Title: Until the next time
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin is moving away
Word Count: ~450
Author's Notes: Tried practicing present tense, hope it isn't terrible!
He is distantly aware that the car has come to a stop and the engine has been killed, and yet he is struggling to take his eyes off the arbitrary point in the distance they had focussed on for the last ten minutes. He knows he should probably shake himself out of it, but he doesn’t like what is coming, and he doesn’t want this moment to end.
“Merlin,” he hears and he knows he couldn’t ignore that voice calling his name for his life. He reluctantly turns to face his friend.
Arthur looks at him for a second and then attempts to smile. Merlin knows that smile, and the sadness behind it.
“Ready?” Arthur asks.
“No,” he replies in a low voice, but unbuckles his seatbelt anyway, his movements slow. By the time he gets out of the car and wears his backpack, Arthur has his suitcase out from the backseat and on the road. Merlin watches as he shuts the door and rolls the bag to Merlin’s side of the car. He pushes it towards Merlin and is about to take his hand off, when Merlin puts his hand over Arthur’s. Arthur raises his head to look at him, his eyes asking the question, but he keeps his hand there.
Merlin clears his throat.
“Arthur,” he starts, not knowing how to go on. He looks at Arthur, trying to find the words to tell his best friend how much he is going to miss him, and how much he loves him and cares about him. He doesn’t know how he is going to live in a whole other country half way across the world from Arthur, and he wants to know that Arthur will take extra care of himself now that Merlin isn’t around to nag him into eating in the midst of busy days at work and going to bed at proper hours when he still has a proposal to finish at work, and he needs to say all of this, but he doesn’t know how.
And suddenly, Arthur is pushing his bag aside and putting his arms around Merlin, and Merlin sags a little into Arthur and allows Arthur to hold him up for just a second, before fiercely hugging him back, putting all his words into the embrace.
“You too, Merlin,” he hears Arthur say in his ear, and he chuckles sadly. When they separate, Arthur’s eyes are bright and Merlin is sure he himself isn’t doing much better. "We'll skype when you settle in," Arthur says. Merlin nods, and then he pulls out his most winning smile for Arthur, and when Arthur smiles his fond-Merlin-smile back at him, his heart sings.
They clasp hands one last time. And then Merlin is away on his next voyage.