Title: For The Night [Part 3]
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Valiant
Summary: Coming to from forced unconsciousness is never easy
Warnings: injuries, hospital themes, mentions of rape, mentions and hinting at pedophilia (but none occurs or occurred)
Word Count: 1500
Prompt: 355: Replacement
Author's Notes: Final piece. The prompt is a little vague in this part, but it's what came to mind when I wrote this.
[Part 1] [Part 2]
Coming to from forced unconsciousness is never easy. For Merlin, it usually smells of sweat and blood and sex, aching from bruises and lacerations and laying in an alley or on some dingy cum-splattered mattress. This time around is different. Antiseptic greets him first, wafting through the air like dark clouds promising rain. Merlin groans, his head and face aching something fierce, along with his chest and several other limbs. He can feel gauze and bandages pulling and muffling the feeling around his wrists and of course the telltale deep sharp pain in his backside.
It’s only the second time Merlin has woken in the hospital and that’s honestly two times too many in his opinion. They ask too many questions and care too much and have a knack for ringing up their cop friends if they suspect anything at all.
He can’t stay here.
He only manages to open his eyes just a slit before he’s slamming them shut again, cursing the bright overhead lights. The ache in his head increases tenfold.
So Merlin resigns himself to the arduous task of stumbling out of the room half blind and he’s perfectly fine with that. Hospitals mean information and money he doesn’t have. Hospitals mean authorities.
The door to the room opens just then and Merlin nearly jumps out of his skin, forcing his eyes open against the pain, afraid he’s been caught. A short petite woman in light purple scrubs enters and closes the door behind her and Merlin will his racing heart to calm.
She doesn’t smile when she sees Merlin awake, just barely acknowledges him at all besides a cursory, “How are you feeling?”
“Terrible,” Merlin says, voice grating like metal on pavement. He clears his throat, coughs and then coughs a hell of a lot more when air seems to be on short supply. Damn, that hurts.
The nurse pours and hands him a cup of water which he downs in a few gulps.
“How did I get here?” he manages to wheeze. Even just talking hurts. What a goddamn mess he is.
“The boy called emergency services.” She flips a page in Merlin’s chart and studies it half-heartedly.
“Is he alright?” asks Merlin.
“I'm not at liberty to discuss other patients.”
Merlin's heart drops into his stomach like a stone. Patients. So no, he is not okay. It hadn’t been enough. If he had just fought a little harder maybe—
Merlin closes his eyes and wills the world away. It wouldn’t do to dwell on the could haves and would haves. What happened happened, there was nothing he could do to change it now.
When Merlin opens his eyes at the sound of the door opening, the nurse is gone and a man is entering his room. A man in a button down and trousers that looks much too serious to be anything but a cop. Merlin groans.
“Mr. Emrys, I’m Detective Valiant Sherman with the Camelot Police Department.” Merlin reigns in his shock before it shows on his face. He’s never had to deal with a detective before, just the standard beat cops. And he’s not sure what that means exactly, though it can’t be anything good he’s sure. “Would you mind answering a couple of questions for me?”
It’s protocol, nothing more, and Merlin knows that. He’s had his fair share of run-ins with the cops, enough to know that no matter what he does or doesn’t say, they’ve already made up their minds about him. His fate was decided the second the police were called.
So Merlin remains silent.
“Merlin Balinor Emrys,” the detective recites, unfurling a file like a valedictorian speech. “Born in Ealdor in 1993 to Balinor and Hunith Emrys, both deceased. 26, single. Place of residence: 1536 Klindale Ave #13A. Occupation: prostitute. How am I doing so far?”
“What do you want?” Every bit of information read out tightens the knot of worry in Merlin’s stomach.
“The truth. What happened last night?”
Last night. Merlin flicks his gaze to the clock on the wall and then quickly back to his hands. 8:27. So he’s been here anywhere from a couple of hours to most of the day. There’s no telling, not from the comfortable imprisonment of this hospital bed.
“Do you have any kids, Mr. Emrys?”
Merlin gives the file in the detective’s hands a pointed nod. “You should know that.”
“Any unknown products from one of your many clients?”
