huffed, jumping down off the counter to saunter into the dining room. “Clearly,” he said, running a hand along the back of one of the wood chairs. He looked out at the living room beyond, eyes raking over Arthur’s couch and chairs, the dark wood coffee table, the flat screen tv he mounted the day before. Arthur was suddenly aware of just how young the ghost was, and yet how very old he must be. How odd most of Arthur’s furniture and possessions must be to him.
Arthur watched him for a second longer, once again taking note of the simple worn white shirt and dark loose trousers. Over the years he had found himself picking up and being able to distinguish the styles and cuts of different clothing from different eras. It was the first clue he usually got about a spirit, about the time period in which they lived and died. Women were easier, with their drastically changing cuts and styles and various accessories that went in and out of fashion. But men on the other hand were harder to distinguish. Shirts and trousers, suits and ties, they stuck around for a long time only changing in small subtle ways. Ways Arthur was still learning to identify.
Judging by the way the ghost was dressed, he had to be from somewhere in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Maybe?
“How old are you?” Arthur asked after a beat.
The ghost turned around, taking in Arthur once more. He tried not to squirm under the scrutiny. “Twenty-four.”
Arthur shook his head. “No, I mean how long have you been,” he gestured around him, at the house, “around? When were you born?”
The ghost scowled. “You’ve been hollering and shouting and kicking up a fuss because you want to know when I was born? Piss off.”
He crossed his arms, looking like he was about to vanish.
“No wait!” Arthur reacted on instinct, reaching out to grab onto the boy before he could leave. But his hand went right through the ghost’s arm. They both shivered at the contact, the boy’s eyes wide as though no one had ever tried to touch him before.
“Look,” Arthur tried again when the boy remained where he was. “I’m sorry for the way things started off. I just, you took me by surprise, alright. I came out here hoping to get away from you lot.” He shook his head, mind back on his upbringing in the city. It had been chaotic for him, constantly hounded by the dead everywhere he went, ghosts seeking him out, approaching him at every corner, street, and building. He hadn’t been able to get away. “The city is no place for someone like me.”
Silence fell between them briefly as the ghost seemed to think over Arthur’s words. His face betrayed nothing, impassive and sotic as his eyes held Arthur’s own, searching. Then he finally sighed and nodded. “Your mother said the same thing.”
A pang went through Arthur’s heart. “She,” he paused, swallowed around the lump in his throat and tried again, “she was she like me?”
“A medium?” The ghost nodded. “Yes.”
Arthur hesitated before finally asking what he had been thinking about every since he met the ghost. “And you knew her well?”
The ghost looked away then, eyes downcast as he hunching in on himself. “She was the only person I ever knew,” he whispered.
Arthur frowned. “How is that, there must have been others?” There was no way this centuries old ghost hadn’t met anyone else. He had to have family or friends back when he was alive, right? Especially for one so young, he had to have known someone.
But then again, this wasn’t the first time Arthur had come across a ghost who had lost all memory of their life before. It happened to those who had been left alone for too long. Those spirits that haunted abandoned and neglected places, overgrown and forgotten. Just like the person that lingered inside, trapped with nothing but the knowledge of their death for company.
Arthur wouldn’t wish that on even his worst enemy.
The ghost shook his head. “Not that I can remember,” he said, confirming Arthur’s suspicions. Arthur’s heart dropped. No one deserved that kind of eternity. It pained him to imagine this young man, once full of life and love, trapped in the place he had died with no one to keep him company. No one to keep him sane.
“I’m sorry,” Arthur said, words genuine and sincere as he looked at the boy. “I’m—I’m glad my mother was there to help you.”
The ghost nodded, looking up at Arthur again. Arthur hadn’t noticed just how blue his eyes were, but they shone now beneath a film of sorrow. He had the sudden urge to comfort the ghost, despite knowing how pointless the action would be.
But just as quickly, the moment was gone and the boy straightened up, face resolute as though he had come to some sort of conclusion. “Meet me in the basement,” he said firmly with a nod to Arthur.
And then he vanished.
Arthur stood stock still, waiting for his brain to catch up and make sense of the change that had just occurred.
“There’s a basement?”