Title: Too Late
Character/s: Merlin, Lancelot
Summary: Merlin just wants to keep Lance safe, but it's more than he can cope with
Warnings: Possible character death, brief suicide reference
Word Count: 584
Prompt: Come Wake Me Up
Author's Notes: There was too much potential for me not to write this. Sorry, guys!
Lance leaves one weekend in November.
He’d been working a long shift, and he’d been back late, and Merlin had been worried. So he’d tuned into the police radio and waited for Lance’s voice. And there it was, heading towards the site of an armed robbery. Without a gun.
It would take too long for the Armed Response unit to get there, so Merlin just left. Lance didn’t have magic. Lance could get hurt. Merlin couldn’t stand that.
By the time Lance arrived the robbers were tied up and unconscious.
By the time Lance got home, he was fuming.
“Do you have any idea how much paperwork I just had to do? How much trouble you nearly got me in?”
Merlin looks up at him from the sofa with a complete lack of contrition in his face.
“You don’t have magic. You’re defenceless, and I was worried.”
“No, Merlin, hundreds of police officers deal with this every day.” He paces up and down the living room floor, followed by Merlin’s eyes. “I’m no different to any of them, and this is the last time you’ll ‘save me’ from some fate.”
“You can’t stop me.”
“I can. I’m leaving.”
Merlin watches him pack his bags, waiting for the punchline, for Lance to turn around and warn him never to do it again, or else he really will leave, but it never comes. He loads up the car, gets in, and drives off. And when Merlin realises it wasn’t an empty threat it’s too late.
He doesn’t know where Lance goes, has no way of finding out. And if he did, that would be a betrayal, another reason for him not to come back. So Merlin allows that he’s never going to return, and aches.
Lance is always there, in the fabric of the flat they shared, in the smell of the washing powder on his clothes and a painting on a wall, whispering out from the stereo even when it’s turned off and tucked away and Merlin puts the news on to mask it. And yet Merlin knows that nothing he says, nothing he does, will convince Lance to come back. No declarations of love will be enough to hide the facts; he routinely went against Lance’s wishes, against his freedom. And that speaks of nothing more than a lack of respect. He did it to himself, so he has to live with it.
Except Lance does come back. Merlin’s watching the television one night in early December, and he goes over to shut the curtains. But he recognises the car on the opposite side of the road, the man standing on the pavement next to it.
By the time Merlin’s struck out of his daze, it’s too late, Lance is getting back in the car. But Merlin runs to his own, gets in, and speeds off, following, because he has to know where Lance is staying, has to talk to him.
And then he accelerates to get closer to Lance, and Lance accelerates to get further away, and a lorry comes out of a turning it shouldn’t have, and Lance applies the brakes but he skids on the ice and ploughs into the back of the truck.
For a split second Merlin’s foot hesitates over the brake pedal, thinking to follow Lance and join him forever. But then there’s the chance that Lance could still be alive, and Merlin could save him.
He brakes, and he gets out of the car, and he runs.