Merlin didn’t answer.
The detective sighs and closes the file, stepping further into the room and sitting himself down in the bedside chair with all the air of a king taking his throne. Merlin shifts away.
“The kid from last night, he’s not yours is he?”
“I never said he was,” Merlin answers, clipped.
“You haven’t said much at all.” The detective cocks his eyebrow as he leans forward. His gaze all but strips away Merlin’s skin, leaving him feeling exposed and vulnerable.
When Merlin doesn’t deign to answer the detective’s question, he continues, “He seems to think he is.”
It comes out abrasive as Merlin says, “He’s not.”
“Then tell me why he keeps telling my deputies you’re his daddy?” asks the detective. He leans even further, seemingly spurred by receiving a response.
Merlin’s brain short circuits as the detective’s words sink in. He blinks. “I’m no one’s daddy.”
“Just someone’s fuck boy right?”
Merlin stays silent, in part because he’s angry over this treatment but mostly because he's still trying to make sense of everything and failing to come up with a logical explanation for any of it. Clearly, there is something he’s not understanding, something very big that is about to come crashing down around his ears.
And it does as, undeterred by Merlin’s silence, the officer drops the bomb, “There was a child present, a minor, and yet that didn't deter you did it? Or were you hoping he'd join in? Offer him sweets and candies if he'd just come over—”
“Whoa, wait a second. I didn’t do anything!” Prostitution he was prepared for. Charges involving a minor? He will have that black mark forever, the word pedophile sewn into his skin like an infectious disease. “I was trying to leave!”
“You and Mr. Cenred King both agreed he’d pay you for sex, yes?” asks the detective with the same stoic expression.
“Yes,” Merlin grits out.
“And money exchanged hands.”
“But I refused after—”
“With a minor present?”
Merlin shakes his head desperately wishing to wake from this nightmare. This isn’t happening, it can’t be. His voice raises with fear and horror. “He wasn’t involved! I would never—”
“And you did have sex, didn’t you?” Detective Sherman plows on, impassive and unperturbed as he effortlessly picks Merlin apart bit by bit.
“Did you or did you not have sex with Mr. King?”
“He raped me.” Merlin can feel tears building, his throat closing in anger and fear. He truly shouldn’t be surprised. He’s a prostitute, a gay one to boot, nothing but scum in the eyes of most, especially the law. Why should he get any sort of reprieve now?
Because it’s wrong. Because for once, he’s not guilty of anything he’s being accused of. Because he tried to do the right thing and despite the outcome, it could have been a lot worse.
And now it’s blown up in his face.
But he doesn’t regret what he did. Just that he didn’t protect the boy better.
Detective Sherman’s voice lowers, hardening into a threat. “Answer the question, Mr. Emrys.”
He can feel the walls closing in with no choice but to answer, “Yes but—”
“Mr. Emrys,” says Detective Sherman, extracting a pair of handcuffs as he stands up from his chair with all the judgment of a death sentence, “you are under arrest for soliciting prostitution, indecent exposure with a minor, endangering a minor—”
“No wait, I didn’t—” Merlin jerks back as the detective approaches, desperation fueling the panic welling up inside him, churning into nausea so severe, he can barely contain it. He knows what happens to convicted pedophiles in prison. It truly is a death sentence. “I was trying to leave—”
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Merlin is nearly in tears shouting for his life. “He fucking raped me—”
A metal cuff clicks around Merlin’s right wrist before he even realizes what’s happening and Detective Sherman locks the other around the hospital bed rail.
“You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one—”
“—I was trying to protect the kid—”
Merlin’s words are cut off by the door opening once more, capturing both men’s attention.
“Don’t say another word,” advises the intruder, stepping into the room, blue eyes set and a face that means business. He’s broad but lean with gentle sun-kissed blonde hair and a posture that commands respect.
“Who are the hell are you?” Detective Sherman scowls, shifting his shoulders back and tilting his chin up in a challenge of the man’s authority. “This is police business, you can’t just—”
The blonde man doesn’t even let the detective finish, cutting him off effortlessly.
“I’m Arthur Pendragon, Mr. Emrys’ attorney.”